The Alphabet of Happiness: 'M'

02/07/2014 03:09 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

The word happiness means many things to different people. Some would argue that happiness can be superficial, but they are missing the deeper aspects. By exploring the facets of creating a meaningful life where wellbeing thrives, we open ourselves to the fullness, beauty and inspiring moments that life has to offer. The "Alphabet of Happiness" serves up strategies to tap into our highest potential. Starting with the letter "M," here are three more:

"I want to do it because I want to do it." -- Amelia Earhart

Moxie is defined as "knowledge gained by actually doing or living through something," or "an active strength of body or mind." We all have moxie, as everyone, at one time or another, has had to find the strength to face real challenges. Call it gutsiness, courage or vibrancy; it's already part of you. Think of a time when you have overcome an obstacle, discovered a strength you didn't even know you had, or faced a fear head on. You were tapping into your moxie. How did that make you feel?

The great news is that your strength and boldness arise when you have to act, when you encounter an issue that draws you forth. David had moxie; Goliath did not. The bigger the issue, the greater your capacity for moxie! If you use your strength for a reason larger than yourself, fear dissolves in the face of passion. Embrace the unknown; you have more capacity than you know. One of my favorite quotes is by Walt Whitman. "I am larger, better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness." Or boldness or passion... Let your moxie kick in and surprise you with how alive and awesome you can feel.

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." -- Viktor E. Frankel.

Do you ever have your mind full of so many to-dos, expectations or worries that it is hard to even think? Do you ever feel like you just want to re-center, cut through the static and reconnect with a deeper part of yourself? Mindfulness brings you back to the present moment and creates the space to pause and tune in. It helps you observe and accept the ebb and flow of your feelings. You can notice that you are not your thoughts... you are having thoughts, which come and go but do not define you. Mindfulness helps you access the calm depths inside of you that are always there, even if emotions seem turbulent on the surface.

Make some time to reconnect with a deeper, more peaceful aspect of yourself, one without the limits of time, beliefs, or fears. Even a simple practice like focusing on your breath calms the body, diffuses tension from the mind, and lightens the heart. In this space, you can respond rather than react, improve focus and creativity, and incorporate these qualities into every aspect of your day. In this practice, health benefits like less anxiety and increased positive emotion help you create the life you want.

Warning: Be prepared to feel aligned! Mindfulness will bring you back into the moment, help you see life from a place of greater self-compassion and ease you back to who you are.

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think." -- Buddha

Life happens -- it is dynamic and ever changing. Yet, how we think about what we are facing often influences how well we deal with it. What is your mindset, the perspective that your mind goes to when facing challenges? When you feel stuck, and hesitant to move forward because something is new, you are in your "fixed mindset." When your "inner critic" is holding court, saying, "You're not good enough, smart enough, strong enough" that's a very strong indicator that you are immersed in a fixed mindset.

But there's good news -- you have a choice. You can choose to tap into your "inner coach," who encourages you to keep on going. The "inner coach" also known as the "growth mindset" reminds you that even if you face obstacles, you will inevitably get better with practice. Especially when you face setbacks, you have the opportunity to learn from them and grow.

Who do you want to listen to: "Inner Critic" or "Inner Coach"? Once you identify them and recognize the signs, that awareness provides options. When you learn which side your mind favors, and when, you can then choose which perspective you give your attention to. Where a fixed mindset keeps you limited, your growth mindset acts like a reset button letting you know that with practice, anything is possible. Who knows how far you can go, just by taking that first step?

What other "M" words inspire you? How does mindfulness, mindset or moxie make a difference in your life?

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