5 Steps to a Happier, More Abundant Day

Shift into Happy in 5 Quick StepsWe’ve all heard the phrase “what you focus on expands.”  There are spiritual and scientific examples of how this is true, yet sometimes it is a challenge to stay in the frame of mind that we’d  like to be in.

Today, I’m going to share a quick 5 step process you can use to instantly shift into happy.

Setup – Identify Your Happiness Shifters

There is one setup step to do before you can follow the process that I’ll outline here today.  That is to identify your happiness shifters.

In Pharrell Williams’ song, Happy, he sings “clap along if you know what happiness means to you.”  Well, do you?  I’ve found that there are many people that really don’t know what makes them happy.

A happiness shifter is simply something that when you are exposed to it brings you happiness.  It could be a person, place, thing, sound, smell, taste, etc.  Here are a few ways you can identify your happiness shifters:

Start with Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways I know to keep in alignment with what you want.  Gratitude is a practice that is taught in a diverse set of faiths across the globe as well as by wealth manifestation mentors and psychologists.  I have been practicing gratitude as a regular daily habit for years and teach my private clients to incorporate a method that works for them too.  Yet, I often hear people express that it is sometimes a challenge to them and they don’t see the benefit they would like.

Gratitude is a FEELING thing not a THINKING thing.  When you get stuck focusing on what you don’t want, that is you getting caught in thinking too much.  The key is to get out of your head and into your heart.  Now, I know that may sound a bit mushy for you or a bit “woo-woo,” but stick with me on this.  The most important thing about practicing gratitude is to really feel that full feeling in your heart.

“Gratitude is a feeling thing not a thinking thing.” ~@StephCalahan

Here is a starter list of things you might be grateful for:

  • You and your body systems – the systems in you that work without you having to even think about it, such as breathing, heart pumping, circulatory system, walking, talking, hearing, seeing, etc.
  • Your knowledge, gifts and talents — what I call your brilliance
  • The resources you have within you and around you
  • Your closest connections, both personal and in your business
  • Your connection to your faith
  • The taste of your favorite food
  • Nature
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Painful lessons that helped you break through to the next level or have a new insight – Think of a time in your past where things were not going well for you and eventually you prevailed and came out on top.  Look back at that time and identify what you are grateful that happened or that you learned.

Sample Happiness Shifters

Your happiness shifter may look totally different from the items listed below, but they are intended to help you with a jumping off point.

  • Stories of when you laughed out loud, a real belly laugh
  • Funny things your pet has done
  • Funny things your family or friends have done
  • Pictures that make you smile
  • Plants, candles, wind chimes, music etc.

Once you identify your happiness shifters, you’ll have them available to you at any time. OK!  It’s time to learn the process to shift into happiness.

Step 1- Recognize Your Negative Thoughts without Judgement

Sometimes we walk through our day not really aware of the thoughts that are floating around in our minds.  Negative thoughts and judgement cause one of three things to happen:

  1. You complain – either to yourself or others
  2. You cut yourself off – isolation
  3. You constrict or conserve – you get smaller

None of these things lead to happiness and they certainly don’t make you attractive/magnetic to your ideal client either!  This step is simple (not always easy) because all you have to do is recognize where you are right now.

Step 2 – Cancel Your Negative Thoughts

Next, consciously cancel your negative thoughts.

Trash Can Method – Many people think of these thoughts as “head trash” so the first method you can try is the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) trash can method.  Visualize a trash can in your mind or in the room that you are in.  Then, pretend to pull the negative thought out of your mind and toss it in the trash.  Some people like to wad it up first or make a swooshing sound while throwing it in the trash.

Cancel Cancel Cancel Method – When you have a negative thought (e.g. I’m too fat to do X) simply say “Cancel Cancel Cancel!” out loud or in your mind.  You might also put a big X through the thought in your mind and swipe it away.

Lighter Method – Like the trash can method, pull the negative thought out of your mind using a hand motion, but then pretend to light a lighter or strike a match and light up the thought.

All of these methods may seem a bit odd to you at first, but try them for a week before you dismiss them.

Step 3 – Replace them with a Happiness Shifter

Once you have canceled the negative thought, replace it immediately with a happiness shifter that you have identified in the setup step above.  My favorite happiness shifter is turning on one of my favorite stations on Pandora and dancing for the length of the song or remembering a time my son and I danced without apprehension in our kitchen.

Step 4 – Breathe in the Shift

Be willing and ready to welcome the happy feeling.  Happiness is a choice.

Step 5 – Continue on With Your Day and Repeat as Necessary

Some think that in order to have a happy day they need to have something extraordinary happen.  That is not really true.  A happy day is made of a series of choices that you make regarding how you want to respond to what happens.  This means that you can choose to be happy no matter what happens in your day.

My Current Happiness Practice – Will You Join Me?

Practicing happiness is another way to include gratitude into your life.  A few days ago, +Denise Wakeman posted in G+ with a hashtag #100DaysOfHappiness.  That got me curious, so I asked her.

She pointed me to a global challenge at http://www.100happydays.com.  They have a personal challenge (you are not competing against anyone) to choose to be happy for 100 days in a row.  On their site, they say “71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?

Below are the first few days of my personal happiness challenge.  I’m posting them in a public album on Facebook.  (You don’t have to label yours. I’m playing with some new apps on my phone.)  It has been fun thinking of a visual way to represent something that made me happy in my day.  I was a bit shocked to recognize the number of smells and sounds that make me happy too.

Choosing to be happy is empowering

Quick Summary

For those of you that skim to the end, here is a quick summary of the 5 steps:

1 – Recognize your negative thoughts without judgement

2 – Cancel the negative thought

3 – Replace it with a happiness shifter

4 – Breathe in the shift

5 – Continue with your day and repeat as necessary

Are You Up for the Challenge?

I’d love to learn more about what makes you happy.

Live Fully -- Love Openly -- Laugh Often -- Leverage Your Brilliance -- Connect Authentically -- Get Your Message Out -- Serve with Impact -- Prosper Everyday

Steph Calahan




  1. says

    Stephanie, I loved this post. The video rocks and you can’t help but be happy listening to this song. Kudos to you for doing the #100daysofhappiness challenge. I think I’ll check this out myself!

  2. says

    Thanks for the reminder of the trash can method. Every so often I remember “delete, delete, delete” (similar to “cancel, cancel, cancel”)
    Here’s to many more than 100 days of happiness.

    • says

      Glad you liked the reminder Debra! Yup, delete or cancel. I interchange them. Funny, I use cancel when it seems to be a new thought and delete when it is one that is hanging around. Didn’t realize that until just now.

  3. says

    I like that you say to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. I usually just shift my thoughts without hitting delete. Sometimes the negative comes back. I’ll try to remember to hit “delete” three times before I shift. I think this is a great strategy.
    The downward spiral of negative thoughts used to overwhelm me. Then I was reminded that I have complete control over my thoughts. But I must decide rather than blithely drifting along through my day. Thank for the reminder and the new strategy to delete first.

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