Usually people are motivated to prioritize happiness because they are unhappy. In my case it was a little different. I didn’t know that I was unhappy because I had numbed my emotions. Years of doing what other people wanted had taught me to value their opinions and goals over mine. I had pushed down my emotions at the advice of coaches who told me “winners don’t cry”, at the advice of teachers who taught “good girls don’t speak out”, and at the belief learned from television and pop culture that if you are rich and pretty you are successful.
When my daughter was diagnosed with autism neither rich nor pretty could protect me and the carefully crafted house of cards came down. I was left to rebuild. This started with a sense of purpose- I was going to help my daughter and run a kick-ass early intervention program for her. I realized that I felt totally disconnected. This was no one’s fault but my own. It took some time but after I became a student of myself with a great mentor, I started to examine my beliefs & to take responsibility for my feelings (or lack thereof)
Happiness is our natural state of being. True some of us are born naturally more optimistic, resilient and joyful than others. Studies show that we all have a genetic baseline for happiness. The really cool thing is that we can easily raise this baseline by focusing on things that increase our happiness. What are those things?
· A Sense of Purpose
· Feeling Connected to Others
· Letting Go
· Being Authentic
· Prioritizing Fun
· Mindful Time
How do you start? One pattern I have noticed when working with clients is that the hardest times are usually followed by the greatest growth. Once you recognize there is something about your life that needs to change these simple steps I took were:
1) Learn who you are including your character strengths, your goals & your areas of weakness
2) Find or create a sense of purpose
3) Surround yourself with people who support you
4) Be gentle with yourself. Adopt an attitude of self-compassion
5) Be grateful for the process (including the catalyst that began your journey)
6) Never stop growing
Sometimes as we search for happiness, it seems unattainable, but when we decide just to BE HAPPY we realize it has been right with us all along.
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