How to Find Greater Happiness in Your Life: 5 Vital Steps

by Henrik Edberg

How to Find Greater Happiness in Your Life: 5 Vital Steps
Image by sytoha/Syed Touhid Hassan (license).

Note: This is a guest post by Michael Miles of Effortless Abundance.

Some people just seem to be more cheerful and optimistic than others, don’t they? Are some people genetically predisposed to optimism and happiness than others? Is there a ‘happy gene’ or something? It is all our parents’ fault? Philip Larkin might have written ‘man hands on misery to man, it depends like a coastal shelf,’ but does that doom us to a life of negativity and pessimism? I think there are some steps we can take towards greater happiness.

Take control of yourself.

One of the greatest discoveries we can make about ourselves – perhaps the greatest discovery – is that we are in control. We can choose our reaction to what happens around us and we can change habituated reactions we have built up over the years. In Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl tells us that this ability to freely respond to our surroundings, even in the most adverse situations, is something that cannot be taken away from us. It is the most basic of human qualities.

Once we have realized this, we can quite literally decide to be happy. It’d a conscious decision and comes from inside. Our happiness does not depend on the outside, unless we allow it. The trouble is that most of us do allow it because this is how we have been conditioned, so we see it as normal. But happiness starts inside and works its way out.

Pretend first.

Everything is created twice – first in the mind, and then in the world. Now we all know ‘The Secret,’ but I wonder how many of us really believe it? For many years, writers like Earl Nightingale and Norman Vincent Peale have been telling us that this is basically how the world works – first we conceive of the way things are in our mind, then our conception becomes reality. Most people get it the wrong way round, believing that their thoughts reflect reality.

So you need to pretend – play at being whatever you want to be and you will, with time, become that thing. Try saying a cheery ‘good morning!’ however much you feel like skulking into your office and drinking a cup of coffee on your own. Try smiling more, try saying positive things. Eventually, you won’t be pretending any more.

Don’t take yourself so seriously.

We need to recognize that we are not that important. The world does not turn because of us – it did just fine before we came along and it will continue to do fine after we are gone.

That doesn’t mean that we have no value – far from it – but it does mean that we don’t need to be so serious. Take it easy, laugh at yourself and laugh at life. Ironically, by adopting this attitude you’ll find you achieve more by being able to direct your energy more effectively and you will tend to revert to your natural, happy state.

Don’t wait for the future.

Tomorrow never comes. In a very real sense, now is all we have. Yesterday is gone and will never come back. We can learn form the past, but we need not live there. There is too much living to do. Thought about the future can be exciting, and we should certainly make plans, but not excessive. Someone said ‘life is what happens when you’re making other plans.’ (Was it John Lennon?) Happiness is now.

Understand what really makes you happy.

Happiness is a choice. It does not come from the outside, from money, success, health or anything else, good and necessary though these things are. We must grasp this. I leave you with the powerful words of Abd Er-Rahman III of Spain (960 C.E.)

“I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen.”

You can download Michael Miles’ new book, Thirty Days to Change Your Life, for free, from http://effortlessabundance.com

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{ 10 comments }

Ruthie December 15, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I certainly believe that happiness is a choice. I have recently made that choice, and I have to say I see the benefits so much already. For example, when I blog I could blog about what’s going wrong but I usually choose to write about more positive aspects. This is just one example of how we can choose to be happy, and how it leads to positive impact in our lives. Great post!

Vincent December 16, 2008 at 6:38 am

Hi Michael,

Happiness is definitely a choice. We can choose to either be happy or not. I had heard so many times when people say, “I will be happy with I got a hot wife” or “I will be happy if I got lots of money.” But when they have what they wanted, they are still not happy because they still have things that they want but they do not have it yet.

Instead, choosing to be happy no matter what is the situation will be recommended instead.

Cheers
Vincent
Personal Development Blogger

Giovanna Garcia December 16, 2008 at 7:49 am

It is not what happen to us that make us who we are, it is how we choose to react to things that make us who we are. And if we think we are… then we will become …
There is no day, but today!

Great post! I enjoy your work.

Thank You,
Giovanna Garcia

Nicolai Larsen December 16, 2008 at 9:52 am

Perfectly put Giovanna.

I have to agree, fantastic article Michael, keep em coming;-)

Have a great day!

Nicolai
Happiness Cafe

Chris (from Lifestyle Project) December 16, 2008 at 11:33 am

I really agree that you shouldn’t wait for the future. There is never a ‘right time’ to do something where all the necessary pieces are in place. Don’t live in Regret.

LifeMadeGreat - Juliet December 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Hi

Yes, to find what makes you truely happy.
I think a good start is to bring some fun into our lives.

Juliet

Arswino December 17, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Agree Michael.
Many people think that happiness come from their circumstance, but the truth is our own minds that create happiness.
It is like Dale Carnegie said : “happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.”

Marko (MLoR) December 18, 2008 at 10:34 am

“Pretend first.”

I believe this is absolutely true. In your professional life you can’t be seen as a professional unless you act like it. And when you believe that you are what you are. you eventually become that person. It sort of shifts from the “Ideal Me” to the “Real Me”.

And by the way, if someone thinks that those rock stars on stage have born with those rock starish moves (ok, some have more potential in this), think again? Nope, there’s lots of “posing in front of the mirror” behind before hitting their first gig.

Vastu Consultant in India December 19, 2008 at 8:21 am

It is said “we never get happiness or pain never comes from sadness”. It always comes from internal. What we we feel,what we think becomes our own destiny.. Its on our choice, if we choose to be happy, we will be happy in any bad circumstances. And if we choose to be sad in pain, we will always be in pain, sad, frustrated.
So happiness is the matter of choice and not the matter of situations..

Mark December 19, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Hi Michael,

Your point ‘Take control of yourself’ has certainly hit me. I used to want to have control in everything that happened around me. But that is just not possible. Certain things are simply beyond our control. And when I was not in control, I felt miserable.

Then I learnt that since we can’t control the events, we can instead control our responses to the event. Whether the outcome turns out to be positive or negative, it all boils down to how we respond to what had happened.

So the formula is really simple:

Event + Response = Outcome.

So by controlling our response, we are in a way in control of the outcome.

Cheers~

Mark
Personal Development Blogger

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