3 Steps to Being “Happy for No Reason”

We asked Marci Shimoff, co-author of ‘"Chicken Soup for the Soul" and featured expert in the DVD and #1 bestselling book “The Secret” to share tips from her new book “Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happier Right Now” (Free Press, Jan. 2008).

Q: Were you born happy?

A: I was not one of the lucky people to have won the happiness lottery. My whole life has been a journey to find how to be happy.

I spent the first 40 years trying to fulfill goals that I thought would make me happy. The right job, the right husband, the right success, the right house, being of service to humanity … . I got all of it — but I still wasn’t happy.

This is what I call happy for a good reason. And, while it’s nice, it’s not the real happiness that we all most deeply want — which is an inner state of peace and well-being that isn’t dependent on circumstances. That’s what I call happy for no reason.

Q: How did you become happy?

A: I’ve spent the last 10 years studying the research on happiness. I decided to interview 100 truly happy people — people who are happy for no reason. I call them my Happy 100.

It turns out we all have a happiness set-point. It’s just like a weight set-point: Whether good or bad things happen, we generally turn back to that initial range. Our happiness set-point is 50 percent genetic and 50 percent learned, and research is now showing that we can raise our happiness set-point. That’s the best news of the century.

Aristotle called happiness the goal of all goals. It’s what we truly want. And now we know scientifically that we can become happier by raising our happiness set-point. In the book I show people how.

Q: For those of us who can’t wait for the book, can you share a few be-happier tips?

A: Absolutely. What I learned from my research and interviews with the Happy 100 is that it’s quite simple: Happy people have different habits than everyone else.

I uncovered 21 core happiness habits that anyone can learn and practice in their life to raise their happiness set point. Here are three to get you started.

#1 Don’t believe everything you think. Learn to question your thoughts. You have 60,000 thoughts each day; 95 percent of them are the same thoughts you had yesterday and the day before. Just because you have them doesn’t mean they are true.

Einstein said the most important question a person can ask themselves is, “Is this a friendly Universe?” It turns out that people who are able to say yes to that question are the happy people. All of my Happy 100 share the underlying belief that we live in a friendly Universe — one that is out to support them.

#2 Happy people let love lead in their life. They recognize that their heart is key to their happiness. The Institute of Heartmath found that the heart has an electromagnetic field around it that is 5,000 times more powerful than the mind’s.

Some of the key ways to let love lead in your life are: gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, and wishing others well. In the book I offer specific exercises for each of these.

#3 Happy people feel plugged into spirit. By spirit I mean universal source, unified field, God — whatever you choose to call it, a power greater than yourself. My Happy 100 consists of people from all different religions and backgrounds. But they all share a feeling of being connected to a greater whole.

It’s not an accident that every great spiritual tradition and teaching includes practices for connecting to spirit. For me, the best practice has been meditation. For others it’s prayer, walking in nature, music, dancing … . It doesn’t matter what form; what matters is that connection. In our overly stimulated culture, it’s become hard for people to take time for plugging in, but it’s vital for happiness.

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: We live in a society where one out of five women is on anti-depressants. This is staggering. We have an epidemic of unhappiness — but there is also a happiness revolution going on.

Everywhere you turn, there’s new information, research, magazine articles, even films on happiness. We are finally breaking the code to finding the answers to this age-old question of, “How do I become happy?” It’s easier than people think, and it’s available to anyone, right now, by practicing some very simple happiness habits and raising our happiness set-points.

“Happy for No Reason” by Marci Schimoff is available now on Amazon.com.  Published by Free Press of Simon & Schuster.

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Spirited Reading
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Spirited Reading.com) is featuring Happy For No Reason at our next presentation - and it couldn't come at a more perfect time for me! I have been so caught up in the "if onlys" (if only I had a better this...or a better that...(fill in the blank)) - Happy For No Reason really clearly lays out the steps to finding that kernel of pure joy inside...and approaches happiness from all aspects...spirit, mind and body. A really wonderful book!

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