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Dr. Ashley & Dr. Michael

How to Increase Happiness with 4 Simple Steps!

Learn how to increase happiness by taking these 4 research based steps.

We all know that money can’t buy us happiness. We also know that success alone doesn’t guarantee happiness.

It seems that with all we have and all we’ve achieved, we should be happier. But, it seems that despite our best efforts we are going in the opposite direction. Most of us are unhappy, overworked, overwhelmed and have failing relationships.

We often seek advice on how to increase happiness from our family, friends, self-help books, magazines, etc. Usually, this only leads to more confusion and an even greater sense of being overwhelmed.

Anytime you’re looking to make a change for the better, it is much more helpful to keep it simple and focus only on what is most important and needed.

The same is true with happiness. We often find ourselves searching and searching, only to find less happiness and a sense of hopelessness.

I have outlined the four most crucial habits that will lead to greater happiness. If you’re searching for how to increase happiness, look no further and focus on these 4 simple steps.

How to Increase Happiness with 4 Simple Steps

 

1. Build 5 Deep, Fulfilling Relationships!

The 5 people you devote the majority of your relationship time and energy to will by and large determine the quality of your life! Your life can be amazing, if you surround yourself with people that lift you up, motivate you, possess the qualities you desire, and generally add value to your life.

Once you have found and identified these 5 people it is important to devote a majority of your relationship time and energy to them. At least 80 %– 90% of your relationship time and energy should be devoted to these people. The goal is to create deep, healthy, supportive, fulfilling relationships

2. Limit your Attention and Energy to the “Important” in your life

Identify the people, places, behaviors and events that lead to the majority of your happiness, success, and fulfillment in relationships. Start giving an overwhelming majority of your time, focus, attention and energy to these people, places, behaviors and events. To do this, you’ll have to cut back on the amount of things you give your attention to. This should be a very selective process. Your focus, attention and energy should be limited to these important few. Your attention is an unrenewable resource and it is limited.

What you pay attention to becomes your reality and your life. So, be very selective about what you give your attention to each day. Make a “not-to-do list” of all the things, events, habits or behaviors that aren’t enjoyable, that drain your energy, that leave you feeling empty or that are only mildly enjoyable.

3. Discover a Sense of Purpose in the Smallest of Pursuits and Moments

Look at your life and identify the activities and small moments in your life when you feel a sense of purpose. Look for the absolute smallest moments when you feel passionate about something:

  • maybe you are pursuing a lifelong goal
  • maybe it is your work (for most of us probably not)
  • maybe it’s in parenthood
  • maybe it’s volunteering
  • maybe it’s try to shoot your age on the golf course
  • or trying to teach your grandchildren values.

 

There are millions of little things that give different people a sense of purpose. Once you’ve identified or went out and found these one or two activities that provide you with a sense of purpose, nurture them as if you were planting a seed.

Slowly begin to focus more on these small moments in time. Start to give little pieces of yourself over to these activities. Allow yourself to enjoy these moments even if for just a couple of minutes. Start to savor these small pursuits and activities each day and as often as you like, but just don’t overdo it. Remember, you don’t want to over water this plant.

4. Question and Talk back to your mind’s Demanding/Totalizing Stories

Many of our problems survive and thrive on our mind’s Demanding/Judging Stories.

Demanding Stories occur anytime your mind turns your preferences or wants into demands, musts, and shoulds.

The mind often creates three kinds of demanding stories:

  • Demands on yourself– “I must get the job.” “I should eat less.” “I should’ve exercised.” “I must perform perfectly.”
  • Demands on others- “She must not tell me what to do”. “My child should never disrespect me.” “He shouldn’t throw his socks on the floor.”
  • Demands on life or reality– “This line shouldn’t be so long.” “This assignment should be easier.” “Traffic must not be so bad.”

Due to demanding stories, the mind also often creates totalizing stories.   With totalizing stories, your thoughts judge the total and complete worth or essence of a person, place or event based on a small limited criteria.

Often these types of totalizing beliefs are aimed at ourselves and other people and are based on a person’s mistakes, successes or behaviors. (he failed the test so he’s stupid, she talked behind my back so she’s a bitch, I made a million dollars so I’m better than everyone).

As you can see, these types of totalizing stories focus on one aspect of a person, place or event (that he failed the test, or that she talked behind your back) and judges accordingly.  Unfortunately, these stories often omit the good aspects of the person, place, or event.

Totalizing stories survive and thrive on demanding stories of the mind because when your mind demands that something happen or not happen, it will also completely totalize the event or person by whether or not the demand is met.  If the demand is met, the person or situation is the best in the world, but if the demand is not met the person or situation is awful, terrible and the worst ever.

Question your Mind’s Demanding/Totalizing Stories

The mind’s Demanding Stories are the most destructive and powerful, so it’s usually a good idea to start questioning them first.

There are 6 questions and one action to take control of your mind’s demanding/totalizing stories

Example belief “My partner must not disrespect me”

1. Is it true?

2. Does it argue with what happens or happened?

3. Can you really know that for sure?

4. When you believe that how do you feel? Treat yourself? Treat others?

5. Does it strengthen or weaken your relationships?

6. Who would you be if you simply couldn’t believe it anymore?

Choose to talk back to your mind’s demanding/judging stories with Wanting/humanizing stories.

I prefer _____, but it doesn’t have to happen. I’ll be okay. We’re all fallible, mistake prone, unique human beings.

ex. I would really like it/prefer if my partner would respect me all the time, but in no way does he/she absolutely have to. No matter how much I want him/her to that doesn’t mean he/she must. He/She is just a unique, fallible, changing human just like me.

Don’t let the simplicity of these 4 steps fool you. If you are searching for how to increase happiness in your life, focus on these basic principles.

Say Yes to Love,

Dr. Michael Arn & Dr. Ashley Arn