Many of the problems we perceive as external are shaped significantly by small, every-day habits. Whether you are trying to improve your personal situation or increase your sense of fulfilment at work, these four lessons will help you bring out the best in yourself increase your sense of well-being.
1. Stretch Your Comfort Zone
Research indicates that a certain level of anxiety can increase a person’s ability to perform a task, while high levels of anxiety significantly hinder performance.
This notion dates back to the Yerkes-Dodson law developed in 1908, which has since been illustrated by studies in modern neuroscience.
The success of many performers and athletes is owed to their ability to channel their nerves to the optimal level. But creating a small, controlled level of discomfort can enhance your everyday life and leave you feeling more productive. You can do this through simple acts, such as visiting a new place, trying new foods, or wearing something that you would usually avoid.
Recognise that everyone’s comfort zone is different, and you should stretch your personal boundaries at your own pace.
2. Surround Yourself with the Right Company
Every second, our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours are being influenced by those around us. Psychological research illustrates that mutually supportive friendships are a key to happiness and fulfilment.
For centuries, research has documented the way people unconsciously mimic the emotional expressions of those around them and often find themselves experiencing the same feelings as a result of these interactions.
While emotions are contagious, it is not always a simple case of positive company and negative peers. Instead, view it as seeking the company of individuals whose attitudes and standards are most beneficial to your happiness and with whom you share a mutual appreciation.
Evolutionary epistemologist Dr. Jeremy Sherman suggests that the key to is to figure out what we can change, while accepting what we have no control over. Dr. Sherman argues that one of the most significant capabilities we have is to choose our peers.
He discusses how sometimes we may not resent a person, but rather, resent the person we become in their company.
While we do not have complete control over who we interact with every day, we can do our best to manage our interactions with those whose company we find difficult, minimise the time spent with those who leave us feeling drained and spend more time around those who fulfil us.
3. Communicate Assertively
When we state your ideas or expectations in an honest, clear and considerate manner, we maintain more positive relationships.
Often, conflicts are the result of unspoken expectations, and the other party is completely unaware that they are not living up to these prospects. Attempting to read another’s thoughts, or assuming the thoughts and feelings of another is another common cognitive error that often results in resentments.
The main difference between being assertive and being aggressive is the manner in which you express yourself. If another’s behaviour is having a negative impact on you, the best approach is to choose your words carefully and explain how their actions are affecting you. Speak clearly, maintain good posture and use meaningful gestures and facial expressions.
By using assertive communication, you can improve your own situation without creating tension between yourself and your friends, family or co-workers. This will also allow you to build trust and honesty throughout your interactions with others.
4. Practice Positive Thinking
Alongside the attention devoted to positive thinking in recent years, numerous studies have illustrated the benefits of optimistic attitudes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is linked with a wide range of health benefits, including longer life-span, lower rates of depression as well as better stress management and coping skills.
To benefit from positive thinking, it is important to recognise when it is most valuable. Evidence from some studies suggests that positive thinking in some cases can lead to an under-estimation of actual risks. In other words, while a positive outlook will be useful in reducing stress and managing time, it may not be the best approach to risky decisions, such as gambling or driving in a severe storm.
There are a range of tips for building a positive mindset, such as meditating, complimenting others and finding time to laugh.
Even the most self-aware individuals fall victims to habits that are negative and counter-productive to their goals. The good news is that with practice, you can work to overcome these mind-sets more easily and increase the number of hours spent enjoying your own company as well as the company of others.