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8 Steps to True Happiness

“I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” - Louis D. Brandeis

It’s become popular over the last several years, to create vision boards in order to manifest your dreams. Vision boards are collages, made with images cut from magazines. Their purpose is to represent the abundance you want in to create and obtain in your life.

The manifestation guru’s want you to believe that reaching your goals and manifesting your dreams will bring you happiness.

The problem with vision boards is that they are all about ‘me,’ my needs, my wants, and my desires. They don’t stand for community, service to others, or making a difference, things I believe that are required for personal happiness.

If money, possessions, fame, and status, brought happiness then Amy Winehouse would still be singing, Michael Jackson would be still be dancing, and Hollywood would be the happiest place on earth.

Tal Ben-Shahar author of The How of Happiness: A scientific Approach to Getting What You Want says, “Happiness is a combination of meaning and pleasure. We need what we’re experiencing to be meaningful.”

Happiness comes from within. Being content requires living from within, putting more focus on personal values, and loving others. Happiness is more about internal qualities than external stuff. It’s more about inclusion than separation. Happiness isn’t something you search for or go after, it’s a moment by moment decision you make.

Anyone can become a happier person because happiness begets happiness. However it does takes a lot of effort.

Read on for steps to implement your personal happiness plan:

1. Make an intentional choice.

Happiness is an intentional choice. Each morning tell yourself, “I’m happy today.” Take daily responsibility for your happiness quotient. Choose to enjoy the next 24 hours, then the next, and the next. If nothing else ever changes in your life, know that in spite of everything, you can be happy. Make a commitment to happiness, be happy now.

2. Practice self-acceptance.

Honor your uniqueness. Dance with your spirit and reach for the stars. Shine your light on your quirkiness. Appreciate your magnificent talent and enormous wisdom, use them to make the world a better place.

Stop chasing happiness. When you quit neurosing about a better job, a bigger home, a smaller body, joy bubbles to the surface. Happiness isn’t something you chase or become in a distant future. Happiness is all that you are right now.

3. Invest in the best.

The best investment you can make is in the relationships you have with your family, friends, colleagues, and community. Communicate. Spend time together. Participate in volunteering, a feel-good activity. As you enrich the lives of others you enrich your own. Strong connections to others increases your well- being. Chasing happiness causes you to miss the happiness right under your nose. Extend love to others today. Notice how good it makes you feel.

4. Live in a state of appreciation.

Learning to be grateful throughout the day will change the way you interpret life. It changes your brain and opens your heart. Writing down your gratitude list helps solidify it in your brain.The more you express gratitude, the more you find to be grateful for.

Happiness isn’t acquiring something or in some future event. Gratitude is found in the present moment, happiness follows.

5. Drop grievances and resentments.

Forgiveness is giving up being a victim. It turns ‘poor me’ into ‘free me.’ You create your own suffering, stress, and misery by your need to be right. When you hold on to resentment, you miss the present by reliving stories of the past. Happiness dwells in a loving heart and a healed past. Decide to see things differently. Don’t worry about how to forgive, instead choose to be a forgiving person.

6. Enjoy your life.

According to University of California, Irvine’s Professor Lee Berk, “If we took what we know about the medical benefits of laughter and bottled it up, it would require FDA approval.” Take the time to enjoy doing the things you love. Don’t allow the pursuit of a dream trump your time to play and have fun. Be spontaneous, lighten up and laugh. Untether yourself from technology. Leave your electronics at home. Never underestimate the power of creating good times for yourself.

7. Get connected.

Know what inspires you and supports you. Draw strength from a daily spiritual practice, draw, meditate, pray, spend time in nature or do yoga. When you feel connected and grounded, you rush less, do less, and desire less. You become happy with your life exactly how it is in this moment. Spiritual happiness allows you to squeeze all the joy you possibly can out of everyday. There is no other time, there is no other place, find happiness right here, right now.

8. Celebrate your life.

Happy people take time to celebrate themselves and their everyday growth and progress. Validate yourself by being your own cheerleader and tooting your own horn. Recognize your accomplishments big and small. Don’t wait or rely on the approval of others. Celebrate that you have your basic needs met. You are worthy of all life has to offer. Know it, own it, celebrate it!

Life is a grand event, participate in it fully. Researchers have found that people are happier being with others, than being alone. When you are with others, you become more alive, social, and care-free. In turn others want to be with you and near you. Happiness spirals upward. I’m all for that, are you with me?

Tess  is a speaker, author, fear shattering, calculated risk taker, obsessed with being happy and bold.  Her blog, The Bold Life is a juicy mix of inspiration, spirituality, and personal development.  Download for free her eBook, “Peace, Love, and Connection.”

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  • http://www.meanttobehappy.com Ken Wert

    Hi Tess! Great article, as always!

    I especially resonated with #5 as critically important to living a happy life. So many people carry such burdens with them. Resentment, grudges, hatreds and ill-will toward others act as such a tremendous drag on happiness.

    Thanks so much for your insight and passion for happiness, Tess.

    Be good!

    • Tessmarshall

      Hi Ken,
      I just read that 85% of our happiness comes from our relationships. Now why would anyone want to hold a grudge? Talk about creating your own misery!

  • http://www.clintcora.com Clint Cora

    So true about how the material things in life don’t necessarily bring happiness as in the case of Amy Winehouse.  I’ve been to places in the world where the local people did not have much, like Cuba for instance.  Yet they are still able to be happy as they celebrate each night in the community with music, dance and each other.

    • Tessmarshall

      Hi Clint,
      When we don’t have much we free up our energy, time, and more. That freedom allows happiness to run through our veins. 

  • http://www.clintcora.com Clint Cora

    So true about how the material things in life don’t necessarily bring happiness as in the case of Amy Winehouse.  I’ve been to places in the world where the local people did not have much, like Cuba for instance.  Yet they are still able to be happy as they celebrate each night in the community with music, dance and each other.

  • http://www.coachkaren.com/ Karen Sigalas – Coach Karen

    I’ve coached
    hundreds of people and this is one thing we don’t do enough – celebrate our
    successes.  And it’s  the one thing that will keep us motivated
    because it’s tapping into our personal sense of satisfaction of achievement.

    We all want to
    feel successful, which will  ultimately
    make us feel happy.  Recognising our
    success will help us recover from setbacks more quickly, will help us put
    things into perspective, instead of feeling overwhelmed, will also start to
    enjoy life more.

    Our confidence
    will grow and with that, the world’s our oyster.  We won’t be concerned with success or fail
    but learning instead.

     

    • Tessmarshall

      Yes, Karen this is so true. I also think it would help with jealousy and comparing oneself to others. In fact one would be able to honor another’s success because they are aware of their own.

  • Appy

    The best advice in the article is contained in this line: “When you hold on to resentment, you miss the present by reliving stories of the past. Happiness dwells in a loving heart and a healed past.”

    • Tessmarshall

      Appy,
      Thank you. It took me a while to learn it but when I got it, I got it. My son-in-laws are my biggest teachers. However I recognize they’re only mirroring my issues. It’s easy for me to move on from that perspective.

      • Appy

        Well, you are doing a great job sharing this advice with the world. Keep up the good work! We can always use a little extra motivation to start the day right :)

  • http://www.colon-liver-cleanse.com/ Sean

    Of all of these great tips, the one I’ve been focusing on the most is 4. Live in a state of appreciation.

    This has truly helped me in so many ways. I used to feel stressed, anxious and worried all the time, when I shift into appreciation all that melts away and I find that I didn’t have anything to worry about to begin with!

    • Tessmarshall

      Hi Sean,
      Just today I was in the grocery store and the check out lines were long and people were in a tizzy and all worked up because they had to wait. 

      I stood there and decided to be grateful for the food, all the choices and how abundant it is.

      Then I blessed everyone and recognized that I could be impatient as well. Isn’t life grand?

  • http://Mazzastick.com Justin

    Hi Tess,
    I believe that when we take care of our spiritual selves we will be totally content with our lives.

    • Tessmarshall

      Justin,
      Yes and when I get out of sorts I only need to stop and get in touch with my center and spirit within. Problem is sometimes my ego is big and sassy and doesn’t want to go there;)

  • http://www.poweredbyintuition.com Angela Artemis

    Hi Tess,
    Yes, I’m with you! Happiness is a choice. I have no doubt about that.
    I do believe to have a truly meaningful and fulfilling life you have to focus on others not just on yourself. You have to give back without thinking of what’s in it for you. You’ve also got to be truly interested in others and show it too. None of this can be lip service – you have to be authentic in words and deeds.

    • Tessmarshall

      Angela,
      Absolutely and sometimes I find myself upset when I don’t get a thank you card. Then I realize I’m putting conditions on my giving which is BS.

  • http://twitter.com/treatmenttalk Cathy T.

    Hi Tess,

    Amazing and I would expect nothing less from you! Joy in our life can be so simple. We complicate things when searching for the happiness that is right inside of us if we just take a moment to listen and allow it to come forth. I’ve thought in the past that vision boards could be good for focus, but I see your point in that it could be our selfishness glued onto cardboard. Lots to think about – thanks!

    • Tessmarshall

      Cathy, 
      I think vision boards are good depending how they are used. Like when have you ever seen one that says. I want equality for everyone, I want to end hunger. I’ve never seen it and the people who ask for that wouldn’t waster their time on a vision board because they’re out there making things happen:)

      Oh dear, I’m sounding a bit judgmental, eh?

  • Anonymous

    Gosh I don’t know which one to say is the most important to me… I tend to live in circles that keep spiralling around me, happenings and those I love – keeping us bound together (often in odd ways). Happiness would be one of the binding forces that  holds it (and me) together. As you say, happiness definitely spirals upward – and you know a spiral is but a circle through 4 dimensions :) Great post.

  • Anonymous

    Gosh I don’t know which one to say is the most important to me… I tend to live in circles that keep spiralling around me, happenings and those I love – keeping us bound together (often in odd ways). Happiness would be one of the binding forces that  holds it (and me) together. As you say, happiness definitely spirals upward – and you know a spiral is but a circle through 4 dimensions :) Great post.

  • Anonymous

    In my experience happiness comes from within, it is the true joy of being alive. And you made a good point about that: it is not about “ME” only. It is also about our relationships – our loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, our city we live it, our country we life in, our continent, the world we life, … 

    Thanks for sharing

  • Anonymous

    In my experience happiness comes from within, it is the true joy of being alive. And you made a good point about that: it is not about “ME” only. It is also about our relationships – our loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, our city we live it, our country we life in, our continent, the world we life, … 

    Thanks for sharing

  • Steve

    Agree – a good coverage and will link back to your article from my site.  Smiled as I read this.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Tess,

        Please forgive my pointed response to your article. The forthright nature of my comments are due to the fact that so much misguided information has been promulgated about life and the proper means by which to find success. This has created a distortion of life.

        Your article, “8 Step To True Happiness,” is a noble endeavor. Happiness is the epitome of life and the greatest of goals we could hope to achieve. Since we live an a physical universe we can learn a lot about gaining happiness by understanding the mechanics that curtail happiness. In a word any attempt to quash happiness is done through domination. When we defuse the attempts to dominate the space that remains can be filled with happiness. It’s pretty simple.

        Our own attempts toward happiness are thwarted when we believe manipulations that deny our personal sense of self and purpose. That may sound overly complex but as you will see it is not.

        As time rolls by humanity will continue to evolve in our ability to conceive and perceive, ourselves, others, and the world around us. As we do this we will access greater wisdom of our purpose, potential, and awareness.

        The Brandeis quote is flawed by the standards of the more aware humans today. The purpose of life is to be happy. Because we live in a physical universe someone will always be able to say (read judge), someone as not useful enough, not responsible enough, and not compassionate enough. This is most clearly found in a world of duality, where there is actually good and bad. This is opposed to the reality that we live in a universe of polarity. We can discuss that later.

        How one, “matters,” and, “counts,” is again a subjective judgment that is erroneous and actually extraneous to one’s life. Why this is so is because if a person strives to attain happiness they will be doing all in their power to be the best they can be. The vagaries of, “mattering,” or, “counting,” is external and relatively outside the control of the subject. In this instance to, “matter,” or to, “count,” then means measuring up to the standards of another. And of that standard the subject has precious little input.

        “Standing for something,” is the first and only correct portion of this quote. The part is sufficiently nebulous enough to allow the subject to make this determination for themselves, which is what life is all about.

        The last portion reverts to a subjective judgment which opens the door to a renewed attempt to manipulate. So many are put upon by a sense that poses to represent the greater good. This is a veiled attempt to manipulate. So may wish to say, “guide,” “inform,” or “structure,” but when we are addressing self-aware, self-determinate, and self-dependent individuals the attempt is more precisely – dominate.

        The ultimate question to this line of logic is, “Why?”. I can tell you but let’s not get sidetracked.

    Briefly:

    1. Very close to the center of the target. Good call.

    2. This is spot on. Excellent

    3. This is an excellent call out. Good on that.

    4. This is an effective tool to give perspective to the thoughtful. Good job.

    5. A most powerful path to emotional freedom. Excellent.

    6. This one is a little weak. You could have easily said, “relax.” Fair enough.

    7. Why should anyone desire less if their desires are balanced? This one kinda echos #1. “Be happy.”

    8. Of course, “love yourself.” The second half sounds like psychological judo to coax a base behavior to lower its guard to allow brain chemistry to create familiarity and more relaxed conditions. Once you know how it works you won’t have to trick yourself, you can just be yourself without trying to be someone others will accept.

        On balance you’re on this one. “Be yourself, love yourself, and accept what happens.” The only hiccup is in deciding there is something wrong. If someone should want something that is not the current condition build that condition instead of lamenting. When we stop judging we free our time up for creating a more uplifting experience. In the meantime there are those around us who are constantly telling us what’s wrong. When we buy into that we distract ourselves for being happy.

    Good job,
    Dave Moore
    ThinkersAndSinkers.com

  • http://profiles.google.com/bhattathiry Mulavana Bhattathiry

    Today there are innumerable professionals and industrialists who are
    great achievers, have great social prestige yet do not enjoy life. On
    the other hand, there are many who are contended and happy but are not
    achievers. What is needed today is a combination of these two
    qualities. One should be a great achiever and at the same time should
    live a peaceful life.

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  • kashyap

    adding one more point Meditation. that gives inner peace, balance & harmony in life. you can feel complete even without having much materialistic gain if you are regularly doing meditation. through meditation our inner beauty, intelligence shines  out. We can live life in effortless way. http://24x7meditation.blogspot.com/ 

  • Chronicbehavior

    Great article…all wonderful points to remember and put in practice daily.  I work to share information and inspire this feeling daily with pretty much everyone I come in contact with…it’s always nice to see what others are doing and sharing.