Girl holding hands in heart shape at beach

I love when I notice I’m smiling when I’m alone. The smile isn’t falsely constructed to please anyone else. Rather, it’s naturally powered by my inner bliss, which radiates and beams through my being.

After many years of deep, inner work, I’m at a place in my life where I seem to have found greater peace and more bountiful joy. My mind is free to dream. My heart sings. My spirit dances. My body feels all that is sensual and good.

My parents told me they named me, “Joyce” because they were rejoiced by my birth. I’m grateful for this life and to my parents for choosing my name which means, “Happy.” For happiness is most certainly the path I choose.

After 20 years of counseling clients and working on my own psycho-spiritual journey, I recommend the following ways to choose happiness:

1. Don’t attach your happiness to anything external. We run into problems when we make our happiness dependent on our relationships, jobs, finances or  bodies or on anticipated outcomes. Recalibrate your expectations to zero. Happiness is an inner experience that is yours to claim. Everything else is impermanent.

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Identifying with your mind exacerbates stress, anxiety, and pressure.  Our egos use anger to preserve and protect themselves, causing disconnection and displeasure. Detach from your ego and get over yourself.

3. Give freely. Give and share what you can, whenever you can. Give compliments, love, affection, help, resources, time, consideration, thoughtfulness, respect, empathy, etc. It feels delightful and karma will bring it back to you, threefold.

4. Receive openly. Accept compliments, help and gifts. Embrace touch and praise. Absorb love and affection. Remember that the act of receiving allows other people the experience of giving.

5. Drink in the love. Hard to explain, but let me try… When I kiss my beautiful daughters, I consciously absorb the love power. Kissing my Claudia’s freckles refuels my “happiness tank” in seconds flat.

6. Appreciate cuteness. Don’t be too busy or caught in your own “mind chatter” to notice the little bird out your window, the newborn baby in her mother’s arms in the elevator, the elderly couple holding hands, or the fuzzy ducks in the pond. Take time to notice all that is precious, tender and miraculous in life.

7. Play & be silly. Remember how it was to play freely as a child. Shed self-consciousness, let go and have fun. I love playing with my kids; surprising them and reminding myself about the impish little girl inside me. Perhaps nothing makes my heart swell more than hysterical fits of laughter shared with my daughters.

8. Consciously connect with sunlight. Be aware of the sunlight and mindful of feeling it on your face and body. Bask in its warmth and light. Feel your connection with this life-giving energy source.

9. Be mindful of physical pleasures. Notice how soft your bed feels, how good your food tastes, how soft your lover’s skin feels… Enjoy and appreciate these wonderful sensations.

10. Stay firmly rooted in the present moment. Unhappiness occurs when we obsess about the past or worry about the future. Peace and serenity are found in the present moment. Practice deep breathing, meditation and other mindfulness techniques to establish presence.

11. Look for the good part. Practice gratitude to stay positive. See the goodness in yourself, in others and in the world around you.

12. Be a duck. Let negative stuff roll off your back. Life’s too short to expend energy getting your feather’s ruffled.

13. Tend to your environment. Make your home and office comfortable and cheerful. Surround yourself with things that elicit positive emotions and make you smile.

14. Take excellent care of yourself. Take care of your physical and mental health as if you were your own precious child whom you love very much.

15. Set healthy boundaries for yourself. Set the limits you need at work and at home with regard to time, space, money, etc. Don’t over-schedule or over-commit.

16. Surround yourself with people who ignite your inner fire. I so cherish my friends who make me laugh with abandon. It’s with them that I choose to spend my time.

17. Practice self-care. Everyday. Prioritize your wellness and practice yoga, go for a run, read a novel, tend to your garden or do anything that reboots your mind, body and spirit.

18.Express yourself freely and openly. Find your voice and say what you need to say. Dare to show yourself via your writing, artwork, dance or other creative expression.

19. Ensure you like yourself. Be kind. Have integrity. Be the person you have always wanted to be.

20, Be true to yourself. Be honest. Be real. Be vulnerable. Be brave. Let your inner light be your guide.

“Happiness is not something you get in life, happiness is something that you bring to life. “ ~Wayne Dyer

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