Since 1994, Robert Holden, Ph.D., has been running an eight-week happiness program entitled, Be Happy. Additionally, he created an eight-day mini-version of that program which I have abbreviated below. It was designed to be completed over eight consecutive days, with at least 15 minutes devoted to each exercise.
Not only is the information very beneficial but the video I’ve included should get you smiling as well.
Day 1: Defining True Happiness
What is your definition of a happy life? Are you living it? If you think happiness is outside you, you will turn happiness into a search, a pursuit or a destination; whereas if you know happiness is inside you, then happiness becomes a compass, a guide and an enabler that helps you to live a rich life.
There is a world of difference between searching for happiness and following your joy. Reflect on the question, ‘When am I at my happiest?’ Identify what inspires you, nourishes you and fans the flames of joy within. Being clear about this will help you to be true to yourself, to be honest, to make better choices and to have the courage to say a big YES to what really matters most to you in life. Say YES to joy today.
Day 2: The Happiness Contract
As a child, you experience happiness as being natural and easy. Happiness is your original energy. Playfulness is your true nature. Joy is your spiritual DNA. In the years that follow, you become filled with learned ideas and false beliefs that limit your daily allowance of joy. Some examples of this conditioned thinking is, “too much happiness is selfish,” and “it’s not okay for me to be happy if others are not.”
Complete the following sentence 10 times: “One way I limit my own happiness is…” and fill in the blank. Don’t think too much. Let your answers flow. Afterward, examine your answers carefully, looking for any learned rules that you can let go of. Happiness is free—there are no conditions.
Day 3: I Choose Happiness
Most of your choices are “to-do” choices, like taking a shower, getting dressed or fixing breakfast. There is another category of choices which are your “to be” choices, like being present, being loving and being happy. From 0 to 10, how happy have you decided to be today?
Some people chase happiness, and other people choose happiness. Set a positive intention right now to let today be even more enjoyable than you thought it was going to be. Now, turn your positive intention into action by doing three things that make your heart glow.
Day 4: Beware Unhealthy Sacrifice
To be happy, you have to know the difference between healthy sacrifice and unhealthy sacrifice. Healthy sacrifice is giving up something that is not helpful, authentic or smart. Unhealthy sacrifice is when you sacrifice your happiness, health or your integrity for something or someone else.
One way to undo unhealthy sacrifice is to focus on receiving. Today, try to be more open than usual, to let life support you and to let people give to you. Being a good receiver is what helps you to give yourself fully without giving yourself away.
Day 5: Putting Yourself First
Life can get busy. If you don’t stop, you become estranged from the real you. You probably promise yourself that you will catch up with yourself soon, but how soon is soon? By not stopping, you get lost and you end up being a corporate version of yourself. The longing to be more authentic is what saves you. You cannot be inauthentic and happy. Committing to happiness is the key to living an authentic life.
You cannot neglect yourself and find happiness. Tune in to your well-being. Ask yourself, “What are my needs right now?” “What messages is my body giving me?” “How does my heart feel?” and “What is my wisdom telling me?” Maybe it’s time for you to ask for help. Life gets better when you treat yourself better.
Day 6: Your Inner Smile
“Most of the time, I don’t have very much fun, and the rest of the time I have no fun at all,” quipped Woody Allen. Sometimes life can get so demanding that you end up setting your sights on getting through the day rather than genuinely enjoying it. You run on autopilot. You are reactive rather than creative. The heavy tiredness you feel in your body is a sure sign there is a better way.
Happiness studies show consistently that most people who score higher levels of happiness do not experience markedly better life circumstances. So why are they so happy? Well, one answer is they know how to enjoy their life. The word “enjoy” means to bring joy to something. Find your inner smile by reminding yourself of what energizes you, what you love and what inspires you. Remember to enjoy the miracle of existence today.
Day 7: Practicing Forgiveness
Sometimes to be happy in the present moment, you have to be willing to give up all hopes for a better past. Forgiveness is the key to releasing the past and recommitting to your life now. It’s impossible to carry wounds and be happy. You can’t be a victim and be joyful. You can’t keep neglecting yourself and feel whole. Forgiveness helps you to find your heart again, to be true to yourself and to let go of the past and be free.
Practice self-forgiveness for all the times you have treated yourself in loveless and careless ways. Self-forgiveness is the key to loving yourself. It is impossible to love others and not love yourself. Also, the more you love yourself, the easier you make it for others to love you too. Forgiveness is the key to love and happiness.
Day 8: Being Grateful
Gratitude is often referred to as the shortest shortcut to happiness. It helps you to remember what is important in your life and helps you to be more receptive.
Make a list of at least eight blessings, breakthroughs and benefits you have experienced. The more you practice gratitude, the more things you find to be grateful for. The gift of gratitude is that it helps you to participate more fully in your own life and to notice what is already here. In the final analysis, the only thing that is really missing in your life is more of the real you.
Share a smile.