(NaturalNews) I put together the following list of requirements for happiness based on research as well as my experience as a counselor and coach.
1. Inner alignment
One of the best ways to be miserable is to live in conflict with you. Sometimes we conflict ourselves by trying to live opposing values. For example, some men try to be a family man and a playboy at the same time. Their values for family and their values for fun with women conflict heavily. The result is hypocrisy and misery all around.
Other people create inner conflict by trying to please too many people, all of whom want different things. Still others live out of alignment by through shear dishonesty. Regardless of how to get there, misalignment sends you in opposing directions, making happiness impossible.
A prerequisite to happiness is inner alignment and simplicity. You know your priorities and don't spend time on other things.
2. A primal companion
A primal companion is a term I coined for your deepest friends and lovers, those whom you have allowed to get behind your defenses and public front. A primal companion knows who you really are and still loves you.
Often friends and lovers are not primal. They don't know who you are because you hide yourself from them. This is fine for most common friendships, colleagues and acquaintances. If you are in a marriage with someone who doesn't know how you really feel or think, then you cannot be happy in that relationship.
To be happy, everyone needs at least one primal companion in life - someone who knows you deeply and whom you can trust with your deepest thoughts and feelings. Of course, most studies that factor in long-term relationships cannot evaluate the quality or depth of the relationships. Still, research concludes that long-term relationships significantly increase happiness and decrease depression.
3. A true projection
My wife's goal in life is to be the same person on the outside as she is on the inside. If she thinks or feels it, she expresses it. I have never seen her hide from anyone. Most people call her courageous, yet she takes it for granted. She says she is not willing to live with the anxiety that comes from putting out a false message.
When you project a false front, you automatically create anxiety by having something to hide, even if others have no idea that you are doing it. You still create the threat of being discovered in your own mind. Whether you project yourself as more or less than you actually are, you are hiding the truth, which is a pressure cooker.
This one boils down to honesty, which Americans don't take all that seriously. Research suggests that the average American tells 11 lies per week. Interestingly, research also suggests that your health can be improved by discontinuing the stream of lies and half-truths that flow from most people's mouths.
4. A clean diet
Of course we know toxic food creates bad health. It also creates mood disorders. Years of processed sugar alone will depress the immune system and create a physiological depression. There are even cross-cultural links between sugar and depression, with an established correlation between the prevalence of depression and sugar use across several cultures.
A totally clean diet is best: organic, non-GMO food, pure water, nothing processed or artificial, lots of raw stuff. However, if you need a place to start, eliminate processed sugar.
5. A realistic goal
I cannot remember the last time someone came to me for coaching and said, "I want to live an ordinary life. You know, I want to find more meaning in what I already have, rather than search for more. My goal is to be a typical person who enjoys life."
People often pursue crazy, unrealistic goals and wonder why they are stressed and discouraged. Crazy, unrealistic goals create stress, pressure and anxiety until discouragement settles in and you give up. Have you ever done this?
Amazingly, happiness is available any time we look around, count our blessings and make the most of what we have. As soon as we begin to desire something beyond, we create dissatisfaction.
This is why I love setting goals that are just a few steps beyond where you are right now. It keeps a forward momentum and does not create dissatisfaction by comparison to what you have.
6. A view of others as people like you
Happy, well-adjusted people see others as similar to themselves. Over 30 years, the Arbinger Institute has created an impressive collection of stories that demonstrate people's lives change the moment they begin to see others as people, too.
The concept is deceptively simple. As soon as you acknowledge that other people have wants, needs, desires and feelings that are as real to them as yours are to you, your life changes. You become more responsive, respectful and compassionate. Your perspective broadens and you begin to live in harmony with those around you. For most people, this is a massive paradigm shift.
7. An engaged mind
The happiness bottom line is the conscious use of your own mind. When you consciously engage your brain in any task, you automatically relax. In a real way, it doesn't matter as much what you are engage in, as long as you are present and intentional in how you use your attention.
Try this: Listen to the sound of a fan, or the refrigerator. Tune in to some monotonous white noise. Do it consciously and intentionally. Just listen and do nothing else. After 10-20 seconds, you will feel yourself settle a bit inwardly. This relaxation is your brain's response to conscious use, as opposed to autopilot use.
Your mind was designed for conscious use. It won't be happy any other way.
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