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Hunting for Happiness? Five Ways to Change Your Mind and Be Happier.

Hunting for Happiness? Five Ways to Change Your Mind and Be Happier.

Life can beat us up and suck the happiness out of our days.

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    Relationships, work, loss and physical illness can pile on and make our hearts hurt. But all of us know someone who seems happy even when they’re experiencing difficulty in some part of their life.

    Their secret?

    They’ve learned to control their thought lives.

    If you’re wondering how to find happiness even when life is hard, you might need brain surgery. Not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest brain surgery, but sometimes a few tweaks in how you you think can make a huge difference in your happiness.

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    If you’re stuck in the doldrums and want to feel better, give yourself a brain transplant.

    Here are five ways to change your mind.

    1. Diagnose your thought patterns.

    Take a quick biopsy of your reactions to situations and people that make you angry or unhappy, and diagnose the thought patterns you’ve formed around them. If your head is full of negative stuff- “Nobody likes me,” or “I’ll never succeed in this job,” etc., then there’s no room for anything good.

    Understanding that your thoughts are negative before you allow yourself to react to them emotionally gives you a chance to decide to replace it with a happier one.

    The result: More happiness.

    2. Identify attitude problems and get rid of them.

    Truth is, a lot of how other people (spouses, bosses, etc.) react to us is largely determined by the things we say and the attitudes we project.

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    If you change your thinking from “I hate this job,” to “I’m going to try my best today to make work a better place,” you’ll be amazed at how things feel different.

    Giving first, serving others and smiling when you don’t feel like it will change how others perceive and react to you, and will make everything seem better to you.

    Having a lousy attitude hurts you more than anyone else.

    “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

    –Zig Ziglar

    3. Stop thinking about the past.

    If you’re sad or unhappy about stuff that happened yesterday, guess what?

    You’re spending today on something you can’t control or change. Neuroscientists have proven that focusing on regrets from the past harms your brain chemistry and keeps you stuck in unhappiness.

    Deciding instead to making sure you do things differently in the future will improve your outlook and you’ll feel something new in place of regret – hope.

    4. Cut out harmful connections.

    The truth is, there are some people and some situations that are toxic to us.

    If you frequently associate with people whose negativity, abuse, or behavior consistently produces pain and drains your joy, then sometimes the only solution is distance.

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    If you can’t make it better, then save yourself by getting the toxicity out of your life. Your brain will thank you, and your happiness will rise.

    5. Doubt your doubts.

    If you’re stuck in a miserable place because you’re simply too afraid to try something new, have a little faith!

    Believe in yourself that if you take a step towards life change things will improve, and your doubts will start to drain, making room for the possibility of a better life.

    Even if you try something new and it doesn’t work out, your heart will beat stronger with the knowledge that you really tried. You’ll regroup and next time get a little closer to the change you really want.

    If you want to feel happier, you have to tune up your thinking.

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    Change your thinking, and you’ll change your life.

    Featured photo credit: Jessica H. Tam via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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