How to Recognize What Makes You Happy and Set Goals Accordingly

abumurad By abumurad, 12th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Life Goals

We all deserve to be happy. The key is to be aware of the choices we make all day long and make the ones that will bring us the most joy.

Be Happy, Live Longer

Is your glass half-full rather than half-empty? Your upbeat attitude could be the ultimate elixir for all that potentially ails you. Optimists outlive their pessimistic counterparts, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic.
The study examined the mortality rates of more than 800 people who had taken a personality test at the clinic between 1962 and 1965. Further evidence of the powerful link between mind and body, the bleakest of the bunch showed a 19 percent greater risk of death than their happy cohorts.
The 500-question, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test rated participants on their levels of optimism. Of the 839 people who participated in the study, 124 were classified as optimists, 518 as mixed and 197 as pessimistic. Factoring in age and sex, the researchers compared the participants' expected survival rates with the actual rates some 30 years later. The pessimists' survival rate was well below expectations.
While the researchers cannot definitively explain the link between pessimism and a higher mortality rate, Toshihiko Dr. Maruta, Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and lead author of the study, notes that pessimists can improve their outlooks, and possibly their longevity. Grumps can take a step toward contentedness by avoiding self-blame when things go wrong and by recognizing that bad situations are transient.
Even long-time curmudgeons can change their habits and embrace a happier, healthier way of life. Dr. Ronald Grossarth-Maticek, who has studied the link between attitude and health, suggests that even late in life people can learn to be happier. After testing thousands of subjects in Germany, he picked 1,200 people who had scored poorly and divided them into two groups of 600 each. The average age was 58.
One group was given self-help information training sessions over the course of a year. The other 600 got nothing. Thirteen years later, 409 of the people who had been given happiness training were still alive. And how many of the other group survived? Ninety-seven.
-We all deserve to be happy. The key is to be aware of the choices we make all day long and make the ones that will bring us the most joy.
-Happy people don't deny reality. They face problems head on and enjoy the positive aspects of life.
-Happy people live in the moment.
-Increasing your capacity for happiness can reduce stress.

Develop Your Game Plan to Happiness

Contagious enthusiasm: YOU possess the power to create your own happiness.. While specialists say genetics determine 50 percent of your feelings of well being, the rest is governed by the choices you make.
I noticed that every once in a while we met someone who stood out in the crowd, someone who continued to have an inner happiness while dealing with the same stresses we all do. These are people who aren't superficially happy, but instead possess an inner strength.
It inspired me to commit to finding these kinds of people and getting to the bottom of what the hell they're doing that the rest of us aren't.
Is happiness model similar to the concept of "the glass is being half empty or half full?"
---Happy people don't deny reality, so with the glass analogy a happy person would tell you that it's both half full and half empty, which means you deal head on with whatever issues confront you and at the same time you need to enjoy all the good things in life.
Some of the concepts remind me of eastern philosophies referring to "being in the moment." Does Buddhism or any other eastern philosophy take part in definition of happiness?
--- We discovered that happy people do live in the moment. Our task was to create a practical road map based on what we heard from the happy people as a guide for living more in the moment and yes, that mirrors other philosophies through the ages.
Does psychotherapy work in relationship to the happiness components?
--- Yes, because they're both about increasing your awareness about yourself and the choices you make.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that they don't deserve to be happy.
Increasing your awareness around the decision-making process can increase your capacity for happiness can reduce stress.

How We Choose to be Happy

"Happiness isn't a place, something you buy, or even another person. True happiness doesn't reside in the external world. It lives within each person.
— Greg Hicks, co-author, How We Choose to be Happy
Hicks and co-author, Rick Foster, developed their model of happiness by identifying a common thread in the 300 happy people they met on two continents: an ability to work through life's challenges with elegance and grace.
Is your search for happiness like maneuvering an obstacle course loaded with land mines? If so, heed the advice of the authors of How We Choose to be Happy, who say two hurdles stand between most people and happiness.
First, is the mistaken belief: "I don't deserve to be happy." Authors Greg Hicks and Rick Foster say nothing is farther from the truth, "Everyone deserves a shot at happiness."
The second is about your daily decision-making. Boost your share of happiness by being aware of your choices; understanding all your options and making the decisions that will bring you the most joy.
How well do you follow this advice in your daily life? Do you work through life's ups and downs with the elegance and grace Hicks and Foster describe in their nine pillars of happiness?
-Visualizing your solutions to stress can reduce it.
-Using your imagination can create the proper vision to solving health problems.
-Visualizing can reduce your blood pressure, help your immune system and even recharge your tired mind.

Destination: Imagination

Imagination can lower your blood pressure, help you think more clearly, even boost your immune system. It's fun and easy to use any time, any place — except when you drive or otherwise need focused attention. Here are three scenarios to enjoy or adapt:
1. Imagine Yourself in Your Perfect Retreat: Since reality is no object, you can have it all — ocean beach and mountaintop, a wild workout with Tina Turner and a quiet meditation under the stars. Imagine staying at your retreat long enough to see your stressful situation from a new perspective and to generate ideas for dealing effectively with your problems. Then come back to the present and put your stress-busting ideas into action.
2. Fake It Till You Make It: Rather than intensify stress by embodying it, release it by imitating the posture and movements of someone who is relaxed and energized. Breathe deeply. Unclench your fists; shake your arms and shoulders free. Find an easy erect posture that gives your organs the room they need to work their best.
3. Clean out Your Tired Brain: Imagine how your brain looks when it's tired. A foggy cavern filled with dust and cobwebs, perhaps? Blown computer circuits and frayed wiring?
Now imagine an army of skilled elves. They fix your brain's wiring; they vacuum and scrub away the dust and cobwebs. Elf clerks polish your mental desktops and file your worries in well-marked cabinets. Others flush your tired eyes with cool spring water until they are once again refreshed and alert.
With practice, all these fantasies can work quickly. The brain cleaner is particularly effective for days when you've been reading or working at the computer a lot.
-Identify the event that is causing you distress.
-Identify the irrational beliefs you have formulated based on the event
-Recognize the feeling or behavior it is creating.
-Dispute the irrational beliefs with rational statements.
-Create effective new thinking — new perspectives and rational solutions.

Put the Brakes on Stress

Therapist Michael Edelstein is like a mechanic who wants to take a wrench to your brain.
He has developed a three-minute mental tune-up that helps people to recognize and overcome their self-defeating tendencies in times of stress.
Negative thought patterns are the root of the problem. They not only lead to depression and anger, but they also are distortions of reality, says Edelstein, a diplomat in cognitive-behavioral therapy in San Francisco.
His book, Three Minute Therapy, which is a summation of cognitive therapy, doesn't go after long-ago childhood traumas, but sticks with the here and now.
In short, you discover why you are beating yourself up. With some new skills, you can stop.
The solution lies in challenging your interpretation of events and adopting rational, constructive thoughts. Here are the ABC's of cognitive therapy, as Edelstein presents them:
(The alphabetical mnemonic devise may seem contrived, but it gets the job done).
A, B and C — What Is The Problem?
The first three letters help you diagnose the problem.
• A is for the activating event. Your husband says, "You've made a mess of the finances." His words are the event.
• B is for your beliefs about the event. You think, "I can't be trusted with money. I'm such a failure. But he's impossibly pompous when he criticizes me." You form an opinion that is an interpretation of the event.
• C is for the consequences. You have a resulting depression or a strong desire to eat a tub of ice cream.
So, you see, it's not the event that causes the problem; it's what you do with the event.
D, E and F — Wielding the Wrench
• D is for disputing the beliefs. Tell yourself that failing at one thing doesn't make you a complete failure. Yes, your husband could have been more diplomatic, but he is not a villain either.
• E is for effective new thinking. Change your interpretation of the event. The following thoughts are more constructive: "I'm good at most things, but I could tighten up my financial operations." "I'm going to get bookkeeping software." "I'm going to ask my husband to be more gentle with me in the future."
• F is for creating a new and far better feeling, and anew behavior, since presumably, you won't feel the need to raid the freezer for that tub of ice cream.

-Balance your life by working less and playing more. If you get fired, it wasn't a job worthy of you.
-Don't stagnate. Take a class. Get fit. Learn a new sport. Create art.
-Get outside. Nature has calming, instructive and restorative qualities.
-Make time for yourself. If you don't, it's because you choose not to.
-Before sleep, think about what you did well that day, and how it moved you closer to your goals.

Finally :: Do It Your Way

Arupa Tesolin could have lived her life the way everyone else seemed to think she should. Instead, she did it her way.
Now the "chief intuitive officer," owner and everything else for Intuita.com in Mississauga, Canada, Tesolin was ready for a change when the provincial government "downsized" her and many colleagues in 1996
Rather than pursue another job, she fell back on a training course she had developed eight months earlier, went home, built a business, and reclaimed her life. Motivating her was the desire to be a full-time parent to her 6-year-old daughter.
"It was always gnawing at me, that I should be out there doing something that was more reflective of who I am."
"There's no pressure on me inside now. That's worse than pressure outside. When you feel you're not being congruent with who you are, that's the most difficult thing."
Confronted with the need for change, many people resist. Tesolin, however, did what writer, teacher and activist Parker Palmer suggests: She kept focus on what was most important in her life.
After determining what was important, she followed author Suzanne Zoglio's recommendation and took charge of her life. And changed it.
For example, to deliver her corporate training on the uses for intuition, Tesolin could bite off a busy travel schedule. Instead, she asks her clients to travel to her — so she can be with her daughter.
That takes courage, Palmer says.
"The world is not organized to support our souls," says Palmer, the author of Let Your Life Speak. "It is organized into slots through which it claims to have a grip on reality. It wants to squeeze out other definitions of what reality may look like."
Taking charge is the key to controlling the quality of change. Maybe that's a change of position with your current employer. Maybe it uses polished skills in new ways. Maybe it's a new job. Or maybe it's simply carving out more private time to do what you love most.
"If you don't take charge, someone else will," says Zoglio, author of Create a Life that Tickles Your Soul. "Either someone says you're over the hill, or you say, `What do I want and how do I get it?'"
Palmer says we learn more from failure, grow more from pain, move toward light from darkness.
"We need to cultivate again a conviction that what we call reality is an emergent phenomenon, and it emerges as we co-create it," Palmer says. "Thomas Merton said, `We don't have to adjust to the world, we can adjust the world.'"
Does your world need adjusting? Then adjust it.

Tags

Goals, Goals And Vision, Goals Of Life

Meet the author

author avatar abumurad
I am freelance writer specializing in financial topics and political commentary, gardening and ecology, psychology, and paranormal and New Age topics. My non-writing professional experience includes s

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author avatar Rose*
24th Dec 2013 (#)

Sometimes all it takes to be happy is to make a little bit of time for yourself where you do something you like. Some people feel they don't deserve small treats, but if you treat yourself well, others will too

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