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Do you want to be happy?

What a stupid question to ask (but at least I got your attention)? Everyone wants to be happy don't they? Isn't happiness what everyone is looking for? So what is happiness and where can we find it?

Well some people think that the shiny new car will make them happy. Or maybe an afternoon shopping will make you happy? Others think that finding the ideal partner will make them happy. But is that the case? Of course not. Well it might make you happy for a while but not in the long term. As spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama point out, happiness does not come from external things, happiness comes from within. We are each responsible for our own happiness.

One of the first questions I ask my coaching clients is ‘What makes you happy?’ And depending on the reply my next question is usually ‘So how often do you do that?’ Or ‘When did you last do that?’ The things that make us happy on a daily basis are not the big significant events that happen rarely, but the small everyday things we do that bring us pleasure. This could be having a coffee with a friend, going to a yoga class, taking your dog for a walk, reading a book or many other things. When life gets busy these are the things that people often give up and I can understand why because I have done it myself. But when your life gets out of balance and you don’t have the opportunity (or time) to recharge your ‘happiness batteries’ you might feel less happy about life in general.

It has been scientifically proven that gratitude contributes to happiness. By focussing on the good things that are happening to us, overtime our brains will become wired to be aware of the positives in any situation. Gratitude will help us to appreciate what we already have such as the new car, new spouse etc. and maintain the initial happiness we experienced. During tough times, gratitude can make you more resilient by allowing you to see not just the negatives but the positives as well. The concept of gratitude is not new. I remember when I was very young, my grandmother reminding me to ‘count my blessings’ when I complained about something. She had had a tough life but was in no way involved in personal development as we know it now. She just knew that if you appreciate what you have you will feel happier.

Keeping a Gratitude Journal, is a great way to record your thoughts and the act of writing down just one thing you are grateful for each day, is supposed to be more effective than just saying (or thinking) it. If you are like me, and you forget to do this, there are now some Apps that you can download to your phone or tablet which send a daily reminder and you can also use as a journal. So no more excuses! Feel free to comment and let me know how you go.

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