Happiness & Positivity

Seven Secrets to Living a Happier (and Less Stressful) Life

(An abbreviated version of this article was published in the Anne Arundel Women’s Journal August/September 2009 edition with the title “7 Steps to a Happier You“)

We’ve all heard that some people tend to look at life optimistically with a “glass is half-full” approach. Others see life more pessimistically with the opposing “glass is half-empty” view. Those who are optimistic live happier lives because they realize that happiness is not a “thing” to be acquired, but a choice you make for yourself each and every day. Acquiring “things” to make yourself happy creates only a short-lived type of happiness. True, lasting happiness comes from deep within you and will attract all that you desire into your life. Strive for this type of happiness with the seven key steps below:

1. Avoid Complaining and Criticizing — These produce a negative focus. Instead seek opportunities to praise others, to laugh and to practice kindness each day.

2. Become Non-Judgmental — Judging others creates chaos in your inner dialogue. Instead strive for inner peace by learning to accept others as they are.

3. Practice Defenselessness – Relinquish the need to convince others of your point of view. When you have no point to defend, you release the burden of defensiveness and feel more relaxed, joyful and free.

4. Appreciate — Begin to truly be thankful for all that you DO have! An easy way to practice appreciation and establish a positive focus is with a Gratitude Journal. Keep your journal beside your bed and write down five things you are thankful for each night before going to sleep. In no time you’ll realize just how much you already have to be thankful for.

5. Meditate — Release resistance to your natural state of wellbeing by learning to quiet your mind. Going within promotes inner harmony and will help you to experience more peace and tranquility in your life. The goal of meditation is mindfulness which means living fully in the present moment without regretting the past or worrying about the future. Try centering yourself daily by lying quietly on your bed and focusing only on your breathing for 10 minutes, dismiss any thoughts that invade this quiet time and when your mind begins to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breathing. Its as easy as that!

6. Deliberately Choose Positive Thoughts — Its important to realize that although you cannot control everything around you, you can control your own thoughts and reactions to outside stimuli. When you notice negative thoughts creeping in, pivot to a more positive, better feeling thought of something you would prefer. The key here is to think about what you DO want vs. what you do not want.

7. Have Faith — People with faith are generally happier and more relaxed because they know that they are not alone. Learning to have faith, letting go and trusting that all will be well will lead to a deep sense of inner peace and to all you’ve been dreaming of.

Most of all remember that you are supposed to be happy and that the purpose of life is joy!