We are Always Pursuing Happiness
Think about it ... every single thing we do is intended to make us happier. The people we choose to spend time with. The ways we spend our time. And yet sometimes we get distracted and do things that actually move us away from this goal.
We all have the potential for genuine happiness. We make choices throughout our lives. Each option is like a series of locked doors in front of us. We choose which path to follow and open the door we've chosen. The result of all these choices combined determines our level of happiness. Make the right choices and happiness can be yours.
Ten Keys to Greater Happiness
Here are some tactics we can follow on our journey toward genuine happiness:
1. Look For The Positive In Everything: You know the old saying about a glass being half-full or half-empty? Finding the positive means choosing to focus on the parts of a situation that are going your way. Do this and you will be happier. Those who soar against all odds, do so because they look at the positive that could come out of their situation, how ever bad it may seem to others.
2. Accentuate The Positive: From a young age we are taught what we must not do instead of what we may do. Don't run with scissors. Don't jump on the bed. Don't cross the street without looking both ways. Even in day-to-day life, there is more negative influence that positive. Luckily you can work to improve the balance. Phrase things in your mind as positives. Focus on DO rather than DON'T. Celebrate the positive and work to get more of it. When you achieve something, congratulate yourself!
3. Practice Good Selfishness: When we were young we were taught that putting our interests before those of others is wrong. This is particularly true for women, many of whom sacrifice their dreams and ambitions to help others achieve theirs. It is also common in the corporate world where the good of the company is considered more important than the good of the individual. Helping others and being a team player are important things, but we need boundaries to protect ourselves from being manipulated or abused by others. You are important, and you must look after yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.
4. Listen To Your Feelings: Feelings are your body's messengers. They make us aware of circumstances around and inside us. Sometimes those messages are pleasant, other times not. Our tendency is to distract ourselves from unpleasant feelings or to resist them in some way. Sometimes we tell ourselves we shouldn't be angry or sad or frustrated by something that has happened to us. The next time you have a feeling like this, take a moment to stop and experience it. So what if it's caused by a situation outside your control (like frustration over rush hour traffic). Take a deep breath an acknowledge your feeling. You don't have to live in it, but pushing it away or pretending it isn't there isn't healthy either.
5. Give More: The more you give, the more you receive. It seems that the more of yourself you give, the greater the thrill and uplifting effect on your psyche. Help the needy. Give time if you can. Give anonymously, even if you lose the tax deduction!
6. Visualize Your Happiness: You have the ability to make things happen using your mind. Top sports stars, and business people use it, and so can you. Get a picture in your mind of whatever it is that you want to happen. It does not actually have to be a visual picture; it could be a feeling, a smell, a sound, or any combination of the senses. Imagine finding the perfect parking near the entrance as you arrive at the supermarket or mall … the sky is the limit, but persevere! We are not used to utilizing this tool, so it takes practice.
7. Accept The Things You Cannot Change: We resist things we don’t like, and often expend a tremendous amount of energy on this resistance. When something bothers you, take a moment to ask yourself, "Can I do anything to change this situation?" If the answer is yes, get to it! But if the answer is no, then give yourself a moment to feel the disappointment or frustration and then begin to move on.
8. Take Responsibility For Your Choices: Nobody's perfect. At one time or another, we will all face uncomfortable consequences. Sometimes they're the result of mistakes or impulsive actions. But even the most careful planning can't guarantee safety from negative consequences. It can feel convenient to blame outside causes for things that go wrong in life, but your life is the sum of all the choices you make along the way. If you tend to blame other people or things, it may be scary to take responsibility for what happens in your life, but it is really quite liberating because instead of seeing yourself as an effect of outside forces, you realize you are the cause of everything good you achieve. Don’t abdicate responsibility for your life.
9. Schedule Regular “Me Time”: Take time alone to inventory your life. Spend some time analyzing where you are in life, your strengths and weaknesses. How can you turn the latter into the former? Think about your views on everything from your job to global warming and the existence of aliens—then work out why you feel the way you do. Is your reasoning sound? The better you understand yourself, the better you understand the world.
10. Make Time To Meditate: We spend almost all our time thinking of the past or planning for the future. We seldom spend time in the present. Your meditation could be formal meditation or prayer, but it could be as simple as merely focusing on each breath as it goes in and out for five or ten minutes, dismissing past and future thoughts as they arise—and they will!
The more successful you are at assimilating the concepts and processes described in these points into your life, the more genuinely happy you will be, and the happiness will last!
Look for more keys to boost your happiness, productivity and energy in my book, 21 Days to Happiness.
Managing Your Mental Diet
Are you bombarded by thoughts of negativity? Have feelings of insecurity, stress or worry? This is normal... just watch the news and notice how many stories are negative and dramatic! You are what you mentally and spiritually eat.
This is the time to go on a diet-- a diet of "positive attitude". You have to literally stop feeding your mind negative things. Ask yourself, is this thought positive or negative? What do negative thoughts look like? Well, they start with "can't" rather than "can", "no" as opposed to "yes", or focus on "won't" instead of "will". We tend to let our thoughts control us. Let's flip this around.
Identifying the Subject of Negative Thoughts
A great way to know what we are negative about is to ask those people who are closest to us. Ask your spouse or a close friend how they would rate your attitude on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super positive and 1 super negative. Ask this person to be totally honest with you. You will benefit from their honesty.
Ask this person what it is that you specifically say that they perceive as negative. What do you complain about? Write down what they say and look at the actual words. Now is the time to be honest with yourself. Those words are a reflection of what is inside you. They reflect who you are. Consider patterns that emerge. Are you sometimes negative about your health? Work? Relationships? Are you afraid of things which could happen but often never do?
Flip the Switch
The great thing is that you can change these thoughts. Complaining is just a bad habit! It is as simple as making a choice to do so. It's like flipping a switch. You must decide to replace the thoughts of negativity with thoughts of positivity. Decide to change the negative words on your paper to positive ones.
Once you have done this, make an effort to insert these new positive thoughts in your mind. You will begin to notice a positive change taking place in your life. Your family, friends and co-workers will all notice it as well. They may not know what is different about you. But they will know that you are not the same person that you were.
The items which are causing negativity in your life could very well be the news, negative people, replaying conflicts or stressful situations in your mind and the list could go on. Consider eliminating some negative sources if you want your new mental health regimen to be a success.
You can do it. You can and will have a positive attitude, if you simply take the steps outlined above. You do not have to be what you were in the past. You can be different in the future. The choice is yours. I know you will make a positive one.
You can find more on embracing a positive attitude and improving your happiness in my book, 21 Days to Happiness in Day 12 on dealing with worry or Day 21 on optimism.
Ms. Ingrid Kelada is an experienced psychologist and happiness expert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a speaker and has facilitated over 1000 workshops all over the world.
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