Your Path to Happiness

girlDo you consider yourself to be a happy person? We all know how to meet our basic physical needs food, shelter, sleep because it is essential to our survival. But what about our emotional needs? Why is it that we can overlook that so easily?

The Dalai Lama asked, “What is the meaning of life?” and responded simply with “To be happy and useful.”

The path to happiness is not always so simple. We may get lost or turned around. We may follow a path believing it will bring us closer to that emotional state, only to hit a dead end. We may get “things”, but not the feelings we think those “things” will bring. Bumps caused by disappointment, heartbreak and failures are intermittent. Before we get so far derailed from our original path, it is important to stop and take a moment to evaluate the direction we are moving.

Ask yourself, are actions taking me down this path or thoughts and beliefs? The powerful affects of the human mind and your happiness are often overlooked. Assumptions, beliefs and expectations of what we believe will make us happy are filed consciously and subconsciously in the back of our mind over time. They affect and dictate our choices in a way that we may not even be aware of. And let’s face it, what made you happy at 20, may not be the same as when you are 40.

At the crossroad of happiness, self-evaluation is essential. Following the time honored wisdom, “to thine own self be true“ and “do what you love” along with the tips suggested by Oprah below will help you to follow the right path.

1.     Find your golden self

In ancient times, the Greeks believed that every child was blessed at birth with a daimon (“spirit” or “deity”) that embodied the highest potential of their nature. This daimon was envisioned as a golden figurine that would reveal itself by cracking away an outer layer of cheap pottery (or the person’s exterior).  Have you recognized and embraced your golden self?

The effort to know and realize one’s most golden self, or achieve a new level of “personal growth,” is founded in the well being concept of eudemonia. Derived from the Greek words eu (“good”) and daimon (“spirit” or “deity”), Eudaimonis happiness is based on the premise that people are happy if they experience life purpose, challenges and growth. Research has proven that although this is not the most traditional view on happiness, taking on new challenges and fulfilling one’s sense of purpose in life is actually more important in long-term satisfaction.

“Eudaimonic well-being is much more robust and satisfying than hedonic happiness, and it engages different parts of the brain,” says Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The positive emotion accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being.”

2. Design your life to bring in joy

David Schkade, PhD, a psychologist and professor of management at the University of California San Diego, noted,  “people don’t devote enough time to thinking seriously about how they spend their life and how much of it they actually enjoy.” In a study conducted by Schkade 900 working women wrote down everything they had done the day before. Afterward, they reviewed their lists and evaluated how they felt at each point. When the women saw how much time they spent on activities they did not enjoy, “people had tears in their eyes,” Schkade says. “They didn’t realize their happiness was something they could design and have control over.”

Making even just small changes can put more joy in your life, exchanging one hour a day from an activity you hate (such as cleaning or commuting) to one you enjoy (reading or hanging out with friends) will improve your happiness tenfold. The key is to take action. Make deliberate changes to keep yourself happier for longer.

3.  Avoid “if only” fantasies 

Stop story booking your life right now. “If only” I get a better job…find a man…lose the weight… my life will be perfect and I will live happily ever after.

Guess what? Truly happy people don’t buy into this “If only” way of thinking. They recognize that eventually the novelty and excitement of a new job, boyfriend or weight loss will wear off and you will be left searching for the next best thing. Research shows that we are actually incredibly bad at predicting what will make us happy. People have a tendency to hone in on one aspect of their life, called the focusing illusion. Instead, do what truly happy people do and keep your life full of “new” by continually trying new things.

4.  Put best friends first. 

Being social is one of the biggest contributing factors to happiness. This should be no surprise. However, the types of people you surround yourself with can make a difference. You get more joy from spending longer periods of time with close friends than acquaintances.

5. Allow yourself to be happy

We want it, but deep down many of us deny ourselves happiness. It has been engrained in us that it is wrong to be  “too” happy. Newsflash! It has been proven that people who live their lives expressing positive emotions such as happiness, gratitude and optimism lived 7-10 years longer.

If that isn’t fact enough for you, I don’t know what is, but it is time to dump the pessimistic attitude and start making small changes now and live a happier, healthier and longer life!




© 2012 Inspired Living, LLC

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Keri Murphy and the Inspired Living team is on a mission to empower people to use their unique talents in a way that allows them to Dream, Live and BE all that is possible through speaking, coaching, celebrity interviews and original on-line content. Get Inspired at



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Our blog features a series of interviews with some of the most visible and inspiring people world wide (ILTV) PLUS inspiration, business tips, and advice from Keri.