The five A’s of happiness

There are five A’s of happiness that may point you in the right direction: appreciation, awareness, acceptance, acknowledgement and amazement.

by Irene Conlan — 

In the Declaration of Independence, it is written that we have the God-given right to pursue happiness (please note that it says we have the right to pursue it but does not guarantee that we will find it).

We all seek happiness, looking for it in all kinds of places –– sports, entertainment, sex, food, therapy, relationships —  and we are often disappointed when we do not find it there. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote the Hall of Fame song “Is That All There Is?” about this disappointment, and Peggy Lee won a Grammy for singing it. Lee sings of seeking happiness but coming away empty-handed and disappointed.

How many times do you start a thought with “If only …” — the remainder being an unspoken “then I would be happy.” How many truly happy people do you know? Do you consider yourself happy? What makes you happy?

There are five A’s that may point you in the right direction: appreciation, awareness, acceptance, acknowledgement and amazement.

Appreciation really does not have to be defined; it just has to be practiced. Look around and take notice of all the things you have to be grateful for. Who and what do you appreciate? The little cheer that children yell at sports games comes to mind: “Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?”

Keep a running list of things you appreciate. Right at the top of my list are family who love me, fresh air, clean water, good food and freedom. Each one of these could spawn a new list. The list should grow longer and longer and never stop. But be careful, because appreciation can change your life for the better. Only do this exercise if you are serious about being happy.

Awareness goes hand-in-glove with appreciation. The more aware you become of everything around you, the more appreciative you will be. Do you see the beauty everywhere? How long has it been since you picked up a fallen leaf and noticed the colors, the structure, the beauty of it? How long has it been since you “smelled the flowers?”

Driving is a good example. When I am driving, I am completely focused on the surrounding traffic, the directional signs and the things I need to see to get to my destination safely. When I am a passenger, however, I can be aware of other people, architecture, plants and flowers, clouds, the blueness of the sky and the many things along the way.

Become aware of other people and their expressions, their energy, their joys and sorrows. Become more aware of yourself — who you are and what you want and need, what you enjoy and do not enjoy.

Acceptance keeps you from trying to change yourself and everyone and everything around you. It allows you the freedom of being who you are and allowing others to be who they are, as well. You have heard the saying, “I love you, warts and all.” That is acceptance. You do not have to judge or remake anyone you know. It is a very freeing concept.

Acknowledgement lets you recognize your own talents, abilities, accomplishments and uniqueness, as well as the talents, abilities, accomplishments and uniqueness of those around you.

Acknowledgment of someone else’s successes does not detract from your own or diminish you in any way; nor does it generally make the other person arrogant. Think of how good it feels when someone sincerely tells you, “Great job. Thank you.” Give that gift to someone else. Start with those at home by using those four magnificent words. When was the last time you said them? Get them out, dust them off and use them until they become second nature. Thank you!

Amazement lets you look at everything through new eyes and say, “Wow!” When you are aware and really begin to see, you will be amazed by more and more. Look for the beautiful, the unique, the special and the awesome things in your life. There are thousands of them, if you just pay attention. Amazement is great for your spirit and your blood pressure, so make an effort to allow it back into your life.

Those five A’s can bring you closer to happiness than almost anything. Happiness is an inside job, after all, and appreciation, awareness, acceptance, acknowledgment and amazement are some of the tools that help you get there.


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 3, June/July 2010.


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