5 Ways to Access Happiness

Sometimes we are under the misconception that happiness is something we achieve. It’s the day that comes without problems or pain; it’s the job we’ve been waiting for; or the raise we’ve been wanting; it’s the “good” day.

My discovery as a counselor and as an individual and parent has been quite different. Happiness is something we already have and it must be accessed. Joyful moments come from being open to them and seeking them out. It’s about attitude, gratitude and resiliency.

Researcher and social worker, Shawn Achor, has found that “happiness is linked to resiliency & courage.” Apply the following tools to help you better access Joy & Happiness:

  1. Positive Attitude

In a short clip from youtube that went viral, little Jessica sets her day’s affirmations with enthusiasm. If we could all start our day this way, we might help to breathe in more of this joyful spirit.


Your attitude or how you perceive your world and your stress accounts for 90% of your long term happiness, according to happiness researcher Shawn Achor. Positive psychology suggests that having a positive outlook on life and increasing positive emotions improves our daily physical health. A study of nuns that practiced this change in perspective added 10 years to their lives.

Tool: When a challenge presents itself, ask yourself, ‘what can I possibly learn form this?’

  1. Gratitude

There was a TED Talk out a few years back on gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg. His talk enlightened us all as a meditation on being Grateful for every day. His time lapsed imagery reminds us of the Beauty in Nature. His interviews with a young child and elderly man provide wisdom on the power of gratitude.

“This is not just another day; it’s the one gift given to you and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” Open your eyes and hearts to this video and be truly touched.


Tool: *List 3 things that you are grateful for each day to promote increased happiness.

  1. Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness leads us to be fully present, self-aware, without judgement and in the moment. It is awareness, here and now with an open heart. A simple way of beginning mindfulness practice is to notice your 5 senses, pause, be with the experience; it only takes a moment. It is proven to decrease stress, anxiety and depression. The regular practice of mindfulness awareness leads to greater satisfaction in life, increased self-trust and gratitude & joy.


Tool: Simply notice your 5 senses during each change in your environment throughout the day; i.e. what do I see, smell, hear, etc. when I leave my house, when I get in my car, when I walk from the car to the building, etc.

  1. Self-compassion

Self-compassion can be defined as TREATING YOURSELF WITH THE SAME KINDNESS & CONSIDERATION THAT YOU WOULD A CLOSE FRIEND. Dr. Kristin Neff has researched the benefits of self-compassion. Her research showed that that self-compassion is strongly linked to wellbeing. * The practice of self-compassion is not a self-centered activity. Rather, it helps us to develop a healthy relationship with ourselves and leads to greater empathy and openness towards others.

Tool: Practice self-compassion exercises designed to promote this kindness. See more ideas at http://compassionateliving.info/

  1. Radical Acceptance, Letting Go

Radical acceptance is a tool used to change one’s attitude. I list it here because if we harbor resentment and anger about our challenges or problems, we miss out completely on the opportunity to let go of the things that we cannot control and embrace what we can control. We lose out on the chance to free ourselves from the paralysis that anger can cause if we hold onto it. The process of letting go is just that; a process. However, it has the power to guide us towards healing and peace. Watch this clip for a wonderful visual about this process. The fly might symbolize our emotions, at times ignored, that only get bigger in this avoidance, eventually transforming into beauty, awareness and serenity.


Tool: Marsha Linehan introduced a brief meditation/breathing exercise; on the inhale, “Everything is…” and on the exhale, “…as it should be.”

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