Think about it, every single thing we do is intended to make us happier.
And yet sometimes we get diverted and do things that actually move us away from this goal.
We all have the potential for genuine happiness. There is no gene or DNA marker that determines who will be happy and who will not. We make choices throughout our lives, and the result of all these choices combined determines our level of happiness. Make the right choices and happiness can be yours.
Here are just a sampling of some of the tactics we can employ in an 11-point roadmap to help guide us toward genuine happiness:
1. Look for the positive in everything
There is an old saying that nothing is inherently good or bad—what makes it one or the other, is merely your reaction to it. Find the positive 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, however bad it may seem to others.
2. Accentuate the positive
We all grow up with a “positivity imbalance”—the result of society’s norms and rules being based on restriction and punishment more than approval and reward. From a young age, we are taught what we must not do instead of what we may do. Even in day-to-day life, there is a more negative influence than positive. Luckily you can work to improve the balance.
Celebrate the positive and work to get more of it. When you achieve something, congratulate yourself! Look for things you find uplifting, that make you happy. Get more of that! At the same time, reduce your exposure to negative input, whether it is the daily news or people you don’t feel good around. You know your buttons, make sure the positive ones are pushed more than the negative.
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. It is good to help others, yet we should have boundaries to protect ourselves from being manipulated or abused by others. You are important, and if you don’t look after yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, you cannot expect anyone else to do so.
4. Listen to your feelings
All feelings are good. Every feeling occurs for a reason: it is delivering a message. Sometimes that message is pleasant, other times not. Our tendency is to distract ourselves from unpleasant feelings, often through smoking, drinking, or drugs of one kind or another. When you feel bad, avoid distracting yourself, and identify the reason—there is some need not being met.
5. Give of yourself
The more you give, the more you receive. There is probably no scientific study proving this to be so, but unconditional giving is hugely rewarding. 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. Make it happen
You have the ability to make things happen using your mind. Top sports stars and business people use it, and so can you. There are many ways of doing this; one of the common methods is to use visualization—getting 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. Whilst this can be good and has resulted in tremendous advances through history, we should work to understand those things we cannot change, and then move on. Rather use the saved energy on something more worthwhile and productive. This is not to say that you should complacently accept anything. If you truly desire change, you should work towards that change; but spending time worrying about something without actively working to change it is unproductive and damaging to your wellbeing.
8. Take responsibility for your choices
Everything that you do, or don’t do, is because of the choices you make (or don’t make). It is easier and 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—sometimes that choice is to let somebody else make a choice on your behalf. 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 “self-time”
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. It has reached a point where, for most of us, it seems impossible to keep our focus on what is happening right now. 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!
11. Remove your limitations
When we fail, usually the reason is simply that we don’t believe we are able or worthy of whatever it is that we fail to achieve. Most often, this belief is actually false; the result of negative programming received since childhood. The truth is that most of us are able to do most of what we really want to do – you just have to believe. The best way to start is with small things, working your way up as you notice the limits dissolving.
The more successful you are at assimilating the concepts and processes described in these eleven points into your life, the more genuinely happy you will be, and the happiness will last!
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