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Motivate Yourself 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life

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First of all I want to say a big "Thank You!” to all the subscribers of my Podcast.
Last month’s episode put me at number one in the UK iTunes Podcast Chart.

For personal development to be more important than anything else, even if it was for just a week, is a great thing, so well done.

This month I want to give you a quick Top 10 of the hints and tips that I talk about as a therapist when helping people to become happier.

1. Notice when you’re happy.
We rarely notice happiness when it’s actually happening you see. We often look back and say "I was happy then” or we look forward and say "I’ll be happy when…” but rarely do we say "I’m happy now.”
Happiness comes from living in the moment and cannot truly be based on a future event. You can look forward to something, of course, but if you’re not enjoying what’s happening NOW then looking into the future for happiness puts it on hold, robbing ourselves of the precious happy moments in the present.

2. Smile!
Research has shown that not only can being happy make us smile, but it also works the other way around and smiling can make us happy.
As long as we’re doing it naturally and our thoughts aren’t getting in the way that is. Don’t force a smile but then talk to yourself in your head telling yourself that you’re a phoney.
Let smiling become more natural to you.
Do things that make you smile. Watch funny comedies that make you laugh and ignore the news.
It can be tempting when you’re feeling miserable to watch a gloomy film and sit in a dark room but it’s rare that that would help, and with all the YouTube clips that people upload from TV shows and stand up comedians we’re not short of things that can cheer us up, we just need to put some effort in and look for them.

3. Thought control.
As I said there’s no point in your behaviour being that of a happy character if you’re telling yourself that your a loser, remember, the brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imaginary, so if you find that your putting yourself down or thinking about stuff that is only going to make you feel worse, you need to STOP!
Interrupt your thoughts the second you realise what you’re doing and deliberately move them onto something else.
This video will help explain more.

4. Slow any anxiety down.
Once you have control over your thoughts the next thing is to get control over your emotions. An emotion is just your intellectual interpretation of the sensations of anxiety.
If you feel anxious, nervous, panicky and you’ve recently done something that you shouldn’t have done, then the feeling becomes guilt.
If you know that you have a job interview the next day then the feeling is nervousness.
If you’ve got nothing to do but pick your nose and stare out of a window waiting for the phone to ring then the feeling probably gets interpreted as boredom.
But pretty much all emotion is based around the anxiety response, the fight or flight response, learn to slow that down and its a lot easier to get on with life.
So practise some deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate down and oxygenate your blood, this video will show you how.

5. Look at what you HAVE done rather than what you HAVEN’T.
So many people say that they are frustrated because they look at all the things that they want to do in life and feel disappointed that they haven’t achieved them despite the fact that there’s so much that they already have achieved.
It’s the same with goal setting, if you want to lose 3 stone in weight to only look at how far you have to go isn’t going to help motivate you.
But if you make an effort to notice the times that you choose something healthy, to notice how many inches have come off you in the past few months then you’ll feel better about it and are far less likely to give up.

6. Turn off your emails!
I remember a speaker at a conference 15 years ago talking about the importance of switching off emails in order to be more productive.
15 years ago!
Even then we could see that we were becoming slaves to technology, and nowadays it’s even easier for communication to intrude on our lives.
You don’t have to respond to every Tweet, Facebook post, email or text message. And thinking that you have to will make your life very difficult and for no reason!

7. Communicate well.
It sounds simple but Say "please” and "thank you” more than everyone else.
Make eye contact with people. If you struggle with eye contact look at their forehead instead, they will feel as if you're interested in what they have to say and you can learn how to make eye contact then, little by little, boosting your confidence.
But the secret to being the one at the party that everyone likes is to say less and listen more. Research has shown that the person rated the highest in social situations is the one that joins in on conversations but actually says very little.
Yet so many clients say to me that they struggle with social situations because they can't think of anything to say. Turns out we don't need to actually!

8. Make more time to spend with your friends and family.
Social interaction reminds our instincts that we aren't alone, that we're safe and the big bad wolf isn't going to get us. If you already have people in your life that you can spend time with then do. It's much easier to reconnect with old friends than it is to make new ones.

9. Each day do at least one thing to make someone else happy.
Turns out from research at the University of Exeter that we're happier when we're helping other people.
Volunteering makes us happier and even makes us live longer! Maybe it's because of my previous suggestion of keeping in touch with people as its an effective way to override feelings of disconnection in our increasingly online lives.

10. Mental relaxation.
Mindfulness, Hypnosis, Meditation. Whatever you want to call it is a real permanent gateway to happiness.
Studies have continually shown that mental relaxation boosts positive feelings and psychological well-being, in addition to warding off stress, depression and anxiety.
It’s relatively easy to learn and gives you a technique that will stay with you forever. Remember that everything that gets repeated will become an unconscious ability. You end up being able to do something with less and less effort, like walking and talking it soon becomes second nature.
So the more time you can spend with a peaceful mind the harder it becomes to be unhappy or worried, it helps you leave the past in the past and enjoy the now, and I recommend it to everyone that I see in therapy. There are some free downloads available here to get started.

So, in short.
Take some deep breaths, learn to control your thinking so you can live in the moment, switch off technology, practice some hypnosis and make time to see friends and family.
And if there’s something I’ve missed let everyone know on the Facebook page. or tweet me @richardnicholls

Take care
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Episode List

Episode 138: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Episode 137: The Likeable You
Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser
Episode 135: The Psychology Of Extremism
Episode 134: Are You A Lobster?
Episode 133: Critical Thinking
Episode 132: There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad
Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination
Episode 130: Loneliness & Social Networks
Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past
Episode 128: What Is Love?
Episode 127: Procrastination
Ep. 126: Who Were You Before The World Changed You?
Episode 125: Stop Saying "Sorry"
Episode 124: Emotional Contagion
Episode 123: Patience
Episode 122: Building On Your Foundations
Episode 121: Dealing With The Critics
Episode 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!
Episode 119: Inactivity
Episode 118: Social Functioning & Evolution
Episode 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero
Episode 116: Goals, Values and Priorities
Episode 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life
Episode 114: Lies And Confabulation
Episode 113: Confirmation Bias
Episode 112: Are You An Imposter?
Episode 111: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Episode 110: Are New Years Resolutions a good idea?
Episode 109: The African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee
Episode 108: Reframing
Episode 107: Spiders And Behaviourism
Episode 106: Practise Makes Perfect
Episode 105: Fear Of Flying
Episode 100 - 104: Happiness
Episode 99: Body Image And The Media
Episode 98: Evolution and Adaptation
Episode 97: Reflections And Regrets.
Episode 96: Dealing With Fear
Episode 95: Confidence
Episode 94: Enthusiasm
Episode 93: Tips To Relieve Christmas Stress
Episode 92: Dealing With Change
Episode 87 - 91: Self Esteem
Episode 86: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
Episode 85: The Importance Of Being Lazy
Episode 84: Elephant Chains
Episode 83: Eating Bananas And Setting Goals
Episode 82: Ignoring The Media And Listening To Music
Episode 81: Awakening The Instincts
Episode 80: The Fine Line Between Love And Hate
Episode 79: The Best Medicine
Episode 78: A New Start
Episode 77: Time Distortion
Episode 76: Making Decisions
Episode 75: What's In A Name?
Episode 74: Pushing Ourselves Further
Episode 73: Conformity
Episode 72: Purpose
Episode 71: Perspective
Episode 70: Expectation
Episode 69: The Mind / Body Link
Episode 68: Overcoming Shyness
Episode 67: Mood Boosting
Episode 66: Sabotaging your goals
Episode 65: Self Talk
Episode 64: Money Makes The World Go Round
Episode 63: First Impressions Count
Episode 62: False Belief
Episode 61: Absolutes
Episode 60: The Psychology of feeling calm
Episode 59: Belief
Episode 58: Anchoring Emotions
Episode 57: Negativity and Perspective
Episode 56: Health And Happiness
Episode 55: Imagination vs Reality
Episode 54: Change