How to be Genuinely Happy with Yourself
Do you want to be genuinely happy? People seek counseling or life coaching for lots of reasons: to achieve important goals, make positive changes, get a leg up in their career, or improve their emotional intelligence — all good things. But WHY do they want to achieve at a higher level, create success, or build healthier relationships?
Because they believe that doing so will make them genuinely happy. Everyone has had that thought at one point or another: “I just want to be happy.”
But here’s the deal: both you and I know lots of people who seem to have it all — and are still unhappy. No matter what goals they achieve, what outward measures of success they attain, or what fun and exciting things they do, they never achieve true happiness. So they keep trudging along, hoping that the next mountain they climb will be the “real one” that will help them feel better. Satisfied. Optimistic. Joyful. Content. Grateful. Peaceful. Happy.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you may have gotten stuck on the “Hedonic Treadmill” too. That’s the technical term for the process of climbing, and trying, and doing, and achieving all the things that you think will make you happy… only to find out that it was a mirage all along. It’s like climbing up a mountain thinking, “When I buy this house or land this job then I’ll be genuinely happy,” only to find that after the initial excitement wears off, the happiness fades, and the search begins anew.
The truth is that authentic happiness has very little (if anything) to do with your external circumstances. Success is not the key to happiness–in fact, it may be better to say that happiness is the key to success. Finding and keeping authentic happiness in your life has everything to do with learning a set of “Happiness Skills” that allow you to feel happier and less stressed— no matter what is going on around you.
What are Happiness Skills?
Genuinely happy people have learned “Happiness Skills,” and use them, daily, to stay in a good place. Happiness Skills involve four different components:
1) A Happy Mind: In order to be truly happy you must learn how to take control over what is happening in your head. Most people are driven by unhelpful, unhappy thoughts without even being aware of them. Letting these thoughts run rampant can cause serious problems. By identifying unhelpful, unproductive thinking styles and replacing them with the kinds of thoughts that lead to positive emotions, you can shift your mood very reliably. The trick is learning how to let go of anger, and other negative emotions.
Another huge component of having a healthy mind is learning how to stay in the present. “Mental time traveling” is at the core of much of the unhappiness that plagues us. Sometimes, we need to simply step back, release control, and let things go. By engaging in practical mindfulness skills that you can use in your daily life, you can learn how to manage feelings of anger, anxiety, apprehension, judgment, and worry that get in the way of your happiness and personal growth.
2) A Happy Body: Most people who struggle to be happy don’t realize that they are often engaged in behaviors that are sabotaging their happiness. When you are creating an internal chemical state that is dragging you into anxiety or depression, it is very difficult to feel joyful – no matter how hard you work at it.
There are simple changes you can make that will help you feel happier on a biological level. But knowing what to change is only half of the battle. Changing your habits for good can be challenging — until you learn how. Maintaining a happy lifestyle is one of the key secrets of happy people.
3) A Happy Heart: How do you manage your emotions? Feelings are a natural, normal part of life. It’s what we do with those feelings that differentiate between an emotional struggle, or genuine happiness. For example, authentically happy people are much more tolerant of their feelings. They know how to take care of themselves compassionately rather than beating themselves up for having feelings, or worse, frantically trying to avoid their feelings. They allow themselves to be vulnerable, nurture their self-esteem, and know how to have healthy boundaries. When you learn how to have a good relationship with your feelings, let go of unproductive feelings, and take guidance from your wise-mind emotions, you can create a compassionate life.
4) A Happy Life: Living a happy life means more than just not feeling bad. When you have a happy life, you are managing your thoughts, taking care of yourself, and managing your emotions in healthy ways. You live a values-based life that creates feelings of authentic happiness and joy. In Rachel H.’s (a licensed marriage and family therapist here at Growing Self) words, you know “How to Own Your Awesome.” We all have to make decisions about where we spend our time and energy. Getting in touch with your values and learning where to apply your focus makes all the difference between having an authentically joyful life and one that you’re chronically dissatisfied with.
The Key to Happiness
Learning how to be a happier person is simply a matter of learning and practicing “Happiness Skills” — not luck or magic, even though it sometimes seems that way. Some people were lucky enough to learn how to be happy from their parents, or have had the good fortune and financial resources to get involved in the luxury of good therapy or life coaching. But not everyone gets to do that.
For the last two years I’ve been working very hard to put together an inexpensive online program that can teach you all the happiness skills you need to feel more joyful and more content. It’s my “Happiness Class.” You can take the first class for free right now, and start practicing the foundational skill from which all lasting happiness flows: learning how to get control over what is happening in your mind. Click here to learn more about the Happiness Class.
Sign up and watch the class for free right now. I’m so excited to share this knowledge with you. This one little idea you’re about to learn has helped countless of my private clients begin to cultivate authentic happiness in their lives — I know it will help you too.
All the best,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.