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7 Reasons Why You Won’t Be Happy No Matter How Hard You Try

7 Reasons Why You Won’t Be Happy No Matter How Hard You Try

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” –Audrey Hepburn

Ever had the experience of sinking so far into the “depths of despair” that you couldn’t seem to find a way out? Or the experience of trying everything, only to find the same bleakness surrounding you?

You are not alone.

We live in an increasingly negative world; a world in which those who want to be happy are often labeled as weird or selfish (or both!)

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If you’re feeling downtrodden, as if nothing you do makes a difference, consult these 7 common happiness pitfalls.

1. Your happiness is dependent upon external things.

True happiness comes from within. Happiness can never be constant if it always relies on something else.

If your happiness relies on the number of miles you run, the number of friends you have, or the amount of promotions you make, you will never be truly happy. Instead, work to find your inner joy by practicing mindfulness and self-love.

2. You fear being alone.

Solitude is a beautiful thing, but for some reason, many people fear it. But happiness can only be constant if it is found from within, whether you are in the presence of others or without them. You will never be truly happy if you fear being by yourself.

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If you find yourself feeling the need to be around people all the time, or find yourself feeling massive pangs of loneliness anytime you spend time by yourself, you may have some work to do. Try adding a solitary activity you enjoy into your weekly schedule or mindful activities such as yoga.

3. You allow your happiness to depend on others.

Happiness should only depend on one person and one person only: yourself.

If you find that you are relying on the approval of other people in order to feel happy about yourself, you have a problem. Try exercising positive affirmations such as “I am more than enough.”

4. You don’t know the difference between self-awareness and self-loathing.

Self-awareness is nonjudgmental acknowledgment of feelings and thoughts as they pass through you; self-loathing is self-judgment of actions, characteristics, thoughts, and feelings.

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If you find yourself getting confused between the two, you will find it difficult to be happy. The key is to silence the ego, and observe your feelings and thoughts as if you were a third party. This is self-awareness: non-judgmental observation. Try yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness activities to increase your self-awareness.

5. You compare your life with others.

One definitive downside to living in the age of technology is the increasing access we have to compare our lives with others. With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, it is ever so easy to get snippets of other people’s lives, and compare our own lives with theirs.

If you find that you spend a large amount of time downsizing your own life in relation to others, try exercising power mantras daily that remind you of your uniqueness.

6. You hang around negative thinkers.

Our environment shape us into the person we are. Who you hang around makes a large difference: if you hang around people who support you, encourage you, and lift you up, your life will move in positive directions. If, however, you hang around a large number of negative thinkers who suck the life out of you, their negativity will begin rubbing off onto you and your life.

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If you find that the majority of your friends bring you down, consider exploring new social circles.

7. You’re in a career you hate.

We spend over 40 hours a week investing in our careers (and, more often than not, it’s closer to 50+ hours). That is a huge amount of our daily lives. If these hours are spent investing in careers that we despise, we will more than likely become unhappy.

If you find that you are in this situation – you spend your 40+ hours at the office despising every minute and counting down the seconds until you get to leave – it may be time to consider other options. Try researching new career options, building a project on the side, or getting career counseling.

More by this author

Alli Page

Allie is a pessimist-turned-optimist healthy food junkie who blogs about happiness, healthy living and travel.

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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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