Advertising
Advertising

Gratitude Leads to Happiness: Here’s How

Gratitude Leads to Happiness: Here’s How

Gratitude, being nice, thinking positively — these are all things that are easier to talk about than to practice. Being grateful is a habit that’s worth cultivating. Try out some of the following gratitude exercises and, with time, you will feel more gratitude in your everyday life.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

Denis Waitley

Advertising

1. Write a daily gratitude list

Before you start your day, at the end of each day or whenever you have a spare five to ten minutes, write a list of ten things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big things — just look around you and ask yourself, in this moment, what am I grateful for? Clothes to keep me warm, a hot cup of tea, good company … ?  If you do this every day, I can assure you that after a few weeks, or even days,  you will feel much happier .

2. Practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day

Try this one for at least a week. Set 10 minutes aside each day and really focus on where you are in the moment. Look around you. What do you see, feel, hear? When we live life in a strict routine, we can slip into acting on autopilot which can leave us feeling numb, ungrateful and bitter about life. Practicing mindfulness takes you out of this and helps you to see life in a brighter, more pleasant light.

3. Observe life objectively

This one is certainly easier said than done, but make a conscious effort to be as objective as possible. Is the person you work with really that annoying or are you blowing matters way out of proportion? Take a step back and try to view situations from the outside rather than taking everything personally. In the long run you’ll feel a much deeper sense of gratitude in your daily life as a result.

Advertising

4. Reflect on your day before going to sleep

Before you go to sleep each night, thing about something great that happened to you in the day that just passed. Even if you think nothing amazing happened, think of something small you were grateful for. If you can’t think of anything, keep searching. Even if it’s ‘I love this pillow,” hold that thought and spend several minutes reflecting on how grateful you are, then let yourself drift peacefully to sleep.

5. Observe your thoughts for a week

What do you think about for the majority of the time? What do you spend most of your time talking to others about? Are you aware of this? A lot of the time, we drift through life with no idea where we’re putting most of our energy. Spend one week objectively observing your thoughts without judgement. You might like to write them down, then reflect on the exercise after the week is up. If you spend the majority of your time complaining, make a mental note to change your thinking habits. With time, you’ll find yourself being less negative and more objectively positive. Remember, thoughts act as affirmations when repeated enough. Be mindful of what you’re intentionally or unintentionally manifesting.

6. Replace complaints with compliments

You don’t have to go overboard with this one — after all sometimes a person just needs to vent — but next time you open your mouth to say something unconstructive or hurtful, reverse it. Aim to give a compliment a day. You’ll feel happier and more grateful.

Advertising

7. Read Man’s Search for Meaning

This is the ultimate book if you want to know how to be grateful. Viktor Frankl, a world-renowned psychologist, who was trapped inside a concentration camp during WW2, helps us all to see that life is a choice and that even in the most dire of circumstances, you always have the freedom to choose your mindset. It’s a powerful book that really makes you reconsider your place in life. If you don’t feel more grateful after reading this, then I’m not sure what else to suggest.

8. Meditate on gratitude

Close your eyes.  Start by focusing on your breath to calm your mind, then meditate on something you’re truly grateful for or someone you care deeply about. This could be a  memory you’re glad to have had or something in the present moment — anything to bring your mind back to a state of gratitude. The key here, as with all meditation practices, is consistency . Spending five minutes meditating each day can make a big improvement in your happiness.

9. Write a gratitude letter

Write a letter expressing gratitude for someone or something that is annoying to you.  Try to be grateful for what this situation is teaching you–find the lesson in it.  this will help to turn your thinking process in a positive direction, and will help you to accept and learn from things you might otherwise reject.

Advertising

10. Realize that gratitude is a choice

You’re in the driver’s seat of your life, and you can choose how to react and how to think.  If you’re committed to positive thoughts and attitudes, you will be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

Featured photo credit: Young happy woman relaxing on green grass. via shutterstock.com

More by this author

50 Red Flags You Should Watch for in Your Relationship Have You Ever Wished Your Kids Will Beg To Do Their Chores? 20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next