6 Steps to More Happiness

Have you been coasting along, feeling quietly unfulfilled? Even small changes can reshape your life in dramatic ways. Start here.
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Turning Points

There is, for many of us, a moment in life when we make a choice that changes us forever. This moment marks a turning point, a threshold of sorts, when we realize that the life we're living is not a reflection of who we really are.

For some, the moment comes as a result of something dramatic: the sudden loss of a job, the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or the death of a loved one. For others, it's prompted by dealing with difficult situations, such as financial hardship or the long, slow end of a marriage.

As a life coach for the past 18 years, I've also seen many transformations not motivated by any crisis. Instead, some women simply opened their eyes and their hearts to a new way of looking at themselves and the world, a way guided by a positive energy that I call "the unmistakable touch of grace."

In these challenging times, it's more critical than ever for us to embrace the possibility of positive change. As I travel and talk to people about their lives, I often see a distant, almost-vacant look in their eyes -- a look that says, "I'm so busy trying to survive my life that I have no soul left to live it." Frightening world events, along with the overwhelming amount of information and stimuli that assault us daily, have caused our anxiety levels to soar. Living on the edge of uncertainty has made fight or flight our standard operating mode.

As a result, our most soul-nourishing relationships start to deteriorate, and we end up feeling lonely and isolated. Yet we keep on going the way we've been going, locked into a comfortable state of denial about what isn't working in our lives. We tolerate high levels of stress at work, take important relationships for granted, put our health needs on hold, or continue to overspend in spite of the anxiety we feel about mounting debt. We get so caught up in the details of living that our busyness becomes a convenient diversion from the pesky inner voice that begs us to listen. Here's the irony: When you finally pay attention to that little voice and begin to make even small changes, you slowly emerge from the protective cocoon of denial.

Text excerpted from Unmistakable Touch of Grace, by Cheryl Richardson. Copyright 2005 by Cheryl Richardson. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. of New York City.

Continued on page 2:  Making the Change


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