Tag: happiness

Nine ways to be happier

Image of happy woman with outstretched arms standing in field
Want to feel this good? Follow these easy steps.

You may be wondering why I am writing about happiness when this is a blog on assertiveness. The truth is that it’s easier to be assertive when you are feeling good. It gives you an inner strength, a resilience that supports you through even difficult conversations. Which of these suggestions can you use?

Be Sociable – spend time with people who make you feel good. Make face to face connections with colleagues, friends and family. Try to stop seeing people who make you feel bad.

Look after your body – it’s hard to feel happy if you are feeling unwell, sluggish or have regular hangovers. Eat well, drink alcohol in moderation.

Exercise – some people think this means going to the gym or doing a marathon, but that’s not the case. Just get moving. If your job is sedentary, get up about once an hour and walk around, have a good stretch. Go for a walk in your lunch break. Take the dog for a walk. Walk up stairs instead of taking the lift.

Sleep Well – follow a sleep routine to get 7 to 8 hours sleep each night. No screens of any sort for an hour before bedtime. A dark bedroom with a comfortable temperature. No alcohol (it may make you fall asleep but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep)

Have goals for your life – these can be small goals like getting a piece of work done, bigger goals like getting fit or losing weight, or life changing goals like finding a new partner or a new job. Write your goals somewhere where you can see them regularly. Imagine what life will be like when you’ve achieved them then work backwards step by step drawing up your action plan.

Spent time in nature – do some gardening, take a walk in your lunch break, go hiking at weekends. Take time to enjoy what you see in nature.

Relax – download a meditation or hypnotic recording. Learn some relaxation techniques. A great one is to relax your shoulders and then breath in as you slowly count to five and out as you count to seven at the same speed. Repeat a few times.

Give back – research shows that helping others not only makes us feel better but it boosts our immune system. So help others, volunteer, give to charity, do whatever you can do to give back.

Laugh – watch comedies, go to comedy films, spend time with people who make you laugh.

OVER TO YOU – do you have any tricks you use to feel good? I’d love to know them. Tell me in the comments box.

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Listening Cheat Sheet – 10 vital tips

Girl Telling A Secret To Her Friend

It’s impossible to be assertive if we are not listening well to what the other person says. These tips will help to keep you focussed. The conversation is much more likely to go well when you are listening.

  • Listen for the feelings, not just the words. These may show in body posture or facial expressions.
  • Avoid internal distractions so that you can give all your attention to listening to the other person.
  • Maintain good eye contact. It is normal for the listener to do more looking at the other person than the speaker. Speakers normally look away from time to time to think what to say next.
  • Reflect back what you understand them to have said. A simple ‘Can I just check I’ve understood that correctly. You’re saying that…’ is enough.
  • Don’t be judgemental or jump to conclusions about what the speaker means.
  • Choose a quiet time and place to speak. Turn off phones, music, screens, etc.
  • Show you’re listening by nodding and making small comments such as ‘mmm’, ‘I see’, ‘tell me more.’
  • Don’t rush to defend yourself if you are being criticised. Take deep breaths to keep calm. There are tips for dealing with criticism in my book ‘’How to be Assertive’
  • Ask questions that show that you have listened properly and are interested in what the other person has to say.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

Are you keeping your New Year’s Resolution?

Maya started 2103 full of good intentions. Normally, she didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions but Imageshe was determined to change a few things in her life. She’d lose a bit of weight, not masses, just about 5% of her body weight. It was enough to get her back into healthy BMI.

 Secondly, she planned to get promotion at work. Maya had been with her company for five years. She was well qualified and efficient, yet several times she had been overlooked for promotion. Worse, she knew that some of the people who’d got ahead of her had less skills than her. As a result, she’d been quietly fuming.

Then for Christmas 2012, a friend bought her a book on how to get promoted. It was full of great advice. What amazed Maya though, was that mostly it was about being more assertive. She learned that by keeping her head down and doing a good job, she was being overlooked. She needed to be more visible. She resolved to follow the steps in the book one by one. This is what she did:

Instead of being quiet in meetings, Maya carefully read the agenda and planned what she was going to say. She spoke out on at least half the agenda items. She made sure what she said was relevant and succinct. She maintained good eye contact and sat comfortably upright. At first, people were a bit surprised when she spoke, but within a few meetings she realised they had started to look to her to contribute. It was a massive confidence boost.

Maya volunteered to lead a new project at work. Not one for pushing herself forward, normally she would have been a follower, not a leader. But she’d had enough leaders, good and bad, to know what worked. She knew how to motivate others and get the best out of them. She gave clear commands, worked collaboratively with the team, and spoke to those people who were falling behind to get them back on board. The project was a great success and came in on time and on budget.

Maya let her boss know of her successes.  In the past, she’d thought of this as bragging, but now she realised the boss wouldn’t know unless she told her. Using her new assertiveness skills, she used the art of ‘gentle boasting’. It was a style of assertiveness that suited her personality well.

She kept her skills up to date. Not just her technical skills, but her interpersonal skills. That included getting comfortable when speaking to the most senior managers. She’d been too scared to say much to them in the past.

She made sure she looked the part. Through reading about assertiveness, Maya subtly changed her body language so she looked more assertive. She walked more upright. She held eye contact more firmly. She used confident gestures. And, taking one tip from her book, she started to dress like those people one grade higher than her.

Finally, come October, she asked for a raise. No jobs had become vacant, so she asked for a raise instead. She got it, and her boss implied she’d be very favourably regarded for a promotion in future.

Now, all she has to do is to decide on her resolutions for 2014. She’s still considering several options, but feels sure she can achieve most things she sets out to do.

I’d love to hear your New Year’s Resolutions. What are they? How are you progressing towards them?

*** Try this! ***

Maybe you don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but you probably have some goals – situations you would like to tackle assertively. Identify one now. Spend a few minutes planning how you will deal with it. Then close your eyes and, in whatever way works for you, imagine yourself doing it. See yourself being confidently assertive, with relaxed body language and easily able to articulate your point. Repeat this several times. You will start to lay down new pathways in your brain. This means that when it’s time for the real thing, you are much more likely to deal with it well.

Use visualisation to beat worries

worried headache man

This very effective way of overcoming worry works on

your emotional brain by literally allowing you to ‘see’ things differently. You may need to practice the visualisations several times before they reduce the immediate emotional impact of worry.

If you’re not good at visualising, just sense this in what ever way works for you.

Visualisation One

Sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Get a mental picture of whatever is worrying you. If it is difficult to visualise imagine a gloomy rain cloud with the name of the worry written on it. Relax your body. Next imagine a huge box, big enough to contain the worry. Place the worry in it. Now place the box outside the door knowing that you can pick it up again or leave it as you decide.

Visualisation Two

Relax your body. Get a mental picture of whatever is worrying you. If you can, make the picture black and white. Put a frame round the picture – it is now a photograph. Shrink the picture until it is quite small. Now imagine a distant wall. Put the picture on it. It’s there in the distance but you can’t really make out the detail. If you ever need to refer to it, you know where to find it, otherwise leave it where it is.