01/26/2013 10:53 am ET Updated Mar 28, 2013

The Alphabet of Happiness

Happiness has many aspects: From quiet appreciation to living with zest and passion, it's great to explore all the various facets available to you now. Inner happiness has many entry points. Try these out and notice how good you feel.

Today, let's look at the letter "A." This is a letter of new beginnings -- perfect as you take a look at new ways to bring happiness into your life. It's interesting that the more you focus on happiness, the more it will show up. Just like an athlete strengthens certain muscles by repeated exercise, neuroscience tells us that the thoughts you repeat over and over actually shape and strengthen the neural connections that make up the brain. Get ready to expand your happiness vocabulary -- you'll soon have more choices than you may know to access your own happiness.


"Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." -- Voltaire

Appreciation: This is one of the cornerstones of happiness and one of the fastest ways to shift your mood and perspective. The definition of appreciation is "gratitude; thankful recognition." Developing gratitude helps you to focus on what is working in your life and it also trains your mind to notice the good things that are already there. Even the little things count, like a clear, crisp day, that incredible piece of chocolate or a smile to a stranger. It doesn't take much. Instead of focusing on what is missing, remember all the good that surrounds you now. Counting your blessings works! In relationships, try to tell another person just one thing you appreciate about them every day. It will change their perspective, and yours, too. What we focus on is what grows. To be happier, notice and appreciate the good stuff!

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein

Awe: Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by the beauty of a sunset, or had the opportunity to stare jaw-wide-open at the Grand Canyon? Even to contemplate the intricacies of how a human foot is constructed and all the things it can do (hold up a full-grown person, balance, move from heel to toe to propel you forward, run, pivot, leap and land intact) is awe-inspiring. In general, in this fast-paced world, we take so much for granted. People often complain that a plane is running late, rather than reflecting on how cool it is to be able to fly through the air in a tube of metal and be delivered safely to the other side of a continent. The intricate design systems within nature are beyond amazing, and to witness that can connects us to something greater. As you take in the flat-out magnificence all around you, remember your own awesomeness. You are part of the whole. That energy is part of you, too. From time to time, look at things with the eyes of an innocent -- it could reawaken you to the miracles around you right now.

"The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." -- C.G. Jung

Authenticity: How many times have you censored yourself for fear that someone might not react well to your authentic expression? Yet, there is a line between letting emotions wild and the wisdom of discretion. In some situations, the better choice is to take charge of your emotions instead of being ruled by them. For example, if you're feeling angry, you don't just go and hit someone over the head! On the flipside, it is also important to express your authentic individuality. Consider this is an invitation to look deeper than your emotions so you can tap into the essence of who you are. Are there parts of you that may be lying dormant, afraid to live out loud? Whether it's singing, dancing, creating something or making another person feel loved, that part of you is precious. Everyone has a gift. It's important and even vital to let that see the light of day, and more than that, to share it with others. Expressing your authentic self is not only energizing to you, it's one of the greatest gifts you can give to another. Shine ON!

What are some other A's that remind you of happiness?

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