http://residentholdings.com/wp-json/ For a long time, I thought that happiness would come to me as a result of simply being a good person. I waited for it to show up and give me inner peace and an outer glow. Sadly, it took me 30+ years to realize it was never going to happen if I sat back and did nothing. Ultimately, it wasn’t until I reached the wrong end of the ‘happiness spectrum’ that I understood how to bring happiness into my life. Last winter something very powerful took over my life and swallowed me whole; I was extremely depressed and filled with anxiety. I spent days in my bed, just trying to make it through one minute at a time. I had to struggle through each new task that I was asked to perform (personally or professionally) hoping that no one would notice my impairment. At work, as my responsibilities got greater, so did my self doubt. Despite the desperate situation I was in, I somehow knew that it wouldn’t last forever; I would eventually leave my room and rejoin the rest of the world. However, I didn’t have a clue how to make that happen. I took the obvious steps, such as working with my psychiatrist and taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. I was making some progress, but being slightly less depressed is not the same as being happy. Once I started working with my life coach, she recommended that I read the book “Happy For No Reason” by Marci Schimroff. This was the start of a real change in my life; the book helped me to step out of the darkness and into the light. It gave me many ‘practical’ happiness techniques (yes, there really is such a thing) that I am still using to this day. For example, I keep a wonderful gratitude journal that I write in every night. It has helped me become aware of even the smallest blessings in my life. I was grateful for things such as talking on the phone with a girlfriend, enjoying a home cooked meal with my husband and children, and our parents taking care of the children while I work. At any time I can flip through the pages and truly appreciate the things in my life. It is a tangible reminder of how blessed I am, and that fills me with happiness! One of the long standing challenges to my happiness was my “glass is half empty” view of everything. It was one of the factors that had contributed significantly to my depression, and it was still getting the best of me. I knew that I would have to change this perspective if I wanted to be happy, but it was such a natural state for me that I felt that it would be nearly impossible. It was like wearing tinted glasses that were permanently stuck on my face, and it was going to take a miracle to get them off! My miracle came in the form of a small rubber wrist band. There was a section of the ‘Happy’ book that described a group of people who decided to wear a band on their wrist: every time they complained, they switched the band to the other wrist. The goal was to eventually stop switching the band, and thus stop complaining. I thought this was a challenging but potentially effective way to become aware of your behavior. I thought it was worth a try! I was so committed to this technique that I decided to get my own custom wrist band. I wanted it to have true meaning for me, so I took some time to think about what the band should say. It finally came to me, around the concept of responsibility – the responsibility we have to ourselves to make meaningful and powerful life choices. We have the ability to choose our responses to any situation that is presented to us. Wow: simple, powerful, and true! It was one of those “duh!” moments – why have I never realized how much control I have over how my own life unfolds? I was so busy focusing on what I didn’t have that it blinded me, and that behavior was keeping me stuck. I am the one that has the answers; why was I waiting for other people to figure it out for me? It was clear to me that my band should say “Response-Ability”. Not only was this to help me stop complaining, but more significantly it was to remind me that I have the ability to choose my responses and change my outlook on life. I found a website that made custom silicone bands, and ordered several of them. When I received them in the mail I was so excited; I couldn’t wait to put one on and start taking responsibility for my life. Ultimately, this turned out to be one of the most powerful techniques I have ever used. Taking control of my decisions, my actions, and my life has lead to fulfillment and genuine happiness. To this day I still wear my band; I’ve never taken it off and I don’t plan to! If you are feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, try making small changes in your behavior; you might be surprised to see where it takes you! Don’t wait for others to make you happy. Appreciate greatly, be responsible for your decisions & actions, and remember that even the smallest gestures can put a smile on your face. Start living your life passionately and take every opportunity to invite happiness into it. Are you taking response-ability for your happiness? How do you bring happiness to your life?