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8 Things You Might Be Doing If You’re Feeling Unhappy

8 Things You Might Be Doing If You’re Feeling Unhappy

It’s completely normal to feel unhappy from time to time. It happens to everyone. However, it is possible that you are doing some things that are contributing to your feelings of unhappiness. You might not even know you are doing them. Consider the list below, and then ask yourself from time to time, “Am I doing this?”

1. Assuming The Worst

If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking negatively about a situation or a person before knowing the reality, chances are you are assuming the worst. Here’s an example:

Your husband hasn’t called at the time he said he would.

Assuming the worst: He got into car crash. He’s with another woman. He’s left me.

Happy people assume the best in any given situation. They don’t jump to negative conclusions or assume something terrible has happened. This causes premature, unnecessary sadness, anger, and frustration. Always give the benefit of the doubt. If it turns out reality is pretty bad, then go into problem-solving mode. You’ll be far more clearheaded and prepared to handle a problematic situation at that point anyway. Here’s the same example but with a different perspective.

Assuming the best: He is surprising me with something special. He stopped at the store to pick up groceries for the family. A meeting with his boss ran late. He landed a promotion.

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2. Living In The Past

Do you ever replay the same worries over and over again in your head? Are the words of your boss, friend, or co-worker playing on repeat in your mind? Are you holding a grudge against someone you had a fight with? If so, you are probably living in the past.

Happy people live in the present moment. This doesn’t mean they don’t think about the past and it doesn’t always mean they don’t consider their futures. But they know there has to be a balance. Sometimes you just have to let go in order to move on. It’s not always easy, but it is the healthiest option and will make your present moment and your future moments the happiest.

Live in the here and now. Forget regret. Forget the past. Learn to truly be present.

3. Comparing Yourself To Others

When looking at pictures of friends’ weddings and babies, do you wonder why you are still unmarried with no children yet? Do you look at someone else’s job and question your own accomplishments and successes? It’s probably because you are comparing yourself to other people.

Everyone is different, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. External motivation, i.e. some friendly competition, is fine, but comparing yourself to others is dangerous. There will always be someone who is funnier, more successful, has bluer eyes, a better job, and makes more money than you. But on the other hand, there will always be someone who makes less money than you, is less funny, and has fewer successes.

Happy people don’t compare themselves to any of these people. They know who they are, they are content with where they are, and compete only with themselves.

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4. Trying To “Fix” Your Feelings

How often is it the case that when something is wrong you start to question your feelings? How many times have you thought to yourself, Is there something wrong with me? Is it okay to feel what I feel? Why am I sad? Why aren’t I happier? Why am I angry today?” The truth is that life is series of ebbs and flows and it’s normal to have ups and downs. Negative emotions are perfectly normal to have. This means that when you feel sadness, you don’t need to immediately question it. It also means you don’t have to go into panic mode and attempt to fix it.

Allowing yourself to feel your feelings does a lot of things for you.

1.    It allows you to just be you.

2.    It allows you to process your thoughts.

3.    It lets your mind know that it’s okay to go through what you are going through.

4.    It reminds you to reevaluate your life’s decisions and make sure you are still on the path you want to be on.

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If you are feeling upset, allow yourself to feel upset. But—and here’s the most important part—you must also let yourself move on. If a feeling is starting to last too long, you might want to ask yourself, “What next?” and try to keep the emotion in perspective. Emotions and feelings do not define you. So, don’t worry about the negative ones too much. Be strong, get through them, and you will prove to yourself just how resilient you really are. The best part is that the next time you have the same negative feeling, you will be more prepared for it. Instead of wondering if something is wrong with you, you might say to yourself, “Oh, I recognize this feeling. It passed the last time it came. And it’ll pass this time, too.”

5. Believing All Of Your Thoughts

This one might sound a little confusing. A common mistake people often make is believing every thought that goes through their heads. This is not safe. Sometimes our brains play tricks on us and we may think things we do not truly believe. It could be in the form of putting yourself down. It could be questioning the honesty and trust of a friend or loved one. Sometimes emotions, worry, and fear cause us to think unnecessarily negative things.

Happy people don’t believe everything single thought that goes through their minds. Often it’s the case that as you calm down and feel better, or even just allow time to pass, you will not think as negatively as you did earlier.

6. Focusing On What You Don’t Have

Have you ever been hard on yourself for not achieving enough? Have you ever tried to convince yourself you need more? This is probably causing you pain and unhappiness.

Happy people are grateful for everything they have and for everything they have accomplished. They do not focus on all of the things they don’t have. Try thanking yourself for everything you achieved in your life. Thank your parents, your siblings, your partners, your friends, and your co-workers. Thank your bed for providing a place to sleep. Thank your jacket for being warm. Thank your coffee for tasting so delicious in the morning. Thank your job for being a source of income. Thank the store for having the items you can buy.

You may not have everything you want, but it’s likely true that you have a lot. Be grateful because gratitude is a direct contributor to happiness.

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7. Getting Upset With Things That Are Out Of Your Control

Some things you just can’t control. Traffic, prices, people: these are just a few examples. People have enough to worry about. There is no sense in worrying about these things. There is even less sense in trying to control them or getting upset about them.

Happy people realize what things are out of their control. It is not always easy, but we have to accept that we can only control our own actions. Let go of the need to control everything and don’t let the things you can’t control bother you. Soon you’ll notice how much better you’ll feel.

8. Not Being Yourself

One of the most important things in life is loving yourself. Love yourself for who you are. This does not mean that you cannot strive to be a better person by performing random acts of kindness, learning a new skill, or practicing gratitude. But it does mean that you should stop trying to be someone different. Just be yourself, and include all the complicated imperfections that make you you.

If you are tall, don’t wish you were shorter.

If you are quiet, don’t wish you were louder.

If you have brown hair, don’t wish you were blonde.

Know your value and love yourself.

If you’re feeling unhappy, ask yourself if you are doing any of these eight things. Then stop them right away. You’ll be on your way to feeling better in no time.

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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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