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  • Pat­rina M. Clark, SPHR, HCS, RACC
    Speaker | Trainer | Con­sul­tant | Coach
27 Sep

Six Keys to More Joy­ful Living

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Being pre­dictable is a part of being human. Our brains are actu­ally wired to embed habits, increas­ing the num­ber of things we can do on autopi­lot. As essen­tial as autopi­lot is to our sur­vival, it’s impor­tant to our hap­pi­ness — to our mov­ing beyond sur­viv­ing to thriv­ing — to ocas­sion­ally take our­selves off of autopi­lot and assess what’s really going on.

Our abil­ity to oper­ate on autopi­lot, to be aware of our envi­ron­ment and solve prob­lems, has been the key to our sur­vival. John Med­ina describes it this way:

The brain is a sur­vival organ. It is designed to solve prob­lems related to sur­viv­ing in an unsta­ble out­door envi­ron­ment and to do so in nearly con­stant motion (to keep you alive long enough to pass your genes on). We were not the strongest on the planet but we devel­oped the strongest brains, the key to our survival.”

Each of us acquired the infor­ma­tion we believed nec­es­sary for our sur­vival by the time we were five or six years old. We moved through our phys­i­cal envi­ron­ment, and each of our expe­ri­ences fur­ther refined these ideas so that by the time we were adults (actu­ally teenagers), our beliefs about what it means to be happy were firmly in place. And, we went about the busi­ness – most often in autopi­lot – of chas­ing hap­pi­ness, or at least what we had con­di­tioned our­selves to believe was happiness.

Autopi­lot in and of itself is not a bad thing – in fact it is an essen­tial part of the human expe­ri­ence. We are not phys­i­cally capa­ble of always being “on.” How­ever, it is impor­tant and nec­es­sary to check the gauges peri­od­i­cally to ensure that all sys­tems are oper­at­ing as they should. In con­duct­ing this sys­tems check, it is def­i­nitely worth ask­ing the ques­tion “Am I happy?”

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, describes hap­pi­ness as being mean­ing­ful and worth­while because it “is one of the most salient and sig­nif­i­cant dimen­sions of human expe­ri­ence and emo­tional life, because hap­pi­ness yields numer­ous rewards for the indi­vid­ual, and because it makes for a bet­ter, health­ier, stronger soci­ety.” Research sup­ports that there are six activ­i­ties in which we can engage to increase and sus­tain our feel­ings of happiness:

$ 1. Reg­u­larly set aside time to be grate­ful. Grat­i­tude diaries and jour­nals are great. The Heart Math Insti­tute rec­om­mends going beyond just recall­ing peo­ple, expe­ri­ences, and things for which you are grate­ful to actu­ally tak­ing time to really feel grate­ful in our hearts.

$ 2. Think more pos­i­tively about ourselves.

$ 3. Being kinder to oth­ers. Being about the hap­pi­ness of oth­ers has the remark­able ben­e­fit of increas­ing our own happiness.

$ 4. Pur­su­ing life goals. For max­i­mum ben­e­fit, the goals should be inspir­ing, and we have to con­sis­tently take steps (even baby steps are great) toward achiev­ing those goals. One rea­son the Results Coach­ing Sys­tem is so effec­tive is the 4-​step goal set­ting process that gives peo­ple a big vision to work towards.

$ 5. Affirm­ing our impor­tant val­ues. This requires being self-​aware so that you can be clearer about what mat­ters most to you and why – what you value. Answer­ing the “why” ques­tion will help you to dis­tin­guish between your true val­ues and the val­ues that you don’t really feel per­son­ally con­nected to.

$ 6. Fully expe­ri­enc­ing, or savor­ing, pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences. This means being fully present for these moments and using all of our senses to rel­ish every aspect of what makes these moments so pos­i­tive. Jon Kabat-​Zinn, an MIT-​trained mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gist, talks about how being fully present for our lives has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to yield tremen­dous ben­e­fits. In his pop­u­lar YouTube inter­view, he shares how we can get bet­ter at fully expe­ri­enc­ing our lives.

Our default set­ting is to thrive, not just sur­vive. Find your joy, in this moment right where you are. Stay con­nected with what makes your heart sing and your spirit soar – what makes you Joy­fully You!


It’s never too early or too late to begin liv­ing the life you were born to lead. Pat­rina Clark loves shin­ing a bright light on the path to more empow­ered, inspired and joy­ful liv­ing. Pat­rina is ava­iable as a per­sonal coach, pro­fes­sional speaker, and orga­ni­za­tional consultant.

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