When I was asked to give a talk on ‘learning how to be happy whilst pursuing what you want’ I thought the timing was apt, given that we were still early on into a new calendar year. An interesting topic, it is much more positive than a pep talk on setting and achieving New Year’s resolutions which, tend to be a reflection of our dissatisfaction with what we don’t yet have.
The mere fact that we must ‘resolve’ to do something puts us on the back foot and implies that we’re going to find it a hard slog to achieve that goal, if indeed we can sustain the motivation long enough to get over the first hurdle. A far more worthy outcome, in my view is to learn to accept what we already have whilst following through on our aspirations and goals.
Here are 7 top tips to help you do just that:
TIP#1: LIVE FOR THE PRESENT: The key to happiness is to learn from the past, live for the present and to plan for the future. Decide in advance where you are going to put your emotions, time and energy. Remember, without a plan you’ll find yourself living in reaction, rather than living a life plan you’ve designed for yourself.
TIP#2: BE IN FLOW: We experience a state of ‘flow’ when we are deeply involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging as well as being well suited to our skills. If you want to be happy and fulfilled and achieve at a much higher level, you must spend an average of 40 to 70% of your time in flow. People who spend this amount of time in flow have also learned to leverage unnecessary tasks to others and to focus on what is important to them.
TIP#3: ENGAGE IN NEVER ENDING IMPROVEMENT: All successful and inspirational individuals have an attitude of continuous self improvement because it keeps them moving forward toward their outcomes. I’m an accredited Coach in an unregulated industry and whilst I don’t need any more badges to be able to do my job competently, a continued focus on self-improvement enables me to do more for my clients and is a platform for generating fresh ideas.
TIP#4: KNOW YOUR CONTRIBUTION: Contributing to a purpose greater than ourselves is a meaningful action and we are always searching for meaning. All individuals who have achieved success in business have gone through a process of prioritising what they want to spend their time on. To do that they worked out the conditions they needed to create in order for them to perform at their best.
TIP#5: PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS: Most people who want to improve at something only focus on what they can see and that’s usually their weaknesses. I’d invite you to give as much focus to your strengths as it is precisely the strengths that make people effective. In fact, research indicates that one of the best ways to boost your long-term happiness is to use your strengths in new ways and situations, rather than focusing on your shortcomings.
TIP#6: BECOME AN OPTIMIST: You can learn to be more optimistic and challenge or ‘dispute’ pessimistic thoughts and dramatising. So, make a point of finding appropriate thinking strategies that maximise your chances of success and happiness, while minimising your anxiety levels, especially when confronted by adversity.
TIP#7: ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE: Being grateful feels good and has a number of benefits. Feelings of gratitude are associated with less frequent negative emotions and more frequent positive emotions such as feeling energized, alert, and enthusiastic. By looking at what you already have, rather than what you think you should have or want, your focus will shift to the here and now and from that place it’s difficult to worry. Moreover, people who are grateful also report being happier.
Happier people tend to set higher goals for themselves and are more likely to achieve them. So, choose from 1 of the top 7 tips above and make a conscious decision to live that in all you do for the rest of the week. The benefit to you is increased happiness and satisfaction!
Liked your happiness Blog. It made me feel happy! I do a lot of those things you talked about. I think I get most unhappy about my perception of the present. It influenced my thoughts that day.
Thank you for your feedback Yvonne. I’m delighted to hear that the article made you feel happy – just the result I was looking for! When you notice that you’re feeling unhappy about what’s happening in the present, take a moment to find the silver lining in the situation. There will be one; it may just be hiding behind a big cloud!