Are you daydreaming about finding happiness in life, but you don’t really make the conscious choice or know how to be happy? Or, are you perhaps drifting through life without direction seeing happiness as a destination somewhere in the future?

Life is full of detours. There are so many distractions every day that we can easily forget where we’re intending to go. Let’s look at six strategies that you can implement to find happiness in life.

1. Accept What’s Happening

When we pay attention, it’s obvious that most of us consistently argue with what’s already here. We walk around attempting to control things that are already over. Talk about insane!

“Don’t look at me like that!” Well, the person just did. That event is in the past, and can never be changed.

“I can’t believe the store is out of my favorite yogurt.” Well, it is. The shelf is empty. When we welcome what is here, we foster a new way of thinking about it.

“I notice that I don’t like being looked at that way. Wow, something’s being triggered! What is this about for me? Let’s dig out the belief that’s making me so uncomfortable, so I can be happy no matter how anyone is looking at me.”

“Oh, the store is out of my favorite yogurt. It must be time for me to try something new. I wonder what it could be?”

Arguing with what has already happened puts us in immediate conflict with it. But what are we fighting? The event is over; we’re banging our head against a brick wall. The past isn’t going to change.

No matter what the circumstances, you still choose your beliefs. And it’s your beliefs that cause your suffering or your happiness.

ACTION ITEM:

How comfortably do you embrace and welcome all the various happenings in your day?

Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely uncomfortable, and 10 being completely at ease with everything that happens.

Where would you like to be able to score on this scale?

2. Resisting Reality Will Not Make You Happy

The fearful belief goes like this: If I accept that my desk is piled with papers, it means that I’ll never clear it off. If I accept that my son is using drugs, it means that I’m encouraging his drug use. If I accept that my mother is dying, it means that I don’t care about her.

Happiness comes to you when you have the ability to recognize what you can and cannot change. Until you make that distinction, you’re going to be fighting battles you can’t win, and make yourself miserable.

Giselle has been resisting what is happening because she believes that there is a better story that should be happening. “This is not acceptable!” is her favorite saying. She says it to her husband, to her children, to every new maid in her endless cycle of household help. Her fatal mistake: believing that she can only be happy if things and people change. On top of that, she believes the way to change things is to judge them and to argue with what’s already happened.

When you argue and resist what is here, you leave yourself no choice but to be frustrated and unhappy. You might get someone to change something once in a while, but at the price of starting a bigger war. This kind of winning can never create lasting happiness. Control is not happiness; it’s a never-ending battle with life.

You will find great happiness when you stop resisting what comes to you. It feels good to want what you already have, even if your preference is different. Accepting reality is the first step toward creating real and lasting happiness.

ACTION ITEM:

Think of a challenging situation in your life. Imagine yourself in the middle of it. Who is there? What do you feel? Visualize it clearly before reading on.

Now think: “I don’t like this situation. I really don’t like this situation at all. This situation should not be happening. I don’t want this!”

Notice how you’re feeling.

Now, bring up the same situation, visualize it clearly, and think: “I have this situation right now. This is what is happening. Yes, this situation is what I have. And it’s OK.”

Now how do you feel?

3. Choose to be Happy Instead of Insisting That You’re Right

When your #1 priority is happiness, it gets easier to let go of being right. Who cares? Wouldn’t you rather be happy?

If I need to be right, and you need to be right, then when we disagree, we start a war. If your destination is happiness, isn’t it a much shorter journey to begin from peace?

When we love our opinions more than we love being happy, we may get to feel right, but we don’t get to feel happy. Genuinely happy people know that being right is rarely more important than choosing to be happy.

ACTION ITEM:

Does it really matter who wins?

Would you rather be right or be happy?

4. Choose To Be Happy Whether Or Not You Already Have What You Want

Try out this radical idea! Even when you are not getting what you want, you can still be happy. When you are in charge of your own happiness, you don’t have to measure it out in small doses only when everything’s perfect. Some people let themselves feel happy only when they’ve succeeded in fulfilling some desire. This is like passing out treats to a dog as they’re learning a trick.

Happiness can be much bigger and deeper than that. You don’t have to tie it to certain conditions.

Cynthia’s life revolves around horses. She’s been breeding Arabians for years, and still falls in love with every single one.

One morning at home, Cynthia receives a call informing her that her promising new mare, Majesty, didn’t make the finals at the Scottsdale Show. Majesty comes from a great line, and Cynthia takes the news hard.

She walks over to the refrigerator but instead of opening it, she thinks: “I’m not going to let this ruin my day. I can be happy, whether or not we’ve won the prize today.” She allows her disappointment to run its course, and stops feeding it with more stories. She shifts her attention back to being happy now.

Wanting is as natural as breathing. It’s a wonderful thing to feel desire, once you let go of the attachment to having every dream come true. Life is an endless round of desires, fulfilling some of them, dropping others, and creating new ones. That cycle never ends.

When you get what you want, you might experience a moment or an hour or a day of temporary happiness. But when you pay close attention, you see that it never lasts very long. Why? Because a new desire is always just around the corner.

If you allow yourself to only focus on what you don’t have, instead of on what you do have, you’ll spend countless hours being frustrated and unhappy.

If you want to make happiness your #1 priority, enjoy your desires and appreciate them for what they are. Enjoy when they come true, and enjoy when they don’t. Don’t waste precious time waiting to be happy… someday.

ACTION ITEM:

Think of something you want that you don’t have.

Think: “The only thing that matters is that I get it.” What happens to your happiness when you focus on this thought?

Just observe how you feel.

Now think: “I can be happy whether or not I get that. My happiness is not dependent on that.” What happens to your happiness when you think that thought?

5. Choose To Be Happy Regardless Of What Your Family Does

We all have family and relationship issues that are button-pushers for us. The way you handle these problems around your children is doubly influential. First, it affects your own happiness; and second, it is a direct model for your children.

Think of how amazing it is for your children to witness you taking charge of your emotions and choosing happiness – while in the midst of difficulties with your husband, mother, father, sister or brother. Your modeling will influence their own behavior later in life, and set the tone for their future relationships.

Because children of wealthy parents are often used to getting whatever they want almost immediately, it’s even more important for them to learn that true happiness comes from the inside.

So double your happiness: make yourself happy, and at the same time teach your children the art of sustainable joy.

ACTION ITEM:

Do you model being happy even when you don’t get what you want?

What do you model most often about happiness?

How are those characteristics developing in those who look to you as an example?

6. Happiness Happens in the Present Moment

The Monkey Mind tells us stories of a future or a past. But our movie is unfolding in present time. When we’re caught up in a story about what was, or what might be, we miss our lives today.

The Past

Sophia lives in the past. Everything was better then, back in some imaginary golden age of happiness. She harbors a nagging fear that her best years are over, and she’s already on the downhill slide. She’s always talking about how much fun her children were when they were younger, and how she never gets to see them anymore.

What you have of the past is a story. If you are able to make it a happy story then you feel happy, and if not, you feel miserable. Either way you are living in a reality that no longer exists. When you focus on what’s not here, you have to work hard to keep the story alive and make it positive, otherwise you suffer. This is a lot of work.

Even when Sophia tells herself happy stories about the past, she’s only feeling nostalgia. This is a faded reflection of happiness, much reduced in quality, like a xerox copy of a copy of a copy. In a movie, this would be a flashback. The happiness she talks about was all back then, and she’s not feeling it with the same intensity and joy in her body right now.

ACTION ITEM:

Imagine you have written a novel. It is about your most frequently remembered and retold story from your life. What is the title?

Take a deep breath and imagine holding the book in your hand, reading the title. How do you feel about this story? Notice, when you retell this story, do you feel more sadness or more joy?

Imagine you have written a novel. It is about your most frequently remembered and retold story from your life. What is the title?

The Future

The storyteller also loves to talk about the future, another imaginary story. Janice is always plotting and planning to make each vacation better than the last. She pours energy into managing every detail. It’s a headache to base her happiness on the future, because she never really knows what is going to happen. When she can convince herself that the next time will be better, she feels happy; otherwise, she suffers.

In thinking about the future, the most Janice can have is an anticipation of happiness. Like nostalgia, that’s still not the same as feeling joyful and happy in your body today. Your movie is unfolding one scene at a time. If you’re not in the current scene, you’re missing out on your life.

ACTION ITEM:

Now imagine your second novel. It is about a fear or concern you have about the future, one you think about repeatedly. What is the title?

Can you produce joy in the present moment while living this story?

The Present

When you are present now, with no stories of the past or the future, you have your best chance to feel happiness and joy. Real happiness and joy are powerful experiences that can only happen in the present moment, when your voice and the action in your movie are both lined up in the same scene.

You can be present without a story and find happiness right now. You are already becoming more present and aware than you were a minute ago. Take a moment to notice how your thinking is already changing.

When you stop worrying about the past and future, then feeling good and being happy is within your reach. This is not to say that you can’t have memories of the past or plan something for the future. But when you’re present in this moment – fully content with what’s happening now – then remembering the past or planning for the future feels entirely different. They’re events that are happening now.

ACTION ITEM:

Breathe. Then notice your hands holding the book, the feeling of your body as it rests, the sounds around you.

Welcome these simple observations with total acceptance. Relax into this moment. No story.

Apply these seven ways to help you be happy all the time and before you know it you will find happiness in life that you’ve created yourself. Empower yourself by slowly cultivating these seven strategies and soon they will become powerful habits in your life that will transform the way you feel every moment. After all, happiness is a choice.

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