Striving for happiness is practically a national pastime. I’ve been on my own happiness quest for decades.
Learning from the ancient Roman Stoics, eastern philosophies, 18th and 19th century philosophers, 21st century neuroscientists and life coaches, I’ve come to appreciate the mindset, feelings, and actions that can create and sustain a happy life.
And now, as we enter our 3rd year of the Covid pandemic reconfiguring everything we took for granted that contributed to a happy life, applying some intentional thinking to this endeavor is not some frivolous detour or sideshow, but a survival imperative.
Prior to making a concerted effort to research and better understand happiness and how I could wrangle more of it for myself, my emotional life raged out of control.
I suffered from a severe case of emotional whiplash.
Twenty-five years ago, an unhappy, frustrating marriage, moving, a separation and divorce, single parenting a teen and preteen, stranded in Los Angeles far from family and a dependable support system, the daily struggle was real.
Feeling sorry for myself, my number one goal was making it through another day. Happiness seemed a million miles away.
I felt buffeted by the winds of fate.
I believed that circumstances and other people’s behavior controlled my life. How could I manage it all by myself and find happiness too? That seemed impossible.
Believing that my happiness or unhappiness ebbed and flowed according to a vast onslaught of outside influences actually robbed me of my power to take charge and effect change.
I had no real appreciation for the fact that I could choose happiness despite whatever mishigas (a very useful Yiddish word synonymous with insanity, silliness, and craziness) swirled around me.
It was truly a revelation when I realized that I had the power to choose how I wanted to think and feel.
That was when I began to understand this quote: “Happiness is not a destination but a way of travel.”
Happiness was not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was not my reward for slogging through life’s challenges.
Happiness was a feeling that I could tap into and modulate with my mind alone.
Make no mistake, I’m not talking about diving into a pool of toxic positivity. What I am talking about is being at peace with what is. Not arguing with reality. Not blaming other people or circumstances for my thoughts and feelings.
I alone was responsible for laying the foundation for my mental and emotional freedom. I was beginning to appreciate that it was was my thinking, my opinions, judgments, and criticisms about people and circumstances, not the people and circumstances themselves, that created my emotional whiplash.
Meet Gretchen Rubin, my happiness icon.
In my quest to create the happiest life I could imagine, I eventually discovered Gretchen Rubin’s books and podcast. Talk about a deep dive into the ingredients of a happy life! They provide a valuable roadmap for navigating the highways and byways into and through the land of happy.
I felt encouraged by her insights and the results she achieved in her own life. Lots of practical, applicable suggestions.
She showed me a path forward I couldn’t see for myself. I was learning how to incorporate the happiness observations, activities, and projects she tried and recommended into my own life.
I could feel the rumble of tectonic plates shifting.
My happiness quest continued full speed ahead.
But when I discovered life coaching, I opened a door to a technicolor world of riches I could never have imagined. The photo accompanying this post captures the sheer joy and elation I felt.
Life coaching rocked my world.
Life coaching not only rocked my world, it permanently changed my career trajectory. In my 60s no less!
More than 6 years ago I found Brooke Castillo and her podcast. I quickly realized I had discovered a deep, rich vein of pure gold.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would mine that vein as though my life depended on it. And I did.
Three and a half years ago, when I was finally willing to commit to the weight loss program Brooke taught, I hired my own personal life and weight loss coach to make weight loss success my reality.
It is no understatement to say hiring a coach changed my life forever.
Not only did I fly past my original weight loss goal, I lost an additional 15 pounds. Effortlessly. And have kept it off this entire weight loss for 3+ years.
The peace and freedom I now enjoy around food, my body and my weight are simply priceless.
Taking my destiny into my own hands, I trained to become a certified Life and Weight Loss Coach at The Life Coach School. I must repeat, in my 60s!!!
Now I use these skills and tools to teach you how lose weight for the last time and keep it off for good. Even if every bone in your body screams impossible. I’ve tried it all. Nothing works for the very long. It’s not in the cards for me.
Coaching offers a user-friendly framework to make change and dreams come true.
The tools and skills I teach can help you feel the rumble of the tectonic plates shifting too.
They can help you work strategically and confidently toward a happier life and any goal you wish to achieve.
While it’s not magic, it is absolutely magical when you realize how much power you actually do have to create a happy life.
You are the one who can choose to travel happy, whatever the circumstances of your life, even before you achieve your goal.
Happy people don’t have perfect lives but they’ve learned to love the contrasts.
Happy lives are made, not given.
Just look at all the celebrities who have more money than they know what to do with yet are miserable. Some are so sad, lonely, bored, frustrated and unhappy that they lose themselves in drugs and alcohol. They buffer with food, shopping, porn, gambling, sex and many other distractions that result in negative consequences.
They ruin their lives because no one ever taught them a framework to help them think about themselves.
And then there are those of us who’ve experienced more than our fair share of loss, disappointment, frustration, anxiety and emotional turmoil.
Yet, a happy life is still ours for the taking.
Here’s what else I’ve learned that makes for a happy life.
Just as Oprah famously proclaims, “This is what I know for sure.”
You don’t have to be happy all the time.
A genuinely happy person knows how to allow themselves to feel negative or uncomfortable feelings without trying to buffer them away.
Resisting or avoiding uncomfortable feelings does not squash them. It only prolongs their inevitable return until you face them, sit with them, even welcome them. Be willing to allow the sadness, the tears and the obstacles. Give yourself permission to just be with it.
The fill range of emotions are all a part of the human condition and not a cause for despair.
Say no without guilt.
Don’t buy into the idea that you can make others happy by being at their beck and call or consenting to a request that you don’t want to do. Especially if it means that you’re somehow on the losing end as a result.
This is a sure fire way to increase your stress and anxiety.
Instead, say no, graciously and confidently. It is your responsibility to yourself to honors your wants and desires for your own happiness. And sometimes you will want to put your needs aside to help or cater to someone else’s. The key is that you WANT to.
Bend like a willow in the wind.
When stormy weather threatens your equilibrium, bend but don’t break. Muster all your strength and courage to keep going. When you’ve make it through the difficult times, celebrate your flexibility. Enjoy that happiness that comes from perseverance and survival.
You’re either succeeding or you’re learning.
There’s no such thing as failure.
If you find you’ve hit rock bottom, you’ve just landed yourself an opportunity to start fresh.
Build back better. Build back stronger. You’ve learned a lot on the way down. And you’ll learn a lot on the way back up.
No experience need ever be wasted. Always ask, “How is this experience happening FOR me, not to me?”
Love your flaws.
Be proud of being perfectly imperfect. You’re human!!!
Do what you can to maximize self care and reduce friction, annoyances and worry. Thought work is the perfect tool to help you do just that.
Not for weight loss or a sculpted six pack. Get moving for brain and body health. Release all those feel good endorphins whenever you can.
Don’t attach your self-worth to external things.
You don’t need the latest and the greatest to feel good about yourself.
You were born worthy and you remain worthy throughout your life.
While any things can bring us pleasure, that kind of happiness is fleeting as we become accustomed to them. It is the goodness we share with the world and our fellow humans that bolsters self-esteem and creates a more enduring happiness.
Ditch the judgment and lean into curiosity instead.
Use your time on this planet to uplift others rather than tear them down.
Approach other people’s behavior, opinions, and actions with openness and curiosity. Learn how to observe others in the act of being themselves without criticism and disdain.
That doesn’t mean you have to accept their ways or even want them in your life. You get to decide for yourself.
Practice the art of reframing.
Whatever problem you’re facing, there is always another way to look at things. Reframing offers a shift in perspective which may well reveal a new solution you couldn’t imagine before.
Cultivate childlike wonder.
See the world with fresh eyes. Find beauty and the joy even in the littlest things.
Find the courage to face your fears.
This doesn’t mean you must eliminate them. It means you must look them in the eyes and resolve to allow them, be with them and resolve to find a way to coexist with them.
Another one of my favorite quotes is “Leap and the net will appear.”
Research shows that risk takers are happier people.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and navigating new territory is not only thrilling, but a surefire way to grow. Learn more about who you are, what you’re made of and what you can accomplish. Of course there’s the chance you may not succeed in your endeavor, but remember we’re either succeeding or learning.
Sometimes it’s really okay to build your parachute as you’re jumping out of the plane.
Let go of the past pain, hurts, resentments, anger and injustices.
There’s no better way to destroy happiness than to carry around the crushing weight of old baggage. Yes, acknowledge the hurt and pain. Every bit of it. But do not spend one more moment lugging that baggage through your life.
It is possible to rewrite the story of all the hurt, trauma and betrayal.
Through coaching, I can help you learn how to do just that.
Support and encourage others.
The more we do for others, the more we enhance our own happiness.
Acts of generosity open your heart and lift your spirits. And, like a pebble thrown into a stream, they ripple out into the world touching many people.
Many expressions of generosity are not about money. You can offer attention, encouragement, and patience many times throughout the day. Listen quietly, offer a word of appreciation or simply a reassuring look.
Derive encouragement in other people’s successes. That’s a win-win for sure!
Find the humor in the human condition.
See the fun, and funny side of life. Teach yourself how to look for the amusing ironies. And the silver linings.
Laughter helps makes stressful situations easier to bear.
Embrace individuality and uniqueness.
The one thing all humans have in common is that we are all different!
Whether it’s race, religion, sex, opinions, views or any other differences that may set us apart from one another, embrace them. Celebrate them. The world is better for them.
With all its highs and lows, life is often a mind-boggling, breath-taking adventure to marvel over and appreciate.
Our scars and bruises make us appreciate our successes and delights so much more. So don’t fight life. When you fight what is you lose 100% of the time. Take life as it comes yet do what you can to make your experience of it more enjoyable, productive and worthwhile.
Appreciate the journey and, whenever you can, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Ask for help.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Instead, see it as an opportunity to get another perspective or for help in sharing your heavy load.
You may not always have the answers, or strength, to do all things on your own. So welcome a helping hand or friendly advice as though it were a gift.
Asking and receiving help takes nothing away from who you are.
Check out life coaching to see for yourself how it can help you live a happier life.
It’s time to take me up on my offer for a FREE coaching Strategy Call.
Make 2022 your year to shed all the extra baggage you’ve been carrying and fretting about for so long.
Create the happy life you want to live on your terms.
It’s Never Too Late to make your life’s journey or your weight loss journey easier.
A year from now, you will thank yourself you started today.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
In the meantime, sending you and yours happy, healthy New Years wishes. Cue the confetti!
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