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The Difference Between Being Successful and Being Happy

The Difference Between Being Successful and Being Happy

Understanding the difference between being successful and being happy is vital. Success is great, but not if it costs your happiness. If you are meeting the challenges of your life with a light, free heart, then you’re doing it right. Keep going! But if you find yourself dragging along with your heart behind you every step of the way, it is time to stop and rethink. Here are some vital differences that will change the way you see success and happiness.

1. Success is meeting deadlines. Happiness is working toward your goals.

Meeting deadlines is a good thing, but if you are regularly unhappy while you’re doing it, it’s time to figure out why and fix it. Could it be that you are meeting other people’s deadlines, i.e. taking on work that is not yours? Are you working in a field that is in line with your gifts and natural strengths? If not, you may feel like you are swimming upstream. Living from deadline to deadline can be a hamster wheel that will exhaust you.

Goals are stepping stones that take you to your dreams. They aim your life in the right direction–closer to what makes you come alive inside. When you live towards your purpose, you will find an energy bubbling through that will carry you. Goals will have also have deadlines, and meeting those deadlines will bring success–the happy kind.

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” -Dennis Waitley

2. Success is working your way to the top of your field. Happiness is flowing in your purpose and gifts.

You may be climbing the corporate ladder, aiming to be top of your class, or be the fastest in your running club. If success for you is a single achievement, a destination you are aiming at, you may find yourself living in transit; stuck on a gray train between “here” and “there.” You could feel as if life is passing you by, a messy blur past your window. The aim of getting to the top is not just reaching it, but rather the growth you experience as you go.

When you figure out what you’ve been created for, and start doing it, you will find a satisfaction and contentment that you never imagined possible. Opportunities that you’d dreamed of will find you, instead of you sweating to make them happen. Start doing what you were created for and watch the doors fly open.

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“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” -Andy Rooney

3. Success is focusing on accumulating wealth. Happiness is focusing on improving your life.

Money is useful, and having enough of it sure makes life a bit easier, but it never brings a guarantee of happiness. Some of the most miserable people on our planet are those who have the most money.

There is wealth that far outweighs a fat bank balance. Investing in relationships brings a return of love and shared experiences that money can never buy. In the same way, spending time perfecting your abilities will bring an increase in your natural talent. Ask any pianist what an hour a day at the piano can bring. Invest your time into more than just making money.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

4. Success is promotion above your peers. Happiness is being respected by your peers.

Being promoted is a good thing to work towards. But clawing your way ahead, no matter who you have to step on to get there, will not bring you lasting satisfaction or peace.

Being kind and valuing the people in your circles costs you nothing and will earn their respect. It doesn’t matter if they are above or below you in rank; treating everyone as unique individuals worth your time and love will carve you into their hearts.

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“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

5. Success is lying awake at night, worrying. Happiness is sleeping at peace.

If you climb a ladder built only by your own hands, you’ll spend a lot of time hoping it is strong enough to hold you up. But when you build with others, and start to climb higher, they will gather around ready to catch you should you fall. This will bring a security that means you can sleep easy at night.

There is a deep peace that comes with being where you’re meant to be, doing what you’re meant to be doing. Happy people are able to put their heads on the pillow at night and don’t carry the weight of tomorrow by themselves.

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” -Winston Churchill

6. Success is staying ahead of the pack at any cost. Happiness is thriving in everything you do.

Successful people tend to work themselves beyond what their bodies can cope with. The put their health on the line, feeling they can’t spare time towards eating right, getting enough exercise, drinking water and getting sufficient sleep. The only thing that matters to them is staying ahead.

Happy people thrive. They enjoy their lives and will grab opportunities with both hands. They understand the value of looking after themselves and, because of this balance, are able to achieve more.

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“If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” -Proverb

7. Success is finding a life partner. Happiness is keeping your partner for life.

It is a remarkable thing to find the one who gets you. That soul who shares your hopes and dreams, can make you feel better when you are sad or disappointed; the one who loves you just as you are. With so much in common, it is easy to think that a long term relationship should be effortless, yet the truth is, in fact, the opposite.

The first step is deciding that your partner is a keeper, and then spend the rest of your days building on that foundation. Be generous and hold nothing back of your love, patience, generosity and kindness. Remember everything that you pour into your significant other, will come back at you through them.

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” -Robert A. Heinlein

8. Success is keeping the knowledge you glean to yourself. Happiness is sharing your expertise freely.

You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve put in the time, paid money to do the courses and it shows in your achievements. Many people at this stage will hang onto their know-how out of fear that others will surpass their accomplishments. Insecurity will hold you back from the joy of seeing your abilities multiplied in those who learn from you.

There is something beautiful in having your student outdo you. Being brilliant at what you do is one thing, but to be willing to pass everything you know on and to see your students soar higher than you? That is when you know you have mastered your craft. It takes confidence not to be intimidated by the success of others. Their success does not take away from your talent; in fact it amplifies it.

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“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.” -Maxim Gorky

9. Success is striving for more. Happiness is contentment with what you have.

Are you living in a rut of “not enough”? A life spent chasing bigger, better and more will leave you empty and tired. Shift the focus and, instead of being an accumulator, start living as a distributor and watch your happiness sky rocket.

Open your eyes to the blessings surrounding you. Live aware of how much you have. If you can’t see it, take a day off and hang out with someone who has less than you. Choose to be grateful and appreciate every tiny detail of what you have.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” -Frederick Keonig

10. Success is to live driven. Happiness is to live fueled by passion.

For each mountain you climb, there is another waiting for your feet. There will always be another deadline, another urgent matter that can’t wait. If you live in waiting for the sound of a whip crack from behind you, it is time to re-evaluate. If fear is your greatest motivator, take it as a warning light on your dashboard. You can’t keep running at that pace; something has to change or your health and relationships will suffer.

From the outside, a driven person and a passionate person might look equally busy, but they are running on different fuel. When you work with what you feel most passionate about, you will have energy, a love for life that is infectious and a productivity level that gets stuff done. Your instincts will be sharp and there will be fresh initiative for everything you tackle. It’s worth taking the time to get to know yourself and figure out what you are passionate about. Then do that thing!

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -Albert Schweitzer

Featured photo credit: 066 006.jpg/butkovicdub via mrg.bz

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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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