Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Attain Happiness in 2011

How to Attain Happiness in 2011?

First, as my father, the lawyer, would say, "Define your terms."

Happiness. How elusive it is for us. How do we define it? For many it is about "peak experiences" - getting that girl to marry you, or getting a big promotion at work.

For others it's worse - it's about having everything you want. All at once. Forever. Or else you refuse to be happy.

For most of us, it has to do with self-esteem. Happiness is ... well, UNhappiness is when you feel like a loser or a failure. It is difficult for us to avoid comparing ourselves to others, and/or comparing ourselves to former times when we were (richer, happier, better, healthier, thinner, prettier ) or to our own dashed, or not-yet-met expectations. There are also the parental edicts that we try to live up to.

Let's take a look at some of the latest research out of Duke University, which just makes sense. It is also one of the EQ competencies I teach in THE EQ FOUNDATION COURSE(tm) and in coaching. What is the key to happiness? Take a fresh look. And remember it next time you (1) lose another bluetooth; (2) get rejected by the man of your dreams and think you must have done something wrong; (3) make a poor decision; (4) snap at an innocent person out of anger; or otherwise behave like the imperfect human being that we all are.

If you want to add improving your EQ to your list of new year's resolutions, I'm here to help. Email me at for more information. New classes starting weekly, all long-distance, affordable
and effective. Individualized instruction, with unlimited email support.

3 Steps to a Happier You is the name of a great new article by Meg Lundstrom appearing on
webmd. You can read the full article here:-

"For greater peace of mind, learn the secrets to self-compassion" is the subtitle and it begins

"High self-esteem has long been touted by psychologists as the key to happiness and success. But these days, experts are questioning self-esteem's status as a personal cure-all - noting that it's hard to acquire, even harder to hang on to, and can lead to arrogance and narcissism."

It goes on to talk about what DOES create a "healthy, resilient psyche," (wait a minute ... is THAT the definition of 'happiness'?) and guess what it is? The old emotional intelligence competency we know as "BE ADAMANTLY AND RELENTLESSLY SELF-FORGIVING."

Step No. 1 is "realize that you're only human."
How many times we poor souls need to hear this. It never seems to sink in that we are -- like all humans -- fallible. We will make mistakes.

Keeping this in mind, and cutting yourself some slack, says the latest research from Duke University (which has done some great research in this field) - it's where the doctor works who wrote "Anger Kills") will make you feel "less anxious, depressed, and angry" which will, in turn, help you to recover faster.

If you raise your self-awareness (the cornerstone of emotional intelligence), and listen to your self-talk, you will hear how horribly you talk to yourself.

I often hear this from a client on the phone. "I'm so stupid. I just can't ever remember..."

I suspect that these are things you would never think of saying to someone else, and yet you allow YOU to say it to YOU.

One way to counteract this is to pick up a mantra such as, "That's funny, I'm usually very competent and remember where I put my keyes.'

See how much better you feel?(And how more realistic it is?)

Such harsh self-talk is evidence of what Freud would call "a harsh super-ego" and it is generally learned from how we have been talked to by our parents and other authority figures in our youth. Think about it. Now it's YOUR turn to take over.

Step 2 they call "Feel your pain." Don't push the bad feelings down, but don't dwell on them either. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.

Psychology professor Kristin Neff, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin, says, "...if you simply allow yourself to feel the emotion and let it run its course - which is often a wave that builds and tapers off - it dissipates much more quickly."

(Remember that our goal in emotional intelligence is - re: those negative feelings - to get there less often and more slowly, to stay there a shorter less intense time, and to recover more quickly and more completely - see THE EQ FOUNDATION COURSE[tm])(Who needs tips on handling the positive, pleasant emotions??)

Then there are those old things we KNOW we should do, and FORGET to do - taking deep breaths, focusing on bodily sensations, and the like.

Step No. 3 is about talking to yourself with kindness.

The article ends with: "Learning to be more loving toward yourself also brings a less obvious but equally important benefit: You'll soon find yourself extending that compassion to others and, in the process, making the world a kinder place."

Now THAT'S happiness.

Learn more about these and other tips for RESILIENCE and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE with coaching or by taking THE EQ FOUNDATION COURSE(tm).

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