In last month’s column, I identified 10 ways to cope with stress in our lives. Now, I will address the thoughts, beliefs and habits that always seem to result in creating happiness.

The first key thinking habit is to fill our mental activity with positive, affirmative thoughts. This is not a naive denial of anything negative in life. It is a matter of focus. When you spend most of your waking hours focusing on, or thinking about the positive aspects of your life, you become happier. Increased personal happiness is only one of many benefits derived from the habit of filling your thinking time with positive thoughts and images.

The second key to increased happiness is to develop the certain belief of your own power and adequacy. If you did not possess the ability to at least cope with what life is all about, you would not be alive to be reading this. Establish a firm belief in your "okay-ness," your adequacy (if not your superiority) in living a fulfilled and happy lifestyle, no matter what the external circumstance. This sense of "okay-ness" implies a belief in your own self-worth, as well. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled. It is your birthright.

Learn behaviors that enhance your value to yourself first…and others second. We all have the capacity to learn new skills, new habits and new ways of living. Make sure to continue to practice those skills that enhance the quality of your life, rather than diminish it. Sometimes these habits are simple: eating healthy foods, avoiding ingesting or breathing in toxins, engaging in activities that are safe, and remaining open to contact with others. These habits may not be easy…only simple.

Take full responsibility for your choices and behavior. People who take charge of their own lives and the quality of them are much more happy than those who do not. Design and create your personal lifestyle reflecting your preferences and desires. Avoid perceiving yourself as a victim.

Lose your fear-based psychological reactions. Personal habits developed in response to fear create more unhappiness than any others. Fear itself is not harmful. What we have learned to do in reaction to fear is often unnecessary and self-defeating. Worry is a classic example of a useless response to fear or anxiety.

Develop a mentality of abundance. Recognize that if you are still alive, you have at least experienced receipt of enough self-sustaining necessities. The world offers each of us much more than we need. It does not force us to be open and receptive to its benefits. And often we need to pursue abundance with intensity, but "there is always room at the top." Believing you can have what you truly desire is a major source of personal security and happiness.

Always identify what you are willing to do, or give, to create the outcome you desire. Most of what we get from life requires some kind of energy output from us. Learn what you are willing to do to have what you desire or create the circumstance most beneficial to you.

Seek out and practice skills that allow you to maximize your autonomy. Develop confidence in your adequacy (at least) at engaging in those activities that develop or enhance self-determination and freedom. Freedom is an internal state and is not dependent upon external events or circumstance. We were all born to be free from within.

Regularly engage in behavior that helps others to help themselves. Do not invite or foster their dependence upon you. Rather offer to others anything you can which will enhance their personal autonomy and freedom. A genuine altruistic attitude creates happiness about who you are, and how you relate to others. Remember, the personal benefits of freely giving to others lies not in the size of the gift, but in the attitude of the giver.

Focus on your goals and your envisioned future. Create a vision of your future that is happy, fulfilled and satisfying. Then put on blinders to all distractions and detractions from making that goal or future manifest in your life. We always create our own future selves. If we focus on creating happiness within, learn what it takes to create it and then take the necessary action to have it become manifest in our lives. Then, our genuine happiness is assured.

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Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D., has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist. He is available for coaching in any area presented in "Practical Psychology." As your Coach, his only agenda is to assist you in creating the lifestyle you genuinely desire. The initial coaching session is free. Contact him at 970.568.0173 or e-mail DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com. Visit the website www.lifecoachtraining.com. To subscribe to his weekly column, Practical Psychology, e-mail your request to: PracticalPsychology-On@lists.webvalence.com and write "subscribe" in the subject line and an "X" in the body. Copyright

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