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A few shifts can illuminate the subtlety of happiness

If you think exhilaration is happiness, you probably also know it is a feeling that can’t be sustained. The excitement of a new car, a great deal or even a new love interest doesn’t last for long. It doesn’t mean happiness is fickle and fleeting. It just means that dopamine-induced excitement wasn’t really true happiness at all.

Happiness is less about what thrills you and more about accepting the range of emotions that you experience in life. Happiness and sadness are intrinsic parts of life. The harder you try to be happy, upbeat and positive, the more you will tend to feel sad, down and negative.

The key to happiness is to accept how you feel at all times.

During the times you want to feel better, though, it’s helpful to take some time to reflect and be present.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s not working, so reflect on what is working, what is good and what you have that you wouldn’t want to live without.

There’s a subtlety of happiness that doesn’t require huge, transformative strides to experience. These small shifts can have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of your life.

>> Create a values-centric life. Doing things that are important to you allow joy to find its way in to those experiences. Often the kinds of activities that stir the pot of happiness are quality time with yourself and others.

Most of us have not really reflected on what matters most but it’s an exercise that can lift your life to greatness. Who do I want to be closer to? If my life were to end this week, how would I fill my time?

>> Adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset is one where improving yourself is mandatory. It’s working at becoming your own superhero. After all, superheroes are often just ordinary people who cultivated and struggled with their gifts.

>> Stay in the here and now. Don’t look back as you’re not going in that direction. Avoid the anxiety of the future. What’s here and now is safe and satisfying if you can steady your thoughts to remain present for a few moments every day.

When all three of these practices are employed, you’ll feel a subtle, comforting calm that may just be the peaceful happiness you’ve been craving this holiday season.

Life guide Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U that helps thousands of people and companies improve their quality of life. You can reach Alice through

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