self-help

Improve Happiness by Discovering Your Strengths

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Happiness

It is easy to become consumed with the down side of situations and to lose site of the goodness and power within ourselves.  Nevertheless, recognizing that you have choices is a good starting point that can be truly empowering.  Even more important is discovering that you have used the power of choice before in ways that were healthy and successful, and sometimes when you didn’t even realize that was what you were doing.

Try thinking of a time when you were happy and proud of yourself.  Chances are it was a time when you made a good choice and tapped into one or more of your strengths.  Rather than focusing on times you didn’t feel good and trying to find motivation to do things differently, you will have more success and feel better along the way, by starting from a positive experience.  Build on your successes.  It takes practice, but by developing new habits for tackling life’s challenges, and focusing on the good inside of yourself, your overall sense of satisfaction and happiness in life can improve dramatically and you will not only heal, but learn to thrive.

Sunset at Porto Covo, west coast of Portugal
Sunset at Porto Covo, west coast of Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some practices to get you more in touch with the goodness within yourself:

  • Take a few minutes each day to relax, close your eyes, and bring to mind thoughts of warmth and love enveloping you.  Breathe that in and breathe out any negative thoughts or feelings.  Take those moments to appreciate the unconditional positive love that surrounds you.
  • At the end of each day, think of something that happened that day for which you were thankful.  Keep a list of those things so that you can look back on them. For more information on this practice, refer to my previous blog, Thankful List.
  • Think of times that you successfully navigated a situation or frustration.  What skills were you using?  What quality of your personality was working for you?  Try to apply that quality to future scenarios.
  • When you experience a negative feeling, challenge the belief behind it.  Are you making negative assumptions or leaping to conclusions? If you were to assume the very best instead of the worst, how would that change things?  How does that affect the way you feel?
  • Pay if forward.  Every day, make a kind gesture for someone else.  Open the door for someone, or buy coffee for someone else in the line.  Doing good things for others makes us feel good about ourselves, and could be the fuel for a fantastic day.

Recognize and celebrate your goodness.  Remember it when faced with an opportunity to make conscious choices about how to handle a difficult situation or feeling.  Doing so, is a great starting point that will help you to add to your repertoire of positive qualities and tools for achieving, happiness, success and thriving!

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

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Growing Pains

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As unpleasant as sadness and disappointment are to experience, it is often in the midst of those times, or immediately following them that one feels most inspired and philosophical about life. It is a time when, in trying to make sense of what has happened that has hurt or angered someone, or in any way left them feeling uncomfortable, that they try to understand from many angles the benefit or learning experience contained in the situation.

It is our nature as human beings to learn from painful experiences.  For example, if a child were to touch a hot stove and be burned, rarely would that child do it again.  The memory of the pain is stored in the limbic system of the brain reminding him that touching a hot burner hurts.  Similarly, we are cautious about emotional experiences after being “burned”.  However, emotional wounds are far more complicated as we try to understand why something good such as falling in love with someone, could cause so much pain when it ends.  Most people are willing to venture into future relationships after such an experience, but never is it as naively as it is with the first love, when one has not yet experienced the pain of love lost.  It is our nature as human beings to learn from discomfort, be it physical or emotional. There is opportunity in most discomfort from which we can learn and grow.

Things to think about:

Think of two or three of the saddest times in your life.  Describe them and what the disappointments were that were involved.

Think of two or three of the happiest times in your life.  What was so elating to you about them?  Did you reach a goal?  Did you feel pleased with a choice you made?  Was there something unconditional about the experience?

Now think about whether or not there is any relation between those sad times and happy times.  Were there things you learned or valued more as a result of the struggles that contributed to your happy experiences?

Without sadness would we really know what happiness is?  Is it not that due to the contrast we can truly experience and enjoy the good things life has to offer?

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com