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Are you happy?

This question is likely to bring either a defensive response like `Of course I am!' or a bemused reply of, `No, should I be?'
Happiness is such a simple, natural concept and yet it seems so hard for the average person to attain. Most os us are really bad at being happy!

Why on earth should this be so? Firstly, let's explode some myths and then we can look at some strategies for allowing happiness into our lives.

Myths about happiness:

*Happiness is somewhere `out there' and we have to find it
*It's associated with goals, places, people, events
*I can GET happiness and MAKE others happy too
*Happiness is basically unattainable and certainly fleeting
*It has to be earned.
*It's elusive and in the future somewhere
*You need a reason to be happy.

Sounds familiar?
Happiness lives within us, never outside of us. Therefore, it cannot come from external sources. The joy we get from things outside is the cream on the cake, an extra bonus but it can never be the whole story. Relying on people, places and events to make us happy is the ultimate fantasy. It can only bring transitory pleasure and disappointment in the end.

There is no need to try to get happiness because it is your natural birthright. It exists deep within you like a constant well-spring 'infinite, always available, powerful. Imagine knowing that you can be happy at any time and forever, without having to do anything to earn it or make it happen.

As happiness is linked to the life-source energy, like sexuality, creativity, spirituality and joy, it rests in the individual and therefore, cannot be bestowed by one person on another. This is one of our greatest myths 'that we can make each other happy. At best, it is a romantic illusion created by songs, literature and popular culture. At worst, it causes a great deal of society's heartache as this mistaken idea is taken into marriage and other relationships where it can only be ground into dust by the heavy foot of disillusionment. The saddest part is that we don't need to suffer if only we are prepared to accept responsibility for our own happiness. It works both ways. If no-one has to make you happy, neither do you have to do it for others. Think how liberating that is! It isn't selfish or uncaring because as you feel your own happiness, you'll have more to share with others, anyway.

Happiness is a choice. All you have to do is open yourself up to it and it - ll be there continuously.
The type of happiness that is possible on a permanent level is the interior peace that means you feel good inside your own skin, that you have a positive relationship with yourself and you're enjoying the journey we call life. It means you can relax, be yourself, not have to try so hard to please and impress.

Most people feel happiness is a goal to be reached somewhere in the future. It's what I call `deferred happiness,' you know the kind of thing '`I'll rest on the weekend,' I'll travel when I retire,' `I haven't got time to play sport, I'm too busy' 'and so on.

Each day is a unique experience and cannot be retrieved if you waste it. `Wasting' time having fun is fabulous, wasting time in regret, guilt and anxiety is expended energy you could better utilise elsewhere.
Have you noticed that if you just feel happy for its own sake, people think you're strange. They say things like, `What do you have to be happy about?' or `What's brought on this cheerful mood?' The whole point of being happy on a continuous basis is that there is no particular reason 'you feel the joy inside you and you naturally smile and shine, like walking near the ocean on a glorious summer's day and being grateful just to be alive. You can have that `bliss' all the time, in the sun, in the rain, on good days and difficult, when life is going your way and when it appears everything's against you. It's feeling `okay' inside all the time. That is true freedom. And as you shine, those around you bask in the warmth of your joy.

How do we positively work with the happiness principle?

*Look for signs everywhere
*Make positive thinking a choice
*Relax and stop worrying
*Remember life is a daily adventure
*Connect with your inner child every day
*Play every day, not just on weekends and holidays
*Love yourself enough to allow happiness

I think of myself as a `joy merchant,' someone who sells the idea of joy. If you adopt this philosophy in your everyday life, It - ll change your life. I'm going to finish this discussion with my favorite saying, `There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.' Please write to me if you want to know more about living with joy.

About the Author: Dr Charmaine Saunders is a therapist, columnist, media personality, lecturer and author of 6 self-help books.

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