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7 Beliefs of Happy People

7 Beliefs of Happy People

The way a person thinks matters. A person’s beliefs about himself, other people, and the world can critically influence his level of happiness.
These beliefs are what allow some people to remain calm and content,  even during those inevitable occasions when life serves up some pretty miserable circumstances. Alternatively, these beliefs also have the power to make a person feel as if his world is crumbling around him if a stranger says something nasty or he gets a parking ticket.

An overall happy person sometimes feels frustration, pain, and discomfort, but he is able to shrug his shoulders and move on without getting caught in the trap of suffering.

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These are common beliefs of overall happy people: 

1. There are no “shoulds.” 

Happy people  believe that when it comes to situations and behaviors, there are no automatic “shoulds.”  They genuinely accept, “No, it isn’t true that the police officer should have let me off with a warning, my neighbor should keep his dog quiet or I should get new shoes.  And it’s definitely not a fact that I should not have gotten in that car accident, that I should always be kind, that I should have gone to law school…”

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Happy people don’t invest energy dwelling on or fighting what “should” or “should not” have happened. They also think for themselves about whether doing something makes sense instead of relying on “shoulds” to guide their own behaviors and choices.

2. Everything is a shade of gray (and that’s okay). 

Happy people accept (and can tolerate the uncertainty that comes with admitting) that the world is not “black or white”, “all good or all bad.” They can face the facts that they have some strengths and some limitations without shuddering; They accept that a person can be rude or show poor judgment in an instance and still not be completely selfish all the time. They truly know that just because something awful happens, their life is not all bad.

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3. All relevant things are based on facts (not judgments or assumptions).

Happy people see themselves, others, and the world realistically, meaning they stick to the facts when they acknowledge the bad things and the good things.  They don’t think to themselves, “I am such an idiot” when they forget to turn off the oven; They simply think, “I forgot to turn off the oven.”  They don’t think to themselves, “Now my kid will never graduate college” when she struggles with reading in first grade; They simply think, “It takes more time and intervention for her to practice phonics right now.”

4. It’s not all about me, and that’s okay. 

Content people believe: “I am not the best or the most handsome or the smartest or the most successful human being on the planet, and that’s okay; Not everyone likes me, and that’s okay; Often times people are focused on their own thoughts and perspectives more than they are focused on me, and that’s okay.

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5. It is okay to accept that things are what they are (or were what they were), even when it’s painful. 

People who are generally happy accept that people are sometimes irrational and hurtful, that obstacles and tragedies have occurred and there is no way to undo them, and  that they will go through periods of pain and hardship in the future. They believe that it is okay to experience and ride-out that pain without fighting it, numbing it, or drowning it.

6.  Even though I must surrender to some painful things, I am not completely powerless.

Happy people look at the world and situations with a sense of personal-accountability and control.  They know that they are in charge of making their lives what they want it to be and being the person they want to be.  And they feel capable of doing just that. A happy person bravely focuses on his own role in any problems (even if it is small), so that he is able to make positive changes.   As for the happy person that forgot to turn off the oven in #3?  He simply takes personal responsibility for making sure to set a timer next time he bakes.

7. This moment is worth enjoying.

Happy people aren’t telling themselves,  “as soon as I get a better job, I’ll be happy,” or “When I find a boyfriend, I’ll be happy.” They truly believe that the small joys of everyday life are worth noticing and experiencing with enjoyment.

Featured photo credit: TheresaOtero via mrg.bz

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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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