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How Can I Be Happy: How to be Happier in Life
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Perhaps, like most people, you have moments of emotional suffering when you ask, "Why me? How can I be Happy? What will it take for me to be happier in life?" If you very seldom have those thoughts, rejoice, and pass this article on to a friend who is less joyful. If you frequently have the thought that life is intolerable, and especially if you have ever thought of ending your life, please get professional help, right now. But if your life swings between joy and suffering, even if life frequently appears gloomy, know that you CAN be happier in life. A conscious choice for happiness followed by an intentional program of focusing your thoughts and actions toward joyful living can transform your whole existence and give you the happier life you long for.
It appears that some people are just naturally happy, while others struggle with the happenings of the world. Although it is true that the circumstances of life weigh more heavily on some than on others, happiness is not in direct proportion to the circumstances of life. In fact, happiness may actually be almost completely independent of what happens externally. As extreme cases, people in concentration camps have expressed a joy and gratitude for life, and people in the best of health and the most privileged of circumstances have been so unhappy they chose to end their own lives.
There are five factors that determine one's happiness: Genetics, Past Experiences, Current Circumstances, Support Network, and Attitude.
Your Attitude is the single biggest factor in how happy you are. While you can certainly change your attitude toward life and become happier, it is not as simple as just repeating, "I am happy. Life is good. I am happy." Positive affirmations have a role to play in creating a happier life, but they are woefully inadequate by themselves - to the point of deserving the ridicule some have heaped upon positive affirmations.
Here are some actions you can take to become happier in life...
1. Honor yourself. By "honor yourself," I mean to respect yourself and to hold yourself in high regard. This process is more commonly referred to as "building self-esteem," but I find "self-esteem" to be something of a wimpy term. Think about your feelings toward your greatest hero. Those feelings are Honor. Whether your greatest hero is a patriotic figure, a war hero, a religious martyr, or your favorite grandparent, feel the emotion that thinking about that person evokes in you and hold onto that feeling. You are a great and wonderful person, and you deserve to have those feelings toward yourself. Honor yourself by becoming your own greatest hero. Make a daily practice of honoring yourself. List your great qualities and honor those qualities. Honor your accomplishments, honor your choices, honor your vision for your life.
2. Forgive everyone, especially yourself, for everything ever done or not done. Forgiveness is a key to happiness. No one can be resentful or regretful and happy at the same time. Release your resentments and regrets to allow space for joy to enter your life.
3. Give thanks for all of life. Gratitude is another key to happiness. The lack of gratitude is essentially resentfulness, and being resentful is incompatible with happiness.
4. Have a Life Purpose. Choose your life purpose and live your life in fulfillment of that purpose. While there are many techniques for selecting your life purpose if you don't already know your life purpose, I recommend what I call the "Tombstone Exercise." The Tombstone Exercise is a short version of what Werner Erhard, the designer of the Landmark Education programs, termed "Designing the Future from the Future." Visualize your own tombstone many years from now. What do you want to see written on your tombstone? Hold that vision and picture what must have been accomplished just before the final goal. then work your way back, one accomplishment at a time, until you have walked the time-line back to the present. What step do you visualize being accomplished today to ultimately reach the goal you saw written upon your tombstone?
5. Begin Today. Take a step toward your Life Goal today.
6. Persevere - Have Commitment. Happy people don't give up or waver. You may choose to change your goals. You may choose to change your tactics for reaching your goals. But persevere and stay committed.
7. Hold your Intent (also called Intention). There is power in affirming, "It will be thus." There is power in speaking your Intent to the Universe. If you are overly skeptical, just move on to the next action for happiness; otherwise trust and affirm your Intent for the future. Speak your Intent (or prayer) with gratitude for something that certainly will happen rather than hope that something might happen.
8. Appreciate your Support Network. If you have friends and family who support your values and goals, have gratitude and utilize your network. If you don't yet have a powerful support network, make it a priority to surround yourself with people who are joyful, open minded, and supportive. There is a strong correlation between a person's happiness and the happiness of those he associates with. Spend more time with happy people and less time around unhappy people.
9. Be of Service. Above and beyond the good your service will be to the world, being of service is good for your happiness. As a bonus, in the process of being of service, you are likely to associate with happy people, which will also tend to improve your own happiness.
10. Celebrate. Celebration is an expression of Gratitude. Gratitude is like the prayer, while Celebration is the hymn and sacred dance. Celebration is a road to happiness.
11. Feel Unity with Spirit and All Creation. While it is possible to live a joyful life without a relationship with one's Higher Power, basking in Unity with Spirit and All Creation is the most powerful and quickest path to happiness. It is simply not possible to fully experience being one with Spirit and All Creation and remain unhappy.
12. Fake it until you make it. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Until you can feel happy, just pretend you are happy, and soon the actor's mask will become real.
Other ways to become happier in life...
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