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6 Secrets of Happiness from the Happiest People on Earth

6 Secrets of Happiness from the Happiest People on Earth

Happiness seems unachievable to some; it’s easier to scowl so everyone knows you’re real and have been through some pain than it is to smile through the rain. The secrets of happiness are achievable by anyone, though. If you don’t want to spend your last moments on earth reflecting on all the woulda, coulda, and shouldas, than you should take the advice of the happiest people on earth. Here’s what six experts have to say about their secrets of happiness:

Thomas Jefferson

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he envisioned a nation where people could be free to do whatever it is they want to do. The United States of America was founded upon those ideals, and those ideals are still very much the foundation of a modern democracy. Each of these pillars – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – is vital to support the other three. As a free human being, you have not only the right, but the responsibility, to pursue your own self-fulfillment and happiness.

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    Dalai Lama

    Happiness is not something ready-made; It comes from your own actions.

    The Dalai Lama is essentially the Pope of Tibetan Buddhism. Whereas Catholics believe in God, however, Buddhists believe each of us is our own God. Both are perspectives on the whole of humanity, which is a hivemind. In order to understand how a hivemind works, one must simply study Anonymous (or, you could look at the Internet itself on a high level).

    The direction of the hive is determined by the sum of the whole. In order to make the world happy, you, yourself, must be happy first. If you want to be happy, however, it takes work. Even if sitting around doing nothing is your life goal, you’ll have to put forth the effort. To be happy, you must BE happy.

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    Oscar Wilde

    Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” 

    Keeping the hivemind in mind (pun intended, but balked at the last minute), Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde divides the world into two factions: those who please with their presence, and those who please with their absence. If you don’t inspire, motivate, and entertain the people around you, it’s not like they just never do anything entertaining. People don’t pause until you return; their timeline progresses, and if you’re not making them smile, they’re smiling when you leave.

     

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      Albert Einstein

      A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit, and a violin – what else does a man need to be happy?

      Albert Einstein defines German engineering: innovative, dependable, and practical. It’s thinking like Einstein’s that defined physics for the human race. His innovations led to the computer, space travel, and so many pioneering achievements. His brilliance wasn’t just in his ability to apply the scientific method, however; it was in his ability to sit and enjoy his own life. After all, what’s the point of being the richest, smartest, or strongest man in the world if you can’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life?

      Mahatma Gandhi

      Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  

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      While Hitler ravaged the world with war, Mohandas Gandhi proved the power of peace. Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance is a milestone in human history, and he did it while happily living a life of poverty. He understood that if you’re constantly day-dreaming, or over-sell what you do or have, then you’re not happy.

      Let’s take your New Year’s resolution for example; odds are that you likely have already broken your resolution. In fact, there’s a real good chance you broke it on Jan 1. By the time you’re reading this, however, you may not have told people you cheated. You’re likely still living the lie you tell everyone (which includes “I don’t make resolutions,” because we know you secretly do) that you are still on track with your resolution. By March, everyone forgets resolutions, and you have 9 months before people realize you haven’t lost weight and still smoke. You’re afraid of happiness–now stop agreeing with me and change something.

      Helen Keller

      Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence. And I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” 

      I promise your problems aren’t as bad as Helen Keller’s were. The girl lived in darkness, and nobody, save for a handful of people like Anne Sullivan, knew or cared how to communicate with her. Somehow this woman found happiness and became more successful than you, with your excuses about being born broke, having to work too hard in a thankless world, people lying and cheating, and blah, blah, blah.

      Helen Keller grew up in this same world, broke, alone, and all that, and by the time she died at 87, she was a world traveler, author, activist, and respected by the world community at large. If she can smile through all that, you can do it too.

      The above examples are just a small sample of happy people. You can find them everywhere in history, and there may even be some in your own community.  Rather than mocking them and assuming you’re too “real” and “street” for anyone happy to ever possibly understand, and rather than assuming all happy people are squares, and they’re delusional or ineffective, or that their smile somehow makes them dumber than you, maybe, just maybe, take a few words of advice from the happy people–and experience happiness for yourself.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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