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Happiness is an inside job

By Mark Berger

During the past 16 years I have asked thousands of my delegates “What do you really want? What are your goals and dreams?” Their initial answers include a variety of “things” such as money, possessions, love, recognition, respect, success, health, wealth, happiness, travel, fame & fortune etc. Then I push a bit harder and ask: “What is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you want, when all is said and done? What would you actually place right at the top of the list?” Without fail, the majority inevitably vote for Happiness. Every time! (They sometimes also refer to it as inner peace, peace of mind, contentment, joy or fulfilment.) So most people just want to 'be happy'. Which has led to these thoughts on happiness.

Happiness is natural

Happiness is a fundamental desire for most people, a primary human goal. In fact, I believe that happiness is built into our being, hardwired to our soul. We are all born with a natural capacity for happiness, playfulness, creativity, joy and laughter.

Happiness is not something you move towards. It is the place you come from.

But as we grow up life happens and many of us lose it, somewhere in the stress, busyness and pressure of our (seemingly) overwhelming responsibilities. Or our happiness gets smothered by hurt, loss, tragedy, disappointments, hatred, anger or fear. We forget how to be happy. We therefore disconnect from our core state, our birthright and move into the world searching for something which we have always had inside. Happiness is the starting point, not the arrival. It is the journey, not the destination. It is the cause, not the effect.

Happiness is an Inside Job.

happinessThe Self-Help movement would have us believe that The Secret to life is to become clear on what you really want, set SMART goals, harness the power of intention and then as NIKE says “just do it.” Go out and make your dreams a reality. Manifest that house, car, job, title, position, partner, your own business etc. And happiness will surely follow. Because (they assume) it goes without saying that everyone who achieves their dreams and goals will automatically become happy! Well SOME will. And some WON’T. Consider these well-known people who certainly reached many of their goals: Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger, Princess Di, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Diego Maradona, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain. These amazing individuals made a difference to the world, made a lot of money, had legions of adoring fans and left a lasting legacy. Yet it is pretty obvious that something INSIDE was amiss. The outer achievement did not (seem to) bring the inner joy.

Choose to be happy

Happiness is a choice. A choice made in each moment, each hour and each day. Happiness stems from a conscious decision to be the way you were born to be. It is not in any way dependent upon other people, situations, possessions or life circumstances. It is totally dependent upon YOU.

Moreover, you do not “need” a whole lot of “things” in order to be happy. In fact, sometimes less is more!

You can choose to be happy.
I consciously choose to bring happiness into my life. Every day. I am committed to doing the inner work, whatever it takes. I surround myself with like-minded people. As a result my life these days is mostly blessed with joy, abundance, connectedness, success, happiness and deeply fulfilling relationships. Of course, being human, I sometimes lose my temper and get really pissed off and occasionally lash out. I also have some days when I feel down, sad, flat, worthless and even depressed. But those days are the exception, not the rule. They are the one in ten. They are reminders of my humanity, part of the planet’s polarity package. I have learned that the more I resist those moments the more they persist. I have learned to accept them and trust that happiness will inevitably return, stronger than ever. I have come to know that acceptance and non-judgement are my best friends

Thoughts and practical tips on happiness.

From my own experience, here are my thoughts and fundamental tips for re-connecting with your own inner happiness:

  1. Make happiness a priority. If you have written goals, make sure that happiness is one of the main goals. Make it a priority to achieve happiness now, in this moment, not sometime in the distant future. Stop postponing your success.
  2. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Every day, think about or write down a detailed list of all that you currently have to be grateful for in your life. Think of how fortunate you are compared to those who have less than you. Count your blessings!
  3. go-fishing
  4. Let go! Give something up! Stop holding on so tightly to your beliefs, your opinions, your baggage, your position, your pose! Release whatever is blocking your being from being as it is meant to be.
  5. Do some Yoga. Or Tai Chi. Visit your place of worship. Chant OM. Meditate. Get with the spiritual program. It’s the only game in town. We are blessed at this amazing time on our planet to be surrounded by enlightened guides, masters, teachers, coaches and healers. Surround yourself with happy beings who bring you joy, acceptance and spiritual healing with their joyful presence. Seek and ye shall find.
  6. Move away from psychic vampires, those who suck your energy and deplete your self-esteem. Leave them to wallow in their own misery.
  7. Become completely honest in all your dealings and communications. Stop bullshitting yourself and others, it is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness. Know that complete honesty takes some courage, so be brave. The truth shall set you free!
  8. Drop your guilt. Being happy is not a sin!
  9. Beware of insidious modern day addictions. Take charge of your inbox, smartphone, PC, instant chat, social media, smoking, drinking, gambling, junk food, drugs, medication etc. Otherwise they may well take charge of you.
  10. Develop healthy habits in terms of diet, nutrition, exercise, rest and relaxation. Plan lots of breaks, trips and vacations, well in advance and make sure you go! Isn’t that the reason you work so bloody hard?
  11. Take responsibility for your happiness. Don’t play the BLAME game. Stop expecting others to make you happy and start doing it for yourself. Now!
  12. Take positive steps to bring back the FUN into your work and life. Stop taking life so damn seriously! You cannot control everything and perfectionism will slowly destroy your soul. Know that life is a game to be played, not a struggle to be fought.
  13. Do nothing. No-Thing. This is often the hardest

These are more than just thoughts on happiness. I practise all of the above points at different times in my life. They really do work for me. I will be really happy if they work for you too!

In closing, herewith one of my all-time favourite quotes.

Success is NOT the key to happiness. Happiness is the Key to Success. Albert Schweitzer.

And Happiness is an Inside Job!

Mark BergerMark Berger is the CEO of Mark Berger Training, a Cape Town based training consultancy founded in 1996. Mark specialises in Sales Training, Team Building, Motivational Speaking and Personal Leadership Skills.

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