It always amazes me to watch children cry. They don’t have a job, a house to keep up, a car to take care of, a lawn to mow, cranky people to work with, stress, or any bills, yet they cry like the sky has fallen on them. Really? I sometimes wish I could tell them about all the excitement that’s coming their way in a few years, but that would probably make them cry even more!

So why aren’t we (adults) happier? According to many studies, the majority (about 80%) of us are not happy at work. At least half of us aren’t happy in our current relationship (or lack of one). At least 15% of us are routinely depressed. Is it because of societal pressure to conform to unattainable norms? Is it related to the amount of debt too many people carry? Or the fact that 75% of us live payday-to-payday? Perhaps it’s related to our poor diets and our excessive amounts of stress. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Over the years, I’ve read many articles detailing how to have more happiness. The most recent of these is titled: “10 Habits of the Happiest People,” by Kristi Ling. In it she says, “Happy people don’t find happiness like you find a penny on the ground; they make it happen, with action.” For example:

  • Be deliberately optimistic
  • Keep uplifting resources on hand
  • Put yourself first
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Practice loving-kindness

These are certainly great suggestions, and I commend her for doing something to address this problem, but I’m convinced there is a better way. In my book “12 Principles of Success and Fulfillment,” I wrote an entire chapter titled “Discover Eight Components of Happiness.” Here’s the intro paragraph: It could be said that many of the choices we make in life we make because we want to be happy! Experiencing happiness helps us to live longer, laugh more, feel better and enjoy a more pleasurable life. It’s not that we don’t try to be happy; we do. Problem is, finding happiness can sometimes be more challenging than we anticipated! Perhaps the elusive secret to happiness lies in the elimination of the reasons for unhappiness; specifically in those mindsets and circumstances that prevent us from enjoying a life of pleasure and bliss. In other words, figure out what’s preventing you from being happy, and resolve or eliminate it or them. For example, if you worry, stop it. And if you don’t know how to stop it, watch this YouTube video with Bob Newhart, explaining how to stop it.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve gone through cycles in your life when you’ve decided to clean up a closet, a garage or a basement. So you pick a day and begin sorting things into piles: stuff to keep, stuff to sell, stuff to give away, stuff to toss out. But for some strange reason, we all tend to hold on to things. So even after a good cleaning, you still have a lot of stuff. Maybe I’ll get rid of that stuff next year, you think to yourself. But do you think it’s possible that we also hold on to stuff in our heads, or our hearts, or our emotions? Useless stuff; stuff that prevents us from being happy. Like for example, holding on to grudges. Or holding on to the idea of always being in control. In this terrific article called “50 Reasons Why You May Be Unhappy” by Sarah Hansen,  you’ll no doubt discover at least a dozen or more things you have been hanging on to, don’t need, and are likely preventing you from being as happy as you would like to be.

So grab a pen and paper, make a list of stuff you don’t need anymore, mindsets or beliefs or feelings that don’t serve you well, and throw them out. Don’t put them in piles – get rid of them! And if you need a little motivation or inspiration, here’s a little music to get you moving in the right direction!

To Your and My Health and Happiness,

Dr. Hank