by Eddie Chandler
1- Are you happy to get up in the morning?
If you wake up feeling rested, you're sleeping well, so you're probably quite content with your life. If you routinely drag yourself out of bed after pressing the snooze button several times, and you still feel weighted down after a shower and a coffee, it's time to assess your stress levels. Career and personal pressures can adversely impact your enjoyment of life and affect your happiness.
2- Is your happiness conditional?
Is your happiness always contingent on something? Do you tell yourself, "I'll be happy... when I get in shape" or, "...when I get a promotion" or even, "...when I pay off my car"? It's great to look toward continued and increased happiness, but not at the expense of enjoying the present. Focus on the right now. Learn to recognize the things that you enjoy and their positive impact on your life today.
3- Does the thought of happiness make you nervous?
Some people are afraid of being happy because they equate happiness with resigning oneself to the status quo; they feel that once one is content, one no longer has any goals to aspire to. This is not the case. Even if you are happy at the moment, there is nothing to stop you from building upon this happiness. There's no reason why your contentment should restrict your ambitions.
4- Do you look forward to seeing your friends and family?
When social and family events seem more like obligations, something's holding you back from being happy. Your interpersonal relationships add a valuable dimension to your life. Get together with people whose company you enjoy. If they challenge you intellectually, make you laugh and accept you just the way you are, you'll feel happier.
5- Are you only happy when you buy something?
Tying your overall happiness to material goods is not healthy. Too many people associate happiness with a new car or a dream vacation. Be careful about thinking that such acquisitions bring contentment with them. Don't fall into that trap.
6- Are you healthy?
Although it's often overlooked, one's health is intimately tied in with one's happiness. Often, it's only when one encounters others who are suffering from health issues that one gains perspective. When you focus on what's going right in your life, you'll feel more contented. Some men only realize how good they have it after tragedy has struck -- don't let it come to that.
7- Do you feel productive?
Think about the things that make you feel fulfilled and incorporate them into your day-to-day activities. If making a difference in the world is important to you, you don't necessarily have to tackle world peace or cure cancer. Your eye contact and a kind word will make a difference today to the barista at the coffee shop, the homeless man on the street or the elderly person on the subway. Finding meaning in your life and feeling productive will increase your sense of success and happiness.
8- Where were you a year ago today?
It's a good idea to occasionally look back to see how far you've come. It's easy to become so focused on the future that you forget to acknowledge how far you've come. This doesn't mean whining about the good old days when you had less work, more beer money and fewer responsibilities; it's about assessing your progress and development, and recognizing the positives.
9- What makes you the happiest?
Understanding what makes you happy will give you a guideline on seeking and enjoying happiness. Think of things you feel good about. Assess your talents. Look at your relationships. Consider the aspects of your job that you enjoy. Find ways to build on those positive influences and experiences to bring more enjoyment to your life.
10- Do you find happiness in the little things?
Do you stop to smell the proverbial roses? We're all in a rush with deadlines and time constraints, but if you make a conscious effort to notice and enjoy life's little pleasures, you'll create happiness for yourself and others.
11- What's stopping you from being happy?
Quit blaming other people for impeding your happiness. Stop complaining that circumstances are conspiring against you. Being bitter, wallowing in self-pity and pointing fingers at others won't help you feel happier. Take control and accept responsibility for your own happiness.
12- Do you have balance in your life?
It's important to maintain balance. If you believe your entire happiness is linked to the lady you love, you're in for a big fall if you lose her. If she walks away, will 50% of your happiness go with her? Maybe you've recently become a department manager, a great achievement considering how early you are in your career. If the company goes into Chapter 11 and you're suddenly unemployed, will you lose your identity with your job? Maintain a posi-real attitude and acknowledge the way that happiness ebbs and flows.