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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Are you happy?

happy success and happiness 300x270 Happiness Can Be Learned

If I asked you what your life goals are, what would you say?

I’m going to take a guess that 90% of us would respond with:

  • To find great love
  • Get a great job
  • Buy a nice house
  • Get married
  • Stay in great shape
  • Raise a lovely family
  • Enjoy my passions
  • Spend time with my friends
  • Be liked and loved
  • Attain my dreams

Now, imagine you are having a conversation about having that great job with a 4-year old child. The conversation would probably go something like this:

You: “I want to have a great job.”

4-year old: “Why?”

You: “So that I can do what I love and earn a great salary.”

4-year old: “Why?”

You: “So I can enjoy my life.”

4-year old: “Why?”

You: “Because that will make me happy.”

The 4-year old child is extremely insightful. What we learn is that if we had the same conversation about any of your life goals, we would drill down to the same reason every time: We do everything in life to find happiness.

If you were a nerd (like me), you’d plot it on a graph that looked like this:

yourgoals11 Happiness Can Be Learned

Then why aren’t we, as humans, happier?

One simple fact:

Money, Love, & Healthy COMBINED can only increase your happiness up to 10%. That’s right, it has been scientifically determined that this is the case. We’re going to talk about the science in a second, but first, let me ask you:

What does it mean that those things only increase or decrease your happiness by 10%?

It means if you were rich, had the perfect mate, and were in terrific health, you would only be 10% happier than if you were poor, single, and in bad shape physically. Sound false? Well, when I put it that way, maybe it sounds false, but what about when you look around you at people chasing after these three things.

  1. Do you know anyone who has achieved financial success, yet is still unhappy?
  2. Do you know anyone who is in a great relationship, but always seems to complain?
  3. How about someone who is a skinny minnie and in great health, but still miserable…sound familiar?

I call these three people CHASERS. They chase happiness, but no matter what they chase, they come up short.

I was a chaser.

I was once ran a high-tech company with over 100 employees, I was married, had the house, the car, a great family, and I was…miserable. I was a chaser. Always going after the next thing that I thought would bring me true happiness and when I reached it, I realized that the boost I felt was only temporary. I would always go back to that set level of happiness (my genetic set point) and I was mystified. How come all of the things we have deemed important in Western, and now frankly, Eastern societies was not making me happy???

Because, we as a global society, have been chasing the wrong things.

Let me rephrase, we have been chasing the wrong things and there is scientific data that has now proven this fact.

Ok, what is this science I’ve been constantly referencing?

There are a group of people that have been asking this same holy grail type question…what actually makes people happy? But instead of just asking the question, they have made it their life work to study it scientifically. These people are Positive Psychologists and they study the Science of Happiness.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and I need to tell you that Positive Psychology is not some mumbo-jumbohippie-granola-new age trend. It is a Psychology which is a science. This science is based on theories. These theories are tested and supported by data. Positive Psychologists have tested tens of thousands of people for research and have spent tens of thousands of hours to determine some basic things like the fact that more money only makes us marginally happier.

Here is the Truth about Happiness:

The Truth! Money, love, and health ONLY affect our level of happiness by up to 10%. That means if some of these things in your life are not going as you have planned, it does not matter. You can still scientifically increase your happiness no matter what your life circumstance!

The Truth! Goal setting is not just about reaching the goals you’ve set; setting the goals in and of themselves has tremendous benefit. You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a map and the same goes for life. Learning how to goal set will increase your happiness.

The Truth! People who have an opportunity to use their strengths at work, home, or school everyday are much happier than those that do not. The same goes for using your skills, talents, and creativity. You must take the assessments to identify your strengths and lean on them to increase your happiness!

The Truth! Optimism can decrease your susceptibility for physical and mental weakness. Optimists view bad occurrences as temporary, specific, and often caused by external forces. These are signs of optimism and optimism can be learned.

The Truth! Gratitude exercises done in a particular manner can not only increase your happiness, it can decrease blood pressure, boost your immune system, and decrease situational depression. The studies prove this!

The Truth! It’s possible to be TOO happy! I know it sounds ridiculous, but on a scale of 1-10, it is better to be an 8 so that you will continue to strive to be a 10. If you consider yourself a 10 in every aspect of your life, you may become complacent. If you think about this one, it may make your head spin. Keep going, the science will show you how to be optimally happy.

The Truth! The percentage of our happiness that is passed on by genes has been scientifically determined to be only 50%. That means 50% of our happiness is in our control and we now have the exercises to take that control and make ourselves happier!

You know what else? It has been Scientifically Tested and Proven that Happy people:

  • Live Longer
  • Get better jobs
  • Get paid more
  • Volunteer more
  • Have lower blood pressure
  • Less heart disease
  • Enjoy longer marriages
  • Achieve more of their goals
  • And much more

Ok, so Here is the Honking Truth!!!

We are all chasing after the same thing. Whether it be a better job, promotion, husband, wife, children, house, good health, money etc. it all boils down to one thing – we all want to find true happiness.

Positive Psychologists, have given us the true and proven things that make people happy.

• The way we speak about the good and bad events in our lives will increase our set level of happiness.

• Expression of gratitude can decrease blood pressure and depression when practiced in a particular fashion.

• Job crafting including finding a job that uses your talents can lead to a higher paying job and satisfaction

• Acts of Kindness can actually be extremely beneficial for the one performing the act – that’s you!

The research is revolutionary and after spending 35 years chasing a smoke screen of happiness, I decided to join the revolution. I became a Certified Coach of Positive Psychology to coach myself into a happier life. Once I saw that what this cutting edge science reported actually worked, I felt it my duty to spread the word. But here’s the deal, there are tons of massive, academic like books out there giving you information about Positive Psychology.

Locked inside the Science of Positive Psychology are some of the true secrets to happiness

Here is what I learned – locked inside Positive Psychology is what we all seek- not a lecture on the necessity of being happy (sorry, Mom), but tested techniques on how to be happy; locked inside Positive Psychology was a system to be happy.

The problem?

The secrets to happiness are locked inside – they are buried in scientific speak and under hoards of testing and data that is difficult to apply to your practical home and work life.

The solution:

A system that Unlocks the Secrets: The Happy Gym.

Keep in the mind the underlined word above: System. The Happy Gym unlocks the secrets to happiness that are hidden within the study of Positive Psychology by making it easy and systematic for you to increase your happiness. The Happy Gym is not a science book. The Happy Gym walks you through sets of mental exercises that are based in scientific research and  inspired by the study of Positive Psychology and other studies on happiness.

What I have done over the last several years is develop a system that is easy to follow an integrate into your life with 5-10 minute exercises that you can do everyday. These mental workouts will increase your happiness and that is the bottom line!

I want you to be happier, because I know what is like to chase happiness and come up short.

I worked in the corporate world surrounded by chasers like myself that ran into disappointment after disappointment at every turn. I wanted to teach them about Positive Psychology, but I didn’t find too many resources out there that were easy to follow and provided a system. This is when I decided to create The Happy Gym.

At one point or another, we’ve all gone to the regular gym to lose weight. A gym provides motivation because there are other people using it and it works because it is systematic. The Happy Gym does the same thing for your mind and that the regular gym does for your body. The only difference is The Happy Gym only takes 5-10 minutes per day.

The information I’ve provided you above is only scratching the surface of what Positive Psychologists have discovered. Instead of chasing after what hasn’t worked in the past, use the scientifically proven techniques. Positive Psychologists have dedicated their lives to be able to tell us exactly how to achieve happiness.

Every individual training module – one a day for 20 days – will present you with each of the following:

• Details of one specific aspect of your life to be changed to become happier;

• Scientific proof that by tackling the daily task, you remove some of the doom and gloom that surrounds you bit-by-bit;

• An example of how you put the lesson concept into practice and finally

• Specific, practical exercises about how to take action on what you have just discovered.

Because every lesson in ‘The Happy Gym’ follows this same step-by-step structure, it is extremely easy to put what you learn each day into practice. Furthermore, because the book has been written in plain, easy to understand English, you don’t need a science degree to understand it.

In fact, if the science makes no sense at all – no matter – you’ll still get happier as long as you follow the practical exercises. And just in case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you of exactly what you will gain from owning your own copy of ‘The Happy Gym’.

Remember that research has established that there are a bunch of tangible benefits that happy people are more likely to enjoy than those who are unhappy?

Well, once you become happier, all of these benefits can be yours:

•You can get a more satisfying job than any that you have had before, one that puts more money in your pocket too.

•Within your new work environment, you are more likely to be promoted (remember that happy people make better leaders) and you will definitely achieve more than you might if you were unhappy.

•You will become more popular socially because most folks prefer to be around happy people.

•Struggling to find the best life partner for you should become a thing of the past. Again, you will be far more attractive to potential partners if you are a happy, cheerful individual than you would be if you are miserable and moribund.

•If you are already in a partnership or married, keeping your relationship together and settled will be much easier if you learn to enjoy life more than you were before.

•Getting out of bed every day will become easier, an experience that will be far more positive than it ever has been before. When you become optimistic about what the future holds, every day is a new adventure instead of being a chore that has to be survived.

•You are likely to be healthier and fitter than you are as an unhappy person. Healthier, fitter people live longer and get more out of life whilst they are doing so.

•In almost every imaginable way, the new happier you will be far more popular with everyone around you than the less-happy version was. Trust me, I know from sometimes bitter experience that people are happiest around other happy people, and I have no doubt at all that you will discover exactly the same.

I’m someone who has a simple plan based on advanced scientific knowledge that will make you happier. I genuinely want you to have access to this life-changing information today.

Source: http://howtofindhappiness.com/

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Can you remember when you last felt happy, really happy? Would you like to feel steadier in a healthy, mind-body way that does not involve pharmaceuticals? Is straddling a teeter-totter the last time you consciously considered balance in your life?

Today’s topsy-turvy world has us all running madly in every direction. We often feel overwhelmed with what’s before us — and that is, even, before our feet hit the floor in the morning. We are losing our joie de vivre; there is precious little fun and almost non-existent downtime in our lives today. We are masters at multi-tasking; we excel at doing.

Perhaps, it’s time to rethink the ways we choose to have a life and the ways we choose to fill a life. The life you are leading now is the life you passing on to your children. Is that what you want?

Here are five strategies to help you re-find the happiness, steadiness, and balance in your life:

1. WAKE UP
I don’t mean just get out of bed or off the couch, I mean become m-i-n-d-f-u-l. Happiness studies tell us that being mindful is the number one factor in creating a happy life.

If we are mindful, we are paying attention. We can savor every moment. We are no longer robots or automatons beating down the hours as the days slip by.

Remember the 80/20 sales rule. You get 80% of your business from 20% of your customers, but your spend 80% of your time on the 20% that does not yield the results you want. Apply that to your mind. Where do you focus your attention? Do you feed your time and energy into your priorities? Or, like most of us, do the shiny things distract you and you head off in your own trivial pursuit?

Discern what is important to you and place your powerful attention and intention there.

2. CHANGE ONE THING
Choose one thing you will do differently. Commit to making that change every day for 30 days. Want to do even better? Extend that commitment to 60 days. Really go for the gold, make that 90 days. Seriously, you will be a changed person after those 90 days.

What happens when you commit to yourself and you keep that commitment? You learn to trust yourself. We are very good at giving our word to our boss, our family, and our friends, but what about ourselves? Do we keep our promises to ourselves? Frequently, we do not. Thus, it becomes harder and harder to trust ourselves.

If we want to be happier, we need to build up some energetic muscle tone and personal will power that says, in essence, I can do this: I want to; I am committed and I have given my word to myself. No matter how tiny the commitment, the faithfulness to yourself creates an avalanche of well-being.

Happiness is knowing that you can count on you.

3. STOP
I know, it’s a unique thought. To be happy and balanced, I suggest you need to stop and allow yourself to course correct and re-find your center:

May I suggest you take a few deep breath breaks during your day? You will bring yourself back to center, re-oxygenate your body, and tap into the here and now.

Ready for more ways to re-find some balance in your life and increase your state of happiness — and creativity, too?

• A few hours before bed, unplug all technology. Give yourself some time when you are not required to respond, react, or do. End the mental gymnastics for the day and wind down.

• Employ a daily ritual of quiet time. This can be 20 or 30 minutes of quiet time where you sit with yourself. You can journal, meditate, watch the flickering of a candle, listen to beautiful (melody only) music, and the like. Draw a perimeter around your sanctuary of quietude.

• Take at least one day off a week. Have a full non-work day where you can play, have fun, rest, relax, or just be a slug. We all need time to refill the well. If we run consistently on empty, our ideas, energies, and creativity become compromised. Be inventive, and find revivifying ways to nurture your overworked self.

• Say “No” — or, at the very least, “I will think about it and get back to you.” Ask yourself, does this request make me feel happy? Does it nourish or feed me in some way? Does it excite me? Think twice. Life is short. And you hold the key to your personal well-being.

4. DO SOMETHING EXPRESSIVE
Do you dance to the oldies in your living room? Do you like to create penguin cupcakes on your day off? Do you find great satisfaction in watering the garden and talking to the birds? Are you the queen of collages and vision boards?

What lights us up and turns us on is important. We all know that life does life. When we get exceedingly busy, those activities that feed, comfort, nurture, and soothe us can slip through the cracks.

5. HONOR THE BODY
It’s time. We all know it’s time, no matter how much we struggle, pout, and resist. It’s time to be pro-active and support our physical selves. So, let’s begin slowly and work ourselves up to a more optimum way of being. We know we will feel much better; we know we feel happier, stronger (in both mind and body), more productive, and balanced. Really, what’s to lose, outside of some old bad habits?

Here are a few reminders to help you kick-start some new choice points:

• Remember the importance of getting enough rest; going to bed before midnight really helps those adrenals. If your body continues to run on empty, you will eventually go clunk.

• Eat well and sensibly most of the time. Aim for 80%; it’s a good target. You know the drill: Remember to have some protein with breakfast; limit sweets to after a meal; limit caffeine; and choose colorful, whole foods. You and your blood sugar will remain steadier and more stable throughout the day.

• Move your body in any way that makes you happy; regular physical activity is a definite biochemical boost to happiness and balance.

• Make choices based on what totally resonates with you and your body. This requires that you become mindful of what energizes you and turns over your engine. It can be an “and and” not an either/or. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too — just not for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

• Create some space and time to treat yourself well.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves and model for our loved ones is a life well lived.

In today’s upside-down world, action is our primary modus operandi. Consider tweaking your idea of action and focus, and try these five strategies — maybe, one baby step at a time. They are proven techniques with big rewards. They cannot hurt, and they can clearly help. Your life will become happier, steadier, and more balanced — and isn’t that, what is all about?

Author: Adele Ryan McDowell

What’s the alternative to making decisions?

Allowing someone else, or circumstances, to make them for you.

And that is giving up control of your life. That’s giving up all power to your life to other people or circumstance. And that will make you miserable.

It reminds me of walking through a wonderful food buffet where you could have anything you want — 0 calories! — and allowing someone else to decide what you took on your plate. Unacceptable!

So when faced with decision anxiety, is the alternative — giving up all control to others or circumstance — the preferred method? Definitely not. No matter how difficult the decision, making it yourself gives you some modicum of control.

On the flip side, of course, it also gives you the responsibility, and therefore you can’t blame anyone else.

Let’s consider that. Does it make you feel better to blame someone else? For example, you have a really bad haircut, and you decide it’s the hairstylist fault because she talked you into it. Ok, so now you’ve correctly affixed the blame — do you still have a bad haircut? So what did it accomplish? Nothing.

Instead, consider this: You have a bad haircut because you thought this was the style that you wanted, but now you see that it’s not for you. You still have the haircut, but since you’ve accepted your part in it, it empowers you — instead of making you a victim to it.

Being a victim to a decision emasculates you. Being a participator in a decision empowers you.

To reduce anxiety for your decisions, keep this in mind:

1. Stop looking for a prediction of the future.
There’s a difference in making a decision and looking for a prediction. There is likely to be a risk in most any decision more complicated than deciding on a type of dessert. Things change, people change, ideas change, desires change. The decision is made on what you know, what you believe, what direction you want to go in. The future cannot be predicted. Don’t let that stop you.

2. Be as informed as possible before making a decision.
Do what you need to do, but try to be realistic about it. For example, if you tried to read every article on decision anxiety, you’d be 100 years old before you finished — not much help, there, huh. So if you find yourself procrastinating, give yourself a time limit –“I will read 50 different articles, and talk to 10 people, and decide by 5:00 pm on Thursday.”

3. Realize that very few things are set in stone.
Maybe you have lots of things you want to do in your life, and you just seem to make a decision on what to do or how to do them all. This is “analysis-paralysis”. Instead, remind yourself that focusing on one thing right now doesn’t mean that you’re giving up others. It simply means that you have decided to get started on one project, with the realization that you can do the others at any time you choose.

4. Remind yourself of successful decisions.
One of my clients didn’t believe that she could make any good decisions until we started her keeping a list of the many good decisions she made every day. Sure some were small, but throughout her life, she began to realize that she had made many more good decisions than bad ones.

Easier decision making is really about valuing yourself and your own opinions. Believe in your ability, and trust your instincts. Appreciate your input into your decisions, and understand and accept that every single decision you make might not be perfect. Learn from it, expect the best from yourself, and you’ll get the best.

Author: Kathy Gates