I believe we were meant to be happy. I am also certain it was meant to be a challenge to get and stay happy. If not, we’d take it for granted and get bored. Therefore, life is about the pursuit of happiness.

I used to be generally unhappy and now I am generally happy. How? By avoiding these five key blunders people make in their pursuit of happiness.

Five Blunders that Kill Your Happiness:

1) You don’t have a dream.

Do you still dream? As kids, most of us dream boldly and publicly. But as we notice that not all our dreams come true, and that it can be embarrassing to admit to one we may fail at, we stop talking about our dreams and stop having them. But in the present moment (which is all we have), dreams make us happy, even if they don’t come true. We start every client at Handel on a diet of dreams in all areas of their lives. Focusing on dreaming changes everything for the better, even if it feels vulnerable and scary at first.

2) You let fear and brattiness rule you.

What stops you from daring to dream? Brattiness and the fear of disappointment. At Handel, we have found with numerous clients that taking action towards your dream in the face of fear makes people happy and proud. In fact, this kind of action is the most important determiner of happiness. Many people have the misconception that it’s success that makes them happy, but moment to moment, we find that living in integrity is what actually makes people happiest. That means fighting the chicken and brat in your head and demanding that your actions align with your dreams.

3) You’re not accountable.

Are you holding yourself accountable to achieve your dreams? Even when you have a dream and are able to argue against the voices in your head, sometimes the actions consistent with your ideals don’t happen. Why? You’re not accountable. The consequences of bad choices (or not taking actions toward your dream) show up over such a long stretch of time that you don’t notice or feel them until it’s too late (you’ve just had a heart attack, got divorce papers, or lost your job). Get a coach, or a coaching buddy to make promises with, so they can help you stay accountable to your dreams. Extra credit if that person holds you to effective consequences when you don’t take actions in alignment with your dreams. For example, if you cheat on your diet, you have to mow your friend’s lawn. Now that’s accountability!

4) You don’t speak up.

Do you have something to say? Once you get the hang of living in integrity (1-3 above), only a few things will kill your buzz. Having something to say and not saying it is the most common. Things you aren’t saying include: how you really feel, what you want, ‘fess-ups to wrong doings, ‘fess-ups to feeling wronged, taboo topics, and constructive criticism.

Ensure you can speak up by making a list of all the things you know you should be talking about and put dates next to them to determine by when you’ll have those difficult conversations. No matter how long it takes, making this commitment is important to your self respect. Each hard conversation you tackle will unleash a sense of freedom and joy in your heart that you cannot imagine while you’re pondering, and probably fearing, what will go down. Try not to predict or control the outcome. Just go for the ride and be proud to be someone who speaks up. Soon it will become habit and you will be a much happier, more expressed person.

5) You blame others.

Who’s calling the shots? Don’t forget that YOU are the “author” of your life and that it’s good news! This doesn’t mean that everything in your life that’s not working is your fault; it means that you have power. There is nothing you cannot impact in your life, if you decide to focus on it and believe in changing it. We have proven that at Handel over and over! Even in the most disheartening situations. As you start to take ownership of your choices and their results, you feel more self-trusting and powerful. It is as natural as breathing to look for causes outside ourselves to explain why things don’t turn out. The happy surprise will always be:

When you humble yourself enough to say, “maybe it’s me,” you will find you are 95% of the way to the solution, along with feeling happier and more hopeful. @HGLifeCoaching (Click to Tweet!)


P.S. If you want a dream life you have to design it first. Download our How To Write a Dream coaching tool and you’ll walk away with a clear, inspired dream—the first step en route to radical change.

Laurie Gerber is a Senior Coach and Co-President of Handel Group® Life Coaching. For over 15 years, Laurie has led international events and private coaching courses. She has appeared on MTV’s True Life, A&E’s The Marriage Test, Dr. Phil and TODAY.

Image courtesy of Verne Ho.