27 Oct Develop a happiness plan
Some of you reading this might fall into the category I often refer to as “the lucky few”. If you”re one of them then you”re very well positioned to live a great life because by “the lucky few” I”m referring to those of you who find happiness comes easily and naturally. No matter what’s going on around you you”re likely to still be able to keep things in perspective and see the positives. As well as enjoying the wonderful experience positive emotions themselves bring, you”ll also probably live longer, maintain better relationships and even be more successful in your vocational pursuits.
Most of you, however, won”t fall into this very small group but the good news is that’s OK; because you can still experience happiness and you can still create more happiness if you do the right sorts of things. Regardless of whether or not you”re a natural optimist you can still learn to apply many of the proven principles of positive psychology and as a result, enjoy happiness more often.
Now obviously I have, in previous columns, and I will, in future columns, summarise and describe many of these strategies in what I hope is an accessible manner; and as I do so I encourage every one of you to not just read my words but also to put them into practice. But today’s words do not present a simple strategy but rather, an over-arching approach which I”ve used with wonderful effect in my coaching and consulting, in all sorts of different contexts, over the years. And it’s based on the simple but vitally important notion that to achieve anything in life we have to plan for it.
Most people understand that to be fitter and healthier we need to develop relevant plans – for exercise and diet. Well, the same is true for happiness but unfortunately, most people spend more time planning their annual holidays than they do planning their lives; I have nothing against annual holidays but I can guarantee that if you take even just a fraction of the time you spend thinking about holidays and spend that contemplating your life goals then you will, definitely, realise some benefits.
Now regular readers of my work may well have worked out by now that I”m quite fond of acronyms; it’s true, because I find that they help me remember key concepts and/or important themes. So it might not come as a surprise, therefore, when I point out that PLAN is not just a word but that it’s also an acronym. Let me quickly explain The Happiness Institute’s PLAN model:
P represents a Positive image of the future
L is for Leveraging off what you already have
A is for the Action plan you need to develop and
N is a reminder to focus on your most immediate Next steps
In summary, then, this simple but (and I can vouch for this personally) very powerful model can help you determine your destination for life and set your course for the future. If you imagine what a great life would look like, consider what you already have (in the way of strengths, attributes, characteristics and resources) that will help you get there, determine exactly what you need to do, and take it one step at a time then I”m confident you”ll go on to live a happier and more successful life. And when you do, feel free to tell me your story; I love hearing about the positive outcomes of others!