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Last Updated on March 17, 2020

I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness

I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness

“I want to be happy!” Well, who doesn’t really?

Everyone strives to be happier, but the truth is some people are more successful than others at attaining happiness. Why? Most people think they know what they need to be happy. But the science of happiness reveals some surprising truths. Find out what research says about what you really need to find inner happiness below.

1. Put Others First

When you choose to live selflessly and devote your time to making the world better for the people you love, your life gets better as a result. George Vaillant, an American psychiatrist and professor at the Harvard Medical School, is the director of one of the most revered longitudinal studies on happiness, the Grant Study. The study measured lifelong happiness of 237 Harvard students from 1939 to 1944.

After completing the Grant Study, Vaillant was able to come to one conclusion:

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“The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

When you think about it, you realize that this statement is true. You build strong relationships by doing things for others and not expecting anything in return. Don’t take your relationships for granted. Make other peoples’ lives happier, and your happiness will follow suit.

2. Spend Your Time Wisely

Time is the most valuable thing you have in this world, so treat it as such. One research study suggests that balancing your free time is one of the key ways to being truly happy.[1] According to the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, these are the most common regrets people have:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The takeaway message here is clear: Focus your time and energy on things that serve to improve your life and the lives of those you love.

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3. Choose Thoughtful Conversations over Small Talk

According to research, another thing you need to be happy is meaningful conversations rather than small talk.[2] Researchers found that the happiest people spend less time alone and more time having thoughtful conversations than unhappier people.

So even if you’re an introvert and you don’t like to spend time socializing, you may want to consider breaking out of your comfort zone to have some deeper conversations. This helps you uncover meaning in the things that are most important to you.

4. Take Care of Your Health

It is commonly known that exercise is good for you, but it may also be a key to happiness. A 2012 research study showed that people who exercise are generally happier than those who don’t.[3]

Exercise not only helps you look better, it helps you feel better too. If you want to substantially increase your odds of living a longer, happier life, then start exercising and eating the right foods today.

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5. Be Willing to Delay Gratification

There’s a big problem with society today. It has created a generation of people who think that if they don’t make their first million dollars by age 30, they’re failures. This new “entitlement generation” wants instant gratification in everything they do. And it’s not just young people who are the problem. People now live in a world of instant rewards.

That’s why one of the most important things you need to realize is this: Some rewards take a heck of a lot longer than you plan, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. That’s life.

Failure and suffering are necessary for growth. Be willing to put in weeks, months and years of work to get what you want. The rewards will be much sweeter in the end.

6. Spend Time Outdoors

A team from the London School of Economics and Political Science polled 22,000 people and asked them to record their daily levels of happiness.[4] The study revealed that participants reported they felt much happier outdoors in all-natural environments than they were in urban environments. They rated “being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon” as the perfect spot for happiness.

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Spending time outdoors helps you reduce stress, interact with others you love in a quiet, serene environment and get some exercise. All of these things are directly related to happiness.

7. Become an Expert in Something You Love

If you still don’t know what you want to do with your life, here’s a good place to start:

Identify the things that you absolutely love doing, then spend time becoming an expert at each of those things. The more you learn about the stuff you’re passionate about in life, the more opportunities and experiences unfold in your favor. Research shows that these experiences make us happier than having material possessions.[5]

Find out what you love doing with these tips: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Noémi Macavei-Katócz via unsplash.com

Reference

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

achieve your goals 8 Simple and Effective Ways to Reach Your Ultimate Goals I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 17 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do 10 Things To Do When You Are Feeling Down 10 Things a Happy Person Does Differently

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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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