Today, we can consider ourselves very happy people, but it has not always been that way. The truth is, some of us have made huge strides to be where we are today. We have to dig deeper into ourselves to access authentic joy, that which cannot be manufactured by false promises and one-night stands taught by popular gurus.

Have you ever reflected: If being happy is an option, why is it so difficult to be?
If you are feeling depressed, or if your life is meaningless right now, you are not alone. Many people have feelings of self-hatred, regret, and depression.

So what is the real problem?

What is the source of this mass unhappiness?
Why are we all running around trying so hard to “get” happy?
Could it be that our frenetic pace is in fact what is causing our lack of joy?
Could it be that we are all looking for answers in the wrong places?

Many of us approach happiness as a goal: “We have to be happy to be happy.” But happiness is not “out there” somewhere; it is already within all of us . It is our job to remove the barriers, limiting beliefs, fears, and insecurities that prevent us from accessing lasting joy. But this process of elimination can be fun. It can be a game. The more we have access to our own source of happiness, the happier we will be.

Accessing lasting happiness is a process and a lifestyle; It is not a one-hit wonder drug. The “pursuit of happiness” is in fact what keeps most people from being happy.

If you feel like you are constantly trying to be happy, but still no results, these tips can help.

1. Avoid self-blame.

When people mistakenly buy the exaggerated claims of instant happiness, they can start habits of self-blame and fear of failure, especially when they don’t achieve the results they have been promised. Rather than go off on self-blame, recognize that there are great lessons to be learned in the fight.

2. “Pump” daily.

The more happiness can be accessed from the inside, the easier it becomes. It is like a muscle: you have to work it daily in order to strengthen it. One way to do this quickly is to do what you love on a daily basis.

3. Stop trying to be happy and just be happy.

Recognize that all the work you do is part of the bigger picture. The books you read, the people you talk to, and the conferences you attend are all part of the healing process. When we approach happiness as a lifestyle rather than a “one has to get there” to that destination, we can recognize that it is already with us. It’s like eating a healthy diet – we don’t eat a healthy diet to regain health, we eat a healthy diet to be healthy. Happiness is the same way.

4. Pay attention to your elbows.

The most important part of accessing lasting joy is trusting your own heart. The nudges you get daily are your pointers to help guide you to true happiness. The inner pull of your heart that says, go buy that book, call that friend, or go for a nature walk is the inner voice that knows you better than the outside world. The key to accessing lasting joy is honoring those nudges and letting them be your best friend.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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