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BREATHE Happy, Be Happy
Psychology professor David T. Lykken, author of Happiness: Its Nature and Nurture, suggests there are ways to pursue happiness; avoiding negative emotions like pessimism, resentment, and anger and turning our attention to positive emotions, like empathy, serenity, and gratitude.
Philospher Bertrand Russell's 1930 book, The Conquest of Happiness, said "Happiness is not, except in very rare cases, something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit. ... Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part."
Authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks The 9 Choices of Happy People believe that intention to be happy is the most important step to achieving happiness, "Intention is the active desire and commitment to be happy. It's the decision to consciously choose attitudes and behaviors that lead to happiness over unhappiness."
Tom G. Stevens, PhD, book, You Can Choose to Be Happy says "Choose to make happiness a top goal. For example, reprogram your beliefs and values. Learn good self-management skills, good interpersonal skills, and good career-related skills. Choose to be in environments and around people that increase your probability of happiness. The persons who become the happiest and grow the most are those who also make truth and their own personal growth primary values."
Author Jon Haidt, professor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville writes in The Happiness Hypothes that a focus on positive psychology can help.. "choose to be more forgiving or more grateful."
University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman's book, Authentic Happiness, offers a daily "gratitude exercise" that involves considering things you are grateful for to allow "a shift away from bitterness and despair," he says, and that can promote happiness.
Clinical psychologist Everett Worthington Jr. Five Steps to Forgiveness, offers a process in his book that he calls REACH. " recall the hurt. empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator's point of view. Be altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven. Commit to putting your forgiveness into words...either in a letter to the person you're forgiving or in your journal. Finally, hold on to the forgiveness."
Daniel Gilbert's book, Stumbling on Happiness reminds us that happiness is not forever. "Regardless of what we achieve in the pursuit of stuff, it's never going to bring about an enduring state of happiness."
David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness sites an Australian study that found people over 70 who had the strongest network of friends lived much longer, "The social ties that bind also provide support in difficult times."
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, writes in Finding Flow that achieving a state of mind where you are thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities produces higher levels of happiness. "Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable."
So, make an effort at happiness and you will be rewarded!