04/04/2014 01:51 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2014

The Alphabet of Happiness: 'N'

Happiness can be found through many doors, and one of the most powerful is through being in the NOW. The invitation is to get beneath the surface static to be present for the essence of who you are. In my Alphabet of Happiness, I explore the various facets of happiness, one letter at a time. Step in and discover new ways to access the happiness that is within.

"It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living ... Make the NOW the primary focus of your life." -- Eckhart Tolle

What would happen if you could fully inhabit the present moment? What if your thoughts could focus on what is actually happening right now? What if you could observe your actions/reactions instead of being rerouted by them to some familiar perspective that may lock you in place?

Too often our minds are either focused on past dramas and stories, or traveling somewhere into the future. The past can color our present like a veil, which obscures the light. The future may hold the dream of something better or reflect a world of worry, depending on where your thoughts like to play. If you can be fully aware of what you are feeling, observe it as if you were watching a play, and accept that awareness, then even painful feelings like fear can dissolve. Fear cannot coexist with being in the now. As you feel the fear and observe that you are feeling it, that helps removes the charge. That emotion, which was acting as a warning signal, gradually loses its hold and dominance. This creates new room within you, which can now be filled with an ease and peace that are deeply real.

Instead of the mind-chatter that identifies you with a prickly past, or projects you into a questionable future, you can connect with your true essence, which lives beyond time and circumstances. In the end, the now is all we really have. Fill yours with acceptance, self-compassion and love. You will be amazed at how your inner resources grow stronger and how, just beneath the surface, peace and joy are waiting to remind you that this is the truth of who you are.

"If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is Nature's way." -- Aristotle

Nature holds the secrets to the universe. What is the force that grows a seed into a full-blown tree? How does one season move into the next? How does the whisper of wind become the gale of a tornado, then just as suddenly as it comes, it is gone. There is power, majesty and an order far beyond our understanding embedded in every aspect of nature.

As we take the time to study the intricacies of the natural world, from the varied shades in a leaf to the myriad patterns of a snowflake, each one exquisitely unique, we discover that there is beauty around us in each moment. It's everywhere: the tree outside your window, the changing shades of the sky, the park on a Sunday afternoon -- make time to notice.

We are part of nature, and as returning to it is like returning home, it calms us, soothes us and grounds us to remember at a level of essence who we really are. The challenge and the opportunity is to flow with nature, be aligned with it and take care of this living pulsing source of life itself.

"Of all the passions of mankind, the love of novelty most rules the mind." -- Shelby Foote

Curiosity, novelty, the appreciation of discovering something new fuels the mind and ignites the heart. When things become too routine, it's easy to get stuck in the rut of the familiar. Challenge yourself, try something new that is calling you to stretch beyond your comfort zone. Whether it's a new food, a new travel destination, a new job or a new friend, it is a message from your inner compass telling you that you are ready for your world to open.

Don't be surprised if it may bring up fears or raise doubts. This is often part of it. Rather than bury your fear of change, embrace it, feel it and then watch it dissipate. You are moving from your mind's habits of thinking into the authenticity of experience. By expanding, you resonate with the part of you that yearns to feel alive and connect with your passions. You are making the choice not to remain as you are, but to evolve into who you were born to be.

What helps you access happiness? Is it through nature, novelty or being in the NOW? Explore how this is a skill that can be learned, at Project Happiness.