Wilmington NC Counseling Blog

15 Ways to Be Happy: Decide & Practice

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How to Be HappyI think the world is slowly turning into a top 10 list. There are lists about everything from the best cars to the most comfortable underwear. So when I stumbled across the list to the right on how to be happy I raised my typically skeptical brow.

But the damned list caught me. It really is not bad…

The first, thing I noticed is that it is made up of quotes from generally established thinkers. Not that lists from adolescent kids doing blogs are bad, but I want to base my emotional decisions on something a little more concrete than Eddie with an Ipad.

In my experience as a counselor, as well as my own personal experience, the suggestions on the list make sense, come from thought leaders, and I believe if used will lead to a happier life.

But the larger question for me and most of my clients is how to make change occur. How to put ideas like these into practice so that we create better lives for ourselves.

So…take a deep breath before you read the next sentence…

Changing your thoughts is very much like changing your weight, it takes work…

Crap!! I know, I know, I want the easy fix too, but the reality of reading a list and actually putting into practice what is suggested on the list are two very different things.

I had a great conversation with Jon Kabat-Zinn this past March in Washington about the difference between an idea and a practice.

An idea, Jon said, is simple, you can read it, you can think about it, you can talk about it, it is a fun thing to roll around in your mind. The problem with change is that most mistake thinking about ideas as practicing those ideas.

A practice is taking those ideas and actively working and using them. Much like we can think and talk about going to the gym, change will only occur by putting into practice the ideas and exercising.

So, here is the question, how do we practice these 15 suggestions for change?

1. Recognize yourself in moments when you become negative or get in a bad mood. This may be with others or yourself, but recognize those times.

2. Stop yourself after you recognize the shift and take a moment to breathe and relax.

3. Implement the change that you want in that moment.

4. Reward and feel good about yourself that you are making changes, honor the work that you are doing to expand your own happiness.

Deliberate practice over a couple weeks will become a habit and the change will have been made in your life. Pick one change, go slow, and put into action! It will make a difference over time.


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