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Four Keys to Happiness

Each human being strives to be happy. Only our needs ... and safety are ... Since most of us able ... this article have ... food, ... ... itís safe to say that

Each human being strives to be happy. Only our needs for
survival and safety are stronger. Since most of us able to
receive this article have sufficient food, clothing, and
shelter, itís safe to say that weíre spending much of our
time and energy seeking happiness.

Consider these four keys to increased happiness.

1. Examine your fundamental belief about happiness. Do you
expect to be happy? I once overheard two young people
talking. One young man said to the other, "I never expect
anything good to happen, that way Iím never disappointed."
This young person traded his hopes of happy life events for
the certainty of avoiding disappointment. Listen to the
lunch table talk of those around you-perhaps even your own
talk-do you hear expectations of happiness?

There is much social research-as well as spiritual teaching-
supporting the theory that we get what we expect. Expect to
be happy and you will be. Expect to be unhappy and that,
too, will come to you.

So the first key to your happiness is that you must believe
that happiness is possible for you. If this is too difficult
a belief based on where you are now, then accept that
happiness is coming soon. You must begin your quest for
happiness with a positive foundation. At the very least,
make a bargain with yourself. For thirty days, allow
yourself to believe happiness is not only possible, but on
the way. You have nothing to lose, so give it a try.

2. Find three things to appreciate at the start and end of
each day. This second key to happiness is all about
recognizing that which you already have. Even the dreariest
of days and the most onerous life circumstances have some
positive aspects. Start your day by finding three things to
appreciate. This can be as basic as appreciating that you
woke up to another day and youíre alive. Appreciate the
weather, not just a sunny day, but also a cloudy day. See
the beauty in a rain or snow storm. Appreciate your job if
you have one, even if you dislike it. Appreciate your car,
even if itís a clunker. Find three things for which you can
summon up an appreciative mood.

At the end of the day, repeat this process. This time focus
your appreciation on three events of the day. Something good
must have happened to you today-after all, youíre still
alive. Appreciate something new you learned today, even if
it was that you can survive a dressing down by an irate
customer. Appreciate the welcome you received from your
spouse, child, or pet, the safety of your home, or that you
have food for dinner.

3. Accept, change, or separate from that which prevents your
happiness. Donít dwell on the sources of unhappiness in your
life, but do notice them. The third key is to make the
conscious decision to do one of the only three things you
can ever do to change a source of unhappiness-fully accept
it, work to change it, or separate from it. These are your
choices unless you really donít want a change-the choice to
remain unhappy so you can feel the victim is also available.
Many people choose this one.

Fully accepting something means embracing it as your own-
choosing it. It doesnít mean whining or complaining about
it. It doesnít mean pretending it isnít there. It means
accepting it as part of your life. If that isnít feasible
for you, then...

Work to change it. If your source of unhappiness is a lousy
job-something you just canít contemplate continuing for more
than a few months-consider how you might change it. Do you
have any room within this job to change some aspect of what
you do or how you go about doing the job? Are there problems
outside your responsibility that interest you? Ask your boss
if you can take on a problem in addition to your regular
responsibilities. Few bosses will begrudge you taking on
more work. Perhaps you can gradually shift your
responsibilities to things that are more interesting and
better aligned to your abilities. If you can see no possible
way to change your situation, then...

Decide to separate yourself from the source of unhappiness.
Life is too short to continue in a situation that you canít
accept and you canít change. So leave it. Even in this poor
economy with many people out of work, there are still jobs
available. Start looking-unless you prefer to keep things
just as they are and complain. Be honest with yourself about
this. Some people really do prefer to complain than to

4. Focus on that which makes you happy. The fourth key is to
consciously control your thinking so that you focus all your
thoughts, all your energy, and all your time on things that
make you happy. Simply decide to reside within the positive
areas of your life. This may initially impress you as
"sticking-your-head-in-the-sand,"-but itís not. Life
surrounds us with diverse experiences. We can choose those
to which we give our attention. Does it make you happy or
unhappy when your lunch crowd starts whining and
complaining? Steer the conversation to something more
positive. Or mentally distance yourself and enjoy the drama
that each person is playing. Avoid feeling sorry for
yourself, bitter about your bad luck, or envious of others.
Stick with thoughts and activities that feel good and watch
your happiness index go up.

An excellent resource on building happiness is "Authentic
Happiness," by Dr. Martin Seligman. His web site,
http://www.authentichappiness.comPsychology Articles, offers many self
assessment surveys.

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About the author
Copywrite 2004, all rights reserved. Jerry Lopper is an
author, personal coach, and consultant. His workshops,
ebooks, articles, and coaching are available through where you can sign up for
complimentary articles and coaching. For a complimentary
coaching session email to

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