Category Archives: happiness

13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit

13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit COMMUNICATION MOTIVATION BY IBRAHIM HUSAIN

You know how some people seem to be happy no matter what happens to them?  They always have a positive outlook on life. They seem to enjoy things more than you and me, and their relationships with people thrive in a way that we only imagine.  You’ve probably wondered what it is about them that makes happiness so easy for them.  Well it turns out there is no special trick to happiness.  Just like anything else, it’s just something that we have to learn to make a habit.  Incorporate the following 14 behaviors into your daily life and you’ll find that happiness habits surround you.

  1. Change Your Perspective

There are plenty of reasons to not be happy.  Someone cut you off on the way to work.  You got a ticket.  You made a bad grade or got a less than stellar performance review, etc.  The interesting thing about not feeling happy when these things happen is that you aren’t in control.  You have chosen to let external forces dictate how you feel about life.  When you learn that you have control over these things, simply by changing your perspective, the whole world changes.  For example, take the “someone cut you off on the way to work” scenario.  By making an excuse for that person, such as that they are rushing to get their pregnant wife to the hospital (or some other emergency), you excuse their wrongdoing and are not negatively affected by it.  Hopefully they make it to the hospital in time and bring a beautiful child into the world.  It turns out Your Perception IS Your Reality.

  1. Get Some Sunlight

Sunlight makes us happy.  UV rays hit the skin and the body begins to produce vitamin D ( vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression, among other things).  When the sunlight hits your eyes it signals to your brain to slow down secretion of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep), and increases secretion of serotonin (a hormone associated with happiness and wakefulness).  What does all of this mean?  Getting more sun will make you happier.  If you aren’t getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on your skin per day, it’s a good idea to try and get out more.  Take a walk during lunch, sit outside for a few minutes instead of watching TV.  Make time for it.

  1. Make a Life List

Life lists are awesome.  They are the theme park of life planning.  Think about the things you want to experience and accomplish before you die.  While it may sound like a morbid pursuit, it’s actually pretty life changing and inspirational.  Especially when you make plans to start checking things off your life list.

  1. Learn a New Hobby

Hobbies are fun ways to experience happiness.  Whether you love to cook, play games, paint, or anything else, the joy of learning a new hobby is one of the most enjoyable endeavors you can embark upon.  When starting a new hobby, focus on the joy of just experiencing something new. There is something magical about being a “newbie,” because with every experience there is something to be gained.

  1. Focus on Appreciation and Gratefulness

Learning to show appreciation and to be grateful for what you have is, in itself, a reward.  People who express appreciation and take time be grateful are happier and have more positive outlooks on life. Start with a simple experiment.  Every night before you go to bed, write down something that happened throughout the day that you are grateful for.  It won’t take long before that habit changes your entire perspective.

  1. Meditate Regularly

While meditation often gets the reputation of being spiritual and strange to those who don’t partake, it has benefits for practically everyone who gives it a real chance.  I don’t see meditation as spiritual. I see it as therapeutic.  I sit quietly for 5-10 minutes per day (I don’t time it‒I just do it), and focus on me.  Sometimes I close my eyes; sometimes I don’t.  But I focus on my breathing, I take stock on how I feel (physically and mentally), and I visualize what my day is going to look like.  It’s almost like a pre-game ritual.  Try it.  You wont be disappointed.

  1.  Embrace Your Fears

Fear is one of the big zappers of happiness.  Fear leads us to worry, causing stress and a focus on negativity.  One way to stop fear is to begin welcoming it into your life.  Obviously you don’t want to jump into the deep end on this one, but start small and start tackling your fears.  You’ll find yourself stronger, more confident, and happier with every fear tackled.

  1. Smile More

Where I live, it’s a common occurrence to exchange smiles with anyone you come into contact with. I’ve traveled enough to know this isn’t a common practice everywhere, but I think it should be. Smiling is easy to do, feels good, tells your brain you’re happy, and can be the one happy thing the receiver of your smile sees that day.  You can brighten up the lives of people around you with just a flash of your pearly whites.  With that kind of power comes great responsibility.  Use it, and use it often!

  1. Exercise Regularly

There are numerous benefits to exercise.  I’m sure I don’t have to convince you of that.  Stress relief, health benefits, etc.  But my personal favorite benefit is the release of endorphins.  They are natural pain and stress relievers, and they make you feel great.  I didn’t believe in the endorphin rush, or Runner’s High, as it’s commonly referred, until I started running.  Now I can’t get enough.

  1. Embrace Your Negativity

Some people swallow and repress the negative thoughts and feelings they have, thinking this will somehow make them happier.  Unfortunately, it always seems to come back, manifesting in stress, physical pain, or otherwise.  The truth about the negativity is that it’s necessary to understand and accept that sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes you will be stressed.  Sometimes things will happen that you have no control over.  Understanding and accepting this will reduce the stress you feel from repression, allowing you to get back to the things that make you happy.

  1. Challenge Yourself

One of the greatest things you can do in life is to set the bar high and then achieve.  By challenging yourself in ways that are achievable, but require work, you continue to work hard and improve yourself, often times leading to the outcome of being satisfied not with the accomplishment, but with the progress that you’ve made simply by having the goal.  Set challenging goals, and then create realistic plans to achieve them.  Every achievement becomes another step on the staircase towards your greatest, happiest self.

  1. Volunteer Your Time

There is no quicker way to feel happy than to help someone else, especially someone in need of help.  Volunteering your time is addicting, not just because you’re helping people in need, but because you feel good doing it.  It’s a humbling way to honor humanity and be grateful for the blessings that you’ve received.  There’s tons of reasons for the good feelings associated with volunteering, but suffice it to say it’s a no-brainer for both quick and long-term happiness.

  1. Posture and Breathing

Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and take a deep breath.  Do it a few more times.  Feel that? Posture and breathing have a profound affect on your outlook on life.  In just a few moments, hunching and taking weak, shallow breaths can sap the life right out of you.  Focus on sitting up with your shoulder back and taking deep breaths as often as possible, and you’ll be happier throughout the day.

What did we miss?  What steps have you taken towards making happiness a habit? Tell us your habit in the comments below.

When you correct your posture, especially if you work at a desk all day, you’ll be rewarding yourself later in life. Back pain, stress etc. It all gets sorted.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/13-surprising-ways-make-happiness-habit.html

HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE THAT CAN STAND ALONE AND SPEAK BY ITSELF. NOTHING MORE THAT I CAN REALLY ADD OTHER THAN PLEASE READ AND USE IT !

From Psychology Today Magazine………

Fulfillment at Any Age

    How to remain productive and healthy into your later years
    by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.

Giving thanks: The benefits of gratitude

      Why gratitude is good for your mental health

We all like being thanked. It’s a great feeling to have someone, especially someone who doesn’t stand to gain, tell us that we made a difference in their lives. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the good fortune of receiving some heartfelt thank you notes from students, pausing as they got ready to leave campus for the summer, or perhaps for good, to take a moment and let me know that something I said or did proved helpful to them. I’ve also had the good fortune of having favors done for me by people who went out of their way to help me solve a problem, fix something, or in fortunately only one case- return a lost cellphone. Being thanked and having reason to thank others are two sides of the same gratefulness coin. Both exemplify the positive in human behavior and provide us with a positive charge that boosts our emotional balance.

On the surface it seems like gratitude has everything to recommend it. There are a few gratitude traps, though. Some people feel uncomfortable about being thanked. They get truly embarrassed, dismissing the thanker by insisting that “it was nothing” (though clearly the thanker felt otherwise). There are also some uncomfortable aspects about thank-yous when it comes to thank-you presents that are overly generous or could be interpreted as bribes.

If you’re at the receiving end of a thank-you, you may feel unsure about how to reciprocate. Does a thank-you present require a thank-you note? What about thanking someone who’s helped you? Do you reward a person who returns a lost item with cash or just allow your relieved face to serve as its own reward? Then there’s the guilt factor: What if you let a few weeks slip by without sending a thank-you note for a birthday gift? Does it look worse to send a belated thank-you note or just to forget the whole thing and hope the gift-giver won’t notice? Thank-you notes inspire their own particular forms of angst, as was pointed out in one particularly insightful Social Q’s column of the New York Times (for the record: this column is a treasure trove of psychological insight on quirky behaviors).

It might be reassuring, then, to learn that the expression of thanks can be its own reward. Being the recipient of a favor can also make the favor-giver (if there is such a word) feel good too. Everyone benefits when thanks are freely given and just as freely acknowledged. 

There are always exceptional circumstances involving acts of extreme altruism. Heroes are known as the people who put the needs of others above our own. These cases put in bold relief the fact that a hero doesn’t expect thank-you notes or little gift baskets as acknowledgement of his or her sacrifice.

Many real-life heroes also do not expect thank-yous. Yet, when we benefit from the labors that others put out for our sake, we feel internally driven to and want to express our gratitude. And that’s a good thing, in more ways than one.

Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough point out that gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research. They point out the benefits of expressing gratitude as ranging from better physical health to improved mental alertness. People who express gratitude also are more likely to offer emotional support to others.

Expressing gratitude in your daily life might even have a protective effect on staving off certain forms of psychological disorders. In a review article published this past March (see below), researchers found that habitually focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life is related to a generally higher level of psychological well-being and a lower risk of certain forms of psychopathology.

Now how can you apply these ideas to your own life? Here are some suggestions to boost your own, shall we say, GQ’s (“gratitude quotient”):

1. If someone thanks you, accept the thanks graciously. Let the person know you appreciate being thanked. That’s all you need to do. Really.

2. If you find that difficult, think about why gratitude makes you uncomfortable. Do you not feel worthy of being thanked? In my study of personal fulfillment in midlife, I identified a subgroup of people whose own fulfillment was hampered by their lack of faith in their own worth. Chronic feelings of inadequacy can make it difficult for people to benefit from any thanks that come their way.

3. Look for small things to be grateful for. Not all acts of kindness have a capital “K.” A driver who lets you ease into a busy highway deserves a wave just as much as someone who holds open a door when you’re loaded down with packages. A smile will boost your GQ and make both of you feel better.

4. Don’t fret about gratitude infractions. If you forget to send a thank you note don’t worry about it and certainly don’t use elapsed time as an excuse to avoid the task altogether. Send a quick email and then get to the real thing. If you’re a chronic forgetter, though, you might try to figure out why. By the same token, if someone forgets to thank you, don’t ruminate over it, thereby raising your BP if not your GQ.

5. Keep your thank you’s short, sweet, and easy to write. One reason people procrastinate about writing thank you’s is that they want them to be original and not seem hasty, insincere, or ill conceived. This doesn’t mean the thank you should be one that is short enough to tweet but if you don’t build it up in your mind as having to be a magnum opus you’ll be less inclined to put it off. Whatever you do, don’t make excuses or lie about having sent a thank you that you never did (for more on lying and excuse-making, check out my previous post).

I’ll close by saying thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link. It’s the least I can do!

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting. 

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2010

Frey Freyday-Beliefs

(Frey Freyday is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. Belief creates the actual fact.-William James

– It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.-Muhammad Ali

One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.-John Stuart Mill

– Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.-Jean Vanier

Nothing great has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances. – Bruce Barton –

Realizing that our actions, feelings and behaviour are the result of our own images and beliefs gives us the level that psychology has always needed for changing personality.-Maxwell Maltz

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.-Tony Robbins

– Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.-Henry David Thoreau

– Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.-George Carlin

Words to Live By:

Beliefs – [ biˈlēf ] – Your beliefs are everything. Beliefs make up your personality, they create habits which lead to your lifestyle, your relationships, your career, etc. Beliefs can limit you or they can help you excel and grow. The meaning we assign to all sorts of things are related to beliefs. If you believe you’re smart, for instance, you will be more likely to act in a smart manner, make smart choices, and act according to that identity.
Bonus: Ted Talk – http://www.ted.com/talks/caroline_casey_looking_past_limits

Activist Caroline Casey tells the story of her extraordinary life, starting with a revelation (no spoilers). In a talk that challenges perceptions, Casey asks us all to move beyond the limits we may think we have.

Frey Freyday-Smile

(Frey Freyday is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.-William Arthur Ward

If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.-Andy Rooney

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.-Phyllis Diller

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.-Mother Teresa

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.-Leo Buscaglia

The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.-Thomas Paine

Smiling is definitely one of the best beauty remedies. If you have a good sense of humor and a good approach to life, that’s beautiful.-Rashida Jones

Colors are the smiles of nature.-Leigh Hunt

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There’s nothing I value more than the closeness of friends and family, a smile as I pass someone on the street.-Willie Stargell

The Best Makeup Is Your Smile. By J. Johnson

Words to Live By:

Smile – \ˈsmī(-ə)l\ – A smile is a facial expression formed primarily by flexing the muscles at the sides of the mouth. Try to smile at any appropriate chance you get. Give a smile to a stranger, a friend, a loved one. Everyone looks better with a smile. The right smile, at the right time, wins friends and calms enemies. A recent study found that in obituaries people often, more than any other attribute, mentioned their loved one’s smile. Putting a smile on your face will boost your mood and increase your potential for long-term happiness.

A genuine smile also sends the message to others that we are likeable, trustworthy and dependable – the kind of person others want to do business with, engage in conversation, or build meaningful relationships with.

Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match. Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. Smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you.

 

Bonus: Ted Talk -The hidden power of smiling

http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling

(FYI-Frey Freyday was actually born out of something I created called “Words To Live By” (WTLB). Going forward, I will now not only share the quotes, as you may be used to receiving, but also a related (WTLB). In 1999, when we had our first daughter, I was contemplating how I would raise my new beautiful child, and I was thinking about how I can best educate her and my other children about values, morals, and other key thoughts about life. So I created (WTLB).)

 

3 Decisions That Will Change You

The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Life

From entrepreneur.com Nov 19, 2014

Decision 1: Carefully choose what to focus on.
At every moment, millions of things compete for your attention. You can focus on things that are happening right here and now or on what you want to create in the future. Or you can focus on the past.

Where focus goes, energy flows. What you focus on and your pattern for doing so shapes your entire life.

Which area do you tend to focus on more: what you have or what’s missing from your life?

I’m sure you think about both sides of this coin. But if you examine your habitual thoughts, what do you tend to spend most of your time dwelling on?

Rather than focusing on what you don’t have and begrudging those who are better off than you financially, perhaps you should acknowledge that you have much to be grateful for and some of it has nothing to do with money. You can be grateful for your health, family, friends, opportunities and mind.

Developing a habit of appreciating what you have can create a new level of emotional well-being and wealth. But the real question is, do you take time to deeply feel grateful with your mind, body, heart and soul? That’s where the joy, happiness and fulfillment can be found.

Consider a second pattern of focus that affects the quality of your life: Do you tend to focus more on what you can control or what you can’t?

If you focus on what you can’t control, you’ll have more stress in life. You can influence many aspects of your life but you usually can’t control them.

When you adopt this pattern of focus, your brain has to make another decision:

—-

Decision 2: Figure out, What does this all mean?
Ultimately, how you feel about your life has nothing to do with the events in it or with your financial condition or what has (or hasn’t) happened to you. The quality of your life is controlled by the meaning you give these things.

Most of the time you may be unaware of the effect of your unconscious mind in assigning meaning to life’s events.

When something happens that disrupts your life (a car accident, a health issue, a job loss), do you tend to think that this is the end or the beginning?

If someone confronts you, is that person insulting you, coaching you or truly caring for you?

Does a devastating problem mean that God is punishing you or challenging you? Or is it possible that this problem is a gift from God?

Your life takes on whatever meaning you give it. With each meaning comes a unique feeling or emotion and the quality of your life involves where you live emotionally.

I always ask during my seminars, “How many of you know someone who is on antidepressants and still depressed?” Typically 85 percent to 90 percent of those assembled raise their hands.

How is this possible? The drugs should make people feel better. It’s true that antidepressants do come with labels warning that suicidal thoughts are a possible side effect.

But no matter how much a person drugs himself, if he constantly focuses on what he can’t control in life and what’s missing, he won’t find it hard to despair. If he adds to that a meaning like “life is not worth living,” that’s an emotional cocktail that no antidepressant can consistently overcome.

Yet if that same person can arrive at a new meaning, a reason to live or a belief that all this was meant to be, then he will be stronger than anything that ever happened to him.

When people shift their habitual focus and meanings, there’s no limit on what life can become. A change of focus and a shift in meaning can literally alter someone’s biochemistry in minutes.

So take control and always remember: Meaning equals emotion and emotion equals life. Choose consciously and wisely. Find an empowering meaning in any event, and wealth in its deepest sense will be yours today.

Once you create a meaning in your mind, it creates an emotion, and that emotion leads to a state for making your third decision:
——
Decision 3: What will you do?
The actions you take are powerfully shaped by the emotional state you’re in. If you’re angry, you’re going to behave quite differently than if you’re feeling playful or outrageous.

If you want to shape your actions, the fastest way is to change what you focus on and shift the meaning to be something more empowering.

Two people who are angry will behave differently. Some pull back. Others push through.

Some individuals express anger quietly. Others do so loudly or violently. Yet others suppress it only to look for a passive-aggressive opportunity to regain the upper hand or even exact revenge.

Where do these patterns come from? People tend to model their behavior on those they respect, enjoy and love.

The people who frustrated or angered you? You often reject their approaches.

Yet far too often you may find yourself falling back into patterns you witnessed over and over again in your youth and were displeased by.

It’s very useful for you to become aware of your patterns when you are frustrated, angry or sad or feel lonely. You can’t change your patterns if you’re not aware of them.

Now that you’re aware of the power of these three decisions, start looking for role models who are experiencing what you want out of life. I promise you that those who have passionate relationships have a totally different focus and arrive at totally different meanings for the challenges in relationships than people who are constantly bickering or fighting.

It’s not rocket science. If you become aware of the differences in how people approach these three decisions, you’ll have a pathway to help you create a permanent positive change in any area of life.

This piece was adapted from Tony Robbins’ new book, Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.

How to Make New Habits Stick for Good –

How to Make New Habits Stick for Good –By James Clear

Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.

  • How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits.
  • How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits.
  • How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.

What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.

But what if you want to improve? What if you want to form new habits? How would you go about it?

Turns out, there’s a helpful framework that can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve your health, your work, and your life in general. Let’s talk about that framework now…

The 3 R’s of Habit Change


1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)

2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)

3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)

I call this framework “The 3 R’s of Habit Change,” but I didn’t come up with this pattern on my own. It’s been proven over and over again by behavioral psychology researchers. I first learned about the process of habit formation from Stanford professor, BJ Fogg.

More recently, I read about it in Charles Duhigg’s best–selling book, The Power of Habit. Duhigg’s book refers to the three steps of the “Habit Loop” as cue, routine, reward. BJ Fogg uses the word trigger instead of cue. And I prefer reminder since it gives us the memorable “3 R’s.” Regardless, don’t get hung up on the terminology.

+ It’s more important to realize that there’s a lot of science behind the process of habit formation, and so we can be relatively confident that your habits follow the same cycle, whatever you choose to call it.

What a Habit Looks Like When Broken Down Before we get into each step, let’s use the 3 R’s to break down a typical habit.

For example, answering a phone call…

1. Your phone rings (reminder). This is the reminder that initiates the behavior. The ring acts as a trigger or cue to tell you to answer the phone. It is the prompt that starts the behavior.

2. You answer your phone (routine). This is the actual behavior. When your phone rings, you answer the phone.

3. You find out who is calling (reward). This is the reward (or punishment, depending on who is calling). The reward is the benefit gained from doing the behavior. You wanted to find out why the person on the other end was calling you and discovering that piece of information is the reward for completing the habit. If the reward is positive, then you’ll want to repeat the routine again the next time the reminder happens.

Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit. Every habit follows this basic 3–step structure.

How can you use this structure to create new habits and actually stick to them? Here’s how…

Step 1: Set a Reminder for Your New Habit- If you talk to your friends about starting a new habit, they might tell you that you need to exercise self–control or that you need to find a new dose of willpower. I disagree. Getting motivated and trying to remember to do a new behavior is the exact wrong way to go about it. If you’re a human, then your memory and your motivation will fail you. It’s just a fact. This is why the reminder is such a critical part of forming new habits.

A good reminder does not rely on motivation and it doesn’t require you to remember to do your new habit. A good reminder makes it easy to start by encoding your new behavior in something that you already do. For example, when I wrote about the secret to sticking to little healthy habits, I said that I created a new habit of flossing by always doing it after brushing my teeth. The act of brushing my teeth was something that I already did and it acted as the reminder to do my new behavior.

To make things even easier and prevent myself from having to remember to floss, I bought a bowl, placed it next to my toothbrush, and put a handful of pre–made flossers in it. Now I see the floss every time I reach for my toothbrush. Setting up a visible reminder and linking my new habit with a current behavior made it much easier to change.

No need to be motivated. No need to remember. It doesn’t matter if it’s working out or eating healthy or creating art, you can’t expect yourself to magically stick to a new habit without setting up a system that makes it easier to start.

How to Choose Your Reminder

Picking the correct reminder for your new habit is the first step to making change easier. The best way I know to discover a good reminder for your new habit is to write down two lists.

In the first list, write down the things that you do each day without fail. For example…

•Get in the shower. •Put your shoes on. •Brush your teeth. •Flush the toilet. •Sit down for dinner. •Turn the lights off. •Get into bed.

You’ll often find that many of these items are daily health habits like washing your face, drinking morning tea, brushing your teeth, and so on. Those actions can act as reminders for new health habits.

For example, “After I drink my morning tea, I mediate for 60 seconds.” In the second list, write down the things that happen to you each day without fail. For example…

•Traffic light turns red. •You get a text message. •A commercial comes on TV. •A song ends. •The sun sets.

With these two lists, you’ll have a wide range of things that you already do and already respond to each day. Those are the perfect reminders for new habits. For example, let’s say you want to feel happier. Expressing gratitude is one proven way to boost happiness.

Using the list above, you could pick the reminder “sit down for dinner” and use it as a cue to say one thing that you’re grateful for today. “When I sit down for dinner, I say one thing that I’m grateful for today.” That’s the type of small behavior that could blossom into a more grateful outlook on life in general.

Step 2: Choose a Habit That’s Incredibly Easy to Start

It’s easy to get caught up in the desire to make massive changes in your life. We watch incredible weight loss transformations and think that we need to lose 30 pounds in the next 4 weeks. We see elite athletes on TV and wish that we could run faster and jump higher tomorrow. We want to earn more, do more, and be more … right now.

I’ve felt those things too, so I get it. And in general, I applaud the enthusiasm. I’m glad that you want great things for your life and I want to do what I can to help you achieve them. But it’s important to remember that lasting change is a product of daily habits, not once–in–a–lifetime transformations.

If you want to start a new habit and begin living healthier and happier, then I have one suggestion that I cannot emphasis enough: start small. In the words of Leo Babauta, “make it so easy that you can’t say no.” How small? BJ Fogg suggests that people who want to start flossing begin by only flossing one tooth. Just one. In the beginning, performance doesn’t matter.

Become the type of person who always sticks to your new habit. You can build up to the level of performance that you want once the behavior becomes consistent. Here’s your action step: Decide what want your new habit to be. Now ask yourself, “How can I make this new behavior so easy to do that I can’t say no?”

What is Your Reward?

It’s important to celebrate. We want to continue doing things that make us feel good. And because an action needs to be repeated for it to become a habit, it’s especially important that you reward yourself each time you practice your new habit.

For example, if I’m working towards a new fitness goal, then I’ll often tell myself at the end of a workout, “That was good day.” Or, “Good job. You made progress today.” If you feel like it, you could even tell yourself “Victory!” or “Success!” each time you do your new habit. I haven’t done this myself, but some people swear by it.

•Floss one tooth. “Victory!” •Eat a healthy meal. “Success!” •Do five pushups. “Good work!” Give yourself some credit and enjoy each success.

Related note: Only go after habits that are important to you. It’s tough to find a reward when you’re simply doing things because other people say they are important.

Where to Go From Here

In general, you’ll find that these three steps fit almost any habit. The specifics, however, may take some work. You might have to experiment before you find the right cue that reminds you to start a new habit. You might have to think a bit before figuring out how to make your new habit so easy that you can’t say no. And rewarding yourself with positive self–talk can take some getting used to if you’re not someone who typically does that. It’s all a process, my friend.

[Ed Note: James is a writer, photographer and avid weightlifter. His mission is to help as many people as he can by showing them simple but effective ways of changing their habits.  ]

7 Steps for Creating the Life YOU Want

7 Steps for Creating the Life YOU Want

Stairway in blue heavensWe all aspire to do, be and have great things. Yet most of us simply aren’t creating the results we want. We complain that we don’t have enough money, romance, success or joy in our lives. We point fingers and blame outside problems that “happen” to us and make life more difficult. But what we need to understand and keep at the forefront of our minds is that greatness exists in all of us. It is simply up to us to pull it out of ourselves. Regardless of personal circumstances, economic climates, and access to resources, it helps to maintain faith in the fact we each are more powerful than we think. We all have the ability to create the life we want. We just need to learn how to do it. Is there an exact “formula”? No, but there are certain common features that successful people exhibit and that anyone can practice. They are what can jumpstart your success and attract what you want in life. You’d be hard pressed to find any high achiever who doesn’t live by the following 7 tips:

1. Take No Less than 100% Responsibility for Your Life

One of the greatest myths that is pervasive in our culture today is that you are entitled to a great life and that somehow, somewhere, someone is responsible for filling our lives with continual happiness, exciting career options, nurturing family time and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist. But the real truth is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live. That person is you. Everything about you is a result of your doing or not doing. Income. Debt. Relationships. Health. Fitness level. Attitudes and behaviors. That person who reflects back at you in the mirror is the chief conductor in your life. Say hello! I think everyone knows this in their hearts, but the mind can play games, tricking plenty of people into thinking external factors are the source of failure, disappointment, and unhappiness. But the truth of the matter is that external factors don’t determine how you live. You are in complete control of the quality of your life. Successful people take full responsibility for the thoughts they think, the images they visualize, and the actions they take. They don’t waste their time and energy blaming and complaining. They evaluate their experiences and decide if they need to change them or not. They face the uncomfortable and take risks in order to create the life they want to live.

2. Be Clear Why You’re Here

I believe each of us is born with a life purpose. Identifying, acknowledging and honoring this purpose is perhaps the most important action successful people take. They take the time to understand what they’re here to do, and then they pursue that with passion and enthusiasm. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, then just tune in to the signals around you. Looking toward others for help and guidance is helpful, but don’t forget to stay tuned in to yourself—your behavior, attitude, likes and dislikes, and life experiences. Identify what’s working and what isn’t. If you need to, write it all down. You might be surprised by what you discover.

3. Decide What You Want

It sounds so simple, but here’s the problem: I see plenty of people who are overly-busy yet who feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled. They are physically tired, spiritually drained, and far from where they’d like to be—as if they’ve been running on a treadmill going nowhere fast. Why? Because they haven’t clearly mapped out what they want and then taken the steps to get there. Rather than identifying specific goals, milestones, and dreams (and I’m talking BIG dreams and goals here), they go through the motions day in and day out tackling unimportant tasks. They end up…you guessed it…going in circles and wasting lots of energy. In the meanwhile, they grow increasingly uninspired and out of touch with their authentic selves. This, of course, sets anyone up to living a life out of balance. One of the main reasons why most people don’t get what they want is they haven’t decided what they want. They haven’t defined their desires in clear and compelling detail. What does success look like to you? Not everybody’s definition of success is the same, nor should it be. Don’t let your inner devil’s advocate (or that incessant but unimportant To Do list) inhibit you from dreaming big. As soon as you commit to a big dream and really go after it, your subconscious creative mind will come up with big ideas to make it happen. You’ll start attracting the people, resources, and opportunities you need into your life to make your dream come true. Big dreams not only inspire you, but they also compel others to want to play big, too.

4. Believe It Is Possible

Scientists used to believe that humans responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, they’re learning that instead we respond to what the brain, based on previous experience, expects to happen next. In fact, the mind is such a powerful instrument; it can deliver literally everything you want. But you have to believe that what you want is possible. As you commit to believing in yourself, also make a commitment to toning down the complaint department. Look at what you are complaining about. I’m fat. I’m tired. I can’t get out of debt. I won’t ever get a better job. I can’t stand the relationship I have with my father. I’ll never find a soulmate in life. Really examine your complaints. More than likely you can do something about them. They are not about other people, other things, or other events. They are about YOU.

5. Believe in Yourself

If you are going to be successful in creating the life of your dreams, you have to believe that you are capable of making it happen. Whether you call it self-esteem, self-confidence or self-assurance, it is a deep-seated belief that you have what it takes; the abilities, inner resources, talents and skills to create your desired results. Have unwavering faith in yourself, for good and bad. Make the decision to believe that you create all your experiences. You will experience successes thanks to you, and you will experience pain, struggle, and strife thanks to you. Sounds a little strange, but accepting this level of responsibility is uniquely empowering. It means you can do, change, and be anything. Stumbling blocks become just that—little hills to hop over.

6. Become an Inverse Paranoid

This one is straightforward: Imagine how much easier it would be to succeed in life if you were constantly expecting the world to support you and bring you opportunity. Successful people do just that.

7. Unleash the Power of Goal Setting

Experts on the science of success know the brain is a goal-seeking organism. Whatever goal you give to your subconscious mind, it will work day and night to achieve. To engage you subconscious mind, a goal has to be measurable. When there aren’t any criteria for measurement, it is simply something you want, a wish, a preference, or a good idea. Sometimes we need to make just one initial goal to get started, and that’s okay. At least it comes with a few actions to achieve. A first step simply can be making an immediate change in a single area in your life. Are you unhappy about something that is happening right now? Make requests that will make it more desirable to you, or take the steps to change it yourself. Making a change might be uncomfortable and overwhelming for you. It might mean you have to put in more time, money, and effort. It might mean that someone gets upset about it, or makes you feel bad about your decision. It might be difficult to change or leave a situation, but staying put is your choice so why continue to complain? You can either do something about it or not. It is your choice and you have responsibility for your choices. Bear in mind that you have to be willing to change your behavior if you want a different outcome. You have to be willing to take the risks necessary to get what you want. If you’ve already taken an initial step in the right direction, now’s the time to plan more steps to keep moving you forward faster. Isn’t it a great relief to know that you can make your life what you want it to be? Isn’t it wonderful that your successes do not depend on someone else? So if you need just one thing to do different today than you did yesterday, make it this: Commit to taking 100% responsibility for every aspect of your life. Decide to make changes, one step at a time. Once you start the process you’ll discover it is much easier to get what you want by taking control of your thoughts, your visualizations, and your actions!


  WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul®and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com
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