Yesterday Paul McKenna revealed how you can think yourself more successful with easy techniques to reprogram the brain.

Today, in the second part of our brilliant series based on his new book Success For Life: The Secret To Achieving Your True Potential, he will help you reconnect with the happy, joyful person you were born to be while showing you how to remove the energy vampires that drain happiness out of your life.

People talk about finding happiness as though it is some mystical state of being that we need to seek out and capture. In fact, happiness belongs to us already.

It can’t be misplaced or snatched away when your back is turned. This emotion is innate; something human beings are born with and actually ­continues to reside deep within us all.

Why then, are so many of us utterly miserable?

The problem is that many people live under the misconception that life is based on a sliding scale — at one end there is happiness and at the other lies misery. Due to that fundamental ­misunderstanding, they expend huge amounts of time and energy trying to find and keep happiness by changing their external world.

People talk about finding happiness as though it is some mystical state of being that we need to seek out and capture, writes PAUL MCKENNA

People talk about finding happiness as though it is some mystical state of being that we need to seek out and capture, writes PAUL MCKENNA

They endlessly consume, in the hope that ‘stuff’ will make them happy. Or they pin happiness on finding the ­perfect partner or think it’s something they’ll finally achieve it when they’ve ticked off everything on a bucket list.

But happiness isn’t a goal. A baby’s default state (when they are a blank canvas uncluttered by childhood ­conditioning) is one of pure, gurgling happiness and contentment.

Of course, when that state of bliss is interrupted — they get hungry, for example, and scream the place down. But once a baby is given food, more often than not, bliss returns.

Over time, we lose sight of the fact that our natural state is one of ­happiness. We begin to confuse ­external things as the cause of our happiness. And so we set off on the wrong path, which sees us chasing after things that we think will make us happy.

For many people that becomes a ­lifelong habit. But once you remember that happiness is something that existed within you all along, your ­perspective changes. You begin to dig deeper within yourself in order to tap into that wonderful emotion again.

Today, in the second part of this series taken from my new book Success for Life: The Secret To Achieving Your True Potential, I am going to help reconnect you with your birthright, so that happiness becomes the background music to your successful new life.

If you need further proof that happiness already exists within us, a recent survey asked 1,000 people that if nothing in their lives changed (such as their job or where they live) could they still be happy? A massive 95 per cent of them said yes, they ­certainly could.

This tells us something really important: that tapping into ­happiness is a choice. So, let’s all choose to experience more of it —starting right now.

I am sometimes asked what is the single most important thing I have learned through the years and it’s this: You get more of what you focus on.

So, the more you focus upon your inner happiness, the happier you will become.

It helps that happiness is a neuro-chemical event — feeling happy increases your serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and your happy neuro-transmitters. Which means that simply thinking about the people and places that help you to access happy feelings will increase production of those ­­feel-good chemicals and hormones in your brain.

There’s a common ­misconception that happiness is being ‘up’ all the time — it’s not. Happiness, when you know how to access it, instead becomes a backdrop to your life.

Tapping into ­happiness is a choice. So, let’s all choose to experience more of it —starting now

Tapping into ­happiness is a choice. So, let’s all choose to experience more of it —starting now

That doesn’t mean you won’t experience emotional pain, fear, anger or any of the other feelings that make us human. Indeed, it’s important to have a full dynamic range of emotions in order to ­function properly and be able to value happiness.

If happiness was determined by pleasure, then people with the most money would be the ­happiest, but that simply isn’t true. Indeed, one study found that the richest people in America on the Forbes 400 list were no ­happier than the Masai tribespeople in East Africa.

It’s true that external things can feed happiness — but that’s only because we most easily access that feeling with certain people or in certain situations.

But if you grab a hold of the idea that happiness has always been a part of your being, then you are on your way to be able to experience happiness with anyone, at any time and in any place.

Gratitude for Happiness

An old but trusted technique, gratitude journaling is something I have used with celebrity clients. It helps even the rich and famous remind themselves how much there is to be grateful for.

Simply get yourself a notebook, or a piece of paper, and put the title Five Things I’m Grateful For Today across the top.

Make filling it in a daily habit, and it will speak to your subconscious.

My wife and I start most days this way. Sometimes we take it a step further and share our gratitude lists while we’re on our morning walk.

Being outside, taking in the shapes, colours and sounds of nature, is a great way to elevate your mood, so this becomes a double whammy of ­happiness and positivity.

Even when walking the dog by myself, I often recite the things I feel grateful for out loud.

But this works just as well if you ­ponder them quietly in your own thoughts. There’s always something to feel grateful for — even when you’re feeling utterly miserable. It could be a hot shower in the ­morning, a warm bed waiting for you at night.

The Ultimate Power Nap

Self-hypnosis is a ­brilliant way to recharge your batteries and enhance your energy and wellbeing. The more you practise this particular technique, the more effective it becomes.

Remember, by thinking or imagining anything, you affect your state of being. So, if you think about going to the dentist, you remember there is a little discomfort involved, so you will automatically tense up and enter a state of anxiety.

But if you remember a time when you were on holiday, you see, hear and feel all the things associated with that, changing your ‘state’ to one of happiness and relaxation.

If I feel ready for a mental boost I close my eyes and relax. I imagine how I would look if I was twice as relaxed as I am right now.

I make a picture of myself in my mind’s eye as vividly as possible, then I float into that picture, seeing through the eyes of my more relaxed self, hearing my internal ­dialogue and feeling greater relaxation.

Then I do it again and again. By the third or fourth time, I feel terrific.

This has a cumulative effect — each time you do it, you are stacking your feelings of relaxation and the feelings grow tremendously until you become happily blissed out.

Try and do it once each day, but only when you can safely relax completely. It doesn’t take long and will help you tap into happiness, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a great habit to adopt.

How to deal with nerves

One of the best methods I have found to help people find their inner power is The Aikido One Point Technique. This is where you shift focus from your brain (where all the negative movies and chatter is happening) to your tummy area.

Once you get the hang of it, you can use it anywhere, in any challenging setting.

1 Stand up and think about a situation coming up in your life that you are worried or upset about.

2 Give your discomfort level a score from 1 (at peace) to 10 (aaaargh!).

3 Now move your centre of attention from your head to the area of your tummy about an inch below your navel. This is your ‘one point’, known as hara in Japanese.

4 Keeping your attention there, think about the ­situation you were upset or worried about and notice the discomfort begin to reduce and drain away from 10 (or wherever it was on the scale) down to 1.

5 When you no longer feel discomfort thinking about the situation you were ­concerned about, you can use your ‘One Point’ to mentally rehearse performing at your best.

With your hand on your tummy, if that helps, feel strong and resilient, imagine things going exactly the way you want them to. Then, when you are actually in the situation, you can visualise your ‘One Point’ as you ­perform to ensure you stay ­centred and peaceful throughout.

Carry out a happiness audit

We all have people around us with whom we can most be ­ourselves and with whom we feel happiest. Those people aren’t the external cause of our happiness, but they are the ones with whom it’s easier to access the happiness within us.

Others have the opposite effect, and that’s why it is so important to conduct a ­happiness audit.

It will help you to spend time with the people who allow you to access your inner happiness with the greatest ease.

So, ruthless as this sounds, it’s time to work out who falls into which camp.

Start by flicking through the ­contacts on your phone and ask yourself: ‘Who takes my energy up?’ and ‘Who takes my energy down?’ This is so that you can identify the Energy Vampires who are draining happiness out of your life.

Really think about this. There will be some people in there who have taken you down only on occasion, such as when they need you to help them through a bad patch. You don’t want to ditch a good pal who, because they’re struggling through some personal crisis at the moment, is currently taking more from you than they give.

Rather, you need to pinpoint the ones who continually leave you feeling drained; those who, when their name pops up on your phone, you inwardly groan and think: ‘What now?’ They are the ones you need to consciously decide to spend less time with.

Over time you might even decide life feels easier, less draining, without them in it and you’ll simply stop arranging to see them at all.

Then work out who the people are who lift you up and make it easier for you to access your inner happiness. These are the people to spend more time with.

By putting more effort into those relationships, and placing more value on their company, happy ­feelings will permeate your everyday life.

The strongest connections we make are with the people who make life feel richer. A few years ago, I was living in Hollywood, but I decided to leave it all behind for one simple reason — our true friends live here, in the UK.

What helped me to make that decision was carrying out the following exercise, called the Circles of ­Connection. It’s deceptively simple, but for me provided a major wake‑up call.

You draw three circles. The first is really big and within it you write down your acquaintances.

The next is smaller, and that holds your friendship circle.

The smallest one of all is for your real friends — that intimate circle of people who you know for certain will always be there for you, and that you will similarly be there for them no matter what.

After I did it, I thought: ‘Crikey, I have been spending a lot of my time with acquaintances and not with my real friends.’

It made me realise that I’ve got far more real friends than I thought, the majority of whom were in the UK and Europe. I decided on the spot to move back to Britain. As a result, I became much happier.

I love how this exercise gets to the heart of the quality of your relationships. It will help you work out who your people truly are. By prioritising them — making them a bigger part of your life — happiness will be much easier to access.

As well as working for people, the happiness audit works for the places where you access your inner ­happiness most easily. Think of them as your happy places and you can choose as many as you like.

It could be sea and sunshine or pottering in the garden. Once you isolate them, you can focus on spending more of your time there.

While we all have to work, you can consciously immerse yourself in your happy places when you have free time. By mindfully deciding where to spend that time — and actively choosing places that speak to you in a positive way — your ­general contentment will grow.

  • Success For Life: The Secret To Achieving Your True Potential by Paul McKenna (Welbeck Publishing Group, £14.99). © Paul McKenna 2024. To order a copy for £13.49 (offer valid to 17/02/24; UK P&P free on orders over £25) go to www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.
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