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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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    Published on September 23, 2020

    6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

    6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

    I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

    If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

    What is Negotiation?

    First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

    Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

    In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

    Places We Negotiate

    I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

    1. Work/Business

    This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

    When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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    In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

    Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

    2. Personal

    I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

    I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

    Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

    3. Ourselves

    You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

    I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

    Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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    Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

    Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

    We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

    My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

    If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

    As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

    6 Negotiation Skills to Master

    Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

    Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

    1. Preparation

    Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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    It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

    For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

    After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

    2. Clear Communication

    The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

    If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

    3. Active Listening

    Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

    If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

    4. Teamwork and Collaboration

    To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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    If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

    When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

    5. Problem Solving

    Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

    Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

    From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

    There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

    6. Decision-Making Ability

    Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

    Conclusion

    There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

    Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

    More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

    Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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