Happiness: How to Enjoy your Work

Work is something we have to do, whether we like it or not. But what if we could find ways to really enjoy work, so much that we don't want to stop?

When a writer's writing and an artist's painting, they seem to enter another world. They achieve levels of concentration that make them apparently lose contact with reality and experience real happiness.

Maybe it's one of the reasons why creative people love what they do.

During twenty years of research into aspects of happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered the importance of this state of 'flow.'

The great thing is that any of us can experience it. There are six important aspects that make it so satisfying.
  • Concentration
  • Using your skills
  • Goals
  • Feeling in charge
  • Losing yourself
  • Forgetting time
It's wonderful when you find activities that meet all these requirements. If you'd like to read more about the six keys to flow, and ways to achieve it, there's more detail at SpeechContacts but here's just a word of warning: make sure that you keep one foot in reality, even if it means setting a timer before you start your painting, practising your Spanish, or writing that poem.

If you don't, you can find yourself spending so long in your own world that you lose track of things that are important, like doctor's appointments and picking the children up from school.

Build Your Own Communication Kit 3

Do you look down and mumble when you’re nervous? Do you stare up towards the sky when you’re trying to remember something you’ve read? Have you noticed other people doing these things?

It’s all to do with using different parts of your brain. We have five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. We differ, though, in the way we use them, and we often prefer to use one sense more than the others.

Some people are visual types, and they notice the things they see. Others are auditory and more aware of sounds, while others prefer to feel and touch things. We call that sense of touch, ‘kinetic.’

Amazingly, you can tell which sense a person’s using, just by looking at their eyes. If their eyes go up to look at the sky, they’ve thinking visually. If they look down, they’re noticing how they feel, and if their eyes move sideways, it’s a sign that they’re concentrating on sound.

The areas of your brain that deal with your senses are in slightly different places, and brain scanning shows that the direction of your eyes can indicate which bit of your brain is most active.

Knowing more about how others notice the world can help us to get on with people in day to day life as well as in the working world.

Sometimes we assume that everyone thinks the same as us, but we’re all different. The more we understand about our differences, the better we’re able to connect with people, enjoy their company, and make an impact on them at work.

Being aware of the options is a great tool in your communication kit. You can talk and write more meaningfully, by ‘talking the same language’ as your audience.

‘I see what you mean,’ ‘I hear you loud and clear,’ ‘Let me get a handle on that.’

The words and phrases we use give other clues about the way we think. When we say, ‘I was moved,’ or ‘he’s so sharp he’ll cut himself,’ or ‘hold on a minute,’ we’re using feeling ‘kinaesthetic’ language.

If we talk about, ‘I’m under a cloud,’ ‘you’re a sight for sore eyes,’ or ‘I can see my way forward,’ we’re using visual imagery.

And when we say, ‘it was music to my ears,’ ‘I hear you loud and clear,’ or ‘to tell the truth,’ we’re using auditory language.

You’ll find you use all your senses, but it’s likely you’ll find yourself preferring one or two of them. You may already have an idea about how you notice things. For example, do you learn best by reading what’s written or do you like to hear someone telling you information?

If you want to explain something, it helps to appreciate the way they think and learn. If you’re telling your aunt how to retune her television, for example, she may want to follow the written instructions. Or she may be better listening to an explanation, or will want to watch someone doing it and copy their actions.

Use word clues and eye movements to find out what kind of explanation will work best, or use all the sensory channels just to make sure.

Why not spend some time watching and listening, to find out the kind of language and learning that works for you and the people around you. With that tool in your communication kit, you can find endless ways to be clearer, get on people’s wave length and make connections.
If you'd like to read more about building your own communication kit, go to SpeechContacts

The search for happiness

Shopping, eating and drinking, new cars and big houses, fame: all ways we try to make ourselves happy.

We know, if we're honest, that what we get is just a temporary burst of happiness. It doesn't last. Before long, we're back where we started.

So what's the secret that really happy people know that the rest of us are searching for?

Dr Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania think they may have some answers.

They've even found that people who report positive emotions tend to live longer.

They've used science to spot the six 'virtues' that work long term and help us to blossom. So, here are those vital virtues that we can all aim for, knowing they can make us happier and healthier:and here's a few ways we can move nearer to them.

Courage: having the will to achieve even if there are difficulties. So don't give up when things get tough, put in the extra work and keep going: it's worth while.

Humanity: it's important to look out for other people and appreciate them. So why not ring your mother, email your friends and help out your neighbour.

Justice: being fair and thoughtful, doing things for the community as well as ourselves. It helps to look outside ourselves from time to time.

Temperance: have a little of what you fancy but know where to stop! It's good to be sensible with money, stop eating when we're full, think before we speak.

Transcendence: understanding that the world is bigger than we are. People who believe in some spiritual connections with others and with the wider universe tend to be happier. Enjoying life, with zest and enthusiasm, is a great way to find happiness.

Wisdom: adding skills and knowledge and using them sensibly helps us to thrive. Making sure we go on learning throughout life will make us blossom.

So let's all add some real happiness to our lives.

If you'd like to read more, go to SpeechContacts main website
You can even download a free iphone application at iHappiness

Build Your Own Communication Kit 2

Here's another tool for building better connections with other people. It's based on finding the way someone's brain tends to function and on using language that taps into that; in other words, speaking their language.

I bet you've heard people talk about whether they're 'visual' or 'auditory' people. You probably have an idea about yourself. Do you think about the things you see, notice the way things look, use words like, 'I see what you mean'? If so, you're probably quite visual.

If you use phrases like, 'that rings a bell,' and if you remember things by hearing them rather than by writing them down, you may be more 'auditory'.

Or you may learn by doing. Maybe you notice how things feel and say things like, 'I don't feel comfortable with that.' That makes you a 'kinaesthetic' person.

It's sometimes surprising to find that other people are different, and that they may see/hear/feel things differently. By noticing how others think, and tailoring the things you say to them, you can get on the same wavelength as them. Here's an example:

Jenny and Sarah are talking on the phone about their ‘girls only’ holiday. Jenny wants to persuade Sarah to go walking in France. Jenny likes to feel fit and she relates to the way she feels. She says: ‘Look, you’ve been worrying about getting fat and if you lie on the beach you’ll feel worse. Let's have a healthy walk each day and if we get too hot we can stop for a while and have a cold drink’. Sarah's not convinced.

Let’s rewind so Jenny can try another approach. This time, she thinks about the clues Sarah can give her. She knows that Sarah wants to appear tanned, she likes to look good and she worries about being too fat. Conclusion: she cares about appearances. She tends to think visually. So this time, Jenny talks Sarah’s language.

‘There’s the most fabulous view across the sunflower fields, and when the sun goes down the light is amazing. There are some nice easy walks, just enough to get our legs toned up so we’ll look good in shorts.’

Talking someone’s language is a great tool in your communication kit, especially if you want to be persuasive and win someone round to your point of view.

Communication Skills That Work: The Fail-Safe Way To Build Instant Rapport

What does it take to be a great communicator?

Well, first of all it takes two people. Talking to yourself isn’t communicating. So you need to make some sort of a connection with the other person, even if you've never met them before.

There are whole books written about building ‘rapport’ through activities like shadowing or mirroring body language. But there’s a much easier way. It’s a secret that really successful people use, but they hardly ever talk about it. Once you know it, you’ll find yourself getting on with new people so much better.

And the best thing of all is, you don’t even have to say anything to build up a good relationship.

So here it is:

When you meet someone new, look them in the eye and tell yourself that you like them.

That’s all there is to it. It’s a sure-fire way to overcome shyness and it isn’t difficult; but it does take practice.

If you find it hard at first, make a list in your head of the things you like about the people you meet. ‘Lovely blue eyes,’ ‘nice hair’, ‘looks kind’ and so on.

When youtry this for the first time, you may be surprised to find that your first thoughts tend to be negative, and you’ll find that simply changing this thought pattern makes a huge difference.

Change, "She looks cross" to "She looks like she could use a friendly remark."

Of course, there are some people you may need to work harder with than others. Maybe they remind you of a teacher you were scared of one. If that’s the case, use the old trick of imagining them with no clothes on.

Then, once you feel more relaxed, look at them again and find something good about them. Even, ‘you look tired’ is a good thought that will help you build rapport.

By thinking good thoughts you’ll give out friendly body language, without even knowing you’re doing it. This is called ‘congruence’ and it’s about how the way you feel matches how you behave. It's one of the most powerful tools in your communication kit.

Here’s a real life example of building silent rapport.

Susan went to a job interview. The interviewees sat on one side of a table, and the panel of interviewers on the other side, for an introductory talk.

It felt very formal and awkward. Susan noticed that one of the interview panel in particular seemed uncomfortable. She was looking down and around the room; anywhere except at the candidates.

Although she seemed fierce and unapproachable, Susan decided she was just nervous. After all, interviewers are often just as anxious as the people they interview. Susan liked her for being nervous.

So during the introductions Susan made sure she caught this interviewer’s eye and gave her a big reassuring smile. The interviewer smiled back, her face relaxed, she looked happier and she began to talk in a friendly way to the interviewees.

Susan got that job, and she always had a great working relationship with the interviewer. The funny thing is that the interviewer probably never even realised why she liked Susan so much.

Other communication posts you may like:

Talking the same language

How to use your five senses for better communication
Hello, and thanks for meeting me here today. Don’t you love the way the internet makes it so easy for people to talk to each other, even though we’ve maybe never met before?

Now, I’m a human being, so talking is one of the things I like doing best, whether it’s face to face or in print. I signed up to the communication business many years ago by becoming a speech therapist and I worked in the NHS for over 25 years.

At the same time, I led a pretty strange life because I married an RAF officer and followed him about all over England and then also to Belgium. That was an eye-opener on getting to know people with a different language and a different culture.

I’m a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and a witness intermediary in the justice system.

Everywhere I go, whatever I do, I find people want to communicate better, understand other people more and be happier and more connected. If you’re someone who’s interested in people: in how we talk together; why we need to listen to each other; why the way we communicate with each other is one of the most important things about us: well, I hope you’ll find something interesting in my blog.

That’s why my web site’s called SpeechContacts. It’s about contact between people, mainly through speech and language and in other ways as well.

I’ll be writing about lots of things in the blog posts: how children learn to talk; what to do if you stammer or if you have a stroke; how to be successful at interviews; how to use language cleverly to get what you want; how to talk to people with learning disabilities; how to be happier; how to get on with people: the list of communication situations we can discuss is endless.

I’m going to post every week, on Tuesdays, though I’ll put up some extras now and again. I’ll choose the first few topics myself, but pretty soon I hope you’ll let me know what you want to know about. What’s more, I hope you’ll share your own insights with me so I can learn from your experiences.

I’ll try to answer emails as they come in, and when similar issues are raised I’ll put them up as longer FAQs or articles.

I write this Communication Blog

My photo

Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.

I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.

I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.