As a motivational coach, I often hear from people who feel undeserving of happiness. That feeling typically stems from one of two experiences; one, they feel guilty over past words and actions or two, they have repeatedly been told, and have come to believe, they are not worthy. Trust me when I say, you deserve to be happy.

No matter where the belief originated, the way to shift into a feeling of empowerment and worthiness is the same. It comes down to releasing the old programming that doesn’t serve you and reprogramming your mind with thoughts that build your self-esteem and help you appreciate all that you offer the world. It’s this reprogramming that re-teaches you how to “be happy.”

One characteristic that separates happy, successful people from the rest is their ability to look into the future with curiosity, excitement, and the belief that the best is yet to come. But to do that, one cannot drag along baggage of guilt and shame from the past. The past can be haunting if you allow it — failed relationships, bad business decisions, trusting someone unworthy of trust.

When you break it down, what people fear most is rejection and failure. This fear often keeps you looking over your shoulder, always on guard for the past creeping up to derail you. When you open yourself up to the possibility present in each day,  your heart opens up to receive it. Little by little, the shift occurs, allowing you to release the past, and embrace the future with hope and a smile.

Feeling happy boils down to choice. It’s up to you to choose what to focus on — the baggage of the past or the hope in each new day. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Happiness is finding the eagerness and curiosity within to launch into each day relentlessly searching for the open doors. If you need more help, I suggest you commit to the nine “happy” rules below.

Nine Ways to Be Happy

    1. Commit to choosing a better feeling thought whenever a yucky one creeps into your mind. Every time.
    2. Commit to loving and appreciating yourself. No. Matter. What.
    3. Commit to releasing the opinions of others and forming your own opinion about who you are and what you stand for.
    4. Commit to focusing only on your desire to be happy, not all that things that happened in the past that made you feel sad and less than.
    5. Commit to feeling grateful for everything in your life (including yourself). Gratitude rocks!
    6. Commit to releasing the baggage holding you back. That means any anger, resentment, and bitterness you hold against yourself or others.
    7. Commit to looking for the chance each day to play and laugh! Sometimes all you have to do is start with a smile.
    8. Commit to recognizing and changing patterns of behavior that are not working in your best interest.
    9. Commit to avoiding the company of negative people who do not treat you with respect, even if it’s people you love. When you begin to fill your life with happy, positive people who treat you with love and respect, you are guaranteed to feel much better!

You deserve to live a life of happiness! Are you committed?

For more inspiration, join best-selling author Sheila Callaham and the Braveheart community on Facebook and Twitter!