THE BLOG
02/26/2014 04:16 pm ET | Updated Apr 28, 2014

The Link Is What You Think in Social Fitness

Happiness, for many, is a serious life goal. Ingrid Bergman once observed that "Happiness lies in good health and a bad memory." That is, happiness does not develop because of what, or what does not, happen to us. We create the bedrock of wellbeing, happiness, by what we think, tell ourselves, and believe about what is happening all around us.

Sure, changing our thinking to include gratitude for others, loving kindness towards others and focusing on what's going right between us and others, according to research in positive psychology, are valuable in promoting long-term happiness. But why the focus on others in these happiness building strategies?

I believe it's because the emotional roller coaster between confidence and security, between helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness and feeling happy and uplifted, is based on deep fears of not being liked. Thinking you must win the approval of others is a nutty notion that leads to anxiety, depression, shame and guilt -- certainly not happiness.

"MUSTerbating" about anything is insanity but demanding, insisting and expecting (DIE) that others like you without you doing anything to increase your likability is the ultimate example of irrational ABCDE thinking -- accusations, blame, complaints, denial and excuses -- all which put distance between you and your own personal responsibility

Being likable means you have the ability to create positive attitudes in other people through the delivery of emotional and physical benefits to them. Likable people can give you a sense of joy, happiness, relaxation, or rejuvenation. Likable people can bring you relief from depression, anxiety, hostility or boredom. After all, the quality of your life and the strength of your relationships are the product of choice.

Being liked requires work. Sure, some people seem naturally likable. The rest of us have to work at it. Unfortunately, there are some who don't believe they should have to work at it. "Shoulding" on yourself, or others, never works to do anything but bring about misery.

Want to be more inspiring to others?
Want to be more recognized, praised and acknowledged at home, school, work, the gym?
Want to outperform and overcome challenges with less emotional and physical stress?
Want to enjoy your health, regardless of what your health status may be?
Want to feel better about yourself with increased self-confidence?
It's all about increasing your likability!

Friendliness is the threshold of likability. Friendly people express a liking for others. They communicate a welcoming attitude. They express a generally positive feeling towards others. Unfriendly-first encounters tend to have big ripples throughout the lifetime of a relationship. We know that when someone acts in an unfriendly way towards us, our brains send a signal to our body's command center to react by deploying hormones. Two are especially related to our emotional well-being: DHEA and cortisol. DHEA is the feel good hormone when we encounter friendliness, while cortisol makes us feel stressed out when we encounter unfriendliness.

So how can you create health-promoting, happiness-building, likability? Here's what some of the most likable I know suggest.

1. "Observe no unfriendliness. When you sense it bubbling up inside of yourself, talk yourself out of it immediately by asking yourself if being unfriendly will fix anything. It won't. If you do act unfriendly, immediately repair it by apologizing."
2. "Develop a friendly mindset. See yourself in others. Play "greeter" for a day by instilling a sense of welcome in others."
3. "Communicate friendliness. There is no such thing as a friendly person, but rather, there are only people who are perceived as friendly. If others don't see you as friendly, you simply aren't. Your facial expression, your eyes, your body language, your tone of voice, and the words you use all communicate friendliness."
4. "Connect with the interests of others. You develop a bond when you share an interest with others."
5. "Connect with the wants and needs of others. Volunteer to help others. When you do, don't make a fuss about what you've done. Don't forget people have emotional needs too. There is no perfect time to help someone other than now. Exceed their expectations when you do help."
6. "Show an interest in how others feel. This includes recognizing the emotions of others, listening thoughtfully and responding to the emotions of others. Watch and study faces. Don't jump to conclusions or assumptions about what others feel. Think about what other people say to you and how they must feel. Ask, don't tell. Pay attention to what is not said."
7. "Walk down one side of the local mall and smile at everyone. Walk down the other side of the same mall, and smile at no one. See which side of the mall is friendlier. Duh! It's not the side of the mall. It's YOU. SMILE MORE."

There are so many ways to create likability and we all have the potential to do so. Follow some of these guidelines and watch how much better you feel, and how friendlier others seem to become.