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5 Questions That Will Make You a Happier Person

5 Questions That Will Make You a Happier Person

I’ve been feeling down lately. Things just haven’t been going as planned. I’ve been stressed, I’m having some medical issues, and I’m still not making as much money as I’d like. Sure there are good things in my life too, but I’ve been focused on the negatives.

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be

    No wonder I’ve been feeling bad! Our thoughts really do create our reality, so by choosing different thoughts, we can actually shift from bummed to happy pretty quickly. Here are my favorite five questions that consistently boost my happiness and they’ll increase yours too.

    1. What do I enjoy about this moment?

    Finding Joy:

    Asking this question requires us to notice what’s happening in the moment, and discover what we most enjoy about it. If I’m having trouble figuring out what I enjoy, I often turn to my five senses, asking myself, “Is there anything that I can see that I enjoy right now? Is there anything I can hear that I enjoy in this moment? Can I smell or taste anything wonderful right now? Or is there a texture or sensation I can enjoy now?

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    Practicing appreciation and gratitude has been one of the most life-altering experiences of my life. It has helped me let go of worry, anxiety, and fear and celebrate the beauty in life. Through these practices, I’ve found true and lasting joy, and you can too!

    In fact, just last week when I was feeling down, I decided to practice gratitude every day, and I already felt happier by day two. I mean really, every breath is a gift, so let’s celebrate.

    2. How can I help?

    Being of Service :

    When we help others, we take our attention off of ourselves and put it on others in need. Instead of ruminating about what went wrong in a recent meeting or fretting about a conversation we’re dreading with a loved one, we can let go of our own troubles and focus on the challenges someone else is facing. This can happen in big and little ways throughout the day.

    We can help our family members with daily and weekly tasks, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or adopt an animal from the shelter. Being of service to others brings a deep and lasting sense of accomplishment. It feels so good to make a positive difference in some else’s life! And often, after connecting with someone in need, our own troubles come into perspective as the petty annoyances they often are, rather than the life destroying tragedies we make them out to be.

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    3. What can I learn from this?

    A Love of Learning :

    Striving has a direct connection with happiness. When we strive to learn and grow, we enjoy life more, naturally. That’s because we humans like to feel a sense of accomplishment and meaning in our lives. If we’re not learning and growing, then what’s the point of all this anyway?

    When we begin to focus on opportunities for growth, instead of disappointments and failures, we start to see that everything that happens is just another chance to learn and grow. And that causes us to set goals, strive for those goals, achieve them and feel successful.

    Since learning and growing is a lifelong process, we’re never really finished—instead, we’ll just find new things to learn. For instance, my mom learned to draw and became a portrait artist in her fifties. My mother-in -law learned to make jewelry in her sixties, and I had my very first voice lesson last month!

    So, what’s on your list? Do you want to learn to ski? Or beat your best running time? Are you striving for a business goal? Or are you trying to improve your marriage? Just in case you’re wondering, going after these goals is already making you a happier person.

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    4. How would I like it to happen next time?

    Envisioning What’s Next:

    Recognizing our true power to create our reality can be an overwhelming responsibility. We can no longer blame others for our experience, and instead we have to stand up and say, “I created this.” The benefit of this view of reality is that when things are not as we’d like, we have the power to change them. By asking ourselves how we’d like things to go next time, we’re offering ourselves the opportunity to create more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.

    Envisioning the future is an art, and there are subtleties about the process that can make a huge difference in how successful you are at it. Here are my four rules for writing an effective vision:

    1. Everything is stated in the positive (no exceptions)
    2. It is written in present tense, as if all of this is already true.
    3. It is a narrative and when you read it you truly FEEL how you will feel when you accomplish the goals within.
    4. You MUST share your vision with at least three people.

    5. What’s funny about this?

    Playful Presence:

    Maintaining a sense of humor in the midst of your stressful life is a huge key to happiness. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, a virtual feel-good cocktail for your brain. When we can laugh about something, it just doesn’t seem so awful anymore.

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    Plus, the ability to be lighthearted about a difficult situation is a skill that comes in really handy, especially at the most challenging moments of life.

    A few years ago I cut my finger badly and my husband took me to urgent care to get it stitched up. I was a mess, and I was embarrassed, upset, and scared since I’d never had stitches before. My husband was lighthearted and cracking jokes while we waited for the doctor, so that by the time he came in, I was relaxed and at ease. The whole process was quick and much easier than I had anticipated. Thank goodness my husband was there to lighten the mood and get me laughing. Now I just have to figure out how to do that for myself!

    If there is a question here that seems strange, confusing, or difficult for you, don’t worry about it. Just practice the ones you feel drawn to and revisit the others at a later time. After all, this is not about achieving perfection it’s about achieving happiness! Go forth and enjoy your life even MORE.

    Warm hugs, Shelly

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

    Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

    You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

    This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

    Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

    There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

    How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

    When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

    Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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    1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

    One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

    The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

    Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

    2. Be Honest

    A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

    If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

    On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

    Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

    3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

    Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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    If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

    4. Succeed at Something

    When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

    Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

    5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

    Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

    Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

    If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

    If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

    Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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    6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

    Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

    You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

    On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

    You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

    7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

    Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

    Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

    Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

    When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

    Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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    In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

    Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

    It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

    Final Thoughts

    When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

    The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

    Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

    Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

    Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

    More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

    Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
    [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
    [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
    [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
    [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
    [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
    [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
    [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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