Smiling woman at computer

Photo: Brand X Pictures

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Day 2: The Happiness Contract
As a child, you experience happiness as being natural and easy. Happiness is your original energy. Playfulness is your true nature. Joy is your spiritual DNA. In the years that follow, your personality creates a Happiness Contract that is full of learned ideas and false beliefs that limit your daily allowance of joy. Some examples of this conditioned thinking include fears like "too much happiness is selfish," beliefs like "I must deserve happiness," rules like "I must earn happiness," and self-made laws like "I must sacrifice myself for others' happiness" and "it's not okay for me to be happy if others are not."

Be Happy Exercise: The Happiness Contract is a metaphor, but its effects feel very real. The good news is you can rewrite your Happiness Contract by being willing to accept happiness more unconditionally in your life. Today's assignment is to complete the following sentence 10 times: "One way I limit my own happiness is..." Free-associate. Don't think too much. Let your answers flow. If you draw a blank, simply move on. Afterward, examine your answers carefully, looking for any learned rules, laws and fears that you can surrender and let go of. Happiness is free—there are no conditions.