Tuesday, November 5, 2013

8 Steps to a Happier Life at Work and at Home: The Power of the Positive

Cover of "Pay it Forward"
Pay it Forward
by Dr Maree Harris Ph.D.

1. Be a Glass Half Full Person, Not a Glass Half Empty One

Some people look at the glass and their minds tell them that it is half empty.

Others look at exactly the same glass and they see a glass that is half full. Why do they see it differently?

The first response comes from people who tend to see everything in negative terms.

The second comes from people who always see things in positive terms. They have learnt to look at life that way.

Remember the US Shoe Salesmen wanting to expand their markets in Africa.

One says that there is not much opportunity there because no one wears shoes. The other says that there is huge opportunity there because no one wears shoes.

You can practice viewing what happens in your life in positive terms, to become reflective and change your way of explaining things from negative to positive. You can learn another way of viewing your life.

As Winston Churchill said: "The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty". You need to become an optimist.

2. Focus on Your Strengths and Create an Abundance Attitude

This means removing negative self-talk and limiting beliefs from your life because this is a focus on your weaknesses, what you lack.

When your self-talk is negative, and the voices in your head tell you that you are "stupid", "too old", "unattractive", "uneducated", for example, you create your own unhappiness. When you become mindful of what you say to and believe about yourself, you can act to turn your life around.

You need to remove "should", "ought", "have to" and "must" from your vocabulary because they are an imposition of someone else's expectations on your life and prevent you from developing your full potential.

You discover what your strengths are and can then play your own game with those strengths. You replace those words with "I want to ...", "I will..." and "I am going to ...". You empower yourself to discover your potential. That's a fulfilled life; that's happiness.

3. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Life

This helps you focus on what is good about your life, rather than what is going wrong. It creates a positive foundation for what you do during the day. I recommend having a Gratitude Book.

Every day you write in this book at least 3 things you are grateful for in your life - usually something that has happened in the last 24 hours, or maybe something you've become aware of in the last 24 hours that may have been there for a long time.

When you do this over a period of time, you find that your attitude to life becomes a much more positive one.

4. Thank People Who Have Contributed to Your Professional or Personal Life

This is an extension of developing an attitude of gratitude. It is firstly about becoming conscious that you don't succeed alone. Other people have made you who you are and have enhanced your life.

Verbally acknowledging your gratitude is one way, but a phone call, an email, a text message is also good.

Writing a card - in your own handwriting - is the ultimate thank you, that you took the time to choose a card, select what you would say, write it and post it is a powerful expression of how important you believe that person is to you. It is valued by the receiver because hardly anyone writes a hand-written card anymore.

5. Do an Act of Kindness for Someone Every Day - Pay it Forward

All of us will help someone who helps us. This is about helping someone who hasn't helped you and to whom you owe nothing. You do it because you want to make your workplace, your community or the world a better place.

The Pay It Forward movement (check out the website) is about doing acts of kindness for someone in advance of having an act of kindness done for you, believing that the good you do goes round and round and will eventually come back to you.

Experience what it is like to make someone else's day - even to amaze them or surprise them!

6. Surround Yourself with Positive and Energising People

Material things do not provide long term happiness. Remember: "No one on their death bed wishes they'd spent more time at the office getting the promotion that gave them more money and status."

What they wished was that they had spent more time with friends and family, with other people because it is great relationships with other people that make us truly happy.

You need to join organisations and create networks of support that enhance both your professional and personal life. You need to detach from the people who are a negative influence in your life.

7. Become a Pro-Active Person, Not a Reactive One

When things go wrong reactive people criticise and blame something or someone "out there". They assume an attitude of powerlessness and a belief that they are pawns in a system over which they have no control.

They have handed over control of their lives to an external power. They become part of the problem.

When things go wrong for pro-active people, they take ownership. They become part of the solution and assume responsibility for creating constructive outcomes. They are driven by a "power within". They are in charge of their lives, what happens in it and how it turns out.

Happiness is driving your life from inside yourself. You can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

8. Practice Forgiveness

Anger and resentment are the most common expressions of negative energy and the biggest blocks to happiness and to achieving the life you desire.

When you hold on to anger and resentment towards someone who has hurt you, unable to forgive them, you are letting them continue to hurt you by carrying it around with you every day. In forgiving someone you refuse to live in a prison of anger. You let go.

Forgiveness is not about exonerating people for the hurt they have caused you. Rather it is about liberating you and freeing up that energy to be used in positive ways to achieve the success you desire.

Dr. Maree Harris PhD. is the Director of People Empowered. She is a leadership development coach, workshop presenter and facilitator, specializing in the development of people skills, interpersonal and communication skills, what are often called "soft skills".

She is the author of the book "Soft Skills - The Hard Stuff of Success". Visit her website at http://peopleempowered.com.au and join her mailing list to receive a complimentary copy of the Introduction and Chapter 1.

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