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Are you happy? Not when you are surrounded by people or watching your favorite football team score the winning touchdown. I’m talking about when you are alone, driving in your car or sitting at your kitchen table. Are you happy?

Super religious people will answer behind the pages of the Bible: “(shout-stomp-stomp-shout)I got joy, praise God. You won’t always be happy but as long as I got joy (shout-stomp-stomp-shout).”

I agree. God gives you unspeakable joy but that’s not what I asked you. I asked if you were happy?

Too often we equate happiness with the things we have, the relationships we cherish, the applause we receive, or the goals we’ve set for ourselves. But I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about pure, raw happiness about being you. When you stand in front of the mirror, are you happy with the person you see because that’s what really matters.

What really matters is the person you have become because that is where you will find happiness. People will get divorces, change careers, relocate, snip, tuck, and add in an attempt to be happy but never work on their authentic self. They never deal with their heart. As you read this blog I want you to deal with your heart. If you can get your heart healthy-not so much in a physical sense but healthy by way of your emotions, you will naturally find happiness.

Below are a few things that I believe lead to true happiness.

1. Forgive Yourself.
You did it. You have the t-shirt to prove it. You made a mistake and it is time to let it go. I know you should have. I’m sure you could have. And if things were slightly different you would have. But the bottom line is you didn’t. It’s over. Let it go. Forgive yourself and move on.

I really had trouble with this one and if I’m not careful I can easily slip into self-punishment. I really hate letting people down and when I do, I take it really hard and I take it out on myself. I drag myself through mental punishment and like a windshield wiper I go back and forth over the details agonizing over what I should have said, or what I could have done. That’s bondage. No one is perfect. Someone is always going to wish you had done things or said things differently. You have to be okay with doing your best and moving on.

2. Live Your Truth.
In other words be who you are. Dance to the beat of your own drum. Let your public life reflect who you are in private. What do I mean by that? Here’s a simple example. If you like classical music in your private life but in public you play rock-n-roll so no one will think anything about you, you are not living your truth. You are living the way you think others want you to live. Don’t do that. I know you may think people can’t handle your truth and for the most part you might be right. But I’ve learned the hard way that pretending to be someone you aren’t is slavery in the vilest form. And I’ve also learned that God can handle your truth and if He needs to change it, He will. Trust me. He’s changing me everyday.

15 years ago I had a person look me in the face and tell me, “Danielle, I don’t trust you. I don’t think you are who you say you are. I think you are fake.” They didn’t end there. They proceeded to tell me to my face all of their assumptions about me. I stood there refusing to bend, refusing to give them the satisfaction of seeing how hurt I was, and when I left I ran to my car and cried. I couldn’t believe what the person had said to me. What was worse, the person had only known me for less than a month and we had never spent any real time together. I was devastated and to top it all off I was a people pleaser so rather than just shrug off the comments I tried my best to “change” the person’s mind.

Now, when I reflect on the situation, I realize that person actually taught me how to live my truth. That person didn’t pretend to like me and talk behind my back (which is what most of us do). They didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear (which is what most of us do). They told me their version of truth. It wasn’t my truth. It was theirs, and I respect them for that. From that day forward, I knew who I was dealing with. I knew how they felt about me and I was never surprised again by anything that happened during the tenure of our relationship.

I have learned through trial and error and listening to other people’s stories that most of the grief experienced in relationships is due to the fact that people don’t live their truth. They will go years and years hiding who they really are and that, my friend, causes more pain than you could imagine.

(Next week, I am going to talk about how, Giving What You Need, Asking for Help, and Doing it Big can lead to true happiness. We only have 21 days left in 2012. Let’s not waste any of them being unhappy.)

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