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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person

7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person

Want to be a happier person but with some many negative things going around, you don’t know what to do to feel happy?

The How of Happiness by University of California, Riverside Prof. Sonja Lyubomirsky talks about how to be a happier person. Here are seven scientifically proven ways derived from Sonja’s research on how to be the happiest person on earth.

1. Practice gratitude once a week.

Expressing gratitude, or counting your blessings, does not just make you happy—it also improves your health. However, you need to be strategic about how you do it. In one of the author’s experiments they directed the participants to keep a gratitude journal and contemplate five things that made them feel grateful. They would start the exercise by saying “This week I’m grateful for…”

Half of the participants were instructed to do that once a week, while the rest of them did that three times a week for a total of six weeks.

Here’s what’s strange: Only the group that counted their blessings once a week achieved happiness results because of it.

Why?

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Probably because the participants who did it three times a week found practicing gratitude to be a chore, while the others were looking forward to it. So once a week, make sure you count your blessings!

2. Make friends and invest in your relationships.

Happy people are renowned for their circle of friends, their relationship with their family, and their loving marriage

What is amazing about friendships and intimate relationships is that their happiness effect does not get reduced by hedonic adaptation. That means that you won’t get used to your loving marriage the way you get used to your new furniture.

So make time for your friends, express appreciation and make them feel good, be kind, and just have fun with them. You’ll be happier in doing so.

3. Become a stress resilience ninja.

Happiness is not just about feeling good all the time. Happy people also get to recover from bad situations and stress more quickly. They are the stress resilience ninjas!

Here’s an example: One study found that the life of breast cancer survivors had been altered for the better after the disease! Actually two-thirds of the women said so. These women talked about having a wake-up call that made re-prioritize their life for the better. They found the good in the bad.

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If that’s an excellent coping strategy with cancer, then I bet it’ll do wonders for any type of stress that appears in your life. The next time something bad shows up, ask yourself what you can learn from it.

4. Take care of your body.

Did you know that aerobic exercise has the same benefits on depression as taking Zoloft? Well, in a 1999 study researchers divided a group of 50+ men and women who suffered from depression in three groups.

One group did supervised aerobic exercise three times a week, another group took Zoloft—an anti-depressant—while the third group did both.

The result? After four months all three groups were doing better with increased self-esteem and happiness. Even better, six months later, participants who had recovered from depression were less likely to relapse back to depression if they belonged in the exercise group compared to the ones who just took Zoloft.

So there you have it. Exercise works miracles in your happiness!

Don’t know how to get started it or how to find a routine that you actually like? Check out Exercise Bliss, a unique program that helps you make exercise a daily ritual, and you just might find what works for you.

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5. Take care of your soul.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 47% of people who report attending religious services several times a week describe themselves as “very happy”.
  • Just 28% of people who attend less than once a month can claim the same.

It seems that the social support and the sense of identity that people get from belonging to the same religious group is unparalleled.

It is possible, however, that this happiness discrepancy has nothing to do with people’s relationship with the divine and everything to do with people’s relationships with each other, as people who attend religious services are proven to have larger social networks than those who don’t.

Still, religious people who believe that the divine is helping them are three times more likely to be alive six months after a serious cardiac surgery. One way or another, it seems that religious people definitely score some happiness points.

 6. Commit to your (intrinsic) goals.

People who strive for something personally significant, like raising a family, learning a new skill, or even changing careers are happier. The author explains that pursuing goals provides with a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives.

Not all goals are made equal, though: intrinsic goals make you happy, while extrinsic goals might not be as effective.

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  • Intrinsic goals are the ones meaningful to you, the ones that allow you to grow and be more. Examples: doing a hobby while on vacation, working on a skill because you want to become better, etc.
  • Extrinsic goals are the ones that are a means to an end—you go on a diet to lose weight, you work hard to make more money, etc.

Research is crystal clear: Intrinsic goals are much more likely than extrinsic goals to give a sense of competence and autonomy, and hence, make you happier.

7. Enjoy life’s pleasures to the fullest!

Researchers have even come up with a word that describes enjoying life: savoring.

“Savoring: Thoughts or behaviors capable of generating, intensifying, and prolonging enjoyment”

When you take a walk and suddenly think about how beautiful everything around you is, you are savoring. When you listen to your wife and cannot help yourself but feel lucky for being with her; you are savoring.

The immediate benefit of savoring? You are more confident. You are actually enjoying every little or big pleasure life has to offer to the fullest. Now that’s a habit I want in my life!

But how do you make savoring a habit? By practicing mindfulness. Here’s how to practice mindfulness: A Simple Guide to Mindfulness for Beginners

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There you have it. Seven ways to become the happiest person on earth. Which one will you choose to expand on?

Featured photo credit: Allef Vinicius via unsplash.com

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

How to Find Workout Motivation When You Hate Exercise 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More How to Think Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy 7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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