Unlocking Happiness in Your Life

Happiness is the treasure…but where’s the map?  How do I get there? How can I stay there longer, get there quicker?  Once found, where are the keys?  Here are 10 Keys to enjoying true happiness - long-term.
 
It’s NOT a secret… Happiness IS a place of rest and joy you CAN discover and live in.  There are a few secrets though that as we allow them to be revealed, and we decide to live out those principles (the secrets) – we then experience the elusive, wonderful state of ‘happiness’.   Bliss, joy, contentment, peace, the giggles, laughter, wholeness, well-being…  however YOU describe happiness.   Now it’s your turn, give it a shot… write down some words that describe happiness to you. 
 
Our usual pursuit of happiness most often has us obsessed with our external circumstances.  However our circumstances only account for about 10% of our happiness. 
 
Interesting.  
 
Happiness based on circumstances doesn’t last.  Deep down, I’ll bet we ALL have experienced that.   We achieve the goal, we get what we want but the joy doesn’t last.  We hear all the time of someone who ‘has it all’ but isn’t happy. The search is so elusive it’s confusing and we just keep doing the same thing over and over.  Media tells us this is the answer – it’s not.
 
When we spend all our time & effort & focus pursuing the things that we think make us happy, we are missing out on the things that do.   
 
According to research done by Dr. Henry Cloud and described in detail in his book ‘The Law of Happiness” 10% of our happiness comes from external circumstances (but doesn’t last).  50% of our happiness seems to come from our genetic make-up, you know, the internal stuff, the natural bent towards pessimism or optimism.  The great news is that rest of our happiness comes from the things that are directly under your control:  our behavior, our thoughts and the intentional things/habits we do in our lives.   Fascinating stuff. 

40% of our happiness is under our control!!!

 
10 Keys to Happiness

  1. Gratitude – If you haven’t been purposeful in the area of gratitude, this is something you just have to try.  Ann Voskamp has a great resource for this IF you dare… it’s called the JOY DARE.  Documenting 1,000 things you are grateful for.   Or start a gratitude journal that you write down one thing a day that you are grateful for.  Pick it up & journal daily or once a week – whatever works for you.  It is a good habit to establish though – to be grateful in all seasons – so a daily project of gratefulness will be much more relevant and useful.
  2. Generosity – When you see a child sharing, naturally and enthusiastically…doesn’t that just warm your heart?  What does it feel like when you give?  It’s an amazing feeling that is sometimes hard to describe.  Sometimes enhanced by the enthusiasm & gratitude of the receiver but never-the-less even if the receiver is unaware or ungrateful…it still is a wonderful place to be.    Are there areas where you can give more?  Is there a way to implement regular giving into your life?  Can you determine to be more spontaneous in your giving?
  3. Positivity – “Every single day, happy people are thinking thoughts that help them to be happy, and unhappy people do the opposite ”The Law of Happiness” pg. 111   So – where do you have some negative thinking lingering in your thought life?  Begin to identify negative thoughts – sometimes these will seep out in behavior or in our words.  Take notice and pull up that root.  Identify the truth (if it’s a lie you are believing), establish an opposite phrase or word that begins to breakdown the negative stronghold you just un-earthed.  Be purposeful in establishing new habits in how you think.   If you need some help here, get a coach or collaborate with a friend.
  4. Goal oriented – The attainment and pursuit of goals causes us to dig deep into what our dreams & desires are (which nails what really matters to us) and as we are pursuing them and attaining them, joy is the reward.  Life is not mundane, it’s challenging, new & changing, it’s fun & it’s rewarding.  
  5. Connection – Who do you trust and depend on?  Who trusts you?  Are you connected enough that people/friends/family can trust you?  If your answers are no-one, or you can only list a few.  It’s time for deeper connection.  People who are happy connect.  People who are happy depend on others.  They aren’t stand alone hero’s who haven’t got a clue what’s happening in another persons life.  They have compassion, they connect & they care. 
  6. Faith  – Do you have a faith? Does God’s existence make a difference in your life?  Coming to the realization that God isn’t just there, He is there for you will turn your world around!   According to Dr. Cloud there are numerous studies that document the fact that people who have a faith recover faster after tragedy, they live longer and their physical health is often better. Faith (relationship with God) assists in coping and being victorious despite tragedy, it gives you a depth of purpose and calling, and it certainly helps us forgive and heal when there are wounds that are too painful to deal with ourselves.  Partnering through life with a God who cares for you tips the scale of happiness in your favor. 
  7. Boundaries – Examining where you have lost boundaries & need to learn to implement them can be a tough process. (particularly for those of us who have allowed our boundaries to be overridden.)  Happy people have learned to keep healthy boundaries, addressing them quickly with tact and grace.  They don’t put up with repeated patterns of hurtful behavior.   They learn what infringes on their personal ‘boundary line’ and make changes to live that out.  Happy people respect the boundaries of others and don’t fight to have control of those around them.  Ask yourself, what are some boundaries that I need?  Where have I lost my sense of self & personal identity?  What can I do to begin to implement the boundaries that are important to my happiness?
  8. Calling - Do you have a job, a career or a calling?   Most people I talk to want to have purpose to what they do everyday.  From young adults who are investigating their future career, to mature individuals who are tired of just working and not having any meaning in what they do.   I think everyone wants to have impact in some sort of way & finding a way to have a career that uses your talents in a way that serves others, brings a deeper sense of satisfaction and joy to what you do everyday!   However you may find yourself in a career that you know and are great at but doesn’t have a lot of purpose to it… what then?  Finding a way to have impact outside of your career can be as equally fulfilling.  Take the time to investigate your purpose and calling in life.  Make a move to begin to walk that out and make it a part of your life.
  9. Wholehearted – Dive-in to whatever you are doing and whatever relationships are important to you.  “But waaaaaait… I can’t be fully engaged in EVERYTHING!”  Yes – you are probably right, however if you can’t be wholehearted about your career for example, maybe it’s time to examine ‘why?’  Do you need a career change or is fear keeping you from jumping in with both feet.  If you have too many things on your plate, take the time to determine which things fit in with your values surrounding life.  Eliminate some things and become fully engaged in the things that matter.  Happy people live life wholeheartedly.  What is coming to mind as far as areas where you are not fully engaged but should be? What can you do to change that?
  10. Forgiveness – Happy people forgive.  Easy to say – harder to do…however it is possible.  Examine your self-talk and if you notice criticalness, cynicism, negativity and maybe that you are struggling to be kind for example, you most likely need to take a look at why. Begin to purposely let some things go and experience the miracle of forgiveness.  When you hold on to a hurt (and most likely a very valid one), it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.   When you don’t want to forgive because ‘that would let the other person off the hook’… that hook has actually caught you and forgiveness takes the hook out of yourself.   Forgiveness releases you.  Forgiveness is freedom.  Ask yourself, ‘Who do I need to forgive?’  ‘What do I need to let go of?’  Take inventory – purposefully speak forgiveness towards them or the situation.  Guaranteed – you WILL be happier if you can implement forgiveness as a consistent lifestyle choice. 
 
 
This is NOT just the principle of  ‘thinking positive and positive comes your way’.  Although there is truth, relevance and proof to the concept of positive thinking. There is more than just the law of attraction.  It’s more than living life positively.  It’s more than forcing greatness by speaking and thinking positive things. 
 
It’s learning to live greatly in the depth of being happy and being YOU.
 
A life well lived will embrace these 10 secrets and make them a natural part of personal character. 
 
So now you have the clues that get you to your destination, your treasure.  Follow them, use them, live them.  Happiness is just around the corner!

Lori Girard

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