09/30/2014 06:01 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2014

2 1/2 Tips For A Happier Life... Start Today!

Everyone wants to be happy! It's a primal desire that needs to be satisfied but rarely is completely attained. That's OK -- striving motivates us and leads to greater feelings of well-being.

We all experience moments of joy and elation. Perhaps it's on our wedding day, or when a child graduates college or the first moment we lay eyes on our grandchild. It might be when a job promotion comes through or an aged parent makes it through surgery successfully.

Spend a few minutes making a list of what brings you happiness and joy! Write down whatever comes to mind. Free associate and record every moment you recall as a child or adult that made you feel great.

When you're finished look at the list. Is it comprised of tidbits -- a variety of fond memories enjoyable to look back upon? If your answer is yes then spend a few minutes reminiscing right now. Make this part of your daily routine. Good thoughts are the precursor to a happier life.

Great, you've just completed Tip #1. The act of reliving pleasant moments leads to feelings of comfort, joy and happiness. Any opportunity to grab an instant of blissful memories is a gift not to be passed over quickly.

Life is organic, ever morphing and providing you with all sorts of exciting options. Soon you'll complete Tip #2. It's a tougher challenge but worth the effort.

The human psyche is a complex and oh-so interesting phenomenon. It's capable of providing virtually unlimited data that can be manipulated in any way we please. Certainly it can be used to create feelings of peace, euphoria, relaxation and a host of pleasant mental stimulants.

Sometimes we use it to magnify past victories. Have you ever noticed that looking back you often forget the travails and focus on the conquests? It's all about mind over matter. This is one of the ways we get by in life. Perhaps it accounts for our enjoyment of all things nostalgic.

When you feel motivated look at the list again. Do you see multiple seemingly isolated incidents of contentment, happiness, pleasure, glee and self-satisfaction? Hopefully the answer is yes. It's likely also that you'll recall some pain you experienced along the way. Pleasure and pain are often inextricably linked.

Now dig a little deeper and analyze the moments -- particularly what factors contributed to providing the positive feelings you experienced. Do you see any patterns that connect them? Most moments of happiness are interrelated and the result of a combination of events. Very little in life occurs in a vacuum.

Engaging in a bit of introspection, now rate how happy you are with life as a whole. In other words the sum of all the parts. Use a scale of 0-10 where 0 is totally unhappy and 10 is ecstatic. This of course is a loaded request. Virtually everyone will fall somewhere in-between.

If you wrote 5 you are straddling the happiness fence. Slip below 5 and you've got work to do, above 5 and there's still lots of room for invigorating life change. I'd be very surprised and pleased if there are many 10's.

A good deal of readers will see a disconnect between a long list of happy and inspiring moments yet an overall happiness rating that's lower than they expected. Do you fit into that category?

There's a reason we can recall lots of great times yet still not feel happy, content and fulfilled. Don't fret. You are about to transform isolated moments into a "gestalt" of increased and enhanced happiness. Whatever number you found yourself on the 0-10 scale will be higher in a few months.

This of course presumes you want to put a bit of elbow grease into your quest. Here's a little motivating tidbit. As your satisfaction and comfort in life elevates "on the whole" so too will that of your loved ones. Be motivated for yourself but rejoice in "spreading the pleasure." It's so rewarding!

In order to achieve increased happiness you need to spend time "inside your head." This is where you'll determine the essential unique ingredients that will propel and consequently fulfill your quest for happiness.

This doesn't occur through spontaneous combustion. You must put in the time, explore what makes you tick and come up with a to-do list of happiness enhancers. Looking at the isolated moments you identified earlier will allow you to determine factors that will help contribute to your quest.

Too often we live life on cruise control. We have no plan, simply going about our daily tasks sometimes cognizant of what will bring us a bit of joy. It might be an actual phone call rather than a text from our child, and as generations tend to follow patterns we might enjoy venting to our parent in a late night conversation.

However, we're looking to take all the "treasured moments" that I call jig saw pieces and put them together into a unified vision.

Once you are able visualize the complete picture you can create a plan to transform treasured moments into a more precious and satisfying life. It's a win-win as you enjoy the individual components and rejoice in the self-actualization that comes from the insight and attainment of personal goals.

Achieving happiness is so much easier when you set aside time to identify what will allow you to make the goal possible. Do it now! Spend a little of your "life capital" to explore. The journey is fun, the results virtually indescribable -- but you'll know them.

In a few months perform the rating exercise once again and watch with wonder as you find yourself recording a higher number on the scale.

Here's the best part. Life is organic -- even as you find you're enjoying it more, opportunities will constantly arise for even greater enhancement. When it comes to "what makes you tick" the more you know the more you grow.

Congratulations -- you've begun the lifelong process that is Tip #2 for enhancing happiness. You are on the way to a more enlightened existence -- something you will celebrate for the rest of our life.

Finally Tip #2 1/2. Share your new insight and self-awareness with others. As your happiness quotient expands exponentially so too will the desire to help loved ones experience all that which is contributing to your journey of contentment.

The reason I call it 1/2 a tip is as a subtle reminder that each of us must follow our own path. It's natural to want to share the journey -- but we can only help others to a limited extent -- they must pick up the torch and run with it.

I hope you found this article a bit thought provoking. If you need a short jump start with your journey feel free to e-mail me. I'll send out a Mind Acrobatics exercise to help you get the ball rolling. Reach me at: and put "Enhanced Happiness" in the subject line.

The take-away from this article is simply that deep awareness of what makes you happy paves the way to create a unique road map to a more rewarding life!

Dave's articles on self-insight, growth, fulfillment and assorted topics.

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