Since people can be very busy during their day and may find themselves overwhlemed as new work pressures form, I compiled five very simple habits that have been beneficial to building my confidence and composure.
Some of this uses information from my early post on instantly changing your state (see post here), but I broke this down into an easier format to follow.
1) Smile for no reason
Some people might say that this does not create ‘real’ happiness, that it’s only faking your mind into thinking that you are happy. And my response is, “Who gives a shit?” The great thing about this simple habit is that it confuses a pattern that we have been playing over and over for many years. Simply put, when we are not feeling well, we tend not to smile. Also, if we force a smile and actually start to feel better, it makes us want to take more actions that foster this better feeling. Happiness is a universal emotion, and a smile can be recognized all over the world, across cultures. Practice smiling more throughout your day. It helps to encourage others to smile more when they`re having a `bad` day.
2) Greet to greatness
One habit that I am very happy with is that I greet people all of the time. There are routine people that I greet – the worker at the train ticketing area at my station, neighbors that I happen to see, all of the teachers at my school, my girlfriend, workers at the convenient store if I stop to get a snack – but I also greet random people that I`ve never met before. The cool thing I’m doing now is I try greeting people even if they don`t make eye contact with me prior to greeting. That used to be my crutch. I`d assume that people don`t want to talk if they don`t make eye contact, which may be more valid depending on where you are. So, I wouldn`t greet these people.
Being in Japan, eye contact doesn`t hold as much weight as it would in the States. People do not make as much eye contact here. But I do not take it to mean that they want to interact less. So, I greet and greet and greet and greet because it makes me feel good and I know that the simple act can change someone else’s state for the better. Someone might be a devil’s advocate and say that I am disrespecting Japanese culture by intruding on their alone time and customs, even if that’s not the intention. All I can say is that, even if someone that I greeted didn`t seem like they wanted to talk at all, I highly doubt that I made their day worse by saying “hi” to them with a smile. I’m also a lot more aware of how enthusiasm can be taken as a threat, so I test the water with my tonality. Change it up. Experiment to empower. Greet to greatness. You will feel better for doing it and make others feel better more often than not.
And remember that it’s not about making everyone happy. We can`t do that and even if we did, we`d likely be doing it at the expense of ourselves. People will like what you do, and others will criticize you for it. I greet because I believe it brightens and connects me to others, even for just a moment. No reciprocation? Great, there lies the beauty in diversity. Keep it moving.
3) Big gestures
I love using my body to communicate because it adds more power to my message. It also feels great when I engage my body, which is a reason why I enjoy exercising. Many of my gestures are subconscious and I am complemented for it more often than not, so I generally do not see it as an issue unless I get very enthusiastic and start flailing my arms everywhere, which I have exercised before. My gesturing was pronounced particularly when I first arrived in Japan and I quickly realized how easy it is to invade someone`s personal space here. I had to learn to gauge people and tone down my body language when I felt that people were getting a little uncomfortable. So, the emphasis of my body language really depends on the other person, but it is never eliminated completely in an interaction.
Gesturing is very helpful here by allowing others to understand what I’m saying when I can’t express it in Japanese. It`s also very helpful in the classroom when I am teaching. But body language is just as useful and empowering in your everyday life, regardless of what job you have and where you are headed today. You may notice that there are some gestures that you do that make you feel good, gestures that you use when you are making a point, or gestures you use or lack of when you feel downsome. Knowing these empowering gestures, or creating new empowering gestures (which I’ll cover in a later post) and using them can greatly build momentum to your day.
4) Deep breaths
The easiest, quickest, effective way that I know to create more energy and composure is to take a few moments to inhale deeply and exhale a little longer. Deep breaths relax our body and slow down the flow of thoughts rushing for our attention. Focusing on the breath takes energy away from anxiety-ridden thoughts. Just taking 20 seconds to close your eyes and take two deep breaths can re-center yourself enough to take the next steps on the task at-hand.
5) Stretch breaks
When I feel pressed for time, I tend to think that staying committed to the work without breaks is the most productive way. This is not the way, especially in situations where I am sitting for an hour or longer. I become restless and jittery, and want to move, but I`ll convince myself that it will take time away from finishing my work sooner. But I often find that after I convince myself to stay put, I`ve been reviewing my material without adding to it. It`s like a broken record playing the same part of the song over and over. So, here I am sitting down looking like I am working, but not getting anything out of it. This is clearly not productive. Time for a stretch break. Taking a couple minutes to go outside, touch my feet, twist my body, and jump up and down a few times gets my blood circulating again, making me more energetic and calm, allowing a short period of time to unfocus on the task so that I can sharpen my focus on the task that I GET to accomplish once I return.
After writing this at my desk, I realized I’ve been here for about an hour and went outside to stretch for 3 minutes while smiling and taking in the sunlight, which is amazing because it is supposed to rain tomorrow. Now that I am back at my desk, the jitters has left me and I am refreshed, ready to finish up this post before moving onto completing my school lessons for Wednesday. In short, stretching gets you out of your head (as does breathing), refreshing your body and mind, and both parties sure do appreciate it.
So, there you have it.
What do you think about these habits? What simple habits have been beneficial for you? Please leave a comment below.