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What if this year we simply resolved to live happily ever after? Of course it’s not as simple as a storybook ending but living happy is a lot simpler than we realize. Instead of chasing the elusive diet or quitting a bad habit, this article is about building a lasting sense of well being by using your strengths to fulfill your dreams.
The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that we typically chose something we don’t want to do rather than something we deeply desire. If you think you need to lose something to feel good about yourself think again. Most of us aren’t strong enough to give up the vise that plagues us because we rely on that food, alcohol, or debt as a temporary fix.
Most New Year’s resolutions are broken before the end of the first month. This time around the New Year’s resolutions bend let’s make a commitment we want to keep.
Take the next few minutes and consider what lasting happiness looks like and how we can create an authentic happiness within ourselves that will last for years to come.
Defining HappinessHappiness is something we all desire but few take the time to consider what the term means for them personally. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines happiness as, “a state of well being and contentment”. What makes this a strong definition is the idea that happiness is viewed as a mental state rather than a fleeting emotion. Still, this definition does not tell us what will make us happy.
Patricia O'Grady, a Developmental Psychologist and author of numerous books and articles on positive psychology, defines happiness in way that takes a more practical approach to the meaning of happiness when applied to daily living:
"Happiness is messy. You get it by opening your heart knowing it may get broken. You find it by not letting fear barricade you inside yourself and using your signature strength - humor, optimism, courage, and creativity - to get out of yourself.
O’Grady tells us we need to get our hands dirty and take a risk for happiness to bloom. She advises us to push ourselves beyond the brink of failure to become the person we want to be deep down inside.
O’Grady advises us to overcome fear by drawing on our personal strengths both to cope with difficulties and overcome what feels like insurmountable problems. These experiences build happiness as they teach us we don’t need a temporary vise to get us through the day. Instead we can press on and develop an inner strength that overcomes fear and failure while promoting a joy that can only be found within.
By the, “golden mean” O’Grady refers to a balanced life rather than an emotional rollercoaster. She speaks of finding happiness moment by moment in the sincere pursuit of excellence. Lastly, happiness in not found by achieving but in understanding yourself and experiencing joy as situations develop.
Adding to our practical dictionary definition of happiness to O’Grady’s real word application of the term we come up with this central idea:
To find happiness, a state of well-being and joy, we must train our mind to
Creating the Dream: Living Happily WithinThe authentic happiness we are seeking here stretches beyond anything that comes from outside of ourselves. Consider what top blogger Andrea Evans, a Certified Happiness Coach at spreadhappy.com, has to say about nurturing our journey toward happiness:
“Happiness is within us. You can’t buy it, eat it, wear it, live in it or ride in it. It is a choice we make. It is a decision to love ourselves fully, the way we are today, and love and respect others and thereby free ourselves from judgment.
Andrea Evans provides the attitude we need to travel forward on the challenging journey of accepting happiness. She reminds us that happiness cannot be purchased. Instead, loving and respecting ourselves and others builds a foundation for happiness. This mindset combined with gratefulness provides the fuel to meet each day’s challenge head on.
Evan’s tells us to live our passion. This idea of living out our dreams requires that we embark on a search mission to find what we’re truly passionate about. You don’t have to quit your job or make some other radical change right away. However, you can begin by taking small daring steps toward discovering your dreams and making them happen one day at a time.
O’Grady provides us with a fuller and more realistic expectation of what genuine happiness looks like while Evans provides tools for the challenging road ahead. Still, we need to define what happiness looks like for us. Perhaps our first New Year’s resolution is to define our dreams and goals. Once articulated, our second resolution is to begin chasing down that dream one step at a time.
Adding to our practical definition above, we have another central idea to fuel our fire going forward:
On the way to happiness we will experience failure, materialism, and selfishness
Happiness Begins TodayThis sounds like a lot of work and it is. However, this type of daily effort makes us stronger, healthier, and happier. Happiness begins today! There is little doubt that struggles lie ahead regardless of the choices we pursue for 2013. Instead of focusing on denying yourself this year, chose to build from the inside out. Dream big and make happiness your New Years’ resolution. Later on you can tackle those pesky issues you need to quit. Only this time you will come from a position of strength. Your new attitude of joy will find you happy to quit anything that stands in the way of putting your best and happiest self forward. And it begins with the gift of hope that you give yourself today.
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