Personal Development Ideas – 4 Tips For Happiness

by Dr. Mark Atkinson April 26, 2011


Why do you do what you do? What motivates you to be successful, have relationships, go to work, take up hobbies, spend time with friends or go on holiday? What is it that you are really looking for at the deepest level? Take a brief moment to reflect on this.

The answer given by at least 90 per cent of the people I ask is happiness. As William James, the father of modern day psychology said, ‘how to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do’.

Quite simply happiness not only feels good, but it’s good for your health, your relationships, your work and our society. Happy people have more fulfilling lives, experience a deeper sense of connection to others and to nature, are more likely to contribute to the well-being of others and they consistently perform at higher levels than those who aren’t happy. Happiness in a nutshell provides us with the fuel to thrive and flourish as human beings. Society, business, families, children and our planet need happy people.

4 Tips for True Happiness

True Happiness describes a deep sense of well-being, inner peace and vitality that is with you most of the time in most circumstances. Unlike ‘normal happiness’ which is transient and dependant on ‘getting what we want’, true happiness is independent of our life circumstance, it’s their irregardless of our life situation. Here are the first of my top tips for moving you in the direction of True Happiness!


1. Stop believing everything you think

One of the most common causes of unhappiness is living in your head and taking seriously the ‘stories’ that your head creates. Most of what we think isn’t true and had no bearing on reality. One of the quickest ways to experience True Happiness is to shift from being identified with our thoughts to being the awareness of our thoughts. A simple and quick way to disengage any stressful story that your head is making up is to notice what the stressful thought is, for example ‘there’s no way I can get this done in time’– then say that stressful thought out loud (or silently in your head) very slowly – with a few seconds gap in between each word. Breathe slowly throughout and repeat 2 to 3 times, noticing as you do so how a sense of inner spaciousness, well-being and balance starts to open up inside of you.

This is the experience of what I call the true Self, the source of true happiness! If you practice this often throughout the day for three days and I am almost certain you will experience a profound shift in the way you feel. You can also use this technique for freeing yourself from any self-limiting beliefs that you have.


2. Get in alignment with reality

Anytime we fight or resist the reality of reality – how things are right now – our body-mind becomes tense and we will experience stress. One of the golden keys to true happiness is to start accepting reality. This doesn’t mean you have to like reality – for example we might not like the fact that right now our partner is upset with us or that we aren’t doing work that is fulfilling to us, but accepting that this is so does an extraordinary thing. It instantly frees of us tension, we start to feel a real sense of well-being (despite our situation) and the ideal response to the situation we are in spontaneously arises.

You simply know what to do! One simple way to get in alignment with reality is to use Byron Katie’s The Work – it’s a series of simple questions that help shift our relationship to reality. You can download the instructions form


3. Welcome and work with, not against your emotions

One of the keys to true happiness is to shift from a focus on feeling good to getting good at feeling. As you learn how to welcome all emotions equally – including anger, sadness and fear, an extraordinary and surprising thing happens – you start to feel at peace and well-being despite what you are feeling.

So next time you have a comfortable emotion rather than trying to sedate or control it try this – locate where the emotion is strongest in your body. Now imagine its just simply stuck energy wanting to flow, say to it silently ‘soften and flow’ and get a sense of where it wants to exit your body. Be patient, give it plenty of space and watch how it starts to flow out of your body. Keep repeating until all of the emotional charge has gone. Notice how you feel so much more energized and how the issue about which you were feeling those emotions has positively shifted.


4. Tap into the power of gratitude

When we experience gratitude, we shift from what’s wrong and what’s missing to what’s right and what’s present. By making gratitude the foundation of your life and my experience is that you will start to see significant improvements in the way your life works out and how you feel. Gratitude changes everything. Try it now and at anytime throughout the day. Think about two things you are grateful for and then two things you appreciate about yourself. Allow yourself to feel and experience the gratitude for at least 30 seconds and notice how much better you feel.


Ignore the stories, get a reality check, feel the feelings and say thank you. Sounds simple. But not necessarily easy, eh? Which of these 4 feel-good must-dos have you mastered? Which are you learning about now? Leave us a comment and let us know.


Dr Mark Atkinson is an authority in the fields of emotional fitness, well-being and mind-body medicine. As a trained medical doctor, co-founder of the British College of Integrative Medicine and developer of human potential coaching, Mark helps people realize their potential and flourish as human beings. In 2008 he established the Academy of Human Potential, offering talks, workshops, consultancy services and courses in human potential coaching and emotional fitness training. He’s also the author of True Happiness – Your Complete Guide to Emotional HealthThe Mind–Body Bible and Holistic Health Secrets for Women. His website is


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