*Features adult language and themes.*
“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
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This is the first feature in our monthly series from self-help guru Kurt Sampson.
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The start of a brand new year is a wonderful opportunity for change. The year ahead is a blank slate, full of potential. A wide field of fresh untrodden snow waiting for you to make your mark upon it.
Some people find this sort of freedom frightening and shrink away from it, others see it as the beginning of a new adventure.
Which are you?
We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions that have evaporated into the ether by February. Resolutions are the butt of many jokes and a lot of people simply don’t bother with them at all. These people are missing out on a chance to make their lives better.
The new year is a time for contemplation, renewal and growth.
Today I’m going to help you find your path to happiness.
I won’t lie to you, the road is rough, especially at the start. In the beginning the path is well rutted and broken where so many people have walked it. The further along the road you go the terrain becomes easier because most people have given up and turned aside.
Currently, you may feel lost, or maybe you have an idea which direction you want your life to take. I want to give you a compass so you can find your path and prepare you for those difficult first steps.
The compass in this case is an exercise I call ‘The life Audit.’ To discover where you want to go you need to properly understand where you are.
This exercise, in fact this entire process, will only work if you are prepared to be completely honest. I don’t mean being honest with others, your friends or your family. I’m asking you for the hardest thing in the world. I need you to be totally honest with yourself. You must analyse your own life by removing yourself from it and analysing it from an outside perspective.
To be honest with yourself is to open yourself up to your inner demons. It may hurt, it may destroy the delusions you have built for yourself, it may destroy the small shreds of happiness you cling to now. Ultimately you must clear the ground and create the potential for new growth, for new beginnings.
What follows is a list of areas that make up each of our lives. Depending on your age and experience you may not be able to relate to some of them. However, the list comprises of the things that define a life, they are the building blocks. How they fit together and how well they are formed is down to you.
Your life is a construction site. It is a building that is in permanent development. The longer you live the more plans you make to extend. Sometimes you will demolish and rebuild parts. Occasionally some people try to sell up and build elsewhere.
Now is the time to survey the building site that is your life. You have to identify the flaws and weaknesses so you can draw blueprints for improvements or a complete rebuild.
Read through the list. consider each block and try to identify how they relate to one another and how they affect your happiness.
The exercise is to analyse each heading and consider how it impacts your life as a whole. They aren’t listed or ranked in any particular order. Simply mark them as ‘Happy,’ ‘Unhappy’ or ‘neutral.’
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We all have busy, demanding lives. It’s no wonder that most people believe life is a balancing act. We juggle all of the elements and hope they mingle and coalesce into something we can feel proud of. Something we can be happy about.
Once you’ve marked each of these headings I then want you to make two lists. One marked ‘happy’ the other ‘unhappy.’ You should list five specific things that please you in life, that make you feel good. Then five things that detract from your life. You should list no more or less than five, even if you have more.
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Over the coming months we will analyse these life blocks and I will suggest some exercises and actions to propel you along your path to happiness.
I hope you’ll join me and make this year the best of your life. I can give you the tools, but just like life, the hard work is up to you.
Be strong, be honest with yourself, and I’ll meet you next month at the beginning of the path.
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Top 3 happiness tips for January
1. Start keeping a Diary.
It’s a difficult habit to form, but once you get used to keeping a daily record of your activities and personal thoughts it’s the most rewarding hobby in the world. It will also help to give your day structure.
This record of your life is an excellent tool to look back on. It will become a wonderful reminder of happy times and serve to show you that the bad times in your life are transient and don’t last.
2. Keep an appreciation log.
As part of your diary, choose a day of the week to write 5-10 things that you appreciate. These can be anything, from your family and friends, or a stranger giving up their seat on the bus for you.
3. Do something new.
It’s the start of a new year, full of possibilities. It’s time to climb out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that you’ve never done before. Something that will surprise your friends when you tell them about it. Perhaps you could go to the theatre, visit an art gallery, or do a bungee jump. It doesn’t matter what it is, it doesn’t even matter if you enjoy it, it’ll be a new experience.
Many thanks for reading. If you have any feedback or thoughts, feel free to comment below.