welcome to live happier
Welcome to Live Happier - the blog that helps you live the life you want to live.
I invite you to keep checking back - this site promises to soon be chock full of tips and strategies to help you get more of the things you want.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

How To Change How You Feel

How do you feel right now? Did you know you can easily change that feeling?

It has been well documented that the way we think about things has a direct impact on their outcomes. You’ve probably heard it or read it somewhere several times, and this is because it's true. So the next time you are feeling bad, depressed, angry, or anything less than happy, realize that you don’t have to feel that way.

Although it may seem a bit too simple, the fact is that you control your own thoughts. No one else outside of you controls what you think or how you feel. And while it is normal to have occasional thoughts of fear, anger, etc., you cannot let these types of thoughts become your dominant ones, because eventually they will affect your overall state of mind.

This is because thoughts breed similar thoughts. Whether they are positive or negative, whatever types of thoughts you are thinking have a tendency to multiply into more of the same. Think of your mind as a garden: if you plant seeds, the seeds will grow into plants and will multiply themselves. Your garden does not care what is planted – whether it is the seeds of beautiful flowers or poison ivy, it will cause them to grow just the same.

Your mind is the same way. If you plant positive thoughts, they will multiply themselves, just as negative thoughts will.

You have the ability to attach whatever meanings you want to the various events that happen to you each day. Because of this incredible power, you are able to determine how an event will affect you. You can either allow things to affect you in ways that empower you, or ways that debilitate you. You also have the power to decide that something will not affect you at all.

It’s a very empowering feeling when you fully grasp the fact that you can control how you feel by controlling your thoughts. This is why it’s important to try to think positive thoughts as much as possible – because they create more positive thoughts. And our thoughts are what create our feelings.

So here are some ways that you can change your state of mind from negative to positive. The thing to keep in mind is that all you really need to do is to improve your thoughts a little to improve how you feel. The key is to find a thought that is better than the one that is making you feel bad.

One quick way to find better thoughts and feelings is to “go to gratitude” as I like to say. This basically just means making a list of things that you are thankful for and wouldn’t change for the world. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ll notice this as a reoccurring theme in my writing. This is because I’ve found practicing gratitude to be one of the biggest factors that led to improvements in my life and many others that I have helped. These could be things like thinking about your children, your spouse, your home, your health, or anything that is a big positive in your life.

What you are essentially doing is putting things in perspective. There is absolutely no way that thoughts that are producing how you feel can stack up against the “cornerstones” in your life. Am I right, or am I right?

Other ways to improve your feeling is by changing your physical state. Go for a brisk walk or run, do some pushups or some other form of exercise.

You can also improve the way you are feeling by doing something that makes you happy or makes you laugh. It could be remembering a situation when someone - your spouse, your child, or one of your friends - did something crazy or silly to make you laugh. It could be something in a movie or a tv show that made you laugh.

The point is, you know what makes yourself tick. You know the things that make you happy and the things that produce positive feelings. It's important to realize that when you are feeling bad, you have the ability to change how you are feeling quickly by simply changing your thoughts.

Everything in life is a choice. Since you have the ability to choose how you think and feel, doesn't it make sense to choose to feel happy? Keep these things in mind, change your thinking when you realize you can feel better, and I promise you will. When you can consistently control how you think and feel, you can begin to create the kind of life you want to live, versus reacting to what life gives you.

That feels better, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 7, 2007

How To Be Happy

Have you ever pondered the question of why you want the things you want? Why is it that you want more money? Why is it that you want to live in a bigger house, have a better job, or travel to exotic places?

Simply put, the only reason we want the things that we want is because of the feelings that these things will give us. Whether it’s a feeling of accomplishment, power, importance or whatever, the feelings that are produced by achieving the things we want are all forms of happiness. So ultimately, the reason that we want the things that we want is because we think that they will make us happy.

What many people believe is that because they do not currently have the things that they want, that they are somehow prevented from being happy. They feel that once they get what they want, then they will be happy. But the truth is that being happy is not about getting something. In the race to get things, often times we end up focusing on the things that we don’t have, which produces a feeling of lack in our lives. And when we focus on the things we don’t have and all the problems we are faced with, we actually get more of what we don’t want due to our focusing on these things. Maybe you’ve heard this before: what you focus on expands and becomes reality. The other thing that happens when we are preoccupied with what we don’t have is that we tend to overlook the things that we already have.

While it is certainly important to have goals, it’s more important to realize that achieving them is not going to make you happy. Nothing outside of yourself will. Being happy starts on the inside, and unless you start there, nothing will ever make you happy. To look outside of yourself to external events, people, or things for your happiness is futile. Again, it is important to have goals, but you cannot be attached to any goal or anything outside yourself to the point that your happiness is dependent on achieving the goal.

If you can be happy on the inside, everything else will follow – you will be able to do what you want to do, and you will be able to have what you want to have. But again, it all starts on the inside, and there is no other way it can work.

So the $64,000 question is, how can you be happy? Like many things, it starts with a decision. Decide to be happy now. It is a choice, because we determine how we feel about things and the types of meanings to place on events and information through the thoughts that we think.

So why not decide that you are going to be happy? You can do this by simply saying to yourself, “I choose to be happy.” By declaring that you choose to be happy, you will scan your life and your daily experiences for the things that generate positive emotions and you will be able to trivialize and dismiss the things that do not.

Another step is to take an inventory of all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Go ahead and make a list of these things. This is a very powerful technique that will give you a new perspective if you will take a few minutes to do it. Start in whatever area of your life that you want: physical possessions, like cars, your home, gadgets, etc. – people in your life that are close to you – things that have happened to you that have made you stronger, wiser, etc.

If you practice gratitude regularly, I promise it will have a great impact on how you think and feel. For more information on gratitude, see It All Starts With Gratitude.

Another step you can take that will contribute greatly to your happiness is engaging in regular exercise. Regular exercise is guaranteed to lift your moods, restore your energy, and insure that you live a longer and happier life. If you currently do not exercise on a regular basis, now is a good time to start.

Aside from the physical benefits that can be gained from regular exercise, physical activity has been proven to modify the brain chemistry by producing mood-enhancing endorphins. If you’ve ever heard the term “runners high” you may know what I’m talking about. When you exercise endorphins are released into the bloodstream by the pituitary. These endorphins then bind to receptors inside neurons. These are the same as the receptors that drugs like morphine bind to, and the end result is a natural high that will not only improve your moods and allow you to be happier on a consistent basis, but also allow you to fight the effects of stress and anxiety.

So start doing something. It’s okay to start slowly, but start to do something. The best time to exercise is in the morning because it gets your blood flowing and starts to burn calories early in the day and can help provide you with more energy throughout the day. If you simply can’t do it in the morning, no problem – do it at a time that works for you.

There are a number of different types of exercise you can do. One example would be resistance exercises, like weight lifting. The thing about weight training is that you really don’t need weights to do it. You can do push-ups, sit-ups, and squats and lunges without any weights whey you are first starting out. If after a few weeks you decide you like it, consider joining a health club or investing in some sort of equipment. The thing to keep in mind about this type of investment is that you are investing in YOU, and what could be more important?

Another choice could be running or walking. If you have a dog, they will love you for taking them on a daily walk, and it’s a great opportunity to bond and provide more obedience training for your best friend. You can also choose to start running, and a treadmill is a great investment that will allow you to walk or run and you’ll never have to worry about weather conditions.

Other choices include yoga, palates, dancing, and various types of aerobic and strength training routines. You can register for classes at a local health club, or invest in some DVD or VHS workouts that can be done in the privacy of your own home.

Finally, it’s important to realize that your happiness depends on doing the things that give you the most joy and allow you to feel positive emotions. What are those things? No matter what they are, whether it’s exercise, singing, dancing, writing, public speaking, etc., you need to spend time doing them. We all have busy lives and various demands and things that can get in the way of us staying happy, but only if we let them.

Make it a point to discover or re-discover the things that you enjoy most. There is no one on this planet that is more important than you. Everything starts with you, and you were put here to enjoy and to love. And you cannot spread joy and love unless you have it and experience it first. Once you have joy and love in your own life, you can give it to others.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

It All Starts With Gratitude

No matter what you want to improve in your life - whether it is to make more money by getting a better job or a promotion, or whether you want to be happier and have better relationships with the people close to you - the first step is to be grateful for the things that you already have.

It may be tempting to react by thinking that you don’t have many things to be grateful for. But take a few minutes and look around the room you are sitting in right now, and look at all the things that you have. You probably have a tv, and you probably have a vcr or a tivo along with a stereo and some furniture. Now expand to all the other physical belongings you have in your house or apartment. If you compare all the things you have to people living hundreds of years ago, you have to admit that you’re living like a king. In fact, you probably have it better than a king had it several hundred years ago. Think about it – castles were very drafty and damp, and sickness was rampant.

Another fact of being a king was the threat of having your kingdom overrun by enemy forces, and quite possibly someone from within your kingdom trying to overthrow you. It’s probably true that most kings would have traded their entire fortune for the ability to fly to distant land in a matter of hours. So, all things considered, you have things pretty good. In fact, you are living better than a king!

Consider also the fact that there are millions of people in the world today who can’t care for themselves and their families properly. There are millions who face the threat of violence in various forms, ranging from gang violence and street crimes, to bombings and various military campaigns.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me say again that the first step in improving your life, being happier, and getting more of the things you want is to be grateful for all of the things that you already have. It is important to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” to keep good things like more money, happiness, and overall abundance flowing into your life. Why, you ask? It’s quite simple really. To be grateful for the things you receive takes you away from being ungrateful and focusing on lack and scarcity in your life.

A person who is grateful and thankful for all that they have does not take things for granted, and in developing a constant gratefulness develops an expectation that good things will happen. When you truly believe that good things will happen, you develop faith, which is one of the most important qualities in achieving goals and making the things you want to happen a reality. Plus – you will be a happier person. Guaranteed!

So, how exactly can you develop an attitude of gratitude? There are actually different levels of gratitude, but getting started is easy. Always acknowledge what you have now. Instead of complaining about what you don’t have, acknowledge and appreciate what you have now because there are lots of people who have less than you do. Maybe you’ve heard the one about the guy who complained that he didn’t have any shoes until he met a man who didn’t have any feet - the thing to keep in mind is that there are people all over who have things much worse than you do.

Start by making a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life right now. Try to list at least 20-30 things that you are thankful that you have, and include things like the special people in your life, your experiences, personal attributes, and material possessions. For example: your spouse, best friend, your physical health, your home/car/gadgets, your favorite tv show, etc. If you can list more than 30 – terrific! Take a few minutes and do this right now…

Did you do it? Congratulations – you’ve taken the first step toward developing an attitude of gratitude. This basic level of gratitude is being thankful for the things, people, and events that are already a part of our lives and when things go our way.

Another level of gratitude involves being grateful for things that do not go your way. I know you may be thinking, “What? Be glad when things don’t go my way?” Well, yes. You see, often times when you are working toward goals we experience setbacks or roadblocks that at times seem like failures. The important lesson to keep in mind is that setbacks are only temporary, and to be successful at anything requires persistence and the ability to move past disappointments. Persistence is another quality that must be developed if you are to be truly successful at anything.

In studying the most successful people in history, they have all had to deal with temporary defeats in one way or another, and they discovered that their failures were actually blessings in disguise. And after dealing with what seemed like a failure, they actually achieved something bigger than they had originally imagined. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before creating the working light bulb, and was thankful to have found “several thousands of things that won’t work.” Donald Trump went bankrupt, but eventually got all of his money back – and more.

So instead of being upset when things that you want to happen don’t quite work out – be grateful. If you review the situation, find the lesson in it, and move on, you will develop a stronger sense of faith and persistence, which will eventually lead to higher rewards. In addition to seeing a setback as an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson and discover an opportunity that was bigger and better than you originally had imagined, it’s important to realize that there are times when things that don’t happen prevent disasters from happening.

Now that you are aware of how being grateful for what you have can improve your outlook and the results you are currently getting, it’s time to develop a regular routine and put it into practice. I promise you that if you make a habit of taking a daily inventory of the things you are grateful for, you will see incredible results in how you feel as well as the results you get.

Your daily routine will be to start a “gratitude journal.” It’s easy to do, and you can start right away. Get a notebook, and at the end of the day, write the date at the top of the page, and below it right down all the things you are grateful for and try to feel each one. What you write down can include all areas of your life – material things you currently have, special people in your life, things that went your way, things that made you laugh, things that taught you a lesson, etc. As an example, here’s how a day might look:
I’m grateful for:
An easy commute today, the motivation to work out, a great sleep, my house, the city I live in, making 3 sales today, a great work environment with unlimited opportunities, a supportive boss, my wife, getting to talk with a friend today, a great supper, spending time with the kids, my health…

Again, your list can include anything big or small. The important thing is that you are taking the time to recollect and think back on your day to take note of the good things that happened. When you do this, you will begin to be thankful for more things, and when you get into the habit of appreciating everything you have and all the positive experiences – including the smaller things, like a good cup of coffee – you are not focusing on what is missing in your life.

When you are focused on finding things that are positive – things you can be grateful for – you will undoubtedly find them. As you continue to look for things to be grateful for, you will be drawn to limitless positive outcomes. And by taking the time to acknowledge the great things that happen to you, what you will really be doing is developing a greater ability to “live” each day instead of having the feeling that life is passing you by. After all, “living” is what it’s all about, right?