OK, I’m going to begin with a bold statement: The pursuit of happiness isn’t necessarily going to make you happy.

There, I said it. I know this may appear counterintuitive, but please do bear with me. Happiness can be elusive. It’s a fleeting thing that you need to grab hold of when you can, and this can be an exhausting experience all round. So, what about focusing on your own inner peace and letting happiness come to you? When we take steps to look inward and focus on personal growth, happiness happens naturally. So, let’s have a look at the fundamentals...

[The CEO of Happyness: Chris Gardner is in the business of empowering people]

Learn the art of compromise

Compromise can be a fairly uncompromising word. Like the saying goes, it really does take two to tango.

You hear about compromising a lot when it comes to relationships. It doesn’t matter what the nature of the relationship is; for it to work properly, the ability to compromise needs to be at the heart of it. Compromise is, of course, a two-way street – doing it on your own is something that breeds relationship imbalance and lasting resentment.

Most of us do have an idea of what it’s supposed to entail – it’s simply finding a way to ‘meet in the middle’, that’s it, that’s compromise. But compromise isn’t always as simple as that. It needs thought and work to avoid it becoming another source of tension. Sometimes, people go through the motions of ‘compromising’, but in reality what they’re really doing is just caving in – they’re giving up their viewpoint because it’s easier, but secretly they feel resentful.

The art of compromise is all about being able to fully understand where each party is coming from. It means taking the time to listen, and then reaching a decision based on what is truly fair to each party.

What if it appears that there can be no compromise? Then the solution is always that you must endeavour to open lines of effective communication. Communication and compromise go hand in hand. By firstly focusing on how to communicate in a relationship, you can then learn how to compromise.

Appreciate what you have

How often do you stop and think about how fortunate you are just being you? Do you ever consider just how lucky you are? Just for the non-material things you have like your health, friends and family. I implore you to try it, right now, close your eyes and take a moment to think about these things.

Did you feel it? The cool wave of gratefulness, that glow of knowing what’s really important to you?

We don’t live in a utopia; everyone has stresses, worries and issues. Sometimes these struggles can seem overwhelming. At times we can completely lose sight of anything good at all. Situations can arise where the bad starts to become normal and the good becomes increasingly overlooked. We adapt to our circumstances and our demands and expectations can become clouded.

We have a habit of forgetting about the overall picture, we ignore the truly important things in life. Instead many people ‘see without looking’. I call this the ‘diamond shoe’ phenomenon – when a person is so focused on what’s not important, they become angry and upset when their ‘diamond shoes are just too tight!’ (figuratively speaking of course).

So, how do you rediscover your inner appreciation in 2020? Well, simplicity is at the heart of self-appreciation. Park the ‘material you’ for now and think about what you might really appreciate. Focus on your immediate and extended family. Your health and their health. Even the delicious food and cultural experiences you enjoy. By tapping into this state of mind more often you can start to find more for the inner you, the true you, to enjoy. Find and embrace calmness, make time and space for it.

When we focus solely on doing more and having more, we become blind to all we already have. It prompts us to continually chase the next big thing we think will make us happy. But what if the path to happiness turns out to be appreciating what we already have? Just a thought.

Limit your limitations

Not everyone is great at everything all of the time and by the very act of continually striving for an unattainable perfection, sooner or later, you’re going to be disappointed. This is not a lack of ambition, rather this is the ability to recognise that you do have your limits. Please look at it as a positive mindset though, because if you admit you’re never going to be brilliant at everything, that gives you the freedom to truly focus on the things you are great at. This way you limit your stress and enjoy your success. Try it.

Strength is your work in progress

Do you really know yourself? Having true inner strength means you’ve developed the skill of embracing all of your feelings – even the negative ones. They are part of who you are and a level of acceptance is required to be free from their most damaging effects. Freedom from fear, freedom from self-criticism, freedom from harmful behaviours – this can only be felt through self-acceptance.

Finding inner strength means finding out how you really feel. You’ll soon discover that feelings aren’t bad... they just are. Try and think of it like this – really young children don’t censor their feelings, when they are sad or hungry or crave attention they cry. Yet when they are happy they leap about and run around full of joy. What they are not doing is worrying what others think, and they’re not consciously analysing their emotions.

Finally, are you friends with your own body? Do you respect your body with the food you put in it and provide it with the exercise it needs? Your body also needs rest, so please do not ignore what your body is telling you.

And, do you love your mind? Or are you in conflict with your own thoughts? Thoughts can race around in an endless cycle of negativity, that’s why learning how to relax both your mind and your body, whilst listening to both is critical to inner peace. A holistic approach to body and mind will pay dividends in your quest for inner calmness and peace and this may just lead you to catch some personal happiness.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting (russellhemmings.co.uk).