52. 10 Behaviors That Greatly Increase Happiness

happiness-is-a-choice1. Start Your Day With Gratitude.

Have you ever noticed that when your day starts off with something bad, that negative trajectory just seems to intensify and gain ridiculous speed? You wake up and kick the bedpost as you get out of bed, nearly breaking your big toe. As you’re hopping around in agony, you manage to step in a present your dog left for you earlier. While you’re cleaning up your mess, the phone rings and it’s the bank letting you know your account is overdrawn… and so it continues throughout the remainder of your day! Why is that?

Like attracts like. Emotions carry frequency and how we start our day plays an enormous role in how the remainder of our day will play out and what is attracted into our field. Sounds a bit woo-woo? Well, yes, I get that. I thought so too when I first encountered this theory. Yet, those that start their day with gratitude quickly find that the remainder of their day not only flows much more smoothly, but continues trending upwards in a positive path.

I challenge you to test the theory for 30 straight days and let me know what shifts for you!

2. Be Optimistic And Look For The Good In All Things.

No matter what happens in our lives, there is always something good that can be identified, even in the darkest of situations.  Those that take the time to consciously look for the good in all things and make a proactive decision to be optimistic, rather than pessimistic, will always find what they’re looking for. If we set out to only see the negative, detrimental aspects of life, that’s exactly what we will find. By focusing our attention and intention on the higher good, we not only increase our frequency and find those positive attributes, but we also draw more of the same to us in the future by doing so.

3. Detach From Outcomes.

This is a nicer way of saying let go of control! Contrary to popular belief, we have no control over our environment and the behavior of others. The only thing in life we do have control over is how we choose to think about and respond to our situations. Perception plays an enormous role in outcomes, as we often have a particular way we want to see things unfold. Fortunately for us, they don’t always happen this way! We try to manage and manipulate circumstances to insure the conclusions happen just as we anticipated.

The issue here is that we have a very finite view of the big picture and there’s a greater infinite force at work that is factoring in the entire enchilada.  When we begin to relinquish control and trust things will work out for our highest and best good, a huge energy shift occurs, and we find ourselves in a place of greatly increased peace and happiness.

You know the saying… Let go and let God! Granted, that doesn’t mean we sit on the couch and eat bon-bons either. We must take an active role in living and planning our lives. Yet, it’s important to learn to go with the flow and trust that some of the detours we experience are all a part of getting us to the outcomes that benefit us most. Those Divinely appointed outcomes often are quite different from the scenarios we have crafted in our noggins. I don’t know about you, but I’m going with the infinite plan.

4. When Afraid, Do It Anyway.

This has probably been one of my greatest challenges over the last two years. I’m recognizing with much practice, that those things we are most fearful of are nowhere near as scary once we engage them. It is more often the anticipation of an event that creates far more angst than the event itself.

I have created a challenge for myself requiring me to confront my fears and never back down when fear alone is the deciding factor. I’m carefully articulating it this way, as there are some cases where physical safety and other factors must be weighed. I’m speaking specifically to those things we should do, but choose not to because we are simply too afraid. These are the things I refuse to back away from any longer, and no matter how uncomfortable I become, I will continue walking through them to completion.

Each time we successfully face our fears, we gain a bit of self-confidence that wasn’t there before, along with some additional courage that makes it a bit easier to step out on that limb next time we find ourselves in a trepidatious situation. If fear is the only thing holding you back… Go for it! You have nothing to lose but the very thing that has been holding you back for far too long!

5. Forgo Perfectionism.

Perfectionism is quite an interesting topic. Many of us work tirelessly at reaching unrealistic goals and objectives for the wrong reasons. Anytime perfectionism is playing a role, it’s critical we look deeply at what’s driving these behaviors.

The majority of the time, there are self-esteem issues at the core and a need to prove our worthiness to both ourselves and others. When we do the necessary, deep, internal soul work required to finally identify who our authentic self really is, we begin to learn to love ourselves unconditionally, exactly as we are. When that transpires, the need to compare ourselves to others quickly dissipates.

Perfectionism creates a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress in our lives that exhausts our energy and dramatically diminishes our frequency. Learning to let go of this aspect of my life was one of the most freeing exercises I’ve ever experienced. We are all 100% individual and as different as our fingerprints, therefore what are we comparing ourselves to? Comparisons and judgments of one another are simply faulty perspectives we engage in to keep ourselves feeling a little better.

When we learn how truly amazing we are, right at this very moment, that need no longer exists, and the state of peace that creates is beyond amazing. Rather than comparing ourselves, let’s learn to simply bask in the awesomeness we already inhabit, just as we are.

6. Send Over thinking And Rumination Packing.

Over thinking and rumination are two of the most detrimental thought processes we can engage in, as they often create problems where none actually exist! False beliefs and control are at the core of these behaviors. Replaying past situations and over analyzing current positions accomplishes nothing, other than sending our stress levels into the stratosphere. It’s quite frankly an agonizing exercise in futility and self punishment that needs to be sent packing immediately, before more damage is done. Two good rules of thumb I have put into practice are as follows:

1) I do my best to limit my thoughts of the past to positive experiences. When negative thoughts arise from past situations I wish I had handled differently or were painful, I quickly dismiss them and place my focus on more beneficial thought processes such as gratitude. The past has already happened and there’s nothing we can do to change what’s already been said or done. In other words, focusing on our past perceived failures or painful experiences brings about no change or resolution, but it does significantly impact us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and energetically in seriously negative ways. It’s a conscious choice we have to make, whether to change our thoughts to a better topic, or park in self-debasing rumination. I chose to go positive.

2) I’m proactively making choices to shut down over-thinking anytime I catch myself engaging in it. Once again, it’s a control tactic and conscious protection measure that gives us a false sense of security that we can dissect and manipulate things to go in a particular direction we desire. Anytime control is at the wheel, we’re headed for problems. There is a tremendous peace in allowing things to unfold naturally, trusting that whatever happens, we’re going to be just fine. When we finally come to the place where we recognize we are not in control and our mental heavy lifting is not changing anything but our blood pressure, what follows that release is priceless.

7. Get Involved In Flow Activities.

Flow activities are those things we become so engrossed or engaged in that we lose all sense of time and ourselves. For me, flow activities include things like deep conversations, writing, fishing (Yes, I did say fishing!), energy work, gardening, and building things with my hands. These are all activities I can engage in where I suddenly look up at the clock and realize 10 hours have passed and I’ve not even eaten! Flow is characterized by the complete absence of emotion and self-consciousness. There’s a tremendous body of research showing that flow is tied to both subjective and psychological well-being. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identified six factors of flow:

1) Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
2) Merging of action and awareness
3) A loss if reflective self-consciousness
4) A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
5) A distortion of temporal experience
6) Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to asautotelic experience

8. Intentionally Smile More.

Did you know that intentionally smiling can have incredible physiological and emotional effects? The act of smiling, whether organic or intentional, releases the neurotransmitters Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins, that not only relax your body and lower stress levels, but also reduce pain and can serve as an anti-depressant.

I make it a point to smile at every single person I pass and make eye contact with throughout the day. It’s for both my benefit and theirs! There was a study done that showed your orbitofrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that processes sensory rewards, is activated when we see someone smiling. When we see a person smiling, we can actually feel rewarded! So SMILE! It makes everyone feel better!

9. Focus On Loving And Serving Others.

There’s a saying that I know first-hand to be true. We rise by lifting others. There has never been a time that helping others has not made me feel better and changed my perspective when I am in a difficult place. It’s never my purpose or goal in helping others, yet the second-hand benefits cannot be avoided.

We can never out give love, and when showering others with unconditional love, the highest frequency emotion there is, we also become the recipient of those benefits. When you find yourself in a less than preferable emotional state, make the choice to place your focus elsewhere, serving another and lightening their load.

Serving others comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be something as simple as volunteering at a soup kitchen, taking someone you know that is hurting out for coffee, buying dinner or a coat for the homeless person on the street, or sending a card of encouragement to another.

The truth is, we never truly know what’s happening below the surface of others, nor will we ever fully comprehend the depths of their pain. There are so many hurting in this often cold and calculating world we live in. Take the time and initiative to be present for another in need. I can promise you it will precipitate a perspective shift and a tremendous lift in spirit for everyone involved.

10. Live In The Present.

Throughout my years in practice, there’s one common trend I continually see. Those who struggle the most are either living in the past, anxious about the future, or both. What they are not doing is living in the present. Living in the present moment requires deliberate focus and intention.

Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Truer words have never been spoken. Living in the present requires us to be mindful of our thoughts, emotions, words, and behaviors, keeping them in check at all times and rerouting rogue thoughts where necessary.

One of the largest obstacles we face today is being mindful and fully present throughout our entire day. Most will remain in somewhat of an auto-pilot state, simply going through the motions of our day without much thought. Think about it. How many times have you driven to work and realized upon arrival that you don’t even remember the landmarks, stop signs, or traffic lights you encountered along the way, because you were too deeply immersed in your thoughts? When that’s happening, we are missing the beauty of life that is unfolding all around us! It’s important to recognize that the majority of the time we are engrossed in our auto-pilot thoughts, which are highly negative in nature.

It’s usually not until uncomfortable thoughts or emotions are triggered that we begin paying attention to our current state of mind and the desire to shift it. If we are to get to a place of peace and internal happiness, we absolutely have to learn to be fully present and revel in the awe, beauty, miracles, and amazement that continually surrounds us, yet we’re often too preoccupied to see.

Make it a point to stop throughout your day and ask yourself questions that will engage you in your current surroundings. What can I see that is beautiful? What can I see in others that touches my heart and soul? What needs do I see that need to be met? By simply asking ourselves questions throughout the day, we have a heightened opportunity to engage our present, and place the past and future on the back burner where they belong.

It’s really about learning to retrain yourself to stay present. Every time you catch yourself thinking about the past or future, start asking questions that will immediately pull you back into the present, then bask in the awesomeness that is right now!

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby


Also published on Medium.

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