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What Does it Take to be Happy?

Whether you are experiencing life is as a parent, remembering times as a child, or if you're just a big child at heart, I'm sure you can't fail to be moved by the following poem by Maria-Anne Pike:


If a child lives with criticism
He learns to condemn

If a child lives with hostility
He learns how to fight

If a child lives with ridicule
He learns to be shy

If a child lives with shame
He learns to feel guilty

If a child lives with tolerance
He learns to be patient

If a child lives with encouragement
He learns to be confident

If a child lives with praise
He learns to appreciate

If a child lives with fairness
He learns justice

If a child lives with security
He learns to have faith

If a child lives with approval
He learns to like himself

If a child lives with honesty
He learns to be truthful

If a child lives with lies and deceit
He too learns how to lie and deceive

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship
He learns to find love in the world.


As you get older, it is all too easy to get in a rut - with fixed viewpoints, stuck emotions, ways of being that others can see clearly but you just think are 'right'. A life full of safe solutions. But if you start to shut out new experiences, or if you take less interest in new things, so your capacity for enjoying life diminishes. You stay in your comfort zone, and as you get older, your comfort zone gets smaller and smaller. This is harmful because you not only stop doing things that scare you, but you also stop doing things that give you pleasure.

Feeling good is not just a luxury, it is a vital necessity for good health and long life. There is scientific research that supports this. In 1973, Dr Ronald Grossarth-Maticek undertook an experiment on more than 3000 elderly Germans. He measured how often they felt pleasure. In 1994 he followed up and found that those with the highest scores were 30 times more likely to be alive and well than those with low scores.

How satisfied are you?

Which of the following statements best sums up your life?

(a) It has its ups and downs but is mostly fulfilling
(b) There must be more to it than this
(c) I spend most of my time wishing it would change

How often does your job, family or social life force you to do things you don't really believe in?

(a) Very rarely
(b) Sometimes
(c) All the time

How do you feel about your body?

(a) I'm in good shape and satisfied with my appearance
(b) It's not bad but I would like to feel better
(c) I hate the way I am and want to change

Which best describes your social life?

(a) I have plenty of friends and try to get out as much as possible
(b) I would love to have a wider social circle and go out more often
(c) I hardly see any of my friends any more and never seem to have time to socialise

Is your life mentally stimulating?

(a) Yes
(b) Sometimes, but I would like to be stretched more intellectually
(c) I feel as if I'm vegetating. Everything is so unchallenging

How did you score?

Mostly (a) - You manage your life pretty well. You know life can be better still because you know from past experience that what you get out of life depends on what you put into it - there are no limits.

Mostly (b) - As you're fairly satisfied with your life, you may be inclined to put off change. But unless you take some risks, you'll never realise your true ambitions. Consider your answers and think about new ventures and things you can do to make a difference.

Mostly (c) - You're not happy with your life - it needs a complete shake-up. It's time to sit down, take a deep breath and plan some big changes.

In each case, Tools for Transformation has a lot to offer you...

Get the life you want!

Changing your life for the better isn't easy. You know what you want but getting it seems a lifetime away. Family commitments, financial problems and fear of the unknown can all hold you back - but going for your goals can give your life the boost it needs. Happiness often depends on how close you are to what you would like to be. Here, we take the first steps towards finding the new you.

Make a list of things you used to enjoy in your last year at school - aim for 10 or 15 activities. Put a tick next to those you still enjoy. From the others, pick one activity and do it in the next week - yes, do it!

Force yourself out of the comfort zone. Taking steps to push out the boundaries of your experience will ensure that you continue to enjoy life. Think of an activity that you normally wouldn't consider, such as taking a cold shower. Each day turn the water from hot to cold while you're under the shower, and gradually lengthen the time you stay there each day until it's a minute or more. After a week, turn on the cold water for just 10 seconds - it should seem easy: Your comfort zone has expanded.

Of course, this takes self-control. For this week, every time your lazy or scared self wants to say 'No', say 'Yes'. It should be quite an educational experience.

Decide what you want

Write down five things that are really important to you: they might include a nice house, loving supportive partner, the chance to travel, a good job, etc. Now look at your current life and see how it matches up. These questions can help you pinpoint problem areas:

  • What are you doing that you want to do?
  • What are you doing that you don't want to do?
  • What are you not doing that you want to do?

In the light of this information, clarify your goals. Be specific - before you can plan how to achieve a goal it needs to be stated in a way that is realistic, measurable and time-targeted.

Your action plan should be broken down into manageable chunks - the steps you know you can make that, one by one, will take you to where you want to go.

Unpredicted obstacles may occur so it is important to stay flexible and to think laterally. Life is a game - think of it like that and don't take anything too seriously. Enjoy the challenges life offers!

Can you remember the last time you had a moment of pure joy?

It is possible to change your life so that you have that delightful feeling as often as you want.

What makes you happy?

Write down a list of things that make you excited, however big, small, likely or unlikely. Then work to make them occur more often. And appreciate the good things you take for granted - your child's hug or a good book. Look for moments of joy and savour them. Recognise how many happen every day. Feeling good can be a way of life, not just an occasional accident.

Take care of your health
Eating well and getting plenty of exercise will raise your spirits. Lack of nutrients will get you down so don't skip meals or make do with junk food. Physical exercise is known to stimulate endorphins that lift depression and anxiety - so walk, swim, run or whatever you like doing best.

Smiling triggers happy feelings in the brain and reduces stress. Even if you don't feel happy or confident just behave as though you do and soon you will. Find the joy in your life and you'll be more attractive and nicer to be around, people will be nicer to you too - and you'll smile some more! Joy is infectious but so is misery; therefore don't have anything whatever to do with people who dampen your spirits, invalidate your achievements or tell you what to think.

Make the most of your resources
Beware of 'must-abation', the belief that you must have a new relationship, a better job and a bigger house before you can be happy. Extremes of thought only set you up for failure. Remember, what you want is what you've not yet got but what you need is all around you! Don't chuck the baby out with the bathwater, work to improve things.

Get positive
Write down every negative thought you have over the course of a week, whether it's "My family don't appreciate me" or "I look dreadful." Negativity is a habit and we often don't realise we're doing ourselves down. Under each negative thought you've written, see if you can spot an alternative way of looking at it, that isn't so negative. See if you've exaggerated the situation or overly generalised, or if you are being unnecessarily intolerant, or thinking in 'should' and 'ought-to' terms.

Recognize all possibilities but expect success
There's a world of difference between expecting failure or rejection - so as not to be disappointed when it occurs - and recognizing it as a possibility. It's sensible to look at a situation from all angles and to have a back-up plan to fall back on if need be. People who do this will often see failure as another step on the road to eventual success; but by expecting and envisioning success, there's less likely to be a failure. You naturally move towards whatever you envision. Those who dwell on the worst case scenario, on the other hand, and give themselves worry and stress, tend to be devastated when it actually happens, even though they've been predicting it.

Assert your rights
Think of things which you have a right to, e.g. "I have a right to an evening out with my friends from time to time." Think of rights that every human being should have, such as, "I have the right not to be bullied." Now, protect your rights with your life, and watch your integrity and self-esteem grow.

Nurture your relationships
Take time and trouble over your friends and your partner. Talk and laugh with them and - especially - listen and understand their points of view. Don't make being right more important than a friendship. People with a few close friends are more likely to be happy than those with many mere acquaintances.

Give yourself some time
For most of us, life is fast-paced. Be sure to put aside a little time every day for yourself - relax with a book, in the bath or sitting in the garden with the sun on your face. Think of some things that make you happy - worrying solves nothing. And at night time, go to bed early enough that you get enough sleep to feel your best the next day.

Put things in perspective
When something's gone wrong it's tempting to believe nothing will ever go right again. Put it in perspective - things go wrong sometimes, even when life's really good. Life is for learning and without mistakes you learn very little. Notice when you exaggerate or generalise about an issue - "It's unbearable ..." or "Everyone thinks ..." - and re-phrase your thoughts more realistically.

Take control
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a task, break it down into small segments that you know you can do and start on the first one. If you have lots of incomplete jobs, list them in order of priority and tackle the most important job first. This way you have a sense of achievement at each step - and you'll soon find yourself getting a whole lot more accomplished. Production equals morale.

If you have a problem, the thing to do is to communicate: find out the information you need to get the full picture, so that the solution becomes apparent. If you're upset, you need to communicate and say how you feel. If you've done something wrong, again you need to communicate this. Spot where you're backing off from what you then need to do or say, and as the saying goes, "feel the fear and do it anyway". You'll be glad you did!

Be creative
Making something come to life that you have envisioned - whether a painting, a wonderful meal, a dress, an invention, a business plan - is infinitely satisfying. And you'll feel pleasure every time you think of it. If you want to be happy, get active - at work, within the family and the community. You will feel happier when you're participating in an activity, whether it's just playing with a child or helping organise a worthwhile event.

Live for the moment
Joy is often about living in the moment, being absorbed in what you're doing, not brooding on the past or guessing your future. Decide what YOU really want and then go for it. This may mean a job, a friendship or a hobby. It can take courage but it's worth the risk. Then give yourself wholeheartedly to the present moment.

You deserve it
Self-esteem comes from demonstrated competence. Everyone has skills but not everyone uses them. So use your skills - find out what you're good at and do it. Tell yourself that you deserve all the praise that comes your way and wallow in it!

These are all things you can do for yourself, to fill your life with enjoyment, pride, affection and enthusiasm. There will probably still be issues causing anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt or frustration that remain. The mind is complex and heavily conditioned into patterns of behaviour and fixed thinking that require a course of practical training to resolve. And there are many life skills you may want to improve and new ways of thinking that you might not have considered.

Meanwhile, to get to know yourself better - what are your strengths and areas that need working on - take a look at the Questionnaire, Know Your Own Mind. It's on the free downloads page.

The Dilemma

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk rejection
To place your dreams before a crowd is to risk ridicule
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrows, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love.

Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave - he has forfeited his freedom.

Only a person who takes risks is FREE

Keynote Articles for You to Enjoy

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: have they got it all wrong?
  2. SELF-CARE Ten Timely Tips for Beating Stress
  3. Quick Tips for Building Self-Confidence
  4. Writing a Journal Helps You Heal Faster and Better
  5. What can Cats teach us about Neurosis? A great deal..
  6. Take Control over your Own Happiness Dr. Ben Lerner
  7. SMART DRUGS: do they work?
  8. Read about cellular memory and heart transplants


"You have helped me find my joy again. I have never experienced anything like this in all my years! Nothing even comes close to what these tapes have done for me." — Rene Gonzalez, Friendswood, Texas

"I was a true skeptic from the start but all that has changed...I am convinced that using the tapes has dramatically changed the way I relate to life's opportunities and challenges. I can't believe how simple it is..." — Patti Koss, Studio City, CA

"The program is excellent and I've used many different ones... your system has definitely given me the best results in the least time spent...I am glad, and grateful, to reap the fruits of your labor." — Bob Anderson, San Diego, CA

"Here are some of the (20) benefits I've received in the first two months of the program:"

  • Tremendous focus and concentration
  • Better sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Better digestion
  • More confidence
  • More creativity

— Mike Lee, Las Vegas, NV

Read Some Quick Quotes About Emotions (link): emotion quotes



Emotional Intelligence (often given the acronym EQ, the emotional- intelligence equivalent of IQ) encompasses social intelligence and emphasises the affect of emotions on our ability to view situations objectively and thus to understand ourselves and other people. It is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power of emotions, appropriately channelled as a source of energy, creativity and influence. We like to call it 'Heart Intelligence' as balancing and integrating the head and heart, channelled through the left and right brain, is our mission.

Emotions are the primary source of human energy, aspiration and drive, activating our innermost feelings and purpose in life, and transforming them from things we think about, to values we live. The key factor is the way that we interpret our circumstances, based on our prior experiences and belief system, to either respond reactively like a stimulus-response machine with an emotion that is outside our control and may be inappropriate and self-defeating, or to respond proactively with self-determined responsibility - and freedom of choice.

Only part of our success in life is attributable to intellect. Other qualities: trust, integrity, authenticity, creativity, honesty, presence and resilience, are at least as important. These 'other intelligences' are collectively described as Heart Intelligence.

Psychologist Peter Shepherd walks and talks us through the domain of Love and the need for "Heart Intelligence"


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