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The Road to Happiness

The Road to Happiness


Does it seem like the harder you try to find happiness, the more it eludes you and the bluer you become? If so, you're not alone, according to experts speaking at the Happiness and Its Causes Conference, held this past winter in San Francisco. But taking steps to break down six key barriers to happiness could go a long way toward turning that frown upside down, they told Barrier: Complexity Solution: Simplify More choices is not necessarily a good thing, according to Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D., a former Buddhist monk. If multiple credit cards are a stressor, get by with one (or even none). If two cars are a hassle, cut back to one. Get a haircut that you can just run your fingers through and go. Buy clothes that don't need to be ironed. Anything you can do to create more time and space in your life will help boost your happiness. Barrier: Breakneck Pace Solution: Take a Break Being constantly on the run creates tension that affects your psyche, notes Buddhist nun Venerable Robina Courtin, organizer of the happiness conference. Take a break to relax--even if for just a few minutes--to recharge your batteries. Barrier: Negativity Solution: Let Go Negative, compulsive thoughts have a way of sticking with you and affecting how you see the world around you, notes Jinpa. Instead of dwelling on them, teach yourself to recognize when you're perpetuating anger, depression, or dejection and ask yourself what you can do to move past it. Barrier: Despair Solution: Remain Hopeful OK, this may not sound so easy, especially in the face of adversity. But there are three key steps for hope to thrive, says psychology professor David B. Feldman, Ph.D.: setting goals, making a plan to achieve them, and finding the motivation to stick to that plan. 'Those who succeed don't internalize the blame game; they ask, 'What now?'' he says. Barrier: Suppressing Sadness Solution: Let Yourself Feel It No one is happy 24/7. Sadness is a natural reaction to events and circumstances in our lives, and suppressing it often results in suppressing other emotions as well, including happiness and joy, warns Stanford University's David Spiegel, MD. Barrier: Isolation Solution: Connect With Others Happiness spreads through social networks, Jinpa says. Isolating yourself not only cuts you off from that positive group influence, but also closes the world around you in such a way that your worries and problems become the center of your universe.

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