Each human being strives to be happy. Only our needs forsurvival and safety are stronger. Since most of us able toreceive this article have sufficient food, clothing, andshelter, it’s safe to say that we’re spending much of ourtime and energy seeking happiness.

Consider these four keys to increased happiness.

1. Examine your fundamental belief about happiness. Do youexpect to be happy? I once overheard two young peopletalking. One young man said to the other, "I never expectanything good to happen, that way I’m never disappointed."This young person traded his hopes of happy life events forthe certainty of avoiding disappointment. Listen to thelunch table talk of those around you-perhaps even your owntalk-do you hear expectations of happiness?

There is much social research-as well as spiritual teaching-supporting the theory that we get what we expect. Expect tobe happy and you will be. Expect to be unhappy and that,too, will come to you.

So the first key to your happiness is that you must believethat happiness is possible for you. If this is too difficulta belief based on where you are now, then accept thathappiness is coming soon. You must begin your quest forhappiness with a positive foundation. At the very least,make a bargain with yourself. For thirty days, allowyourself to believe happiness is not only possible, but onthe way. You have nothing to lose, so give it a try.

2. Find three things to appreciate at the start and end ofeach day. This second key to happiness is all aboutrecognizing that which you already have. Even the dreariestof days and the most onerous life circumstances have somepositive aspects. Start your day by finding three things toappreciate. This can be as basic as appreciating that youwoke up to another day and you’re alive. Appreciate theweather, not just a sunny day, but also a cloudy day. Seethe beauty in a rain or snow storm. Appreciate your job ifyou have one, even if you dislike it. Appreciate your car,even if it’s a clunker. Find three things for which you cansummon up an appreciative mood.

At the end of the day, repeat this process. This time focusyour appreciation on three events of the day. Something goodmust have happened to you today-after all, you’re stillalive. Appreciate something new you learned today, even ifit was that you can survive a dressing down by an iratecustomer. Appreciate the welcome you received from yourspouse, child, or pet, the safety of your home, or that youhave food for dinner.

3. Accept, change, or separate from that which prevents yourhappiness. Don’t dwell on the sources of unhappiness in yourlife, but do notice them. The third key is to make theconscious decision to do one of the only three things youcan ever do to change a source of unhappiness-fully acceptit, work to change it, or separate from it. These are yourchoices unless you really don’t want a change-the choice toremain unhappy so you can feel the victim is also available.Many people choose this one.

Fully accepting something means embracing it as your own-choosing it. It doesn’t mean whining or complaining aboutit. It doesn’t mean pretending it isn’t there. It meansaccepting it as part of your life. If that isn’t feasiblefor you, then...

Work to change it. If your source of unhappiness is a lousyjob-something you just can’t contemplate continuing for morethan a few months-consider how you might change it. Do youhave any room within this job to change some aspect of whatyou do or how you go about doing the job? Are there problemsoutside your responsibility that interest you? Ask your bossif you can take on a problem in addition to your regularresponsibilities. Few bosses will begrudge you taking onmore work. Perhaps you can gradually shift yourresponsibilities to things that are more interesting andbetter aligned to your abilities. If you can see no possibleway to change your situation, then...

Decide to separate yourself from the source of unhappiness.Life is too short to continue in a situation that you can’taccept and you can’t change. So leave it. Even in this pooreconomy with many people out of work, there are still jobsavailable. Start looking-unless you prefer to keep thingsjust as they are and complain. Be honest with yourself aboutthis. Some people really do prefer to complain than tocorrect.

4. Focus on that which makes you happy. The fourth key is toconsciously control your thinking so that you focus all yourthoughts, all your energy, and all your time on things thatmake you happy. Simply decide to reside within the positiveareas of your life. This may initially impress you as"sticking-your-head-in-the-sand,"-but it’s not. Lifesurrounds us with diverse experiences. We can choose thoseto which we give our attention. Does it make you happy orunhappy when your lunch crowd starts whining andcomplaining? Steer the conversation to something morepositive. Or mentally distance yourself and enjoy the dramathat each person is playing. Avoid feeling sorry foryourself, bitter about your bad luck, or envious of others.Stick with thoughts and activities that feel good and watchyour happiness index go up.

An excellent resource on building happiness is "AuthenticHappiness," by Dr. Martin Seligman. His web site,http://www.authentichappiness.com, offers many selfassessment surveys.

Author's Bio: 

About the author

Copywrite 2004, all rights reserved. Jerry Lopper is anauthor, personal coach, and consultant. His workshops,ebooks, articles, and coaching are available throughhttp://www.YourCoachtoSuccess.com where you can sign up forcomplimentary articles and coaching. For a complimentarycoaching session email to compcoach@yourcoachtosuccess.com.