Choose “Sustainable Happiness”

By Terri Klein

January 12, 2015

In the middle of my poem entitled Chasing Time I write:

We overschedule our children,
and work ourselves into the ground,
and this becomes our badge of honor
that we so proudly carry around.

It ‘s our default mode, to chase time,
for we know no other way.
It’s even taboo to talk about
the ultimate price we may have to pay.

If asked what you want most for your child,
happiness and well-being is what you would say.
So why is that not what you ultimately want
for yourself, at the end of the day?

I challenge you, in this New Year, to rethink your journey;
redefine success as: to fully flourish and thrive.
It is your birthright to live your life
completely and fully alive.

Life won’t stop being busy, on all levels,
but you can choose to stop chasing time.
You can choose to live the life you want;
your reality is yours to define.

My vision of what is suggests that people are stuck in default modes that don’t particularly serve them well, such as “rush mode,” “reactive mode,” and “obsessive mode,” and our obsessions are many.

We are obsessed with being busy, and suffocated by our to-do lists. We feel time pressured, as if we’re chasing something illusive. We, too, are obsessed with material wealth; with a desire to not only pursue it, but to amass it as well. And what naturally follows is “unsustainable happiness,” a kind of temporary, short-lived happiness that comes with the pursuit of “I’ll be happy when…” For this reason the “unhappiness epidemic” is widespread and people are feeling “emotionally bankrupt,” empty, and unfulfilled. Too many of us are living under the false expectation that happiness will arrive and be the result of something external.

Now I certainly hope that I’m not speaking for everyone, but research shows that this generation, although wealthier, is not happier. The mean onset age of depression has shifted from 30 to 15 in just fifty years.

I have spent many years studying ways to empower the mind and of recent I have delved into positive psychology. Why you ask? Because I am creating a workshop that explores this new science, and because my ultimate mission is to help people transition from a place of what is to what could be.

Positive Psychology shows you what could be. It is the scientific study of the most effective ways to pursue happiness. It’s the study of optimal human functioning—of how to thrive and flourish by choosing pleasure, positivity, meaning, and purpose.

Happiness is infinite—it’s an unlimited resource. It is also a choice. Many people divert this choice by claiming that others are preventing their happiness. Blaming is certainly the easy way out, but it’s far from the truth. Please allow me to challenge every happiness myth by saying that happiness is homemade, internally, within the mind. It’s a choice that you make experience-by-experience and moment-by-moment.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to slow down, become happier, and more fulfilled, ask yourself the following three questions. Then find the overlap within your answers to create your new action plan.

  1. What gives me meaning?
  2. What gives me pleasure?
  3. What are my strengths?

All change begins with awareness. For many, sadly, it also ends with awareness, because the hardest part is putting theory into practice. Information is not transformation, without an action plan.

Choose “sustainable happiness”! Let’s transform 2015 by raising our happiness level using and integrating even just one of the following proven strategies each day:

  1. Meditation: Ten minutes to one hour a day.
  2. Find Something to Look Forward to: Just thinking about something enjoyable raises endorphin levels by 27%. (Feel-good hormones)
  3. Commit Conscious Acts of Kindness: People told to complete five acts of kindness over the course of a day report feeling much happier.
  4. Infuse Positivity into your Surroundings: What feelings does your space inspire?
  5. Exercise: Get moving every day—it releases endorphins. In one study it proved just as helpful as anti-depressants.
  6. Spend Money—but not on “stuff”: Spend on experiences, especially with other people.
  7. Exercise a “Signature Strength”: Identify your top five signature strengths at viasurvey.org.

To enjoy the true richness and fullness that life has to offer, you have to choose to thrive by living the moments of your life fully alive. Your life experience, after all, is nothing more than an accumulation of moments. Integrate some of these into your days and you will find your life being infused with real, sustainable happiness.

Remember, it takes only 21 days to create a habit. So start with any or all of the above strategies and begin practicing your new habits today!

-Coach Terri

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