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How to be Happier This Summer

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Summer holidays are a good opportunity to find some perspective, do some soul-searching. I always like to pack my suitcase with a few books that will help me clear the mental clutter of the day-to-day and reflect a little deeper...

On my recent holiday I took two books by Carmen Harra: Everyday Karma and Decoding Your Destiny. I believe in destiny -- that there's a higher force guiding me to where I'm supposed to be. I also believe that I play an active role in getting there -- I'm required to be open, honest and brave!

Sometimes identifying what you REALLY want from life is as difficult as making it manifest. I believe we substitute fantasizing for actually doing at times. It's easy to blame external factors but it's interesting to think about how much we hold OURSELVES back.

In Everyday Karma, Harra gives advice for overcoming insecurities that are holding you back from your own happiness and true destiny. We usually recognize those persistent, doubtful voices in our own head. I know for me, it's difficult at times to be clear about what truly would make me happy because my head is so clouded with the expectation of what should make me happy. I've learned to never settle for anything other than what FEELS right, even if others in my life don't always agree.

The approach of this book is both simple and profound: Each day, you meditate on those things you want, write them down. By doing this daily, those positive ideas will be front -of-mind so they outweigh any of those negative thoughts that might stop you in your tracks. I've been doing this daily -- I meditate every morning over my proactive thoughts -- by 9 a.m. I feel revitalized and in control of my life.

Day-to-day thoughts and actions can plant karmic seeds in your life that will either blossom like flowers or take over like weeds. --Carmen Harra, Everyday Karma

But this isn't just about seeing a finish line. You don't just meditate on the end goal, but on the steps you need to take every day to move yourself in that direction. So, if you're trying to lose weight, instead of picturing yourself at your final goal weight, picture the exercise class you intend to do that day, the healthy lunch you want to eat. Mentally connect the dots so that you can visualize those small steps inching you closer to your ultimate goal.

One step Harra outlines in the book is to write down ALL your goals -- down to the most minute detail -- in a journal. But here's the surprise part: You then put that journal away for a FULL YEAR and don't look at it. But, every morning you write down your thoughts and feelings with respect to your goals. So you live in the moment, in that day, instead of in the distant future. You focus on your here and now and your feelings, but with an objective/goal to where you want to end up.

The second book, Decoding Your Destiny, highlights the role your own intuition plays in all of this. The universe sends us little signals, nudges in one direction or another all the time. Being aware and open to the little cues and unexpected nudges was, for me, key to moving forward. We all have intuition and that little voice inside us guiding us - pay attention it. If something doesn't feel right, acknowledge that. Be brave enough to make decisions that at the time are scary but try and think beyond that day and that decision and think about your ultimate happiness.

Every day over my holidays, I made myself think about what I want from every aspect of my life: My work, the kinds of relationships I want, the life I want to live, the place I want to be, even small things like how I want to spend my time when I get home. No goal is too small. I faced up to the difficult decision that some of the things I used to think I wanted I no longer want. Letting go of old dreams can be hard!! And then I started meditating on those things I want, visualizing real steps to help me move towards it.

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it." ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Since I returned, I'm more aware of what it is I want and how my life is moving in that direction. I'm open to what the universe is telling me, my gut feelings on certain things, those little signals the universe might be sending. The path to getting what you want is not always a straight one. But as long as you know where you're hoping to end up, and as long as you keep your eyes open to all the wonderful things you might find on the way, you'll find your path!

xo Natasha