Have you been wondering if happiness is even possible?

Yes, it is!

Deep inside, we all want to be happy, especially in the middle part of our lives. We also seek a simple process, and a new secret to reach this lifelong goal.

Well, I have a simple answer and, of course, a longer answer.

The simple answer is: choose to be happy! It is that easy, and that hard.
If you find this difficult, you might seek this path through your work. What we do determines who we are and who we become. Since work takes up the majority of our waking time, this is a good place to start. So here is what you have been searching for all your life — a ten step proven method to happiness.
Yes, it’s that easy (and that hard!)

Step One: Describe the parts of your life you are NOT happy with

Sometimes it takes defining and writing down the things in your life that are not making you happy. Only you can define this. Be honest with yourself. This is your private list. Examine all elements of your life. Think deeply about this. Reflect deeply on your relationships, your finances, your work, your health, and most importantly, your emotional state. Are there elements in this list that you are not happy with? Identify them, and write them down.

Step Two: What needs to change now?

From the list you made in Step 1, what must change now to bring you greater happiness? What’s keeping you from moving towards what you want in your life? What is bringing you more pain than pleasure right now?
There is a difference between what should change and what must change. Changing something that is not bringing you happiness is not easy. Usually people will only consider change when the pain of NOT changing is greater than the pain of changing.
What kind of trigger would make you say enough is enough? Has this trigger already occurred? Write down what must change in your life NOW.

Step Three: What work could you do for a lifetime?

I have found the best approach to achieving happiness is through our work.
Your work can give you a sense of pride, self esteem, fulfillment, and meaning. Loving your work can improve your quality of life, relationships, and emotional state. Loving your work also leads to a better financial state — once you do work you love, you will suddenly find creativity you never knew you had.

Jobs only lead to careers, which lead to retirement, and then death. Vocation is work you can do for a lifetime.
Write down the work you would love to do, and that could last your lifetime.

Step Four: Envision your perfect day

Envision right now what it would be like to live each day the rest of your life doing the work you love. Don’t just think lightly about this. Think deeply about your entire day, and include every detail. When would you get up in the morning? What would you do? Think about the pattern of your entire day and evening, centered on the work you most want to do.

This isn’t JUST a motivational exercise. You are imprinting on your mind’s eye exactly what you want, and what activities would make you happy. Be careful what you imprint, as you WILL start to move towards it.

Step Five: What are the next steps to take now?

What actions could you take today to start these new habits? Research has suggested it takes doing something seven times in a row to develop new habits. What can you do each day for the next seven days to move forward?
For example, perhaps starting today, you can set aside a half hour each day.
On day one, write down your new goals, and what must change in your life.
On day two, perhaps you decide to tell someone else your decisions.
On day three, you do a little reading and research.
On day four, you make a phone call.
On day five, you make a plan to get closer to your goals.
On day six, you practice doing what you love.
On day seven, you talk to someone who is doing the work you most want to do — this gives you new ideas.

Suddenly, you find you have developed a new habit as well!

Step Six: Give yourself some advice

In mid-life, the best advice can come from within yourself. Imagine having a meeting with the inner you: describe your unhappiness, and more importantly, discuss what you most want to change right now. Hear yourself describing the challenge. Listen carefully to the advice the inner you gives. Some of you might call this intuition; others gut-feeling. Write down the advice you receive.
Read it, think about it, cherish it — follow it now.

Step Seven: Make a money plan

If you lost your job today, how long could you go without making any money? What resources could you tap into to extend this time?
How about your retirement fund? After all, you won’t need this because the only people who retire are people who don’t love what they do. In mid-life, when you’re going through major changes, you need free time more than you need money.
Once you start to work at what you love, how much do you need to make before taxes? Remember, there is a difference between “need” and “want.” There is always some downscaling needed for the first few years when you make a major transition from “just a job” to your lifetime vocation.

Step Eight: Tell your loved ones what you are doing

Notice I said “tell”: don’t ask permission. If the relationship is on solid ground, your second half will respect the fact that you have given your life some deeper thought, and have decided to change. They know this will make you happier, and your happiness will make your relationship even better.
On the other hand, if you have asked for permission and not received it, then you have a different challenge. This stops many people.
You can benefit greatly from supportive loved ones, but you can die inside if you are living with people who only cheer you on when you are sticking with the status quo. If this is the case for you, you MUST change your team sooner or later

Step Nine: Celebrate

Reward yourself with every step you take. This will reinforce your path towards greater happiness in your life. Make sure your rewards are healthy for you, and for those around you.

Step Ten: Keep the momentum — keep moving forward

Don’t let a day go by when you are not working on your OWN happiness. This is not selfish. In fact, it is the most unselfish thing you can do for yourself at this stage of your life. As you create more happiness for yourself, you will find that your life just works better at all levels. Those around will also notice and appreciate the difference.

You could just choose to be happy now — that’s the easiest course — but if you need a little jump start, try these ten steps NOW.

As always, I’ll be cheering you on as you go.

Craig Nathanson

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