Most people would ideally like to be happy. Yet achieving it can seem elusive. Having been an unhappy DoorMat for many years I can attest to how wonderful it is to actually be consistently happy. That’s why I’m delighted to have Marilyn Tam, author of, The Happiness Choice – The Five Decisions that Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, as my guest today. She’s also an international selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike and the Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation.

Marilyn wrote the book so that others may benefit from what she learned, often through painful experience on how to be happy, healthy and have a dynamically balanced life. Many experts in the five key aspects of life: Body, Relationships, Money, Spirit, and Community contributed to the book, including Joan Borysenko PhD, Jack Canfield, Arielle Ford, Harville Hendrix PhD, and many more leaders in their fields. All share personal stories, insights and expertise on the key factors that influence our lives and their secrets to happiness.

Are You Truly Happy and Free?
By Marilyn Tam
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. —Albert Schweitzer

We are fortunate that we in the USA can enjoy basic freedom as a given. The things that bind us are more internal – the mental restrictions and “shoulds” that shape our thinking and our decisions subconsciously. These subliminal constraints confine us to a fixed set of expectations and view of the world. It blocks us from being able to soar to our highest potential, inner peace and happiness.

No one consciously chooses to hold limiting beliefs, and yet we all do to some extent. Our childhood conditioning, whether from family, school, other influential figures in our lives, or the mass media, often contain some negative programming. People’s intentions may have been good, but fear and control are commonly used to keep young, rambunctious and questioning children, and indeed all people, in line. We often take on the limitations set for us as a children, which keeps us from achieving our full potential later on in our lives.

I was born an unwanted Chinese girl child in Hong Kong—my mother left me in the hospital and had to be called to pick me up. Rising from an abusive childhood filled with numerous messages about my worthlessness, I hung onto a shred of positive feedback given by my grandfather and left my home as a teen. I came to the United States alone for university and became a global business leader and humanitarian. I’ve found the secrets to achieving a better life than I’d ever dreamed were possible— and you can too.

How can we break free and be happy? First of all is to realize that happiness is a choice. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, stop, take a deep breath, and then take another one, and breathe deeply until you are ready to ask, “What would happen if I didn’t do this task at this very moment? What is really most important? What is the truth here for me?” Pull yourself back to get distance and perspective. Listen to the voice of your inner wisdom. The answer will come. Stay true to your life’s purpose; it will guide your every decision so that you are acting in alignment with what you care about most.

Recognize that we are prisoners of our beliefs. Whatever we believe about ourselves and the world is what we are going to experience. If you are holding negative thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” or “Bad things happen to me”, then that is what you are going to create in at least some aspects of your life.

Examine your beliefs. Is it really true that you are only good at math, and/or that you can’t sing? Limited thinking keeps us from exploring and experiencing new things that may bring us more joy and or growth. Oftentimes we gather evidence to support these old convictions. You adopted others’ negative thought patterns about you and now look for the indications that “prove” them. Actually we all have the potential to develop and pursue the life, skills and talents we are passionate about.

Change the self-perpetuating negative thoughts through positive affirmation. Good news! It took years of subconscious repetition to ingrain the old damaging patterns in your brain, but now with awakened consciousness, it will take much less time to instill new positive perspectives. Choose the ideas you want to instill in your mind, find evidence to support them however small, and the positivity will grow as you continue to work on them. Get support through reading, from experts and your loved ones. Reaffirm your new beliefs several times a day for at least 21 days. Witness how you are calmer and happier already.

Our minds need to develop new thought pathways separate from the old belief system. For the shift to remain, research has shown that it takes 21 – 30 days of practice; a mere fraction of the time it took you to acquire the initial negative pattern. What a relief!

The key to keeping the resolve during the frequently challenging transition process is to remind yourself of why you are choosing to change. You were born with innate potential and the right to be happy. As a child you had dreams; over the years limitations crept into your mind and now you have the opportunity to reclaim all of you. It is a choice that you are free to make. And you can start now.

You have the right to fully live your life purpose, to be happy and free; minus the constrictions of other people’s fears and expectations that you took on. Take the time and effort to listen to your own inner wisdom. The small yet powerful voice inside you, which may have been shut down or shouted over for so long, is there waiting to be heard. Foster it, listen and allow it to speak to you. Your life purpose is your guide, the north point of your personal compass to keep you on track as you go about each day.

Celebrate your small successes of positive thoughts, acknowledge your setbacks and learn from them. Each moment is fresh and you can start again. Happiness and freedom from old constraints is so worth it. I’m rooting for you!

Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have;
it depends solely upon what you think. —Dale Carnegie

Check out Marilyn Tam‘s new book, The Happiness Choice – The Five Decisions that Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Join the Self-Love Movement™! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 2013 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE. Join the Self-Love Movement™! on Facebook.

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