What do you think of when you think of Florida, Hawaii or California? Sunshine. It doesn't mean they are without storms, rainy days or even catastrophic events like earthquakes and hurricanes, but in general, those places are sunny and warm.
A happy individual is similar. Is there someone you know that always seems to be smiling and good-natured? It doesn't mean they never have bad days, but somehow they have a default state of contentment. They are warm and sunny. They are generally positive and hopeful.
Happiness is a positive and satisfied state of mind.
How to be Happy
Think of happiness as an "inside" goal. You achieve that goal just as you would any other, through hard work and determination. It may come naturally for you without a great deal of effort or struggle, or it may be quite challenging. You may have to work hard, but happiness is achievable for everyone just as physical fitness is achievable for everyone.
Happiness is very much like good physical health. Developing and maintaining both requires a constant and conscious effort. Fortunately, humans are creatures of habit. Just as healthy habits can become second nature, so, too, can happy habits. You must start somewhere and move forward from there. It gets easier over time and the small successes feel wonderful. If you digress, just jump back on that horse. Tomorrow is always another opportunity to start living life happier.
You Improve The World When You Improve Yourself
You are not alone if you are seeking happiness. Fundamentally, it is a basic need of everyone in the world whether they admit to it or not. The quest for contentment drives people to abuse themselves through drugs and alcohol and to abuse others through anger and neglect. A desire to feel good drives people to do crazy things like jumping out of airplanes or climbing incredibly hostile mountains. Eventually, one finds that persistent happiness is not found on a mountaintop. It is built by living life in a way that continually improves as you grow and evolve. Happiness is dynamic as are you and the world around you.
Remember that a single individual can have a great impact. The world becomes a better place through individuals becoming better people. People in the United States are blessed with great personal freedom; however, they must choose proactively to exercise that freedom in a positive way. A capitalistic system sometimes hijacks freedom and coerces people to embrace negative thoughts and actions because fundamental human weaknesses are exploited to make money. \
For instance, movies and TV are increasingly violent because people are intrigued by shocking scenes, and movie producers exploit this fact. There is a cost associated with just allowing your mind to be filled with the lowest common denominator media. Choose instead to fill your mind with things of value.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
Happiness exists within a whole context of relationships. Your relationship with yourself, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, business associates, and even strangers is ameliorated with each incremental improvement in your own happiness.
How to be Happy? Examine Your Behavior
You must be determined to reach a positive and satisfied state of mind. There are obstacles to overcome in order to reach this goal just as with any worth attaining. The most important area to consider is your behavior.
Unless you are mentally or physically ill, you have control over your behavior. That does not make change easy, it just makes it possible. Examining and improving your behavior is the place to start. It is a required step, so don't bother going on if you can't sign up to changing your behavior at least a little.
Everyone can improve something about their behavior.
Understanding how your behavior affects your happiness is the most fundamental step on the path to contentment.
How to be Happy? Decide To Be Happy!
The first step in any new pursuit is sometimes the most difficult. People may not even realize they are unhappy or may be unwilling to admit anything is wrong. Most people have at least some genetic and learned characteristics that work against happiness. In some people, the negative characteristics are dominant. For example, I'm sure you know someone who is cynical, selfish, arrogant, or mean. Is that person also happy? I'm sure you know people who eat junk food, eat too much, don't exercise, and drink too much. Are they healthy?
We have control over so much, yet we spend an amazing amount of time and energy worrying about things we cannot control. The power you have to change your life and also positively affect others is tremendous. Utilize it. Realize it.
How to be Happy? Commit to Happiness
Once you decide and commit to happiness, you need to figure out what major behavior factors have prevented you from achieving that goal. One good way to do this is to bravely and humbly poll those close to you. You can even explain your reason for asking questions that may seem quite unlike you.
It is surprising how obvious any negative behavior is to everyone around you while you may be blind to self-defeating traits. Solicit multiple opinions to get a better picture. Write down these negative behaviors along with the positive ones you will be replacing them with, and look at them as often as you can. Think about them.
Raised awareness is a powerful tool of change. You may be tempted to be defensive or hurt when you hear what comes out of people's mouths; however, don't be. Step back and view this as an investigative report on someone else. Let the information settle in slowly and deeply. Just as an alcoholic's first step to recovery is to acknowledge there is a problem, such is the case with happiness. Which is better: short-term pain or long-term unhappiness?
People are pressured by images of perfect, rich, skinny, happy people in print and on TV. Sometimes society encourages unreasonable, unrealistic and unhealthy goals. Many negative behavior traits are really conscious and unconscious attempts at hiding insecurities and fears. Be honest with yourself and persevere.
Commit to your own happiness.
How to be Happy? ACCEPT YOURSELF
Happiness begins within. This phrase has been around for a long time in many forms because there is fundamental value in the message.
Love and happiness begins within.
No matter who you are, you can find much to love about yourself. When you talk to people about your behavior improvement opportunities, you will also likely find out about positive behavior that people appreciate. Reinforce your positive traits to yourself often. It's ok, in fact, it's totally normal to be imperfect. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses. We are all human. What matters most are your intentions and your level of effort. Stop yourself from ever saying, "I'm just not good at ...," or, "I just can't ....". Tell yourself you can and you will.
Why are some people happy with themselves and others are not? People are wonderfully complicated. There are many factors that determine one's outlook on life. Genetics play a role as does how you were treated growing up, but you cannot change either of these. You can move on and love yourself. Most likely, you are already important to someone and loved by someone, probably lots of people. Try to see the world from their perspective. Why do they love you? Why are you important to them? How do you make a difference in their lives? Internalize the love they feel for you.
How to be Happy? Create the Future You Desire
Envision yourself as you want to be in the future. Create that future reality in your mind. Picture yourself as the person you want to be. You are probably not as far away as you think. I used to meet with many CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) in my job. Since I had a desire to be a CEO, I'd try to determine what qualities made it possible for them to attain that position. Were they smarter, taller, better educated?
In fact, some of them were quite unimpressive. But they all shared the same quality; they saw themselves as CEO material and behaved that way. See yourself as happiness material and behave that way.
Another aspect of self-acceptance is forgiveness. Are you carrying baggage with you about mistakes you've made in your life? Throw that baggage into the ocean and let it drift away. Forgive yourself. You cannot change the past. You can only do better in the future. Action is the best response to resolve a negative situation. Whatever the mistake, there is a course of action that is helpful. First, resolve not to make the same mistake again. Second, repair damage if you are able. Finally, move on. Decide on what you want in your future.
Appreciate who you are.
Self-acceptance is not an instantaneous event. It is a process that may take months or even years, but it can be a background process. New habits can be formed with repetitive behavior in less than a month. Form new habits that promote self worth. Eliminate existing habits that lower your self-esteem. Take care of yourself.
DON'T RUN AWAY: Happiness is Wherever You Choose to Be Happy
Happiness is not found in a different location, a different job, a different spouse, another drink or even a great new car. Those may become areas for ancillary change once you can behave in a way that allows happiness, but you must first be satisfied with you. Most old sayings have hung around because they embrace a truth. "Money can't buy happiness" is definitely one of those. In fact, money is like a drug that can fool you into thinking you are happy when actually you're not.
Do you run away without going anywhere? If you abuse drugs or alcohol, seek help. There are so many different forms of treatment and many people that want to help and know how to help. Seek help from family, friends, clergy or even your employer. If that is not possible, look for public services. Keep in mind that whatever your addiction, thousands of people who were in your shoes have changed their lives. Thousands have also died or worse, killed others unintentionally. Which group do you want to be in? Are you leaving it up to chance? There are other addictions as well for which treatment may be sought, e.g. gambling. Happiness is not an attainable goal if you are slave to a vice. You must first and foremost be in a position to control your life. Only then can you truly be happy.
People also run away emotionally by isolating themselves from family or friends. Sometimes it may be appropriate. For example, in the case of someone who is abusive to you, it is appropriate to keep distance. Sometimes, though, you may keep a distance because closeness is difficult. For instance, you may have bad feelings like anger or jealousy, or you simply may not be able to communicate openly because you are shy or afraid.
In order to have a good relationship with someone,
you may need to alter your behavior.
Forgiveness Leads to Happiness
Family members are a constant source of opportunities for growth. It is fairly common to talk to someone that has virtually cut off relations with a family member because a specific personality flaw in their relative is annoying or agitating. The characteristics we dislike most in ourselves we abhor in our family members.
Forgive yourself first, and then maybe you'll find it easier to tolerate the same behavior in others. Relationships take energy and sacrifice. Happiness takes energy and sacrifice. Consider family and friends as the great gift they are. Do not run away from them. Embrace their strengths and look beyond their weaknesses. If you're lucky, they will do the same for you. Cherish your friends and your family.
You will benefit immensely when you can stop yourself from running away. Instead of running, recognize that all problems have solutions.
Take personal responsibility for finding solutions to your problems.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Listen to what the little voice in your head is saying to you. Do you have a bully in there or do you have a cheerleader? Reality is as much how you perceive it as how it really is.
One time a friend of mine relayed a story about how a store checker was very rude to her. My friend assumed immediately that it was because she was overweight. My friend felt angry and hurt, even though she could have been wrong. We let our own insecurities color our thoughts and assumptions about other people. So often we are way off base. The checker probably didn't even notice what my friend looked like but rather was upset about something totally unrelated.
Unless you have clear, direct communication to the contrary, give yourself and the other person the benefit of the doubt. You'll both end up feeling better. If it is someone you know well and you care about, ask for clarification.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hexagon Blue.
Real World Guide To Happiness
by Mary Jesse.
Real World Guide to Happiness is filled with insightful, simple steps you can take to increase your happiness. Everyone can be happier. Today, choose to improve your life and the lives of those around you. You will love this quick read designed to give you practical and useful information that immediately has a positive impact on your life.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book..
About the Author
Mary Jesse, a wife and mother of three sons, resides in the Seattle area and holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Electrical Engineering. During her extensive career in wireless communications, she was granted several patents and held the executive positions of Vice President of Strategic Technology and Chief Technology Officer. She is currently President and CEO of Hexagon Blue. This book is a labor of love which has evolved from her passionate belief in everyone's ability to live a happy, fulfilled, successful life.