What is the secret to unhappiness? Some could find an infinite answer to this question. Feeling unfulfilled, weak, powerless. Feeling like a victim of fate. There's a thousand different ways to feel unhappy but, there's only a few reasons to feel unhappy. There are only a few dozen actual reasons we feel weak, powerless, and unfulfilled in life. Some of these reasons are caused by tragedy and other life changing events. Others are caused by physical and mental impairments. However, the most common reason for feeling unhappy comes from trying to live up to someone else's standards.

We've all done it. Whether it be family, friends, relationships, or the public's perception; we've all tried to live up to someone else's expectations. And while some of us have taken control and now live to our own standards, there still lies a large group of us that try to live for somebody else's. To do this not only becomes incredibly unfulfilling but, has the power to drastically tear down a person's self-worth and character over time.

So, how do we fix it? How do we live to our own standards? Well, if you've lived to achieve someone else's goals for the majority of your life, living for yourself won't come naturally. You'll have to start by reestablishing your character. You'll have to begin to trust your own decisions again. The best way I've found to do this is by exercising your mind with positive reinforcement. Much like your body produces a stronger physical image through exercise; your mind produces a stronger mental image through positive thinking.

There are many exercises you can do to produce self-respect. Again, like actual physical activity, the only way mental exercise produces results is through repetition. The easiest way is to start saying "I can." By that I mean start looking at the world through the eyes of a believer. Every morning, wake up saying "I can achieve anything I put my mind to." "I can push through any obstacle that crosses my path." "I can live the life I've always wanted to; because I believe in myself and I enjoy who I am!" Positive thinking is key to each exercise but, waking up to a double dose of positive reinforcement is sure to set each day off on the right track.

The next exercise is practice. Practice talking to people as yourself. Don't communicate what others want to hear. Put simply, be yourself. If you disagree with something that affects your life, verbalize your opinion. You don't need to be cold hearted or mean but, you need to stand up for what you believe in. Not only will you feel good about taking a stand; others will respect you for it, too.

These two steps are easy, proven ways of improving a self-image. Many people would also add weight loss, a change in clothing style, and perhaps a change in scenery as well. However, while I do believe these hold weight, they are not long-term solutions to finding self-respect. Experiment and find what works for you, though.

After finding self-respect you have to perfect it. Much like a golfer will perfect their swing, you must perfect your self reliance. The hard part is over, though. You know how to "swing" now. You just have to learn to "swing" consistently. You do this through practice and through time, you learn to replace areas of doubt with areas of self assured, positive actions.

When you fully feel self-reliant you will begin to see opportunities unfold and your entire outlook on life will change. The next step is breaking your dependency on trying to accomplish goals you don't want to achieve. And from there you can move on to finding and conquering goals that make you a more fulfilled person.

Because we have goals that are disguised as obligations at this point, we need to weed out what actually matters to us. We need to find our needs, our wants, and then we need to find our expectations. Needs are necessary to stay well and keep others well. Wants are what we expect to have that will make us happy. Expectations are what a different person wants you to want. You need to find the expectations in your life, compare them to who you believe you are, and choose whether they fit your plan. If they don't, get rid of those goals. Sure, this process takes time. But, being able to cut away from pointless goals and focus on what you want to achieve is a giant leap toward a brighter future.

To live for you is a great step towards finding happiness. By doing so, you open yourself up to being able to go after your goals and maintain a constant feeling of self- worth. Remember, a key factor to success is happiness. If you're living for someone else's idea of success, can you truly say you're happy?

Author's Bio: 

After being taught the power of motivation and inspiration coaching at a young age, I have always been interested in helping people become more successful. By putting a great deal of time into fine arts throughout my life, I feel that I can motivate from a different perspective and possibly offer a much more creative approach to problem solving.