Jun 102014

-Guest post by Tsaru-

You have joined /r/faimprovement, and you are now, of course reading on this website. Clearly, you have some change in mind, but what is it? Do you simply want a significant other, or do you want to be able to pick up nearly anyone at a bar? Do you want to make more friends, get dates, or get more involved in social groups? Well, it doesn’t really matter if you know or not, because what you want is to be happy, and anything else you want, you want because you believe it will make you happy. So, lets be clear that your goal, and in fact everyone’s goal, is to pursue happiness.

So, what does happiness look like? Most importantly, happiness is based solely on your internal reality. This internal reality is translated from your perceptions of the external reality. Imagine for a moment, that you are sitting at a bus stop. The air is musty and dank, and a cloud of second hand cigarette smoke just wafted over from a homeless man sitting nearby. Above you, the clouds are building great sun-crowned palaces, and someone across the street is playing songs surprisingly well on a guitar. Obviously, there is an even mix of good and bad things, but by choosing what to focus on and perceive, your internal reality changes. Choose to notice what makes you happy and you will immediately begin to be more so.

Perhaps the two most simple paths to happiness are through gratitude and generosity. I strongly recommend you practice these as often as possible. Gratitude will train you to focus on what makes you happy. It will train you to see things that you had never considered as positive. Generosity will form connections and develop empathy, and can be as simple as a smile, or a few words of encouragement. Generosity is about giving without expecting anything in return. Practicing these can be fairly simple. For gratitude, you can start and/or end every day by writing five (or any number) things you are grateful for, making sure that anything you remember writing you don’t use. Another option is to carry a small rock in your pocket, and every time you touch it while reaching for your wallet, cell phone, or keys, you say something that you’re grateful for. Generosity can be a bit more complicated. The act of giving for an event is the easiest, but also the least impacting for you. Try buying someone else’s Starbucks drink. Try bringing someones favorite drink to them when you know they could use it. Start with family and friends, then work your way out.

But there is a great deal more to happiness than gratitude and generosity and, as someone who has joined the forever alone improvement subreddit, you probably have some difficulty with social interaction, especially (or exclusively) with people who you’re interested in romantically. The thing is, both males and females are people. They have the same ultimate goal, they like to hear the same things, they, in essence, share the same core functionality. Look at whoever you’re interested in as a person. Just like yourself. Nothing more, and nothing less.

One of the biggest obstructions to interacting with people is usually being afraid of what the other person will think about you or what you have to say, but here’s a little secret: people pretty much all work the same. Yeah, you have differences in how you were raised, and your experiences, but ultimately, hearing, “I think you’re really cool/awesome/fun!” or “I really enjoy hanging out with you, it always makes me happy!” will make nearly anyone happy. This means that if you’re worried about how something will sound, say it to yourself in your head first. If hearing it would be fine for you, saying it probably is. Certainly, there are exceptions to this, so if you say something and it’s taken poorly, then just apologize and make sure to learn from the mistake.

Another common obstruction is not having any idea what to say. But here’s a secret: you don’t have to know anything about a subject to learn about it, and people love to talk about themselves. Ask what they enjoy doing, ask what they want to accomplish in life, etc. If you find something interesting, ask more about that. Try to ask open ended questions, so “Do you eat eggs for breakfast often?” is worse than “What breakfast just makes your day amazing?”. Eventually, you’ll be talking to a real estate angent and, since you talked to one a month ago, you’ll know a surprising amount about the market in this area. The more you do this and just try to learn about people, the better you’ll get at talking. They’ll ask you questions, and all you have to do is be honest and tell them what you think/know.

So, here’s your homework: 1. Throughout whatever you do on your journey of improvement, remember the goal: happiness, and remember that literally every person alive shares that goal, even if they don’t realize it. 2. Practice generosity and gratitude as often as possible.  3. Remember that communication often has the end goal of finding connection, which looks the same for everyone: people just want to feel understood. Finally, a great deal of happiness is grounded in physical health. It’s very hard to be happy when you have no energy, or feel crappy, etc.4. Take the time for diet and exercise, and make sure you get enough sleep.

–>Book recommendations: The art of happiness by the dalai lama, and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

 Posted by at 12:14 am

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