How To Be Happy - A Three-Step Approach
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You and I know the struggles of trying to make a living from our passion. If something needs to be done, we have to do it. If we are not actively drumming up new business, we are soon broke. Some days, the thought of a steady paycheck and a benefits package starts to look attractive—even though we fought so hard to live the self-employment dream.


I had a lively discussion with two friends from middle school when I was visiting my hometown in Nuremberg, Germany earlier this year. They each told me the same story that I have heard literally all over the world.


Sabine said she’s gone through her second round of burnout that reared its scary head through a paralyzed nerve in her face. Maria admitted she’s put on a few extra pounds, and when she explains her 50-70 hour work weeks it’s clear she doesn’t have much time for cooking or exercising. They told me of yet another of our childhood friends who ended up in the hospital after a mental break-down.


Why do so many of us end up with physical or mental health issues when we are trying to make our dreams come true? What can we do to avoid going down that path?


Here is what often seems to happen. We get fed up with being tread on in our jobs and decide to take the plunge. We start our own businesses so we can work on our schedules doing the types of photo shoots we enjoy. But the romance of self-employment quickly fades as the bank account dwindles and most of our time is spent trying to figure out how to make money, instead of actually making any money. Before we know it, we feel like we are working 24/7 and we’re exhausted. We get so into “trying” that we squeeze every minute out of the day in hopes of the big break that will make it all worthwhile. Until, that is, a health scare, a divorce, or some other major event gives us that big wake-up call.


(Psst! Here’s an article I wrote with proven strategies to get more clients and money.)


If this is you, here are some ideas that may help you get through with your health intact. I am going to spare you the trite “you need to take care of yourself better” speech because you already know that.


Let’s start with a few small and doable steps to signal to our brains that we are already on the path to happiness.


  • Write down three things that would make you very happy right now. It could be something simple like a 30-minute uninterrupted bath, or something big thing like that two-week vacation in an exotic destination.
  • Set yourself one small personal goal for this week. Rather than vowing to take better care of yourself as a broad goal, break it down into small, achievable parts. Try something like: I am going to walk around the block twice after dinner tonight. The trick is that it should be very easy for you to accomplish. So no five-mile walks, okay?
  • Instead of dwelling on what has gone wrong, I want you to start recognizing when something goes right. For example, as I was driving in the mountains from Austria to Berlin I pointed out how beautiful the scenery was until my daughter rolled her eyes and tiredly agreed, “I get it. It’s beautiful.”

Through all my research and personal experiences I have discovered that happiness is a choice. The trick is you have to TELL YOURSELF when you are happy so your brain has a reference. These three simple ideas will signal to your brain that you are doing something for yourself and you are achieving your goals. You will have no choice but to be a bit happier while you soak in the bathtub with a glass of wine after your evening walk. Small steps lead to big goals.


Did you know happiness is one of the most frequently searched terms on Google? Please share your experiences on how you signal happiness because we need all the help we can get.

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