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Happiness is not something that just happens, it’s something we need to constantly work on, writes life coach Fiona Wainrit.

Throughout my coaching and recruitment careers, I have worked with successful people at all levels from CEOs of multinational companies, to the baristas who make their coffees. I noticed some people make life look easy, while others made it look so hard. What is the secret of those who are rarely fazed by anything?

I found that the people who make it look easy do two distinct things well:

1. They have great self-awareness about how their bodies and mind function optimally. This includes their habits around diet, nutrition, exercise, sleep and other work and social activities.

2. They possess the ability to see things in a pragmatic light and tend to not sweat the small stuff. Having such heightened levels of emotional intelligence allows them to effectively handle the struggles and challenges life throws at them and relate to others a lot better, thus having quality relationships and fewer personality clashes.

Happiness is a skill you can learn with a positive attitude towards creating new good habits to replace the old negative ones. Recent research in positive psychology has shown that happiness is 50 per cent our genetic makeup; another 40 per cent is determined by our habits, thoughts and behaviours, and only 10 per cent by our circumstances.

It’s the 40 per cent we have the power to influence, where we can reprogram our thinking and create positive change in our lives. Doing so takes several ingredients, including a genuine desire to attain a higher level of happiness, commitment and a willingness to try new things.

Also essential is taking full responsibility for your happiness. Enjoy the <I>now<P>, take time out of your busy life to stop, reflect and be grateful for the good things, rather than delaying happiness until a particular event takes place.

What often interferes with our ability to remain positive is our internal dialogue. Most harmful is the comments we make to ourselves that question our ability to succeed. So how can we master our inner voice so that it can be the source of encouragement and strength, rather then sabotage? Here are three steps to reassert control over our self-perception:

1. Become more aware of when you engage in negative self-talk.

Make a conscious effort to recognise when you’re doing it and work at putting a halt to it. One way to recognise when you start having negative thoughts about yourself, is to record these thoughts and assess any patterns that may arise.

You need to replace the “I can’t” feeling with “I can”. Say your boss has assigned a task you’ve never done before. While the task might be something you personally can’t do, you certainly can ask either your boss or others to help get you there. This way, you’re shifting your focus from your weaknesses toward your strengths in a collaborative fashion with others to achieve the goal at hand.

2. Don’t let your past determine your future behavior.

Our behaviour is the result of influences from our surrounding environment and from past events we’ve experienced. While past events offer us insights into why we didn’t succeed at a particular task or role, we often assume that it’s also a good indicator of what will go wrong either in the present or future. It’s important to acknowledge we still have the opportunity and power to change.

A good place to start is to review why things didn’t go well in the past and use those lessons in the present to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

3. Perseverance is the key to making the change.

As with any habit, it will take time and effort to change your inner voice and with it, how you communicate and interact with others. There’s no question that it’s not going to be easy and at times, you might fall back to your old negative voice pointing out how this isn’t going to work.

If we look at any example of individuals who represent models of personal or professional success, we’ll find one trait they share in common – they persevered despite the setbacks they faced because they believed in the end outcome. As much as athletes need to train hard if they want to at the top of their game, being able to retrain our inner voice to focus on where we can go and on what we can accomplish is hard work that requires a firm commitment on our part to see it through.

Without a doubt, the inner voice that resides in all of us plays a critical role to our successes, both now and in the future. With this in mind, it becomes all the more important that we master this voice in order for it to encourage and enhance our ability to succeed, rather than holding us back out of fear that we might repeat the mistakes of our past. So, why not begin the process towards a happier mind today? What have you got to lose? Bad habits?

Fiona Wainrit is the director of Finetuned Coaching. Enquiries: www.finetunedcoaching.com.au.

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