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Finding Authentic Happiness

by Nick Bolton(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 190 - January 2012

What does it take to be authentically happy? To be happy in a way that isn't about what you have, but about who you are. That was the question posed at the Smart School of Coaching's first Authentic Happiness Summit 2011.

For me, authentic happiness is about being authentic. By being ourselves, we can allow the feelings of fear, shame, guilt, anger and all the other corroding emotions to be far more easily dealt with. Once you are truly congruent you no longer need to wear the defences that hide yourself away from others.

Each of our experts at the Authentic Happiness Summit offered their own tips and advice, and here is a selection of just a few of them...

Thinking

1. Happiness is a choice. According to Claire Beegan from Effortless Energy, we can choose how we show up in the world. We can either struggle against life, complaining and telling stories of woe, or we can realize that we choose how to think about our conditions. By choosing to think about our situation differently, we'll start to create the conditions around us for a happier life. Clare suggests using meditation to enhance your self-awareness, as it provides the space to get in touch with who you really are away from the noise of everyday life. Happiness is about engagement with life, coupled with self-awareness so that we can make choices about how we feel. And its these choices that will lead to a lasting happiness.

2. Who am I? Holly Worton, founder of Ready to Bloom, believes that happiness boils down to addressing three main questions. Who am I? Where am I? And where am I going? Once you get to grips with these questions, life will make more sense and have a deeper meaning.

Very few people take the time to ask themselves these questions; as a result they feel like they are drifting in life. Look at where you are right now, and identify simple but powerful steps that would begin to address you're unhappy in life. In Holly's experience she has found that most people have failed to take the time to get to grips with these fundamental questions. Perhaps we take them for granted but we do so at our happiness peril!

So, ask yourself these questions. Look where you are right now. Identify some simple steps. And take action! Greater happiness is bound to follow.

Steps

3. Negativity comes from within, not without. Michael Pagnotta of P3-Presentations says many people allow negative news to affect their emotions and behaviour. "People will get on the tube in one mood and as they read about the bad news in the world, they'll get off in another! But this isn't the media's fault. It's the responsibility of the person to learn to control how they respond to the news and people around them." Michael isn't suggesting a detached, numb view of the world. Instead we should accept these feelings as ours, and not blame the news or other people. We are not powerless, we can change the way we feel.

Michael suggests we notice when we are 'buying into negativity' and make a conscious effort to stop the blame and decide to respond differently.

4. Overcome your fears. According to Paul Kensett, aka The Freedom Coach, fear gets trapped in the body and finds an outlet when confronted by situations that seem similar to the original fearful situation. We often feel out of control when fear is triggered, and to overcome fear we have to know where we're storing it and how, and allow ourselves to let it go. "It's old news that wants to be heard again. But old news is just that, old, and it needs to be let go." says Paul.

5. Letting go of Loss. Rachel Smith, founder of Re-Emerging, was widowed 10 years ago and had a long and difficult journey before she re-emerged into happiness again. Rachel believes there are a number of stages to re-emerging, the first of which is recognizing what the loss actually is. When we lose something we may grieve for it, but it's not just the loss of the person, or job, or house, but everything that went with it. Understanding just what you're grieving for is an important step to coming out of loss. The next step is to acknowledge what you feel guilty about and what you blame other people for - be that for dying, sacking you and so on. Once you know these feelings, "the most powerful act you can take is to forgive yourself and to forgive other people".

Why is it so powerful? Because you are in control of that process, says Rachel. Forgiveness of the self and others comes from you and nobody can take away your ability to do it.

6. Remember being a child. Mary White specializes in helping people connect with their inner playfulness; she suggests we remember being a child and the joy we experienced when playing. Then ask yourself how would it be if you felt that way about your life now? Happiness is about remembering to enjoy the moment and not to spend our lives planning ahead and losing the 'here and now' experience. It's also about silencing the voice that tells you to grow up, to act your age and to stop having fun.

7. Live your passions. Claire Habel, founder of Inspiring Futures, helps women to start and grow a business based on their passions. With all the talk of recession, it's refreshing to be reminded that if we really want it, we can create a business we love. But as Claire is quick to point out, running your own business isn't for everyone and the key to happiness isn't really the business itself - it's doing what you want to do every day either as a job or in a business. To help you achieve this Claire suggests building a clear vision of what you'd like your future to look like. This will make it easier to work towards.

In conclusion, you can't 'learn' happiness but you can remind yourself about how you label and restrict yourself, and how you get caught up in your own unhappiness story.

So, take a step away from the story and make a decision to change using some of the tips above. I truly believe that the beginning of happiness is taking action - action to be who you want to be.

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About Nick Bolton

Nick Bolton, Founder of the Smart School of Coaching, is passionate about training and supporting individuals to become professional coaches and NLP Practitioners. He is particularly dedicated to helping them build a sustainable business. Nick places strong emphasis on both developing the skills and ensuring that they lead to lasting change for the coaches and their clients. The Smart School runs free seminars where you can learn more about NLP and coaching and the opportunities in this growing industry. To book a free seminar or to find out more visit www.thesmartschool.co.uk  For more information about the Authentic Happiness Summit: www.thesmartschool.co.uk/authentic_happiness/

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