Secrets of Truly Happy People

How it's linked to joy: Practising gratitude invites more joy into our lives. 'When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that is present, we experience heaven on earth,' says inspirational writer Sarah Ban Breathnach. For Karen Graham, a 56-year-old success coach and counsellor in Barrie, ON, being consciously grateful helps her cope with bouts of seasonal affective disorder. 'I find I'm more likely to experience joy if I'm content with what I have,' she says. How we lose it: We often feel dissatisfied when we compare our lives to others and imagine theirs is so much better, says Graham, who cites this favourite quote from Theodore Roosevelt as a reminder not to do that: 'Comparison is the thief of joy.'How to reclaim it: A tangible gratitude practice 'keeping a gratitude journal or saying grace at dinner that includes what you are thankful for ' can shift your mood from blue to blissful. Every night before nodding off, Graham tries to remember to recount three things she was thankful for that day. 'Some are big, like my health or my home, and others are small, like basmati rice.' And, because she's 'more likely to feel gratitude when she's outdoors,' she makes sure to take her yellow lab, Hailey, for a walk in the woods every day. 'Nature is a spiritual place and the forest is my cathedral. When I'm feeling connected to the universe, I'm always in a grateful place.'

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GRATITUDE: MAKE IT AN ACTIVE PRACTICE

How it’s linked to joy: Practicing gratitude invites more joy into our lives. ‘When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that is present, we experience heaven on earth,’ says inspirational writer Sarah Ban Breathnach. For Karen Graham, a 56-year-old success coach and counsellor in Barrie, ON, being consciously grateful helps her cope with bouts of seasonal affective disorder. ‘I find I’m more likely to experience joy if I’m content with what I have,’ she says. How we lose it: We often feel dissatisfied when we compare our lives to others and imagine theirs is so much better, says Graham, who cites this favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt as a reminder not to do that: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ How to reclaim it: A tangible gratitude practice ‘keeping a gratitude journal or saying grace at dinner that includes what you are thankful for ‘ can shift your mood from blue to blissful. Every night before nodding off, Graham tries to remember to recount three things she was thankful for that day. ‘Some are big, like my health or my home, and others are small, like basmati rice.’ And, because she’s ‘more likely to feel gratitude when she’s outdoors,’ she makes sure to take her yellow lab, Hailey, for a walk in the woods every day. ‘Nature is a spiritual place and the forest is my cathedral. When I’m feeling connected to the universe, I’m always in a grateful place.’

What’s stopping you from finding bliss? We’ve uncovered the six qualities that will help you embrace job and happiness

How it's linked to joy: 'The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are,' wrote Carl Jung. Authenticity means having the self-awareness to understand what really brings you happiness ' only then will you be able to discover your life's purpose and pursue it with passion. That's what Dr. Cathy Klein did when she gave up a high-profile, high-paying career as a head soccer coach at a prestigious U.S. university to pursue her passion of teaching by creating a developmental training program. That was over 10 years ago, and she's never looked back. 'I followed my passion and found my joy ' which involves working with kids and dogs ' and rebuilt my life. I used to have a six-figure income and a big expense account. Now I live in a small cottage in the country and have a minimalist lifestyle,' says 50-year-old Dr. Klein, of Carlisle, ON. 'I peeled away the layers to find out who I really am and I've never been happier.'How we lose it: When we always strive to please others ' or become hooked on achievement ' we can lose sight of our true selves. Dr. Klein spent decades proving herself before realizing it wasn't making her happy. 'I got to the highest level of women's soccer there is and it was like chasing air ' there was always something else I felt I had to accomplish.''I became defined by being on a national team, having a top athletic career and getting a PhD. I bought into a measure of success that was defined by what others wanted for me. Now I make the effort each and every day to ask myself what really brings me joy.'How to reclaim it: Sometimes it's a big event that makes us realize we aren't living our right life. For Dr. Klein, the wake-up call came when her father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She returned home to help care for him and began to reassess her life. 'That's what started my real transformation.'

AUTHENTICITY: REDISCOVER WHO YOU ARE

How it’s linked to joy: ‘The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are,’ wrote Carl Jung. Authenticity means having the self-awareness to understand what really brings you happiness ‘ only then will you be able to discover your life’s purpose and pursue it with passion. That’s what Dr. Cathy Klein did when she gave up a high-profile, high-paying career as a head soccer coach at a prestigious U.S. university to pursue her passion of teaching by creating a developmental training program. That was over 10 years ago, and she’s never looked back. ‘I followed my passion and found my joy ‘ which involves working with kids and dogs ‘ and rebuilt my life. I used to have a six-figure income and a big expense account. Now I live in a small cottage in the country and have a minimalist lifestyle,’ says 50-year-old Dr. Klein, of Carlisle, ON. ‘I peeled away the layers to find out who I really am and I’ve never been happier.’How we lose it: When we always strive to please others ‘ or become hooked on achievement ‘ we can lose sight of our true selves. Dr. Klein spent decades proving herself before realizing it wasn’t making her happy. ‘I got to the highest level of women’s soccer there is and it was like chasing air ‘ there was always something else I felt I had to accomplish.”I became defined by being on a national team, having a top athletic career and getting a PhD. I bought into a measure of success that was defined by what others wanted for me. Now I make the effort each and every day to ask myself what really brings me joy.’How to reclaim it: Sometimes it’s a big event that makes us realize we aren’t living our right life. For Dr. Klein, the wake-up call came when her father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She returned home to help care for him and began to reassess her life. ‘That’s what started my real transformation.’

How it's linked to joy: Lucille Ball said it simply and said it best: 'Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.' But many women live in self-imposed misery because the critical voice in their head tells them they aren't good enough, says 43-year-old Christine Ciona, a 'joy guru and abundant living guide' in Swift Current, SK, who coaches clients to stop judging and laying guilt on themselves. 'So many people say they are doing just fine, but deep inside they are miserable and don't know why. It's because they get out of alignment with their true being.'How we lose it: Self-acceptance is hampered 'when we listen to our self-doubt and say things to ourselves that deplete us,' says Ciona, who adds that maintaining a harried schedule with little to no downtime is another way to avoid accepting ourselves. 'Engaging in overactivity can be a way of numbing ourselves and not connecting with who we are inside.'How to reclaim it: Take the time to be still, says Ciona, who operates a studio that allows clients to do just that with classes in meditation and tai chi and also offers a 10-day summer reiki and slow yoga retreat in Spain. For Ciona, finding her 'joy champions,' an intimate circle of 'soul sisters,' has been key to living a better life. 'Think about the people in your life who inspire you and figure out what you can learn from them ' they can help you raise your joy frequency,' she says. 'Recently I met a woman and, although I didn't really know her, I loved her vibe and told her I'd love to connect with her once a month over coffee. Be brave and reach out.'

SELF-ACCEPTANCE: EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE

How it’s linked to joy: Lucille Ball said it simply and said it best: ‘Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.’ But many women live in self-imposed misery because the critical voice in their head tells them they aren’t good enough, says 43-year-old Christine Ciona, a ‘joy guru and abundant living guide’ in Swift Current, SK, who coaches clients to stop judging and laying guilt on themselves. ‘So many people say they are doing just fine, but deep inside they are miserable and don’t know why. It’s because they get out of alignment with their true being.’How we lose it: Self-acceptance is hampered ‘when we listen to our self-doubt and say things to ourselves that deplete us,’ says Ciona, who adds that maintaining a harried schedule with little to no downtime is another way to avoid accepting ourselves. ‘Engaging in overactivity can be a way of numbing ourselves and not connecting with who we are inside.’How to reclaim it: Take the time to be still, says Ciona, who operates a studio that allows clients to do just that with classes in meditation and tai chi and also offers a 10-day summer reiki and slow yoga retreat in Spain. For Ciona, finding her ‘joy champions,’ an intimate circle of ‘soul sisters,’ has been key to living a better life. ‘Think about the people in your life who inspire you and figure out what you can learn from them ‘ they can help you raise your joy frequency,’ she says. ‘Recently I met a woman and, although I didn’t really know her, I loved her vibe and told her I’d love to connect with her once a month over coffee. Be brave and reach out.’
How it's linked to joy: Gandhi said, 'The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.' Plenty of studies bear this out, including the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey of 4,500 adults by United Healthcare and Volunteer Match that found that, of those who volunteer, 89 percent said it improved their sense of well-being, 73 percent said it lowered their stress levels and 68 percent said it made them feel physically healthier. Giving back has always been a big part of Patricia Gagic's life. The 61-year-old Hamilton, ON, writer and artist has spent many years volunteering for organizations such as the John Howard Society and Free the Children. But a significant turning point came when Gagic's friend visited Cambodia in 2006 and stumbled upon a derelict orphanage housing anywhere from 30 to 40 children at a time. Gagic and her surgeon husband, Ned, first visited the region of Siem Reap in 2007. The Gagics provided all of the funds to build a new library and school for the children and the monks who cared for them, and they continue to fund this cause. 'It made a huge difference not only in their lives but also in ours,' she says. 'People want to feel joy in their lives, and the way to do that is to know what brings you fulfillment ' for me, that's finding a way to contribute.'How we lose it: We can become so focused on our own concerns that we forget there are many who could benefit from our help. 'Think about what's preventing you from contributing. If you don't have the money, perhaps you can afford to invest some time,' suggests Gagic. 'We can forget that extending a hand to someone else can give us a sense of completeness.'How to reclaim it: Gagic acknowledges that her financial means allowed her to donate a substantial amount of money to the orphanage but points out that a contribution doesn't have to be big to be meaningful. 'Even if you are doing something as simple as knitting mittens for needy kids, you are making an impact,' she says. 'Helping others is what we are here for.'

GIVING BACK: REAP THE REWARDS OF SHARING

How it’s linked to joy: Gandhi said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ Plenty of studies bear this out, including the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey of 4,500 adults by United Healthcare and Volunteer Match that found that, of those who volunteer, 89 percent said it improved their sense of well-being, 73 percent said it lowered their stress levels and 68 percent said it made them feel physically healthier. Giving back has always been a big part of Patricia Gagic’s life. The 61-year-old Hamilton, ON, writer and artist has spent many years volunteering for organizations such as the John Howard Society and Free the Children. But a significant turning point came when Gagic’s friend visited Cambodia in 2006 and stumbled upon a derelict orphanage housing anywhere from 30 to 40 children at a time. Gagic and her surgeon husband, Ned, first visited the region of Siem Reap in 2007. The Gagics provided all of the funds to build a new library and school for the children and the monks who cared for them, and they continue to fund this cause. ‘It made a huge difference not only in their lives but also in ours,’ she says. ‘People want to feel joy in their lives, and the way to do that is to know what brings you fulfillment ‘ for me, that’s finding a way to contribute.’How we lose it: We can become so focused on our own concerns that we forget there are many who could benefit from our help. ‘Think about what’s preventing you from contributing. If you don’t have the money, perhaps you can afford to invest some time,’ suggests Gagic. ‘We can forget that extending a hand to someone else can give us a sense of completeness.’How to reclaim it: Gagic acknowledges that her financial means allowed her to donate a substantial amount of money to the orphanage but points out that a contribution doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful. ‘Even if you are doing something as simple as knitting mittens for needy kids, you are making an impact,’ she says. ‘Helping others is what we are here for.’
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