12 Steps to Health & Happiness, Part 1

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jenny Hill

By Rena Greenberg

At a young age, I got sick, and I don’t mean slightly ill—I was literally facing death. As I desperately clung to life, I set a goal for myself that I have never turned back on: to find health and live my best life.

Over the decades that have followed, I’ve been on a conscious journey towards seeking well-being—mental, physical, and emotional health. Through a lot of trial and error, I have come up with 12 steps that are essential toward that end.

In addition to using my own life experience, I’ve had the pleasure of working with more than 100,000 people, and I’ve also learned from their ups and downs in the quest for health and happiness.

From all of this experience, a general theme has emerged: Life is a constant series of choices that ultimately boil down to one decision to be made in every moment. Are we choosing life/health/love/goodness or are we selecting, either overtly or by default, pain/negativity/fear/evil?

These are the 12 steps that I have developed over time to help you live your best life. The goal is not perfection but getting closer and closer to living a life where you are most connected to your authentic self, comfortable and happy in your own skin, feeling fully alive, and saying yes to life!

Part 1 of this article outlines the first six steps to make the choice easier. The next six steps will appear in the November, 2019 issue.

1. Lift Your Vibration
We are made up of energy and highly sensitive to it. Often, we forget this basic fact of life. Our moods generally are not arbitrary. Either we are being uplifted by our choices in thought, word, and action or we are being brought down. We are either surrounding ourselves with positive energy or we are putting ourselves in an environment where the vibration low. Vibrations are “catchy,” as we tend to be porous to some degree.

Notice that when you are in the midst of an ecstatic crowd of sports fans or at a rock concert or even in the company of someone who just had a great life fortune (such as birthing a new baby, falling in love, or winning the lottery) you automatically find yourself feeling uplifted. By the same token, when you are around a negative, depressed person (who may even be you!), you can’t help but begin to feel tired, worn out, and possibly even hopeless.

Step one is making a conscious decision to lift your own vibration with your choice of thoughts, words, and actions.

2. Practice Awareness, Self-Reflection, and Honesty
How can we lift our vibration when we don’t even know that it’s down? How can we improve our life when we are unaware of our own energy and its impact on the people around us? It takes great humility to look at ourselves honestly. It is not necessary to ruthlessly berate ourselves, but it is essential that we assess our own strengths and weaknesses with honesty and courage.

If you don’t admit that you are carrying within yourself a chunk of anger, resentment, hatred or envy, how can you possibly release it? Criticizing yourself for small flaws such as saying or doing the wrong thing isn’t going to create the kind of lasting change that can transform your life. However, observing yourself with honesty—without condemnation—can prove to be incredibly helpful in producing such a transformation. Here’s why: If your goal is to live your best life, you need to see what’s holding you back.

Perhaps you turn people off because your energy is invasive or offensive. Maybe you have the habit of isolating yourself or, towards the opposite extreme, spreading yourself out to thin. It’s possible that you are expending too much of your precious life force energy talking or running around. Or, alternately, you may be clamping down your creativity by wasting oodles of time in front of the television or on your computer.

Without awareness, you have absolutely no control over your life and your destiny. It’s easy to want to avoid awareness because you don’t want to feel bad about yourself. Realize, on the other hand, that you have the power to change what is in your awareness.

One of the keys in this step is noticing your own identifications. Do you identify yourself as someone who is lazy, weak-willed or strong-willed? Do these labels serve you? For example, if your goal is to be at a healthy weight, but your self-talk insists that you hate to plan ahead, cook, and prepare healthy meals, how is that useful to you?

If you want to succeed in reaching your goal, you must drop that identity the way you would drop an old, worn out piece of clothing and realize it’s just a story you’ve adopted about yourself. Character traits can seem like they are carved in stone but, in reality, most of them are just habitual tendencies. With motivation, you can shape your character by reclaiming your lost inner resources and remembering that you are so much more than you think you are.

Who you are is not lazy, hopeless, unhappy, obsessive, angry, anxious or poor, but those adjectives may describe your behavior and your life circumstances in the moment. Shed old, unwanted identities by deciding to do so. Remember that even though those character traits may exist, each one is only part of the story and you are so much more. Reclaim your life and start heading towards your best possible outcome or destiny.

3. Love with an Open Heart
So many people choose to give their deepest love to animals. This is not surprising because the beautiful gift that many of our pets give us is the experience of absolute, unconditional love. Pets seem to respond to our highest, best selves, and never reflect back to us parts of ourselves that we wish to disown or ignore.

We can receive this same wonderful gift when we open our hearts to other people. It also provides the opportunity to witness repressed parts of ourselves based on our own reactions to them, and incredible love then comes back to us. What’s interesting is that this love doesn’t always get returned from the one to whom we are directing our affection—but it does always come back, in one way or another.

Just the act of being open and approaching life with a pure, open heart, invites beauty and goodness into your life. When you are strong enough to let go of calculated measures about who you give your adoration to and in what amount, you are able to connect to the unconditional love that is deep within all of us.

This leads to greater happiness, regardless of the outcome of any single relationship you may be in pursuit of in the physical world.

“Love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”—Karl A. Menninger

4. Release and Forgive Daily
What prevents us from maintaining an open heart and giving the love at our core freely is the constant insults we shower on ourselves. The more we analyze life, the more we come to see that it isn’t fair; often we cannot understand why things happen as they do. This realization and acceptance is one of the keys to happiness.

We want to be loved and appreciated, and we want our mistakes overlooked. How can we ensure that our mistakes will be overlooked? We can’t, but we can begin to forgive the mistakes of others. Often, this can very challenging because the analytical mind tells us that the other person’s behavior is unforgivable. We tell ourselves that we would never do what the other person did. While this may be true, we often overlook the fact that we have done other things, either now or in the past, that were equally hurtful to someone else.

It’s so easy to judge and condemn others, but it can be quite humbling to realize that the forgiveness we are being asked to give is in reality the forgiveness that we ourselves are seeking. To release is to gain freedom. Try working with this affirmation:
“I forgive you. I release you, I set you free, and I am free.”

Make it a daily practice to let go of everything that is bugging you. If that seems difficult or even impossible, imagine the passage of time happening, in this moment.

Ask yourself, “How long does this event warrant me carrying it around with resentment and hostility?”

Clear all your fear, anger, hurt, shame, and guilt by letting it wash off you, just as you rinse the dirt off your body on a daily basis in the shower, or dust off the furniture in your home. Since there is no distinct amount of time that is beneficial to carry around pain, the quicker you can let it go the healthier you will be. Fear, anger, and resentment create aging, illness, and disease. It doesn’t matter if these emotions are understandable based on your life circumstances. What matters is simply that you are carrying them and they are weighing you down (often literally). You can let them go, just by deciding to do. Remind yourself that, “Nothing means what I think it does,” and, “This too shall pass.”

In the big picture of your life, remember constantly all the goodness and love that are directed your way and let that overshadow the disappointments. And stop looking for a cause. There never is any one cause or single person to blame. People treat you in less than loving ways because of their own emotional pain, fear, and anxiety. Give them the gift of forgiveness and open your heart to receive all the redemption that is here for you.

5. Exercise
One of the most obvious ways to improve our health and stay youthful is to exercise. Physical exercise is not optional—it’s necessary for peak mental, physical, and emotional health. The key is making exercise part of our daily routine. We have to make it a habit. We don’t ask ourselves daily whether we feel like bathing or brushing our teeth, do we?

When it comes to physical activity, chances are you expend too much energy trying to decide whether you feel like exercising or not. Honestly, if your goal is to be healthy and happy, then exercise must be a part of your routine, even if sleeping in another hour feels more desirable in the moment.

Here’s the great news. Like any other habit you acquire, once you start incorporating movement into your daily routine, you will crave it and look forward to it. It won’t feel right to skip it. The other terrific news is that exercise really can be fun. It may not be exciting every time, but in the big picture of your life, you can begin to look forward to movement in anticipation of reducing stress and releasing pent up feelings of physical and emotional constriction.

There is such a variety of activities to choose from! Also, give yourself plan A and plan B. Find something you like to do. Perhaps it’s a sport you used to enjoy such as tennis, swimming, bicycling, or hiking. Make a commitment to move your body daily and you will see a great upswing in your health, energy, mood, and stamina.

6. Eat Whole, Clean, Real, Unprocessed Food
What a detour dieting is! If your goal is health and happiness, I can only encourage you, no matter how long dieting and deprivation has been a lifestyle and an identity for you, to shed it. That’s right, just let it go.

Most people who diet are not at a healthy weight, nor are they likely to have a healthy state of mind. Not being on a diet, however, doesn’t mean eating whatever we want whenever we want, until our taste for food changes. Once that happens, we really can eat whatever we want, whenever we want, because at that point, we will actually crave healthy food.

When you select healthy food consistently, by choice, you just don’t even want the junk anymore. It starts to look extremely unappealing. That’s the gift that awaits you! Freedom is being completely turned off to harmful, toxic, processed foods that suck the life force right out of you. You may recognize these foods because you see them on commercials, being touted by beautiful, thin, seemingly happy people. These people are drinking soda or beer, eating fast food, junk food and fried food, and seem to be no worse for it.

Welcome to the world of mass hypnosis! Processed junk food; greasy, oily food; and sugar in all forms make you sick in body, mind, and spirit, over time.

You didn’t develop bad eating habits overnight, and that’s why it takes time to get out of an unhealthy lifestyle which is comprised of unhealthy habits like eating when you are not hungry or stuffing your problems with food.

The basic rules of healthy eating are: Eat only when you are physically hungry; eat only real, whole, clean, unprocessed food, from the earth; plan ahead. It’s eat to live, not live to eat!

Every food has a vibration that either uplifts you or brings you down. It’s not about calories or points. Some of the foods with the lowest number of points or calories are just as toxic to your body as a 500-calorie hot fudge sundae or plate of barbecued ribs.

Think health, energy and vitality! Choose your food wisely based on asking yourself, “How will this food sustain me and nourish me over time?” “Will this food satisfy me or will it cause me to crave more sugar, in one form or another, either immediately or long-term?”

Make decisions about what you are going to eat with consciousness, mindfulness, and awareness.

Rena Greenberg, a Hay House author, can be reached at http://www.EasyWillpower.com. Her weight loss and gastric bypass hypnosis success has been featured in 150-plus news stories including USA Today, Woman’s World, The Doctor’s, CNN, Good Morning America and Nightline. PBS stations nationally aired Rena’s show, “Easy Willpower,” in August 2015. Her wellness program is sponsored in 75 hospitals and 100-plus corporations. She conducts hypnotherapy sessions with people all over the world on Skype.

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