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Three Simple Steps to Finding Happiness

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What if we could go through life without worrying about money, jobs, kids, relationships, and just be happy? 


Happiness is not a destination. It is a positive feeling of appreciation, gratitude, and contentment about our current situation. We achieve this feeling by focusing on and acknowledging all the good things in our lives. 


Abraham Lincoln said: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It’s really not so much what happens to us in life, but how we respond to those happenings.  


Step #1 Make The Choice 


Regardless of the situation or circumstances, we get to choose whether we want to feel happy and energized, or miserable and lethargic. Obviously, we will feel better if we respond to life with positive energy and a plan for moving forward. Taking the low road by moaning and groaning about life’s injustices can only lead to anger, resentment and frustration. What a lot of wasted energy!  


That doesn’t mean the high road is easy. Often our first impulse when something unexpected happens is to tense up, burst into tears, throw a tantrum, or look for something or someone to blame. This is a typical knee-jerk response that is related to our basic survival instinct. Acknowledge this instinct and then take a deep breath. 


Stop and reflect. Ask yourself: How do I want to feel? What do I want? (What is the desired outcome?)   


Step #2 Let Go 


What’s on your unhappiness laundry list? 


Go ahead; make that list. Here are some samples: 


1. Not enough money.


2. Too busy.


3. Betsy is always in a bad mood.


4. Bruce never does want I want him to.


5. My sister acts so nasty toward me. There’s no reason for her to be nasty! 


What can you do to change each of these unhappiness items? I’ll give you some hints. 


1. I’m so grateful for the money we do have. I’m also grateful that we live in a world of opportunities where we can always look for ways to augment our income.


2. I enjoy managing my time well, so I never have to feel that I’m too busy to read stories to my children, or create a wonderful bedtime experience for them when they can share all the events of the day with me.  


3. I’m going to do something special for Betsy today. I know she’s depressed about being overweight. I’m going to compliment her on her computer skills; she’s a genius and I think she doesn’t really know that. 


4. Bruce is only two years old and he’s eager to test his wings. I will be loving and firm with him, letting him know who’s in charge. I’ll make the rules into a game. 


5. Repeat Number 3 with a variation. What would make your sister feel special, loved, wanted, and needed? 


Place those negative feelings into the washing machine and add plenty of detergent.  


How many people do you know who can still recall some of the terrible things that happened to them years, even decades ago? I know a woman in her mid-sixties who can still remember names that the “mean kids” called her in elementary school.  


That’s a long time to carry around that memory. I wonder if she remembers any of the compliments her grade school friends paid her.  


For some reason, our minds tend to store “junk.” We hold on to all the bad things that people have said or done to us through the years. Over and over in our heads, we replay tape loop of life’s injustices: justifying our hurt, anger, or bitterness. 


Why? Why hold on to all of that? Make a list of reasons.  


Can you come up with at least one reason for keeping yourself in a state of feeling bad, resentful, angry or depressed?? What is the pay-off? 


Release the junk. Make room for more joy!  


Step #3 Be Grateful 


Being thankful for what you have and who you are is critical to the way you feel about yourself and your situation. It’s so easy to focus on what’s going wrong, but why not be thankful for what’s going right? Again, we are deciding to feel this way, based not so much on what is happening around us, but with what is happening within us. 


Our bodies respond with a powerful, positive sensation when we express our gratitude; it is that sensation that creates happiness. 


Focusing on good things makes us feel good.


Has anyone ever paid you a compliment that you didn’t accept? For example, has someone told you your new dress is very becoming and you responded by saying, “Oh, this old thing?” 


Maybe at work someone complimented you on a job well done and you responded, “It was nothing.”


Why is it often difficult to accept a compliment? Why can’t we be grateful and just say “thank you”? 


When we decline a compliment, we think we are being humble, but the message it delivers to our subconscious is altogether different. 


Rejection of a compliment sends a message to the brain that we are not pretty, or smart, or hard working! This response also makes the person who paid us the compliment feel bad because we didn’t accept it. 


When we are grateful and accept the kind words someone has given us, it makes us feel good inside. That compliment is stored in our “hard drive,” and continues to deliver positive energy. 


Have an attitude of gratitude. Make a choice to be grateful and happy. Be grateful for the job you have, even if you are not happy in that job. Be grateful for your co-workers, even though they may drive you crazy. Be grateful for your boss who is hard on you, but also challenges you, and makes you stretch further than you thought you could. 


I guarantee if you will start being grateful for the things in your life that make you happy, or even unhappy, you will experience a wonderful upsurge of new energy. 


Suddenly, change is in the air! You might arrive at work one day and notice that you really do enjoy your job and appreciate the uniqueness of your co-workers. You might even think everyone else has changed, but it’s really you who flipped the switch to the Happiness Channel.  


Why not give that flip-switch a try? The alternative is staying exactly where you are; and if that doesn’t feel good, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  

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