Happiness For Dummies
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It’s not easy to revise your life and move into a positive, more satisfying, happier future. Major life challenges involving trauma and loss disrupt your life and force you to redirect your energies, interests, and commitments. But how do you do that? These steps can get you moving in the right direction:

  1. Create a positive mindset by sitting quietly with your eyes closed while opening your mind to the possibility of hope, optimism, and creative behavioral change.

    Take ten exaggerated breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth while silently repeating the word relax each time you exhale.

  2. Identify a short list of valued life goals — for example, being closer to your family, becoming a more spiritual person, reconnecting with old friends.

    Goals give you a sense of direction in terms of the changes you want to make. Basically, you’re deciding what you want your life to stand for from this point on.

  3. Decide what the incentives are for you to reach these goals.

    What’s the end game? Will you have greater peace of mind? Will you be happier? Will you live longer? Will you feel less alone with your suffering? Will you have a new lease on life? Be specific.

  4. Ask yourself how committed you are to achieving each goal.

    The more committed you are — the more successful you’ll be.

  5. Ask yourself how confident you are about making these changes.

    Commitment and confidence are not the same. You can be committed, but not all that confident — or, the other way around.

  6. Consider what specific things you would need to realize each goal.

    Where would you start? How much support do you need? If you have several goals, which one do you begin with? Make it easy on yourself — start with the smallest, easiest thing and work your way up to the big changes.

  7. Identify any obstacles to meet your objectives.

    Do you have physical limitations that might interfere? Is depression a problem? Are other people’s attitudes holding you back?

  8. Decide how you’re going to overcome those obstacles.

    For example, get professional help for your depression.

  9. Begin — just start.

    It doesn’t matter what you do; the important thing is that you just do something.

    Change takes effort so you have to persist, even when the going gets tough. There’s no easy way to accomplish change.

    Change also takes time, so be patient. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And neither is a reconstructed life. Focus on the destination, but enjoy the journey.

  10. Reward yourself for whatever changes you make no matter how small.

    If change is rewarding, you keep at it — if it isn’t, you quit. It’s just that simple!

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

W. Doyle Gentry, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, a distinguished Fellow in the American Psychological Association, and the Founding Editor of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

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