Hap­pi­ness is elu­sive to many. Some think hap­pi­ness is some­thing that just hap­pens, while oth­ers are of the opin­ion that happy peo­ple must work for it. Is hap­pi­ness some­thing that can be achieved, or is it a lifestyle? Can we actu­ally make our­selves happier?

The answer is prob­a­bly a bit of both. Experts in pos­i­tive psy­chol­ogy say that while some of our hap­pi­ness is pre­de­ter­mined by genet­ics, envi­ron­ment, and life cir­cum­stances, forty per­cent of our hap­pi­ness is under our con­trol. Most of the world’s truly happy peo­ple engage in a com­bi­na­tion of activ­i­ties that invite more hap­pi­ness into their lives.

Focus­ing on the things you want

Self-exploration is nec­es­sary in order to dis­cover our life’s pur­pose, some­thing that happy peo­ple already know. Once a pur­pose has been iden­ti­fied, these happy peo­ple set about liv­ing that pur­pose to the best of their abil­ity, and with as much focus and ded­i­ca­tion as pos­si­ble. As your­self: do you know your pur­pose in life and if so, are you liv­ing it?

Fol­low Your Bliss

As soon as happy peo­ple know what they want in life, they do their best to pur­sue it, even if it takes a long time or doesn’t man­i­fest itself in the way they expected. Happy peo­ple under­stand that it is the pur­suit of our dreams which makes the lives of humans so amaz­ing. Are you fol­low­ing your bliss to the best of your ability?

Set­ting Goals You Can Achieve

Liv­ing out a dream usu­ally begins with hav­ing a vision, and then turn­ing that vision into a plan, which then gets bro­ken down into smaller, more achiev­able chunks. Com­plet­ing smaller goals allows you to see the big pic­ture, but not get over­whelmed by it. What one small task can you com­plete today, tomor­row or this week to bring you closer to liv­ing your dream?

Prac­tic­ing Acceptance

A huge part of true hap­pi­ness comes from being at peace with what­ever hap­pens in any area of your life. This is not lazi­ness; rather, it’s the know­ing that you have done your best, and are sim­ply allow­ing the sit­u­a­tion to be as it is.

Prac­tic­ing Optimism

Pes­simism appears to be the default for many peo­ple in the world today. But expect­ing the worst from life is lit­tle more than a cop-out. Happy peo­ple are in the busi­ness of prac­tic­ing opti­mism. They know that things may go dif­fer­ently than they had orig­i­nally planned, but they visu­al­ize the best pos­si­ble outcome.

Look for the Lesson

When some­thing appears to have gone wrong or seems to fail, happy peo­ple look for the les­son. They under­stand that every expe­ri­ence in life has some­thing to teach us. When we lose or fail, we can often learn more than when things go the way we had planned. When you expe­ri­ence chal­lenges, losses, or obsta­cles, you can choose to view them as oppor­tu­ni­ties to evolve as opposed to look­ing at them in a neg­a­tive light.

Keep­ing Your Blood Sugar Balanced

The health of our bod­ies has a pro­found influ­ence on our abil­ity to be happy. In par­tic­u­lar, blood sugar lev­els affect mood. If we are addicted to sugar and processed foods, we are not in con­trol of our energy or our hap­pi­ness lev­els. Sugar does give a plea­sur­able rush, but this dis­ap­pears as soon as sugar is metab­o­lized. Then, blood sugar lev­els plum­met, mak­ing us crave even more sugar and its short-lived mood and energy boost. If you feel like you need a sug­ary treat to feel happy, it may be time to ask your­self whether you can find hap­pi­ness in places other than your food.

Express­ing Gratitude

One of the sim­plest and most pow­er­ful, effec­tive and impor­tant keys to health and hap­pi­ness is to express grat­i­tude for every­thing in your life. This includes any event or per­son which has caused you pain, as it is these events and peo­ple who help us to become who we are. What are you grate­ful for in this moment?

Reg­u­lar Exercise

Phys­i­cally active peo­ple are happy peo­ple. Exer­cise gives our body many ben­e­fits in the form of increased energy, a high and healthy metab­o­lism, and increased libido. Exer­cise helps us stay fit and relieves ten­sion. All of these are ingre­di­ents for a happy life.

Suf­fi­cient Rest

It’s hard to be happy when you are sleep deprived and stressed out. Mak­ing sleep a pri­or­ity is key. A vital com­po­nent of qual­ity rest is giv­ing your­self a cool, dark and com­fort­able place in which to sleep. Strive for 7–9 hours of sleep per night, going to bed by 11pm for opti­mal reju­ve­na­tion. Dur­ing the day, rest your body and brain with Yoga Nidra or Restora­tive Yoga.

Cher­ish Time Spent With Friends

The world’s hap­pi­est peo­ple enjoy mul­ti­ple healthy and close friend­ships. Friends give life a rich­ness that no amount of money can buy. Mak­ing time to cul­ti­vate at least a few close rela­tion­ships will help you expe­ri­ence and express true happiness.

 

Get Spir­i­tual

A hall­mark of happy peo­ple is that they have some type of spir­i­tual prac­tice. Some­thing which allows us to con­nect with the source of all life in a mean­ing­ful and pow­er­ful way is essen­tial to our well-being. The type of path cho­sen could be any­thing from Yoga, dance and prayer to nature, reli­gion and cook­ing. The point is to choose some­thing that makes you feel con­nected to some­thing beyond yourself.

Get Play­ful

Work­ing hard is def­i­nitely an ingre­di­ent for hap­pi­ness. But so is play­ing hard. Are you mak­ing time every day or week to do those things that you truly enjoy, sim­ply for the fun of it?

Fol­low­ing Your Own Beat

Last but not least, happy peo­ple are in tune with their inner guide. They con­sider the opin­ions and wis­dom of oth­ers, and learn from every teacher and friend. But ulti­mately, they fol­low the beat of their own drum­mer, and live their truth.

Everyone’s path to hap­pi­ness is unique. Dis­cov­er­ing what makes you truly happy can and should be a jour­ney, and not a des­ti­na­tion. Because while you can plan every­thing out, and some plan­ning is use­ful to help you fol­low your dreams, true hap­pi­ness is about your per­spec­tive on life. Hap­pi­ness is not some­thing you do, but rather some­thing you become.


This post is con­tributed by Ron McDi­armid, who is the founder of My Healthy Liv­ing Coach. Hav­ing had health chal­lenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learn­ing he gath­ered. Through MHLC this con­tin­ued into a cur­rent pre­sen­ta­tion of healthy lifestyle choices and how to imple­ment them. Check out his web­site at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.

Excerpted from Choices and Illu­sions by Eldon Taylor

Years ago a young woman came to me for help. To main­tain con­fi­den­tial­ity, I will invent a name for her. I’ll call her Mary. This young woman in her late thir­ties had a his­tory of self-mutilation and sui­ci­dal behav­ior. She came in for pas­toral coun­sel­ing, and I agreed to see her only if her psy­chi­a­trist agreed and was kept fully informed. That issue out of the way, her first appoint­ment was made. My sec­re­tary brought me her file, includ­ing the pre-process forms I used. As I reviewed the infor­ma­tion in the file, I was taken by the fact that one of her prior ther­a­pists was a famous psy­chi­a­trist. I thought to myself, “And what on earth am I to do if this per­son couldn’t help her?”

Dur­ing her first ses­sion, the terms of our arrange­ment were agreed upon. I would see her for ten weeks, once a week, and my con­di­tions and require­ments had to be kept. She agreed, and the ses­sion began, or per­haps more appro­pri­ately, she began sob­bing and wail­ing. An hour passed, and noth­ing but tears to show for it. Few words could I under­stand amidst the sob­bing. “Until next week,” I said, and we parted.

I thought about her for the entire week and decided to try some­thing totally new, at least for me and for that time (circa 1990). I the­o­rized that all the exces­sive cry­ing was sim­ply her attention-seeking mech­a­nism com­bined with true feel­ings of despair, but to get past that, we had to dis­pense with the wail­ing. I took a mir­ror that had been given me by a cos­metic sur­geon friend, and which I had used for years to show, as he did, just how uneven the halves of our faces are (left ver­sus right). Brain hemi­sphere dom­i­nance the­o­ries sug­gest a cor­re­spon­dence, so this was in keep­ing with my research and work.

When Mary vis­ited in week two she again began cry­ing. I placed the mir­ror in front of her, explained as nicely as I could that she had to main­tain some com­po­sure for me to help, told her to look at her­self while she cried, and to let me know when she stopped. I stepped out of the office. Soon she opened the door. As I began to sit down, she started weep­ing again, so once again I exited. After three or four rep­e­ti­tions that admit­tedly took more than half of our time together, she stopped the sob­bing and began talk­ing. Her story was a sad one about a child who was neglected in favor of a younger sib­ling who was smarter, pret­tier, and so forth. Her early rela­tion­ships with men were equally sad but not out of the realm of what hap­pens to psy­cho­log­i­cally well-balanced people.

When we were fin­ished speak­ing for the day, it was clear that Mary had dwelled on all the bad, shared her neg­a­tive sto­ries all too will­ingly, each time prob­a­bly exag­ger­at­ing them, and oth­er­wise remained almost fix­ated on the worst pos­si­ble future-in her case, becom­ing a bag lady in Las Vegas.

I gave Mary her home­work, as part of our agreed terms. She was to do one good turn for some­one, any­one, every day. She was to record the good deed in her jour­nal at bed­time, just before going to sleep, focus on how the deed made her feel, and imag­ine how it made the recip­i­ent feel. The deed could be any­thing as sim­ple as hold­ing a door for some­one or as emo­tion­ally demand­ing as help­ing a col­league she didn’t like. She was to bring the jour­nal with her each week when she vis­ited me.

The fol­low­ing week we reviewed her jour­nal entries and her thoughts and feel­ing regard­ing each. Admit­tedly, some of her first week’s good deeds were pretty weak, but a cou­ple of them pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity to draw out the dif­fer­ence in how it made Mary feel as well as how she might have felt if she had been the recip­i­ent. Her home­work for the remain­ing weeks was simple:two good deeds every day and recorded per the ear­lier instructions.

Mary’s per­spec­tive changed. Her focus moved from bad things to good things. It was that sim­ple. There is noth­ing more elo­quent than just say­ing it how it is. Armed with a pos­i­tive out­look and an eye to oppor­tu­ni­ties to do good deeds, and sup­ported with what I call a “warm fuzzy feel­ing” that comes from help­ing oth­ers, Mary began to rein­force her own worth and find joy in liv­ing. It wasn’t long before her med­ica­tion was cut back and then elim­i­nated. Mary found mean­ing in life.

The “warm fuzzy feel­ing” comes from help­ing others.

 

I sug­gest to you that the real mean­ing in life comes from what you give, not from what you take. As Wayne Dyer puts it in his book The Power of Inten­tion, “pur­pose is not about vocation-it’s about ser­vice!” I believe that the ‘warm fuzzy feel­ing’ we derive from a true ser­vice experience-going to the aid of another in need-is the best feel­ing we can have when we put our head on the pil­low each night. Ger­ald Jam­pol­sky has observed in his atti­tu­di­nal heal­ing cen­ters that when a per­son goes to the aid of another, even oth­er­wise intractable pain dis­ap­pears.“15

 

The real mean­ing in life comes from
what you give, not from what you take.

 

As an aside, when the cen­te­nar­ian pop­u­la­tion was stud­ied to deter­mine the rea­son behind their long lives and health, every­one expected some­thing like “clean liv­ing and self-denial.” It turned out that that wasn’t the case. Indeed, the come­dian George Burns could char­ac­ter­ize many of the cen­te­nar­i­ans. They lived life with­out fear, full of joy and humor. What they all shared was a sense of pur­pose or con­nect­ed­ness to a Higher Power. The value to this sense of con­nect­ed­ness and pur­pose can­not be over­stated. For me the warm fuzzy feel­ing keeps me con­nected and pro­vides pur­pose. It doesn’t really mat­ter what we do for a liv­ing, pro­vided we do it with integrity and for the good of oth­ers. A piece of Chi­nese antiq­uity I cher­ish is a book writ­ten on jade. The author, Su Dong-Puo, a very famous Chi­nese writer, says it this way: “We do not work or search for food but for truth.” As Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son stated over a thou­sand years later: “You are not here merely to make a liv­ing. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achieve­ment. You are here to enrich the world, and you impov­er­ish your­self if you for­get the errand.”

Eldon Tay­lor


Eldon Tay­lor has made a life­long study of the human mind and has earned doc­toral degrees in psy­chol­ogy and meta­physics. He is pres­i­dent of Pro­gres­sive Aware­ness Research, an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to research­ing tech­niques for access­ing the immense pow­ers of the mind. For more than 20 years, he has approached per­sonal empow­er­ment from the cor­ner­stone per­spec­tive of for­give­ness, grat­i­tude, ser­vice and respect for all life. To con­tact Eldon in response to the story, you can reach him via his web­site: http://www.eldontaylor.com

Eldon Taylor’s New York Times Best-Seller, Choices and Illu­sions, is avail­able at all fine online and retail book­stores. How­ever, to par­tic­i­pate in the online event that Eldon has put together, includ­ing a chance to win a cus­tomized $500 InnerTalk library, please visit: http://www.parpromos.com/pp/it/14k/index/R.html

Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum on October 18, 2014 · 1 comment

Let Me In (Flickr Blog May 7th 2013)

“We must be will­ing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is wait­ing for us.” ~ Joseph Camp­bell

photo by:

Are You A Prometheus?

by Guest Author on October 9, 2014 · 1 comment

Has a Prometheus ever given you fire?

Accord­ing to Greek mythol­ogy, the Titan Prometheus cre­ated man out of clay and taught them to walk uprightly as the Gods. But at that time, the Gods con­sid­ered man to be an ani­mal; men were crea­tures with­out the gift of fire, which made their earth a cold, dark, and harsh place.

In time, Prometheus learned to love mankind and wanted to help them move for­ward. Because of this love, Prometheus dis­obeyed the com­mand of Zeus and stole fire from Mount Olym­pus. He then descended to earth and taught mankind how to build fires. With this gift, mankind could cook their food, build tools, stay warm — and per­haps most impor­tantly — they could have light in the dark­ness. Some even say that Prometheus lin­gered and taught man the ways of god­li­ness: orga­ni­za­tion, med­i­cine, sci­ence, writ­ing, math­e­mat­ics, and agriculture.

In a jeal­ous rage, Zeus pun­ished Prometheus for eter­nity, ban­ish­ing him from Mount Olym­pus forever.

But in spite of Zeus’s fury, mankind was never the same. The gift of fire — or the gift of light — gave them power to become as the gods.

Now I ask again, has a Prometheus ever given you fire? Has some­one given you the gift of light when your world was cold, harsh, and dark?

I believe that at var­i­ous points in our lives we all expe­ri­ence moments of Promethean fire. For what­ever rea­son we may feel as though we are wan­der­ing in dark­ness — lost and afraid. But then some­one comes who, because of love, gives us light. And with this light we are able to con­tinue mov­ing forward.

If you have iden­ti­fied some­one in your life who has been as Prometheus — some­one who gave you light dur­ing a period of dark­ness — I encour­age you to reach out and thank them.

And then I encour­age you to be as Prometheus — to give the gift of light to oth­ers. Because at some point, all of us strug­gle to move for­ward and all of us need the light of a Prometheus.

© 2014 Seth Adam Smith, author — Your Life Isn’t for You: A Self­ish Person’s Guide to Being Self­less


Author Bio
Seth Adam Smith,
author of Your Life Isn’t for You, is an inter­na­tion­ally acclaimed Alaskan-born writer. In 2013, his blog post “Mar­riage Isn’t for You” received over thirty mil­lion hits and was trans­lated into over twenty lan­guages. A sur­vivor of a sui­cide attempt in 2006, Seth has learned that true heal­ing comes from focus­ing on oth­ers and shar­ing “the north­ern lights of life.” He fre­quently writes about these top­ics on his web­site, SethAdamSmith.com

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