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Are you often less than fully happy with your life? or with yourself? Do you wonder what it would take to become happier? Learn how to be happy with yourself by mastering the secret of happiness.
Is there a single true secret of happiness? Maybe. There are a number of important factors in your happiness - your happiness with life, and your happiness with yourself. Here are some of the most important choices you can make to live a happier - or less happy - life. The single most important key to your happiness - perhaps THE secret of happiness - is listed last.
Have a Purpose
If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.
Life is without meaning.
You bring the meaning to it.
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.
Being alive is the meaning.
- Joseph Campbell
Your life doesn't have a purpose until you choose your life purpose. So make that choice, and choose well. There is a very high correlation between lives of high purpose and joyful lives. There is also a high correlation between lives without purpose and unhappy lives. Create purpose in your life not as a moral dictum, but as a key element of a happy life.
Take Action - Be Bold
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it, Begin it now.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
A life lived in fear is a life half lived.
Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.
- George Bernard Shaw
Once you know where you are going, get started. A life of action is almost always happier than a life of procrastination and inaction. Even if you are unsure about what to do next, do the best you can. Make some progress every day, and celebrate even your smallest accomplishments.
Honor Yourself - Love Yourself as You Are
To thine own self be true.
- William Shakespeare
Outer show is a poor substitute for inner worth.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself,
instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
- Judy Garland
Honor, self respect, and self love are crucial to your happiness. Don't confuse these essential attributes with pride - in the biblical sense of pride. You have to respect and love yourself in order to stand any chance for a happy life. You are perfect exactly as you are - whatever anyone else may say about you. If you sometimes choose to make changes in how you live, great. But you never have to change anything in order to be a perfect person - a perfect creation.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
- Paul Boese
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal
with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.
- The Buddha
Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
- A Course In Miracles
Holding on to resentments, anger, and hatred only hurts yourself - and robs your life of its joy and happiness. For your own sake - for the sake of your happiness - forgive everyone for everything that they have ever done - or failed to do - that caused you pain or upset.
It is sometimes very hard to forgive, but total unconditional forgiveness is one of the great keys to your own happiness.
Regret is an appalling waste of energy,
you can't build on it -
it's only good for wallowing in.
- Katherine Mansfield
What's done is done.
- William Shakespeare
Live with intention...
Choose with no regret...
- Mary Anne Radmacher
Why throw away your happiness on regret, guilt, or shame? Change the rules. Where did you get the idea that regret, guilt, or shame was a good or noble thing? Did your parents tell you that you were guilty and should be ashamed? Well, shame on them. How about your church? Wherever you got the idea that regret was a good thing, change the rules now.
Always do your best - your very best - every time. But after it is over, let it be done - whatever the outcome. Learn lessons from your failures, but never label yourself as a failure. Forgive yourself for everything you have ever done - or failed to do - that didn't work out the way you intended.
Have Gratitude for All of Life
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melody Beattie
Life is neither perfectly great nor perfectly awful - life just is. We can choose to complain about life's seeming imperfections - from the long line in the bank, to the slow commute, the driver that cut us off, the pain in our knee, the overdue bills, our bossy boss. That is certainly one way to live - it's not wrong to live that way, but there is no joy in living with that attitude toward life.
We also have the choice of celebrating life - all of life. We can be profoundly grateful for everything we have. However little we have, it is so much more than nothing. Our very existence is a daily miracle which deserves constant gratitude.
Make the choice to be constantly grateful for all of life, not because you are supposed to be grateful, but because you will live a much happier life if you have a grateful attitude.
Be of Service to Others
Life's most persistent and urgent question is,
"What are you doing for others?"
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
- Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.
- Lao Tzu
When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation,
we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.
- Joseph Campbell
What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us;
what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
- Albert Pike
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
- Mother Teresa
Of all the keys to happiness, Service to Others is the big one - perhaps THE secret of happiness. Without purpose we have no reason to live. Without taking action on that purpose we are impotent. What is the characteristic of a life purpose that creates satisfaction with life and genuine lasting happiness? - Being of Service to others.
There are many ways to be of service - and they are all wonderful as long as they are sincere. Being of service can be raising children with love, caring for an ill relative, volunteering with the Red Cross, or it can be developing a new pharmaceutical or even selling a product that you truly believe will greatly help people. Being of service is the attitude rather than the action. One could be a physician for the money, or one could dig graves as a service to others. Note that being of service is completely different from attempting to please everyone - which is foolish and a path to great unhappiness.
Being of service allows us to live a larger life, to live beyond ourselves, to leave a lasting legacy.
Consider including service as a key element of your statement of life purpose, and taking action on that purpose. You will be happier for it.
Thank you for reading my article How to Be Happy with Yourself - The Secret of Happiness.
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Jonathan Lockwood Huie
"The Philosopher of Happiness" - is the author of 100 Secrets for Living a Life You Love, co-author of Simply An Inspired Life, speaker, personal coach, and creator of the popular Daily Inspiration - Daily Quote free email and Regaining Your Happiness in Seven Weeks e-training program.
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