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Someone asked the Dalai Lama what surprised him most. His response was very enlightening and somewhat disturbing. It seems we are waiting to be happy, never really living.

Happiness is an emotional state which most of us seek to be in all the time. Unfortunately for many of us it is short lived or unattainable. We believe that “If I get rich, I’ll be happy”, or “If I have my soul mate, then I’ll be happy” or “When I am skinnier, then I’ll be happy”. The truth is that we need first need to be happy before we have the “stuff” we want. Instead, we ignore or suppress our feelings by numbing them with material possessions, drugs, alcohol or ‘useless busyness’. This leads to unhappiness that has been linked to substance use, obesity, violence, divorce and illness.

But there is good news… there is scientific evidence which shows that we can train our brain to feel happy by changing the neural pathways in our brain. We can simply anchor in more states of happiness. It’s neither difficult nor complicated, but does require effort and consistency of action.

7 Ways to get happy

We feel good when something good happens, but this feeling doesn’t last. So the key to happiness is to generate these feelings from within, regardless of outside circumstances. So how can you achieve deeper and more sustained levels of happiness when there is turmoil around you?

1. Attitude of gratitude – lessons from Louise Hay and Joe Vitalie

When your grateful and appreciative of what you have already, this automatically changes your focus from lack to abundance. When Joe Vitalie was homeless 30 years ago, he began being grateful for the pencil he had. This began his writing career, which has now brought him his life’s purpose and great abundance. Louise Hay, the founder of Hay House, the world’s leading Mind, Body and Spirit publisher practices the habit of being grateful when she first gets up in the morning. She begins by being grateful for the comfortable bed and the restful sleep she’s just had, grateful for the sunshine, grateful for the people in her life and grateful for all the amenities the modern world has to offer us.

The universe quickly responds to this shift in vibration of gratitude. You simply can’t feel happy when you focus on something that is missing from your life. For example, being single, feeling lonely and hoping for a soul mate to show up. If you remember that your energy is magnetic in nature, you draw to you what you are and what you think. This is applying the Law of Attraction into your life. You’ll attract more when you’re grateful. Begin your daily practice of being grateful for what you already have, no matter how small.

2. Invest in your mind – your bank account of happiness

Feed and nourish your mind. Read empowering and inspirational books, listen to CD’s or watch DVD’s. I often bring these resources to my courses for my students. You can attend a course or workshop that will feed your brain with useful, powerful, positive and supportive information, which will give you tools for empowered change. What you expose your brain to on a regular basis is what your programming yourself with. What you watch on TV, read in the newspapers or magazines has a direct influence on your mood. Decide now what you want to expose yourself to. Choose only those things that make you feel good.

And if you haven’t seen the movie – The Pursuit of Happyness, I recommend watching it.

3. Mindfulness and Meditation

The benefits of meditation have long being known, and are now being scientifically studied for it’s impact on the brain, mood and behavior. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve your immune system, assist in fat loss, improve bone density, regulate blood sugar levels, better skin, increase fertility and have a better memory. So it’s not just about having your chakra’s aligned.

Mindfulness is the practice of observing your thoughts. Don’t believe everything your mind thinks. Examine your beliefs to determine if they are really true. Many of your beliefs are inherited or held in the collective consciousness. But these may not be the highest or purest truth.

Mindfulness is also the practice of detached observance. Do not judge or compare. Comparison is the theft of joy. See the world through the eyes of love and compassion.

4. Nourish the body temple

It is said we are spiritual beings in a physical body. We must nourish the body and brain with optimal nutrition and supplementation. Exercise, correct breathing and adequate rest will restore your life force. Tune into your body’s wisdom with love and honor. Begin listening to what your body needs. When we ignore this, will draw illness and disease to us. The Mood Cure is a great book, which examines how food affects our mood. A yoga class can teach you how to breathe correctly to draw more oxygen into your cells to improve and increase cellular function. Rest and relaxation also plays an important role, which assists to alleviate stress which causes disease.

5. Create good habits

Foster good habits that support stimulus for happiness. Develop an exercise and meditation routine. Consistency is the secret for success. It is recommend having at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, such as a walk in park. 10-15 minutes of daily meditation will very quickly bring cumulative improvements in your life. Decide which habits you wish to change that make you unhappy, are self punishing or destructive.

Focus on solutions, not problems. When you focus on what is making you unhappy, you feel stuck and defeated. The simple habit of asking a better question will turn this around. “What makes me truly happy?”, “What would it take to have _______ in my life”“How can I make someone else happy today?”.

6. Nourish and cultivate your relationships

Surrounding yourself with loving and supportive people that can help you during periods of sadness, grief, anger or loneliness. These emotions are natural and should not be suppressed. Having a support network during these ‘dips’ can help you move through them and back into balance and harmony. Nurture the relationships you have with your family and friends. Be the support for them during their challenging time. The ancient Chinese proverb states,

When there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person.
When there is beauty in the person, there is harmony in the house.
When there is harmony in the house, there is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.

Begin to see the world as your family. It will be easier to hold a space for compassion and bring happiness and joy to the world.

7. Discover and live your passion

In each and every one of us has an innate need to be of service. We feel great when we can help someone. And we each come with a unique set of gifts to bring to the world. What are you passionate about that will get you out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step? What brings a smile to your face? What inspires you and brings you joy? My husband has a great quote, “Do a job you love, never work a day in your life.” I love my job, and it never feels like work. I’m so grateful for having discovered my life’s purpose or dharma.

When you connect with this inner wisdom, you connect to a higher power that wishes to express itself through you. And that expression is love, the ultimate and universal truth of your very beingness.

Some wise words from my mentor John Kanary

Over 10 years ago John asked me a really good question. He asked me “What needs to happen for you to be happy?”. It literally stopped me in my tracks, as I eagerly waited for the secret to be revealed. I had no answer. He responded “Nothing needs to happen, you just need to decide to be”. This beautiful truth change my life. By choosing to be happy, I let go of all the things that were making me unhappy. I attracted new and wonderful things in my life and the journey is still continuing in the pursuit of happiness.

Decide to be happy now, don’t let the past, current circumstances or negative thinking stop you from living.

Written by Anna Kitney
© Copyright 2013