This report is also available in PDF format: http://authenticgrowth.com/Howtobehappy.pdf
To be happy is the ultimate goal in life. it’s the type of goal that you strive to achieve daily, as it expands in it’s complexity. Over the years I have established an understanding of what it takes to live a happier and more fulfilling life. It is my opinion that all of our results in this realm have to be compared to our past selves in order to see how far we’ve truly progressed.
Here are the key tenets that need to take place in order to live a happier life:
1. Overcome Your Past.
2. Change Your Present Habits and Beliefs.
3. Understand Yourself.
4. Live a Healthy Lifestyle.
5. Love Yourself, and Others.
6. Be Thankful.
Bonus 7: Always Be Willing To Learn More.
This is the first step towards living a happier life. Most people live their lives clouded with the lessons learned from adolescence. The events of our past have certainly taught us lessons we need to know to grow and be who we are today, but the negative aspects of our past have served their part- and it’s time to let them go.
When people see this headline they suddenly think that overcoming their past is going to be a monumental task. The thing is- it may, or it may not be. If you do a little bit of work each day, it turns a monumental task into something that is easily manageable, and you will see results with each week that goes by.
For overcoming your past, there is nothing I recommend more than using Psychological tools like Emotional Freedom Technique and other Release Techniques to neutralize the negativity of your past. These techniques literally take old thoughts, beliefs, and patterns, and remove the negative “bite” that they have when you think about them.
I don’t know how these strategies have not caught on yet to the masses, because they worked so incredibly well for me. I made a list of any negative event or belief I could think of from my past, and set aside some time each weekend to go down the list and use the techniques linked above to neutralize them.
After going through the whole list, I was almost a completely different person on the inside. I was still able to be who I was, but I realized a whole new set of beliefs that were being blocked previously by these negative beliefs and thought-patterns from my past.
These techniques essential freed me to live from more of who I truly was. It was like clearing off muck from a glass window- when I neutralized these past beliefs, I was able to see more clearly from my core.
If you’re not happy where you are right now in your life, chances are your habits had a tremendous impact on the events that lead to where you are right now. This isn’t a blame game, and there’s no need to beat yourself up for things from the past. it’s true, things happen. That’s why the first portion of this post talks about overcoming what has happened before we work on adjusting our present beliefs.
The best way I’ve ever heard beliefs described was by a man named Bill Harris who created a meditation program I use frequently:
“Beliefs are instructions for your mind to bring more of that into your life”
How much more true can this be? If a person believes that the world is a dangerous place, everywhere they go they will be looking over their shoulder. If they believe they are ugly, everywhere they go they will see people looking at them and think “These people think I’m hideous!”. What happens if the outsiders looking at this person actually find him or her attractive? This person would never allow themselves to realize this because of the belief they hold about their looks.
This is why first uncovering, and then changing your present beliefs is crucial to improving your perception of the world, along with improving your life experience. The way you enjoy your life experience almost entirely depends on your perception of the world. Adjusting your beliefs and habits alters the way you view the world, thus automatically making things better for you in your life.
Now I just spoke about beliefs, but we still have to touch on habits. I have a great post here on a book called The Slight Edge which absolutely changed the way I thought about habits, big or small. This book is really a game-changer, if you haven’t read it I suggest you get it pronto.
The main idea is that little steps, taken consistently over long periods of time lead to absolutely amazing results. Think about it! If I work out every day, even if it’s only for 20-30 minutes, how much better off am I in 5 years than the guy who decided to never go to the gym? And then there’s the person that goes to the gym full-out for an hour and a half everyday for 30 days, and then burns out and decides never to go again. Is he better off than the guy that went for 20-30 minutes a day, every day? Absolutely not! CONSISTENCY is the name of the game. It IS the game.
The more consistent you can make your good habits, the easier they become, and the more they COMPOUND! I think talking about compound interest and it’s wonders is a bit cliché nowadays (seeing as interest rates at banks are near ZERO), but the idea stands true.
Every step you take now towards a better life COMPOUNDS, such that your success and the ease at which you achieve your goals grows. It becomes easier, and your habits become ingrained in your mind.
For more information on habits and just how powerful setting GREAT habits can be, check out my post here on the topic and begin implementing some of the great habits I’ve outlined.
Just as a sample here, since you signed up to receive this free report, I’ll list my most important success habits below:
If you think any of these habits are unnecessary, just read The Slight Edge post now and you’ll see why they make all the difference.
Now comes the part where we begin to look at ourselves and decide what needs to be adjusted to live a happier life. This goes hand in hand with the first two steps, Overcoming Your Past and Changing Your Present Beliefs and Habits. I might even go so far as to say that this should be done BEFORE changing our beliefs, but really I know you’re are going to read all of these steps at once anyway so the order doesn’t matter so much as does the content.
If you don’t have a clear understanding of what makes you tick, it’s going to be really tricky trying to figure out what you need to adjust in your life. The first step here is to start noticing what sets you off, what makes you happy, what makes you sad, what makes you feel ANYTHING. You want to begin to record your beliefs, your ideas about yourself, and your views of the world down in a journal of some sort so that you can begin to paint a better picture of where you’re coming from.
This is why I HIGHLY advocate a journaling practice for anyone who is trying to achieve personal growth in their life. It is a form of self-expression that has been so valuable to my own growth, I can’t profess the benefit’s of it enough.
When you begin the practice of journaling every day, even if it’s just one page a day, you really open up the floodgates of your self-expression. Writing becomes easier, and you also let loose all of the thoughts that are cooped up inside your mind since you’ve been born. We’re taught growing up to keep so many things to ourselves, Journaling allows us to let these ideas come out onto the pages so that they’re not left unsaid in our minds.
I love journaling, and I’ve come up with so many great ideas (This website being one of them) while writing in my Morning Pages Journal each morning. When you let ideas flow out, whether they are spoken or written, it leaves a void in your mind for new ideas to flow in. Sometimes while you’re writing, you find the answers you were looking for AS you’re writing your questions down on the pages. I believe this is an aspect of our unconscious mind that just comes out while we’re writing, because we’re thinking in a new and focused way as we write our thoughts on the pages in front of us.
Ok, besides Journaling there are many other activities you can do to get a better understanding of how you function. Another one of my favorites is to practice meditation. I haven’t written a blog post on this yet (Or maybe I have, depending on when you read this), but I love to meditate. I have a meditation practice that involves me going into deep states of meditation for about an hour each day. An hour you say? Yes, it does seem like a lot of time, but the results have been amazing.
When you meditate, you want to calm your mind down and ease the thoughts out so that you find a place of peace and quiet for however long you decide to meditate for. At first, this is quite difficult because we’re so used to thinking every minute of the day. Meditation allows us to gain greater awareness of our mind and how it functions. It allows us to reduce our reactions to things (the monkey mind), and to see how an outer experience (say, someone beeping at you on the road), sets off a chain reaction in our brain that produces a physical result (us getting flustered!).
When you begin to become aware of these reactions and what causes them, you can take control and change the effect that these external stimuli have on you.
Sounds awesome, eh? I think so. That’s why I love meditation, and I advocate it right alongside journaling as 2 of my favorite success habits.
Holy cow! A healthy lifestyle? Who would’ve thought this would end up on the list of living a happier life. Ok- I think most of you could’ve guessed this would be on here. How in the world are you going to change your perspective on life if your vehicle in this life (your body) isn’t being treated like the million dollar race horse that it is?
I’m not quite sure who first said this, but the question has been asked- “If you had a million dollar race horse, Would you feed it McDonald’s?” I’m hoping most of you said no.. otherwise you’ll be losing a lot of money on the race track. So now the next question is, “If you wouldn’t feed your million dollar race horse McDonald’s, why in the world are you feeding YOURSELF junk?” Your body is worth more than a million dollars, it is worth more than anything you own.
Your Body is LITERALLY your lens of the world. If you take care of it, the world will seem like a brighter place, even if nothing outside of you has changed! I love taking care of myself. A lot of people I used to know thought it was cool to do things that damaged their bodies. Maybe a lot of people you know think the same thing, but that idea has changed dramatically for me. Once I realized how much easier life is when I’m feeling great physically all the time, I became addicted to allowing myself to be the healthiest I could be. Not such a bad addiction, is it?
Sure, I make exceptions from time to time. We are human and we do want to experience everything the world has to offer, but as I said before what really matters is consistency. If I am consistently eating healthy foods- my body will consistently be constructing it’self out of the highest quality materials it has. I will suffer less pains, I will have all the nutrients I need to make all the proper neural-chemicals and digestive enzymes, and I will generally feel like a million bucks rather than walking around like a sack of unhealthy potatoes everyday.
Do yourself a favor now. If you choose to do only one thing from these 6 steps to a happier life, start an exercise routine. I love to keep it simple. Just MOVE. I keep track of all my movement using my FitBit One clip on device to track my steps. I aim to walk 10,000 steps a day, and have done so consistently for quite some time. I’m not even asking you to strength train right now, which I think is very valuable in it’self. All I’m asking is that you move- at least 10,000 steps a day, but start at whatever goal you’re comfortable with and work your way up.
One you start exercising, the next most important thing is eating a healthy diet. I tend to come from the Paleo camp, wanting to avoid as much processed food as possible, but start wherever you’re comfortable. It is my recommendation that you begin reducing your carbohydrate intake, especially refined and processed carbohydrates- anything high in sugar (or with any sugar, for that matter!) and things like Potatoes… I just don’t eat potatoes anymore. Replace them with leafy green vegetables and things with a lot of fiber like Cauliflower and Broccoli.
Once you ween yourself off of sugar laden foods, you’d be surprised how good Broccoli and Cauliflower can taste, and they’re great for you! Seriously, these are changes that you need to make in your life pronto. You also have to make sure you’re taking a proper multi-vitamin and other supplements to help you stay healthy.
For men, I recommend Living Green Multi-vitamin. For women, I recommend Eve Multi-vitamin. Both are great, and are fairly affordable. If you’re not taking a multi-vitamin, this is the first step towards a better health regiment, and one of the easiest (All you have to do is buy it and eat it!).
Besides exercise and eating healthy, one final routine I found valuable is stretching (after workouts). Stretching and muscle-relaxation has been really beneficial in relieving the tension we constantly have all over our body. Massage are great too, I try to have one done every 1-2 months. If you do strength workouts, stretching or taking a nice hot bath afterwards seriously helps relax your muscles. I’ve written a post about how to release muscle tension here, which teaches a simple technique for preventing “unnoticed” muscle tension (like when you’re tensing your shoulder while using the computer, RELAX!). I’ve also written about my favorite Detoxifying Bath. I do this one every 2-3 months, it is awesome not only for relaxing your muscles but also for removing toxins from you digestive system. The relief felt when you’re properly stretched and your muscles are relaxed does so much for your mental performance. Definitely consider it along side your exercise and diet routine.
This cannot be understated, as it is the fundamental key towards our perception of the world. Without self-love, and love for others, there is no point in trying to start the other personal growth steps. Bob Hoffman has an amazing way of describing what love is, and how we are only capable of expressing love if we have it within ourselves:
“Love is the flowing, the outpouring, the rendering from the heart and soul of emotional goodness to yourself first- and then to others in your life”
And another one of my favorites:
“We see in the world what we hold in our hearts“
Self-love, and love of others, as well our beliefs literally paints our perception of the world around us. Once we’ve worked on our past, worked on our habits, taken a deep look at understanding ourselves, and begun eating healthy and exercising, the world begins to look entirely new. With the addition of love, both to yourself and others, you add a new color that brightens up everything in your life.
With self-love, it is possible to understand and accept love from others. We need to be the ones that make ourselves whole before we can expect others to love us as we want to be loved.
I’ve written about self-love before, but I’ll state a few great practices I do to include it in my everyday life. One way I practice self-love is by including it in my morning journal sessions. While writing, I’ll include a few things about myself that I appreciate that day. It can be anything, whether it’s the way my hair looks that day or just the fact that I woke up feeling happy, ready to take on the world. Whatever it takes, it doesn’t need to be anything big, just find a few things to appreciate and love about yourself and write them down.
This practice is going to sound funny but it’s worth a try. Whenever you visit the bathroom and you see yourself in the mirror, if no one’s around- just stop for a moment, look in your eyes, and say “I love you for who you are.” Yes, I know what you’re thinking.. “Anthony… you sound completely full of yourself!”. I’m here to tell you this: It doesn’t matter what other people think of you! Self-love is so incredibly important that doing this simple practice will make your life BETTER! Loving yourself is a fundamental building block to all other great characteristics in your personality. Would you rather spend time with someone who was always doubting themselves or someone who was confident in their decision making abilities? Self-love plays an enormousness role in this arena.
Once again, the importance of self-love cannot be understated. Moving on over from here is the love and caring of other human beings. I think it’s essential that we share love and appreciate the unique characteristics of other people as well. In my journaling sessions, I also take time to appreciate those around me with kind words. I take things I appreciate, anything that comes to mind about that individual, and say something along the lines of “I love (so-and-so) for their ability to come up with solutions” etc. Appreciating others comes out in our unconscious acts the next time we see them. We’ve been grateful for them, and it shows in the way we act. I also think donating to charities that you believe in is a great way to help spread love and support. Whether it’s money or just time spent volunteering, the effect is the same.
I think once you begin to practice self-love and giving love to others, you’ll notice the difference in the way you feel. This improvement in feeling should be enough to make you realize the power this happiness step has, and it will increase over time as you continue to use it.
The final step of the 6 steps to a happier life is the practice of GRATITUDE and being thankful for the things you have in your life. It is so easy to get trapped on the “always wanting more” train, that we don’t stop to appreciate the things that we have now. I have several situations where I practice gratitude throughout my day.
When I have downtime at work or at my home office, I pause- take a deep breath- and state out loud five things in my life that I am grateful for in this moment. I include the same type of practice in my morning journal sessions before I start my day. Another great time to practice gratitude is right before you sleep, that way you can dream about all the great things that you have AND all the great things that are coming to you!
When we practice gratitude, we take a step off the hedonic treadmill, and start to realize that we really can be more content with the things we have in life at the present moment. Being grateful can also save you a ton of money! Because you start to realize you don’t really need all of those items you had on your wishlist in order to be happy. Gratitude helps us to be happy with what we have right now, in this moment. The value of that is incalculable.
Besides the great feeling you get when you make gratitude a daily practice, I happen to believe that the more grateful you are for things- the more you get in life. Just imagine being a boss at a company, in charge of overseeing 10-20 employees. If out of all of the employees, there is one that is truly grateful for every opportunity they’ve been given, don’t you just feel better when you help that person out? It’s always warming to feel appreciated, and that the things you give to others are appreciated in return. Gratitude is an expanding emotion, it makes all of life better, and improves any positive emotions you are feeling.
Take a moment and start a practice. A great book that actually sparked my gratitude practice many years ago was The Magic by Rhonda Byrne. This book seriously opened my eyes to the power of gratitude. It is a 21 day journey of gratitude, which really makes it clear how powerful a practice this 6th step can be for your growth. If you need somewhere to start, or some motivation to get your gratitude practice going, this book is a great beginning. Don’t forget, it is also incredibly easy to include gratitude in your journaling sessions! Which is just one more reason why you should start doing them today.
I’ve included this as a bonus section for living a happier life, because while some people may be happy not learning more, I think that there is only excitement in life if we always keep the wonder of the world in our mind. I feel that we can persevere to the very end with excitement in our lives if we always desire to learn new things. Lets face it, by the time you 80 years old the world is going to be an entirely new place than it is now (depending on how old you are!). With the desire to learn new things, we are always adding new and adventurous wisdom into our reality.
The world is constantly changing and new things are being discovered everyday. If you want to stay happy, you have to keep things fresh in your life. The desire to learn is a tenet that I believe all successful people have. It allows us to continue our growth, which is what this website is all about. Learning new things excites me, and if it excites you, you will never find yourself bored as you grow older. There is one thing that can never be taken away from us, and that is our desire to learn and grow. Our will to extend ourselves beyond what we currently know, and beyond who we currently are.
If it wasn’t for the desire and will to always be learning, this website wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t be the growth-oriented person I am today. This is why I’ve decided to add this as a bonus section. Some people may very well wish to stop learning in their retirement and just enjoy their time and money. Thats perfectly fine! I can see how that lifestyle may be enjoyable to some, it sounds great. But for me, I’m the type of person that would find it fascinating to spend my retirement reading books, watching programs or listening to audios about all different types of subjects.
I have no book recommendations or program recommendations for this section because this section literally epitomizes the concept of my website. We are learning, growing individuals, and Authentic Growth is what we came here on this earth to achieve.
If you’d like to continue learning new and great things, and if you haven’t already, please keep in touch by commenting on any of the posts on AuthenticGrowth.com, and most of all – Continue Your Growth.
It has been my utmost pleasure writing this for you, and there will be many more great pieces to come.
Thanks again, I sincerely hope you’ve found value in this report.
Resources Linked in this report:
-Anthony From AuthenticGrowth.com