A Guide to Happiness (Part 2) - Anthony's Library and Resources

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

A Guide to Happiness (Part 2)

Have you ever struggled to get out of bed, the idea of going to a job that seemed pointless almost impossible to do?  Feeling like you are just "going through the motions", whether to a job you can't stand or pursuing a degree you aren't passionate about is a quick route to being consistently unhappy.

This explains why many people with millions in the bank are just plain miserable. They aren't passionate about what they're making their money doing. They aren't passionate about their lives. They're existing moving on auto-pilot without a sense of purpose that makes them stir inside!

It's easy to make this mistake and it's one of the ones that takes some effort and courage to break free from. Many people may think you are crazy, if you decide to quit your job as a stock broker to become a fitness trainer. Or switch your major from Business Development to Creative Writing. These same people probably feel like garbage when they drag themselves off to their "responsibilities" every day. This is, partly, what motivates them to give such awful advice.

I'm going to suggest you do the exact opposite on your quest to achieve happiness. As your friend and guide here, I'm going to challenge you to get a dream and find purpose! When you do you will put boredom to rest and life will become an adventure! It seems like the older most people become the more difficult this challenge can be. Some of us even lose such touch with what we truly want and believe we need time to remember exactly what our dreams were and are. Don't worry, this problem can be beat with a little honesty, self-reflection and work.

Keep these things in mind. They'll help.

1.   Consider Your Past Experiences.
Have you ever taken the time to notice how often adversity gives birth to heroism? From the beloved therapist who experienced abuse themselves as a child, to the personal trainer who was obese. Even the dating coach who didn't have his first date until he was 19 years old! The examples are endless. If you are having trouble identifying your purpose, take a look at your past experiences. The answer may be staring you right in the face!

2.   Local and World Events.
Has there been an issue either locally or globally that keeps drawing your attention? Not the latest media news bite, but something that's continuously resonated with you? This could be a sign of where your dream and purpose waits.

A close friend was always an animal lover since a child, but ended up in a completely unrelated field where she made a quite large salary doing something that bored her. At first she donated money to animal shelters, she went on to volunteer time and eventually she found herself running a shelter herself. She's never been happier. And this is just one example that flashes to mind, of dozens I've been exposed to since studying this subject.

3.   Don't Be Afraid To Dream BIG.
The bigger your dream, the better. It may take a step by step approach to get you where you'd like to be, but it's worth it. Even the wildest sense of purpose can be great to devote yourself to, as long as it's something you feel burning inside. The stories are out there if you choose to look for them of people who are living their dream in ways that are unbelievable and astonishing. One secret? If your dream and purpose involves helping others the universe definitely seems to conspire in your favor. Call it karma, the law of attraction or something else, whatever it may be it's impossible to ignore.  Live your dream... find your purpose... start today!

Do you have a fear of social situations? Or even not so much a fear, but a sort of social "hesitation". If you do you are far from the only one. In fact according to an expert's study show the world's number one fear is public speaking, closely followed by the fear of death. With people who tend to be unhappy, social fears seem to manifest even more greatly. This can really wreck our quality of life.

Now contrast these sorts of feeling with the so-called "social butterfly"? We all know one. Don't they seem happier than the introvert? They do, because they are. Being more social is a quick road towards being more happy.

Now I understand, being more social doesn't come easy for many of us. It didn't for me until I took the time to expand my social skills through hard work and study. Since I took these steps, years ago, the positive effects have been felt in every area of my life. These tips can help you experience the same kind of personal revolution! I can tell you from my own experience how powerful they can be!

1.   Learn to Be Approachable.
We've discussed the power of a smile earlier in our Guide, and the advice holds true here as well. Smile wide and often. It sends the message that you are a friendly and social person. Hardly anyone will try to start or continue a conversation with someone who's face is in a constant scowl. Be sure to be aware of your body language and the image of you it also sends. Whole books have been written on the subject and if you feel it's an issue you really need to work on, by all means pick one up. For most of us simply not folding our arms and standing up straight without a slouch will send enough of a positive vibe to allow social doors to open. Basic advice that's worth its weight in gold.

2.   Eye Contact.
The eyes are said to be the windows of the soul. Making eye contact when you speak to people conveys an unspoken message of confidence and trustworthiness. You will seem much more charismatic through using eye contact alone. Others may not be able to explain why they find you more compelling... this is a technique which uses the subconscious mind to our advantage. This tip alone can be life changing!

3.   Go Out More.
This may seem like common sense, but the best way to be more social is to go out more often. This is difficult for many of us, unless we actually schedule it much like gym sessions.  When I chose to expand my social scene I made a point of going out at least four nights a week. Great advice that worked just as he said it would. After doing this for a few months my social anxiety was gone, and I was happier than ever.

 4.   Ask Questions.
One of the secrets of having people enjoy your conversation skills is to listen more and talk less. A simple way of accomplishing this is by asking more questions and actively listening to the answers. This will quickly build comfort and rapport. It will also make having interesting conversations much easier and make your social life much more relaxed and happy. A social life is a happy life. Open up the doors and let people in. You will be glad you did.

One of the perils of living in an always connected world is falling into the trap of thinking that our happiness rests on the latest technological marvel or gadget. That getting more Facebook "likes" will somehow make us more happy and successful. This is far from true as anyone who has pursued those things could tell you - if they're being honest. Now the simple things in life, that's where happiness lies. When you take the time to acknowledge them you can become almost instantly a more happier and less anxious person.

Here are a few of the simple things I'm grateful for every day. Are any of your favorites on the list?

1.   Morning Coffee.
Talk about a great morning companion that never lets you down. Now some may prefer tea, but the principle is the same. Having that little harmless boost in the morning is something to be enjoyed and relished. Think about how much less we'd get done without it!

2.   A Good Book.
Sitting back and relaxing with a good book in hand is something that, thankfully, the digital age still hasn't managed to take from us. Novel or non-fiction alike the effects of reading are to not only make us a bit smarter, but also serve as a sort of meditation. I love a good movie as much as the next person, but reading and happiness truly come hand in hand.

3.   A Good Laugh.
Yes, laughter is the best medicine. Each and every day there's the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh. This is a simple pleasure even babies get to enjoy! This may be one of the simplest pleasures, but it's also one of the best. When things are tough finding something to laugh about can break a downward emotional spiral and have you looking at the bright side of things again. Laugh loud and laugh often!

4.   Spending Time With A Pet.
Dogs and cats can both be man's best friend. Did you know there's been studies that spending time playing with a dog or cat has even been shown to lower high blood pressure? If this doesn't prove my point nothing will! A dog or a cat are an important reminder to the simple pleasures of life and the joys of unconditional love. Give yours an extra treat today.

5.   Watching the Sunset.
It's hard to explain why watching the sunset can bring so many of us peace. Maybe it's a throwback to our days when man (and woman) lived closer to nature. Rather than rushing home to get dinner ready, why not take a minute to look outside and bask in nature's beauty. It's a simple joy we should all be happy to be able to witness again and again.

6.   An Uncluttered Home.
Call me a neat freak, but I love the serenity that comes along with having a neat house or apartment - especially the bedroom. This always inspires a smile and the ability to cool down from life's stresses more effectively. If you surround yourself with chaos, it may be a simple and cost free way you can free up some energy blockages and experience more happiness every day. Why not give it a try?

One of the most important parts of my life is health and fitness. Without any doubt training and eating well bring me a ton of happiness. Back in the early days of planning this Guide this love for exercise left me wondering is this just a personal hobby of mine or was something deeper occurring.  Well I dug into the topic of exercise, nutrition and happiness and the research is really exciting stuff!

There's been a stack of recent studies from some of the top Universities in the world that show without a doubt the more we exercise the happier we'll be. Just as a quick example, Stanford University's research showed that the act of moving around (running or walking) and some resistance training, almost killed incidents of depression in the students studied. These weren’t full force athletes either. The level of athletic performance was irrelevant. Just being physical was enough for them to have happier lives!

The rest of the studies I've looked at are just as positive. Maybe more importantly, this research is backed up by my own life experiences as well as those of the people I know. I'm sure yours confirms it too.  So if we'd like to really achieve happiness, we need to adopt a lifestyle where exercise and nutrition are truly a priority.

Keep these things in mind, especially if you've been sedentary for a period of time and need some extra guidance in getting back into shape.

1.   Pace Yourself.
If you are out of shape, start off slow. This makes it much more likely you will be able to stick with your new approach to exercise and fitness. Even walking thirty minutes a day and doing push-ups and crunches while cutting out junk food is a nice beginning. After this join a gym and get even more serious.

2.   Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help.
Many people aren't sure how to put together a workout program or diet. This is hardly an obstacle at all, unless you allow it to be one. There's no shortage of good Guides on the subject that will tell you all you need to know and do. You could even hire a personal trainer for a few sessions if your finances allow. You are investing in both your health and happiness so believe me this is money well spent!

3.   Expect Sudden Benefits.
Just through the dopamine boost from regular exercise sessions you can expect almost instant mental benefits. It may take some time to see the results in the mirror, certainly, but feeling happier will likely hit you right away!  Dopamine is the so-called "happy chemical" and nothing brings it on like breaking a sweat.

4.   More Energy Will Equal More Opportunities To Be Happy.
Eating healthier will give you more sustainable energy. So will keeping your body weight within the healthy range for your height and bone structure. Having more energy will give you more fuel to be happier. This will carry over into all areas of your life - work, school (if you are a student), your hobbies and even your sex life. The more energy you have to devote to these important parts of life, the better they will run and the happier you will be. More focus on nutrition and exercise will reward you again and again. And that's something to be happy about.  Your body is your temple. On the path towards a happier lifestyle make it a friend rather than a foe!

A happy life is all about being around people we love and care about. We all have to spend time outside these circles, but being around that annoying co-worker or angry teacher who we just can't make a connection with makes the time we spend with loved ones and things even more important. It gives us time to let down our guard, decompress and just have some plain old fashioned fun. This is what achieving a happy life is all about. The benefits of surrounding yourself with loved ones are pretty incredible.

1.   Parents are Happier and Live Longer.
There's no love like that between caring parents and children. Now I'm not suggesting you have children before your time, but did you know parents with good relationships with their children have longer, happier lives? Studies confirm this. Mothers who stay close with their children live on average ten years longer than women who don't have children! That's a benefit of being around loved ones that's jaw dropping.

2.The Validation That Comes With Mutual Understanding.
It's a unique form of happiness to be understood. Except in the rarest of circumstances (like love at first sight!) this type of mutual understanding can only be found when you are with your loved ones. They know you and you know them deeply and your conversations and interactions can go far beyond the surface level. This validates both yourself and your loved ones dynamically and the end result is a happiness that you will carry with you even when you are apart.

3.   Knowing You Have People You Can Count On.
Part of achieving happiness is removing as much unnecessary stress and anxiety from your life as possible. One huge cause of negative emotions is uncertainty in times of turmoil. Surrounding yourself with loved ones offers some insulation from this type of pressure that can drain you of both happiness and momentum towards success. Loved ones will do all they can do to help you when you need it. Just knowing they are close can be a huge boost to both happiness and confidence.

4.   Access to Honest Viewpoints
In our circle of loved ones most of us have at least one person we can count on to be brutally honest when necessary. It may be a brother, sister, cousin or lifelong friend, but whoever it may be they can be your most valuable resource. New friends often don't have the courage to be blunt and honest for fear of hurting feelings. This is only natural. This access to an honest, though possibly painful, viewpoint may not seem like a source of happiness, but ultimately it is. Living without this type of counsel can be a true challenge. In the long run you will live a happier life, the longer you have the type of trusting relationship with a loved one that allows even the harshest things to be said (when your best interests are at heart).  Keep an open door policy with loved ones. Everyone concerned will be much happier you did!

The truth is, life has a rhythm and sometimes it flows with us and sometimes against us. No matter how hard we try this is a fact none of us can escape or be free from.  What we can do is learn how to ride out the storm, how to cope with rough waters without allowing ourselves to become unhappy. This is an absolutely achievable goal when we have our heads in the right place and when we are prepared to deal with life how it is rather than how we hope it would be.

Let's go over some strategies on how best to accept life's ups and downs and still be happy!

1.   Know All Things Will Pass.
Whenever you feel like things are going to overwhelm you, making a point to remember that "this very thing, like all things will pass" can be your life jacket. And it's true. Think back to when you have faced adversity it the past and successfully overcame it. We've all been in a situation that seemed hopeless and appearing like it would never end, but it did. It's all about having the inner fortitude to carry on, and carry on with a smile. This approach could even make you an inspiration for others close to you! We're all examples for our loved ones when the chips are down.

2.   Keep Your Chin Up.
Defeatist talk, body language and thoughts can be the worst enemy of your happiness. You can literally snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat by making the choice to control these factors and make them work for you rather than against you.  Keeping your chin up, your shoulders back and a smile on your face can "trick" your subconscious into being happy. When you are feeling more positive you will have more mental and physical resources available to allow you to get out of the tough spot you find yourself in. Athletes know this secret. Now you do too!

3.   When Things are Great - Enjoy It!
On the flip side when things are going your way, make sure you enjoy it. Being in the "flow" is the time when many of us get our most productive work done in business and in our personal lives. This forward momentum can help carry us through when things don't go quite so smoothly. So celebrate life's ups when they are on you - charge your happiness batteries for a rainy day!

4.   Life Is A Journey, Don't Mistake It For A Destination.
Living is a verb, something you are doing. Don't think you're stuck when things are down. You aren't. You always have the power to move things in the direction you need them if you keep a positive attitude and your head in the game. Don't be afraid to make plans for when things look up, or to be creative in your choices to try to get yourself out of the situation when things are down. Life is a journey NOT a destination.

Now you should be ready to maintain your drive towards happiness whether things are up or down. Get ready to put these ideas into action!

Congratulations for making it this far! You're now armed with an A to Z of the best tips, techniques and ideas to help you achieve happiness. I don't have any doubt at all this could be an important crossroads for you. You have the map, you know the direction you should be headed in - all that's left is taking the brave step of moving down the path. In a few months (or less) you could be living a life beyond even your highest expectations. I know it's possible, because not only have I done it, but I've seen dozens of others I've coached do it too!  Here's a few final thoughts. Think of it as an action plan to happiness today!

1.   Keep this Guide on Hand.
Now although you've read our Guide, realize that it's almost impossible to retain so much information just in your head. Keep this Guide on hand so you can refer to the tips when you need to. Take down notes on each chapter where needed. For most of us this helps us internalize information much better and have access to it when we need it most.

2.   Commit To Making A Change.
Change can be scary and it can be difficult. You likely have habits and routines that are keeping you unhappy. Otherwise it's very unlikely you would be reading this article. Commit to doing whatever is necessary to achieve happiness. Write this commitment down and tape it to your bedroom mirror, to your refrigerator, in your bathroom, in your car and wherever else you will see it often. 85% of people who read a self-help book never lift a finger to change. Don't be one of these people. Choose to be happy and fulfilled instead. Later, you will thank yourself for breaking these self-defeating patterns,

3.   Bring A Coach On Board.
Ask a loved one to monitor your progress and to keep you accountable to the program. Knowing someone is cheering you on and holding you accountable for better or worse can make all the difference in the world. This is why those who hire success coaches are so quick to succeed. Now you don't have to invest this type of money unless you choose to.  A loved one can be just as helpful, if not more so. In the future it's a role you can play for someone you care about too, once you achieve your goal of being happy. Teaching what has helped you is a great way of saying "thank you" to the universe!

4.   Tomorrow May Be Too Late - Start Today.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking tomorrow or next week or next month is the best time to start working towards achieving happiness. Our Guide is set up to be immediately actionable so there's zero excuse NOT to start today. This type of heroic action is where real change comes from. It sets the stage for your conscious and subconscious minds to come on board and help you be happy. This may be the most important advice you ever receive! Don't ignore it.

Real happiness is achievable. You have the tools. Now get to work!

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