Posted by: MarlaHB | July 7, 2012

5 Key Skills for Lasting Happiness

Genuine and lasting happiness is an inside job. Sure, there are ways you can feel temporarily happy from some external source (new job, winning the lottery, someone flattering you etc.), but unless there is some deeper connection to who you really are – and what truly matters to you – those moments of happiness will be just that. Moments.

If we want to experience a longer-lasting sense of happiness and well-being, we need to ground our actions in our authenticity (being true to ourselves despite external pressures). To be authentic – and genuinely happy – takes certain skills. Here are five key skills that can make a difference.

Letting Go

To be happy, we must be willing to let go of the ‘stuff’ that’s weighing us down.

Perhaps this also includes letting go of our delight in suffering.

Happiness is about feeling good. Yet we can allow ourselves to feel bad for so long that it becomes our identity. Fear. Anger. Grief. Guilt. Martyrdom. Sickness. Victimhood. Whatever it is about feeling bad that fuels us, we need to acknowledge it and let the suffering go.

The purpose of letting go of anything that does not represent the true core of our being is freedom. To let go is to create a space for freedom, which generates happiness in itself – a lightness of being.

Gratitude

We’ve all heard it before. Gratitude creates an environment in which positive feelings flourish. But to be grateful, you must be willing to notice. To notice requires that you be present.

Instead of distracting yourself with technology, thoughts in the past, visions of the future, or just a desire to be busy all the time, take a moment to notice what is happening around you now that makes you feel good. Engage your senses (rather than your judgement).

Take a walk. Smell a flower. Share a funny story with someone and fully engage in laughter. Pet an animal. Smell the fresh air. Feel the sun on your face. And then, instead of just overlooking it, really feel how wonderful it is to have access to such bounty in your life.

It’s the simple stuff that matters. Notice it. Appreciate it.

Doing Meaningful Acts

It’s so important to do things that are meaningful.

But in terms of happiness, this is about taking action in ways that are truly meaningful to you. Authenticity is important here. It’s not about what you could or should do. It’s about what you are inspired from within to do. What is meaningful to you?

There’s no limit to what this could mean. The key is that you take some action. Power comes from extending your meaningful acts out beyond yourself to create a positive impact for others (even if the impact on others wasn’t your reason for doing it). In other words, just take action in a way that means something to you. The rest will take care of itself.

And keep in mind, no meaningful act is too small. Just follow through on your inspiration.

Play/Adventure

Sometimes it seems that we have created such busy lives that we have forgotten how to play. We have created a situation where we are drowning in responsibility and have no room for adventure anymore.

But play and adventure are not just for kids. We can be responsible and still have fun in our lives.

There are many benefits to play and adventure. It’s about getting out of your routine and doing something different. This creates opportunities for you to learn about yourself, to challenge yourself, to gain confidence, to see new places, to laugh, and to experience joy.

Play and adventure are ways to fill up our empty cups. If your motivation and expression are authentic, the personal happiness that is generated through your experience will extend out to others too.

Joy is powerful. Don’t deny yourself.

Courage

If genuine happiness was easy, we would all be experiencing it. Following your authentic path to happiness requires courage.

It takes courage to force yourself to stop long enough to find out who you really are and what you really want. It takes courage to go against the grain; choosing actions that seem to be against what you’ve been taught or expected to do. It takes courage to stop following a path when you acknowledge that it’s leading you away from your ‘self’. It takes courage to disappoint others in order to engage in self-care. The bottom line is that, sometimes, that’s what it takes.

Courage is our willingness to take that first step: to trust ourselves and keep going.

Happiness is simple. Yet it’s also complicated. Perhaps it’s just as complicated as we want to make it. The more we can move toward authentic living, the more happiness we can experience.

I won’t suggest that applying these five key skills for lasting happiness is easy. It takes commitment. And, with practice to strengthen these skills, it will become easier. Genuine happiness can be yours.

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