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.

The Real Meaning in Life

by Guest Author on November 10, 2014 · 0 comments

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