I believe we were meant to be happy. I am also pretty certain it was meant to be a challenge to get and stay happy or else we’d take it for granted and get bored. So then, life is about the pursuit of happiness. I used to be generally unhappy and now I am generally happy, so I feel obliged to teach you about some blunders you can avoid in your happiness pursuits!
Five Blunders that Kill Your Happiness:
1) You don’t have a dream.
As kids, most of us dream boldly and publicly. But as we notice that not all our dreams come true and that it can be embarrassing to admit to one we may fail at, we stop talking about our dreams and stop having them. But in the present moment (which is all that we have), dreams make us happy, even if they don’t come true. We start every client at Handel on a diet of dreams in all areas of their lives. Just focusing here changes everything for the better even though it can feel vulnerable and scary at first.
2) You let fear and brattiness rule you.
What stops us from daring to dream? Brattiness and fear of disappointment. At Handel, we have found in our work with numerous clients, that taking action towards your dream in the face of fear or “not feeling like it” makes people happy and proud. In fact, this kind of action is the most important determiner of happiness. Most people have the misconception that it’s success that makes them happy, but moment to moment, we find that living in integrity is what actually makes people happiest. That means fighting the chicken and brat in your head, and demanding that your dreams rule and your actions align.
3) You’re not accountable.
You may have a dream, and you may even be able to argue against the voices in your head. Still, actions consistent with your ideals don’t always take place. Why? You’re not accountable. The consequences of bad choices (or not taking actions toward your dream) show up over such a long stretch of time that you don’t notice or feel them until it’s too late (you’ve just had a heart attack, got divorce papers or lost your job). Get a coach or a coaching buddy to make promises with and to keep those promises in front of you, so you stay accountable to your dreams. Extra credit if that person holds you to artificial, but effective consequences when you don’t take actions in alignment with your dreams. For example, if you cheat on your diet, you have to mow your friend’s lawn. Now that’s accountability!
4) You don’t speak up.
Once you get the hang of living in integrity (1-3 above), only a few things will kill your buzz. Having something to say and not saying it is the most common. Things you aren’t saying include: how you really feel, ‘fess-ups to wrong doings, ‘fess-ups to feeling wronged, broaching taboo topics, constructive criticism, owning up, and making requests. Make a list of all the things you know you should be talking about and put dates next to them determining by when you’ll have those difficult conversations. No matter how long it takes, making this commitment is important to your self respect. Each hard conversation you tackle will open up a sense of freedom and joy in your heart that you cannot imagine while just sitting and thinking about (and probably fearing) what will go down. Try not to predict the outcome, or control it. Just go for the ride and be proud to be someone who speaks up. Soon it will become habit and you will be a much happier, more expressed person.
5) You blame others.
You forgot that YOU are the “author” of your life and that it’s good news! This doesn’t mean that everything in your life that’s not working is your fault; it means that you have power with everything. There is nothing you cannot impact in your life, if you decide to focus on it and believe in changing it. We have proven that at Handel over and over, with even the most disheartening situations. As you start to take ownership of your choices and the results in your life, you feel more self-trusting and powerful. It is as natural as breathing to look for causes outside ourselves to explain why things don’t turn out. The happy surprise will always be, when you humble yourself enough to say “maybe it’s me,” you will find you are 95% of the way to the solution along with feeling happier and more hopeful.
I learned all of these principles over time when coaching with Handel, and now our coaches teach how to apply them directly into your personal life in just one weekend workshop: the Design Your Life Weekend. What is so extraordinary about the course is the preparation. You will have handed in your life story, dreams, explanations and everything we need to know to customize these lessons to your issues. Your pod leader will have read YOUR story and be ready for you in particular. You get the benefit of learning from those around you, who may be more likely to share aloud (though you’re invited, you don’t have to).
If you are still stuck in money, career, body, love, family relationships or just general happiness, this is the place to rethink your approach, learn to dream again, bust your excuses, plan your future, learn to speak up with grace and get clarity about and strength from your past. Did I mention it’s jam packed? It is.
P.S.- Can’t make it in person to a Design Your Life Weekend? Consider Design Your Life Boot Camp, a group telecourse. Create your dreams, step up and speak up; all in 12 weeks!