Unlocking the Three Keys to Happiness

Happiness it seems is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Something we would like to believe in, and yet continues to elude us. We wait for happiness like it’s a destination on the highway of life, but it feels like the closer we get the further the distance to travel. 

In all the reading and research I’ve done on happiness (and there’s been a lot over the years), it wasn’t some scholarly article that gave me a light bulb moment, it was a piece of wall art. A very large, framed print that I came across in a home wares store that told me everything I ever needed to know about happiness. And what’s more it was delivered in just three simple lines. 

  1. Someone to love.
  2. Something to do.
  3. Something to look forward to.

Mind blown. Not a paragraph in site and yet wonderfully powerful. But for someone who is used to putting words and context around an idea, let’s break it down.

1. Someone to love– what this really points to is connection. And while we might immediately think partner or spouse, our capacity for love and connection is far wider. Think children, best friends, siblings, and even our furry friends. And let’s not forget the simple connection to self, and indulging in a little self-love every now and then. Having someone to love is a lifeline to connection and we are wired to seek connection. We are tribal beings at heart and while evolution has seen us move well into the technological age, we fundamentally have a need to belong.  When we have strong social relationships we are happier, healthier and live longer. 

2. Something to do– what this points to is purpose. And where there is purpose there is meaning.  When we know we are here for a reason, that we are significant in the world, life starts to make sense and we naturally feel happier. When we have purpose we also arm ourselves with a defense mechanism against stress because we have more developed coping strategies. We have a reason to move beyond obstacles, to stay well, and to keep going. When our life counts for something we have a reason to get out of bed every day. In purpose there is unlimited joy!

3. Something to look forward to– this can range from grand plans such as overseas travel or moving to a new home, to daily rituals and routines that bring little moments of intense happiness. Coffee lovers you know what I mean! It’s the things that feel energizing and joyful even in their simplicity – exercising, getting outdoors, having a catch up with a friend. Anticipation is a very valuable and positive emotion. When we have something to look forward to it makes the more challenging moments less frustrating. The pay off of a future reward gives us the motivation to keep going.

So that’s it. It’s as simple as 1,2,3.  If this has resolved all your happiness questions then read no further. For those of you who are interested in picking up some additional happiness hacks, I’d love to throw in a couple of my personal favourites:

Say no to something– this is so empowering I can’t even begin to tell you the impact it has. Saying no to something you really don’t want to do is not about being hostile or uncooperative, it’s about respecting your own boundaries. There is so much to be gained from this small act it will have you grinning from ear to ear.

Read or listen to something inspiring– use idle time (public transport, waiting at the doctors office, picking the kids up from school etc.) to read or listen to something that really motivates you.  If you don’t have the time to sit and read then a good pod cast will do the trick. I have cleaned the house, made many a dinner and done bucket loads of laundry on the fumes of great podcast.  When you engage with content that speaks to your soul you really do find your happy place.

Be grateful for what you have– it’s an overused term but adopting an attitude of gratitude really is an ingredient for happiness. When you focus on what you already have, you immediately feel abundant, and abundance brings more happiness.  It’s a positive cycle so keep it going.

Remind yourself how truly great you are – Repeat after me – “I am enough”. Write it on your bathroom mirror, save it to your home screen, or send yourself a text. It doesn’t matter how you do it but let this in.  When you can truly embrace that you are enough exactly as you are right now, it will change your world. Your mind cannot argue with this absolute statement of truth. This alone will bring a renewed sense of confidence and happiness. 

And while I hate to use clichés, I’m reminded that happiness really is the journey and not the destination.  It just takes slowing down enough to take in the view, instead of trying to speed towards it like it’s about to be snatched out from underneath us.

Identifying Limiting Beliefs and Six Easy Steps to a Powerful Reframe

A belief is anything that we believe to be true based on our experience. When we have an experience we apply meaning to it, to give it context. Our interpretation of an experience is how we make sense of the world. And in that meaning we form beliefs.  But beliefs are neither logical nor factual; they are an outcome of our perception. However, beliefs are very powerful because they form the basis of all of our thoughts, and our thoughts are at the centre of everything.

 A limiting belief is created in two phases. In phase one we have an experience, and then we form an opinion based on that experience. In phase two, we have additional experiences that reinforce the same opinion. And when an opinion is reinforced our mind transforms it into a conviction. 

So if we have a limiting belief, how does this impact our experience of the world?  A limiting belief can be very damaging because it’s based on the premise that something is not possible or available to us and therefore inhibits our potential. In a nutshell, limiting beliefs create a life less satisfying by ‘taking away the possibility of possibility’. So how do we identify a limiting belief and clear it out?

STEP 1: Identify Current Challenges

Take a notebook and pen and jot down the perceived challenges you face in each of the following areas. The questions are prompts to get you thinking about potential issues.

  • Money– Do you feel financial pressure? Do you have a level of income that supports your needs? Are your finances secure? Do you have an investment plan? 
  • Career– Do you love what you do? Do you feel motivated to get up and go to work every day? Is your job emotionally rewarding?
  • Relationships– Do you have connected relationships with family and friends? How do you show up in these relationships?
  • Health– Do you take time to look after yourself? How is your weight? What type of foods do you eat? Do you exercise regularly? Do you follow up with health checks?

STEP 2: Identify Negative Beliefs

For each of these areas, identify any negative beliefs that are contributing to these challenges. The beliefs outlined below are examples to get you thinking and should be replaced with your own limiting beliefs.

  • MoneyMoney doesn’t grow on trees. There is never enough money. Rich people can’t be trusted. I’ll never be able to afford the lifestyle I crave.
  • CareerClimbing the ladder is hard work. A nine to five job is the only way to make a living. I’m not smart enough to be a leader. I’m an imposter. The job I want isn’t available to me.
  • RelationshipsRelationships always end in disaster. Men/women can’t be trusted. I’m better off alone than being hurt. I don’t want a divorce. I’m not lovable enough.
  • HealthObesity runs in the family. I’m destined for a heart attack between 45 and 50. I don’t have time to exercise. Healthy meals are too hard and too expensive. 

*You can see in this step alone, how impactful a limiting belief can be. If you really believed these things, how is it possible to live a full life?

STEP 3: Rank Beliefs in Order of Impact 

Now rank these beliefs ( for for your tip five) in order of how big an impact they are having on your life. At the top of the list should be the belief that you believe is holding you back the most. To determine the level of importance for each belief, think how it would feel if you could eliminate this from your life.

Create your list regardless of which area of your life they are showing up in.
(See the example below)

  1. There is never enough money.
  2. A nine to five job is the only way to make a living.
  3. I’m an imposter (don’t know everything I need to know to do this job)
  4. I’m not loveable enough.
  5. I don’t have time to exercise.

STEP 4: Question the Belief

Ask yourself where each belief came from (your parents, sibling, teacher, friend, work colleague, manager, coach etc.) and what was the experience behind the belief.
For example, a belief that there is never enough money may have come from a limiting belief around money expressed by your parents. They may have said repeatedly ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’, or continually denied any request for childhood treats claiming ‘there is no money for that’.

STEP 5: Test the Validity of the Belief

Take each of your beliefs and imagine that you had to argue them in a court of law. Do you have absolute proof, and enough evidence to demonstrate that they are really true? Could you argue for them ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’?
It’s highly likely that when you get to this step you’ll realise how weak your beliefs really are. So question why you’re holding on so tight to them?

STEP 6: Reframe

Consider each limiting belief and think about what you would prefer to believe. Then reframe it in the positive. Those outlined below are examples, so develop your own based on the positive terms and words that resonate with you.

  • There is never enough money.
    (REFRAME) I am financially abundant.
  • A nine to five job is the only way to make a living.
    (REFRAME) There is an infinite number of alternative work opportunities.
  • I’m an imposter.
    (REFRAME) I have all the skills and knowledge I need right now.
  • I’m not lovable enough.
    (REFRAME) I am completely loveable and will find the perfect relationship for me.
  • I don’t have time to exercise.
    (REFRAME) I can shift my schedule to make time for myself because I am worth it.

Remember, “The only limits you have are the limits you believe” Wayne Dyer.