Top 5 Traits of Happy People

Top 5 Traits of Happy People

happy

By Suzie Patterson

Happy People are no accident. They are happy because they have developed certain skills that make happiness part of their lives. Here are 5 skills that will reduce stress, build confidence and self-esteem, help reduce negative thinking and improve your relationships.

1. Savor the Moment

Frequently this is called “Being Present” or “Being in the Now”. For many years I have done a backpacking trip every fall to Baxter State Park in northern Maine. My favorite spot is Wassataquoik Island. Remote, quiet, nothing but nature all around. I take day hikes around the park and I am fully involved with the sights, sounds and smells of all that is around me. This trip serves to center and restore me. It helps me to know firsthand the benefits of being present in the moment. This backpacking trip reinforces the importance of being present every minute of every day. It reminds me that worrying about the future or rehashing the past does not serve me well.

I’m not suggesting that you take off and go backpacking, but how about setting aside an hour in your day and be fully present in that hour. Perhaps while you are preparing dinner tonight you turn off the TV, put on some quiet background music and fully experience each step of your food preparation. I bet dinner will taste better!

Whatever you choose to call it, savoring each moment will reduce stress and negative thoughts – making you a much happier person.

2. Practice Daily Gratitude

Happy people practice gratitude every day. Each morning when I wake up I think of 3 things that I am grateful for and I give thanks for those things. Sometimes these are great inspired thoughts and more frequently they are simple parts of my life.

Keeping a gratitude log is even more powerful. A simple notebook will do. When you write your thoughts, you are cementing the positive thoughts in your subconscious. Feeling a little low? You now have a visual reminder of the good things in your life. Take out that gratitude log and read some of your entries. When you focus on the good parts of your life, you will increase your self-esteem and be a happier person.

jillfrosmile3. Have Meaningful Goals

Reaching a goal is a huge boost to your self-confidence. Go ahead, make some goals, big or small, the more the merrier! You can create several goals for different areas of your life. For example: emotional, health, fitness, financial. Outline a plan and do something every day to move you closer to achieving your goal. Remember to put a date on your goal or it will remain a dream.

There is a great book called “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olsen that discusses in detail the magic of doing just one thing each day consistently that virtually always yields the results you are looking for.

Having trouble thinking of a “meaningful” goal? Try this: Think of what you want and then ask yourself “How will my life be when I achieve _____?” Take some time to visualize, be as detailed as possible. When you repeat these steps several times you will not only have a major meaningful goal, but also will have found several smaller steps to take on your way the achieving your major goal.

Having a meaningful goal will eliminate dead-end thinking and open your mind to opportunities.

4. Give of Yourself

Happy people give something to the greater good every day. You don’t have to be a bestselling author or philanthropist to give to the common good. There are hundreds of things that you can do. You can call an elderly neighbor to see how they are doing or you could write an encouraging blog post that helps lift people up. You can volunteer. Donate time to a soup kitchen, youth group or neighborhood cleanup.

How about this? Whenever I am out shopping, I make it a point to get eye contact and Smile at as many people as possible. What fun it is to see the surprised expressions and get smiles back! Great for your self-esteem. A smile is free to give and it can easily change someone’s day for the better.

5. Empathize with Others

According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, empathy is the act of being aware of and being sensitive to the feelings and experience of others without having those feelings explicitly communicated to you. The key here is “being aware and sensitive”. This does not mean you carry around other people’s “stuff” as if your own it. When you practice empathy you are intentionally focusing on other people, not yourself. When you take the time to think of other people as being just as human as you are, you are able to treat others with compassion, kindness and without judgment. Empathy will create better, healthier relationships in your life.

Hey there. Thanks for reading my article. I hope you found value in it. You can find more tips and inspiration for personal development from me at http://www.susanpattersononline.com

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The Surprising Psychology Behind Human Smiles

The Surprising Psychology Behind Human Smiles

Dangerous Smile

We really should smile more – psychological researchers constantly find that the seemingly-simple act of smiling actually has powerful side effects.

Sure, common sense is enough to tell you that smiling is good for you: your smile can bring smiles to others’ lips, your smile can make you look more attractive to others, and your smile can prolong your lifespan by years. Nevertheless, most people probably do not genuinely smile as often as they should. Hopefully, a summary of some of the most interesting psychological research out there can help convince you to harness the immense power of the human smile more often:

What Botox Taught Us About Depression

Obviously, when you are happy, you are likely to smile. In other words, we know a positive mood called “happiness” can cause positive facial expressions categorized as “smiling”. In recent decades, scientists began analyzing this causation with serious rigor. Studies asked, could the relationship be reversed – could smiling cause happiness? A number of studies have approached this question in a number of ways – one interesting finding is that Botox treatment eases depression suggesting that the inability to frown is an effective antidepressant.

How Smiling is a Completely Legal Psychostimulant

While the implications of the Botox research have to be studied more closely, there are some things we know with more certainty: even forcing yourself to fake a smile can seriously affect your hormonal situation for good. Smiling triggers the release of the same feel-good neurotransmitters that stimulants affect: dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. All of these chemicals relax your body by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, by naturally relieving aches and pains, and by fighting off depression – all without any of the negative side effects of prescription drugs.

These chemicals help explain the 1998 research by Chris L. Kleinke and others that found participants who merely faked positive or negative facial expressions experienced actual positive or negative mood effects. More recently, Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas found that the mere physical shape of a smile can facilitate stress recovery: three groups of participants performed multitasking activities and the participants who forced a smile or held a chopstick in their mouth to form the physical shape of a smile ended up less stressed than those participants who held neutral expressions.

When Smiling is a Powerful Tool for Influencing Others

Despite all the internal chemical benefits of smiling, the facial expression is ultimately a social one. The ways that smiling affects others are many and fascinating. The chemical effects of smiling help ward of heart issues and enhance overall health, but the social effects of smiling are arguably greater. Obviously, smiling has long since been linked to attractiveness – for millennia humans used smiling as a measure of physical and mental health and as evidence of reliability and sincerity. The more interesting findings on the social impacts of smiling have mostly been recent breakthroughs.

In 2002, Marianne Sonnby–Borgström of Lund University found that it takes a strong, conscious effort to frown at somebody who is smiling at you – something you can keep in mind the next time you upset a loved one. A year later, John P. O’Doherty and others used fMRI scans to find that the orbitofrontal cortex, the same part of your brain that lights up when you see an attractive person, is further stimulated when that person is smiling – this suggests that your brain is hardwired to make you feel rewarded when somebody smiles at you.

Studies like these help explain why smiles are contagious, but they also suggest that each time you smile at somebody you create a powerful symbiotic relationship which influences them to return the favor to you or others. In fact, a famous 2003 study by two French researchers, Gueguen and De Gail, found that there is a surprisingly significant relationship between smiling and altruistic behavior. When random passersby had been smiled at by an actor, they were 50 percent more likely to help out another actor who had “accidentally” dropped a stack of computer disks.

Humans Were Evolved to Smile

In short, not only does smiling help trigger positive chemical reactions that are crucial to individual health, but it also helps trigger positive social behaviors that are crucial to societal health. The links between these biological and societal triggers have only grown stronger over the hundreds of years humans have spent smiling at each other, and it’ll only be good news if recent research can help encourage us to smile a bit more at ourselves and at each other.

References

  • Hexsel, D., Brum, C., Siega, C., Schilling-Souza, J., Forno, T. D., Heckmann, M. and Rodrigues, T. C. (2013), Evaluation of Self-Esteem and Depression Symptoms in Depressed and Nondepressed Subjects Treated with OnabotulinumtoxinA for Glabellar Lines. Dermatologic Surgery, 39: 1088–1096. doi: 10.1111/dsu.12175
  • Kleinke, C. L., Peterson, T. R., & Rutledge, T. R. (1998). Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 74(1), 272-279. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.1.272
  • Kraft, T. (2011). The role of positive facial feedback in the stress response. (Order No. 1494532, University of Kansas). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 55.
  • Sonnby–Borgström, M. (2002), Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43: 433–443. doi: 10.1111/1467-9450.00312
  • J O’Doherty, J Winston, H Critchley, D Perrett, D.M Burt, R.J Dolan, Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness, Neuropsychologia, 41: 147-155. doi:10.1016/S0028-3932(02)00145-8.
  • Guéguen, Nicolas and De Gail, Marie‐Agnès, The effect of smiling on helping behavior: Smiling and good Samaritan behavior, Communication Reports, 16: 133-140. doi:10.1080/08934210309384.

Zane Schwarzlose writes for Lifetime Smiles Dentistry in Austin, Texas.

 

10 Great Conversation Starters

10 Great Conversation Starters

convo1

Have you ever wondered how people are able to start up conversations with almost everyone?  Truly, there are people who were born to talk.  They were born to socialize and they were born to associate with people.  However, not everyone had been able to be good conversationalists by pure talent.  They fought the fear and tried harder to be able to confidently talk to people and start conversation.  So do you wanna know what helped them beat the constant feeling of having butterflies in your stomach?

Questions Show Interest

So first, remember, a single question can take you a thousand miles.  Yes, asking a total stranger a single but leading question can help you start a conversation.  It works even with those who you occasionally bump into.  Some examples of surefire questions involve being a keen observer about something about the type of person you want to talk to.  Say you meet someone who works in an office, “How’s today?  Has it been busy?”  Or maybe you wanna start a conversation in a plane with another passenger, “Have you visited this place (your destination) before?”  Just things you know that person can relate to you.

Say you want to talk to someone you see every day.  How about asking them about the current news?  Depending on where you are, maybe ask, “How are things going?”  Or maybe, “Hey, what’s new?”  “What’s the latest gig?”  Or “Where do you usually hang out nowadays?”  If you meet someone with similar interests, maybe ask them what their other interests are.  Say if you both love golfing, ask if they also enjoy skiing.  If you’re both in a cooking class, ask them if they’re working as well or maybe if they already have kids.  If you’re talking with a colleague at work, maybe ask them, “How did you start in this job?”

While those tips are useful, however, there are times when you can’t come up with a good conversation starter and you would need something effective.  Something that will really work whoever you are talking to, be it a kid, an elderly person, or just someone your age.

Follow These 10 Surefire Conversation Starters

1) Smile. Oh, yes, I’ve added it on the list because though you’re not saying anything in particular, just smiling can work wonders.  Smiling at a person can actually get their attention and it’s rare, not unless you’re meters away from each other that you won’t start a conversation with this gesture.  It’s also rare to find someone who won’t smile back after you smile at them.  It’s either they are really having a tough time or they’re just plain mean.  So smile, and after you smile, greet them, and maybe start with anything you have applied with the tips above.  Who knows, they might be the one to start a conversation after you smiled at them.  No hassle for you!

2) Nice weather.  This one never gets old.  Wherever and whenever.  Of course you can tell it to everyone.  Then they will start looking around at the weather if they haven’t noticed or observed it yet.  Afterwards, they’ll respond to you.  It works almost every time.  No one will leave you after saying this.  Again, it’s either they are problematic, or just plain mean.

3) Where are you from?  If you’re talking with people who you’ve noticed come from a different background, then this question is really safe to ask.  Or even if that person looks as if he/she is coming back from somewhere, you can ask this.  Just be careful as they might think you’re investigating them.  Sound just plain curious on what their origin is.

4)  Hi, I’m (your name), and you are? Or maybe add something like, “I haven’t seen you around here, are you new?”  This works.  Just don’t make it sound like you’re a stalker or you want something from them.  Just smile while saying this.

5)  Ask about directions or a local establishment.  There are still good Samaritans out there who would be willing to help you.  So ask them, “Do you know where (name the place) is?”  “Do I have to take a left turn or a right turn?”  “What’s the best restaurant around here?”  Of course, spontaneity is crucial if you want to continue the conversation.  Even after the person tells you the directions for a certain place, make sure you don’t stop there.  Stop only if you want to end the conversation.  But also remember to do go to that place, or else that person will know that you’re just asking them and going through all that trouble just because you want to talk to them.

6) Now this one can either be a conversation starter or an ice breaker.  “What a beautiful car.”  “That house is adorable.”  “Whoa, you’ve got cool boots.”  “Where did you buy that tie from?”  Well, this one works on some people.  Some not, but it’s sure to start a conversation.  The only problem would be the spontaneity after.  But most people will answer those questions, again, not unless they DON’T wanna talk or anything.  Or if they’ve got halitosis.

7) Have you heard of the news?  Mention a current event or a trending topic that people are surely to react to or they are concerned at.  Okay, so this one aims for the more serious people who looks like they really read or watch the news.  But you’ll never know.  Nowadays, even the less serious people are concerned with current events.  So might as well try it.  Of course, you’ll have to get yourself ready about talking about that certain news, meaning you should’ve done your homework and researched about it.

8) Who do you know here?  This one works in an event.  Of course, you’ll want to know who your common acquaintances are, so people are more likely to answer this.  It could be rephrased to a much more personal, “Who accompanied you here?  Or who invited you here?”

9) “What field are you in?” Again, this one works in business events particularly.  If you’re all doctors, ask what field are they in.  If you’re all engineers, ask them their specialty.

10) And last but not the least, “What do you think of this place/event/party/gift?” Oh yes, ask their opinion and they will go on answering you, not unless, again, they are mean.

The above are just sample conversation starters.  However, lines are only doing 20% of the job.  What matters for these to be effective is your confidence as well as practice and your spontaneity.  Even if you say the above, without confidence and further creativity in talking, you won’t be effective at all.  So practice, practice, and practice. That’s how some people “acquire” their social skills.

Doris McHelmsley is a freelance web designer and writer with over 13 years of experience.  She has an awesome site streetsmartz.com which has tons of videos on everyday things.  Her passion in the web and print field has led her to this career path. As a mother of 3, she also enjoys bike riding and creating special homemade recipes.

The Golden Rule: How To Apply It To Every Person In Your Life

The Golden Rule: How To Apply It To Every Person In Your Life

goldenrule

You do your best to be nice to everyone you encounter, but sometimes you find it hard to do. When you’re struggling to be nice to someone, it’s very important that you remember the golden rule.

The golden rule is the mantra in which many people live their lives—treat others as you wish to be treated.

Because of the golden rule, many people choose to treat others with kindness in hopes of receiving the same kindness in return. This golden rule dates back to Ancient Babylon, and it has been something that has been passed down and carried on for centuries.

So how do you apply the golden rule to every person in your life?

Use your manners

The best way to apply the golden rule is to use your manners. Make sure that you’re always being polite and treating people by respecting them. Make sure to say “please” and “thank you”, look people in the eye when you’re talking to them and hold the door open for the person behind you.

Think before speaking

This is hard for some people, but speaking without thinking is how you get yourself into trouble. Make sure that you consciously think about the words that you’re about to say and decide if it’s the right thing to be saying. If the words seem as if they’ll be hurtful, don’t say them.

Listen

How often have you become frustrated at the need to repeat yourself? Make sure that you don’t make others feel this way by listening when they speak. Give them your full attention—so yes, put the cell phone down. Make eye contact with them while they’re speaking, and make sure that you are nodding and answering and reacting to their story.

Be helpful

If you notice that someone is in need of help, then offer to help. Being helpful is a great way to apply the golden rule to everyone. You will help someone that completely needs it, and you’ll feel good about yourself, and you may even inspire them to do the same thing for someone else.

Think before acting

The same way you’re supposed to think before speaking, you should also think before acting. Make sure to think about the things that you’re about to do before actually doing them to determine if anyone will be hurt by your actions. If the outcome is not entirely positive, then it’s best not to do it.

Be patient

Patience truly is a virtue, and it’s very important that you become patient in order to apply the golden rule. Sometimes other people just don’t have it all together, and this can affect you. But there will come a day when you may not have it all together, and a person’s patience with you would be appreciated. This is why you should show patience with others.

Smile

The easiest way to apply the golden rule is to simply smile. Smiling changes the way that people perceive you, and it also changes the way that you speak. Smiling while talking makes your voice more pleasant, and simply having a smile on your face at all times will make others happier to be around you.

Jennifer Goldwine is a mother and writer who loves to blog about the importance of decorum and exercising the golden rule.