September 1, 2012

Eight Secrets to Feeling Happy

By: Liz Frost

A new book, Still 25 Inside by Lindsey Agness, reveals the eight secrets to feeling happy, healthy and fulfilled - whatever your age. Liz Frost takes a sneak peak.

Imagine feeling like you are 25-years-old - full of vitality, vigour and enthusiasm - for life. Author of Still 25 Inside, Lindsey Agness says, 'Our Attitudes are made up of what we believe about ourselves and what's important to us. Feeling good and enjoying life is a mindset that all of us can develop. You can make this choice at an emotional level (in terms of how you feel about yourself) and at a psychological level (in the way that you behave).

'Your chronological age is only a number. What really makes the difference is a positive state of mind - living a life that you're passionate about, and having fun. When you achieve these goals, a magical thing happens. You look and feel good, no matter what the year of your birth.'

In the book, Lindsay uses a mixture of no-nonsense advice, practical exercises and real life case studies to explore eight key 'Attitudes' that will help you feel young again. We asked her to give us a quick rundown...

Live your life on purpose

'The first Attitude, 'I live my life on purpose', is all about giving yourself permission to discover what you want to be, do or have with the rest of your life. It's important for each of us to have goals, but we often forget (or fail) to put aside the time to set them. It could be that you would like to travel to far-flung shores, learn a new sport, language or skill, meet new friends, volunteer, start up a website or a book club, or anything else you set your mind to. Or it could be something more drastic, like changing your relationship, career or where you live. This Attitude will help you focus on what you would like to achieve, and show you how to identify what you really want to change in your life.'

Create what you want (from the inside out)

'The mind and body are inextricably connected, so when we change on the inside, we automatically change on the outside. So often we depend on external 'things' to make us feel better. For example, when we have felt low or unhappy in the past we may have undertaken some 'retail therapy' to make us feel better. However, the feelings of pleasure that this type of thing encourages are normally short-lived. Why? Because we are relying on something 'external' to change the way we feel inside. Because we have tackled the symptom and not the root cause of why we felt bad in the first place. As a result, the effect is always temporary. In contrast, change on the inside is permanent because it's something over which you can take responsibility and control. If there's something you want to achieve, don't let the desire to make that first step 'perfect' hold you back, be prepared to make mistakes along the way and learn from them.'

Know who you are
This Attitude is all about finding out what you are passionate about, because doing so goes a long way towards helping you discover your sense of self - and thereby increasing your confidence and self-esteem. When we allow ourselves to discover what we are passionate about, we experience the triumph of love and hope over fear. Remember the last time you felt real passion? That was the real you. If it was more than a month ago, you've got some work to do!

As a first step, keep a diary of your key activities. For example, record how much time you spend on each of the following: quality time with your family, quality time with your partner, leisure activities, work, housework, friends, fitness, and focused time for yourself. Then ask yourself if you are happy with the results. What do they say about you at the moment? Do they begin to define who you are in a way that you'd like to be defined? Is your focus where it ought to be? And if it isn't, which areas would you like to devote more or less of your time to? Set yourself some goals and begin to rebalance your time.'

Be true to yourself

'In order to be true to ourselves, we need to discover what our values are. Our values are instilled in us at an early age, most often before the age of seven. At this age our surroundings are imprinted upon us with little of our own filtering. For example, our values will be influenced by the values of our parents, close family, environment, school, and everything and everyone else that touches our lives.

'Our values determine the way we think and how we behave. If you want to find out what your values are, then ask yourself what was important to those around you when you were growing up. It's likely that you have adopted many of their values. However, before you start to panic at the thought of having adopted your parents' values, it's also important to understand that our values change and can be changed.

'If you are a parent, I guarantee that on the day your first child was born your values will have changed. This happens unconsciously. Other times in our lives when our values are likely to change include marriage, divorce, bereavement, redundancy, retirement, illness and so on. Discover your values and be true to them and you will feel instantly better about your life.'

Believe you are good enough

'This Attitude explores how to change limiting beliefs or fixed ideas that we have about ourselves. Everyone has them; the good news is they can be changed! Our beliefs are views or ideas we have about ourselves, other people and situations that we hold to be true. Like our values, our beliefs are formed during the imprint period, before the age of seven.

'We collect beliefs from those closest to us at that time, such as parents, teachers, close family and any other important people in our lives. The most important thing to understand about beliefs is that they are generalisations that we create from life experiences. Most of us do not consciously decide what we believe. Furthermore, once we have a belief we forget that it can be changed, and it becomes our reality. We rarely challenge our long-held beliefs and they become a filter through which we sieve all of our life's expectations and experience.

'So, if you don't believe you're good enough, then you'll filter all your experiences through that belief until you only notice the times this is true, rather than noticing all the times you were successful or even more than good enough. The bottom line? Believe that you are good enough and you will be.'

Like yourself

'Believe it or not, the key to learning to respect yourself and feeling in harmony with your body is healthy eating. However, in order to eat healthily, it is important to create the mindset necessary for healthy eating. Let's face it - we women have an ongoing affair with food. We love it and we hate it. We starve ourselves and then we binge to make ourselves feel better. We go on crash diets and then we eat to suppress negative feelings in our lives. We equate it with love, yet we often simply feed others instead of telling them how much we love them.

'So, how do we create the right mindset to look after and respect our bodies? Firstly, we need to reframe the way we see our bodies. Instead of seeing them as less than perfect, or even ugly, it's essential to see them as the means through which we will achieve our life's purpose. We need to treat our bodies with love and respect, and regard food and meals as a way of providing them with the nourishment they require to support us on our journey.

'Any self-criticism will leave our bodies struggling to support us to be the best we can be. We must be ready to praise ourselves, and start being kind about every part of our bodies, knowing that any degrading thoughts will leave our bodies struggling. Our bodies give us strength to achieve our goals and, in return, we need to truly love and respect them for the amazing tools that they are.'

Take time for yourself

'This Attitude is all about time. Do you embrace time as your friend or your enemy? Are you someone who often says, 'I don't have time for that'? If you are someone who experiences time as a scarce commodity, of which there is never enough, then you are creating a completely different personal reality from someone who perceives that they have all the time in the world.

'Maybe you have even experienced some of the symptoms of stress such as breathlessness, panic attacks and high blood pressure. Deepak Chopra, the world-famous Indian medical doctor and author, wrote of an Indian master, who explained his remarkably youthful appearance thus: 'Most people spend their lives either in the past or the future, but my life is supremely concentrated in the present.' This is because those who live in the past often suffer from guilt, and those who worry about the future often suffer from anxiety. However, if you live in the present you can focus on enjoying the moment, whatever you are doing. This has a more relaxing impact on the body.'

Be certain of your success

'What if we could predict that everything we programmed into your future was going to happen, just as everything in the past has already happened? In other words, what if you could be as sure of the future as you are of the past? In this Attitude I use a Time Line Therapy TM - a process that helps you let go of negative emotions from the past, let go of limiting decisions you made in the past and create your future the way you want it. With Time Line Therapy TM you can decide what is going to happen and when. This process involves using your imagination to create a compelling future that is inspirational. It is important that the goals you put into your future motivate you now, because this is what will move you to take action and make your goal a reality.'

The upshot?

'Still 25 Inside is intended to make you probe deeper into who you really are and what you want for yourself. The way to transform our lives is to learn to see ourselves for who we really are, and let our true selves flourish and grow. By discovering ourselves and reaching our own potential, we also give the greatest gift to everyone around us - our children, our families and the world at large. We become a role model for others to follow, as they see in us what is possible for them. To achieve this we need to learn to suppress our own doubts and excuses so that our true nature can shine through.'

"Remember, the important thing is to keep moving forwards and to learn from anything that doesn't completely go to plan so you can do something differently next time."


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