by Dr. Timothy Sharp, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute

If you’re one of “the lucky few” then you’re very well positioned to dr-timothy-sharp1live a great life because by “the lucky few” I’m referring to those of you who find happiness comes easily.  No matter what’s going on around you, you still remain optimistic and positive.  And as well as enjoying happiness, you’ll also live longer, maintain better relationships and even be more successful at work.

Most of you, however, won’t fall into this very small group but the good news is that’s OK; because you can still create more happiness if you do the right sorts of things.  Regardless of whether or not you’re a natural optimist you can still learn to the proven principles of positive psychology and as a result, enjoy happiness more often.

Now this posting doesn’t present a simple strategy but rather, an over-arching approach I’ve used with wonderful effect in my work over the years (see  And it’s based on the simple but vitally important notion that to achieve anything in life we have to plan for it.

Most people understand that to be fitter and healthier we need to develop relevant plans – for exercise and diet.  Well, the same is true for happiness but unfortunately, most people spend more time planning their annual holidays than they do planning their lives; I have nothing against annual holidays but I can guarantee that if you take even just a fraction of the time you spend thinking about holidays and dedicate that time to contemplating life goals then you’ll enjoy incredible benefits.

Now before I go further I should explain that “plan” is not just a word but that it’s also an acronym.  Let me quickly explain The Happiness Institute’s PLAN model:

P represents a Positive image of the future

L is for Leveraging off what you already have

A is for the Action plan you need to develop and

N is a reminder to focus on your most immediate Next steps

In summary, then, this simple but (and I can vouch for this personally) very powerful model can help you determine your destination for life and set your course for the future.  If you imagine what a great life would look like, consider what you already have (in the way of strengths, attributes, characteristics and resources) that will help you get there, determine exactly what you need to do, and take it one step at a time then I’m confident you’ll go on to live a happier and more successful life.  And when you do, feel free to tell me your story; I love hearing about the positive outcomes of others!

Dr. Timothy Sharp is Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute.  He’s one of Australia’s leaders in the exciting new field of positive psychology, a sought after public/corporate speaker and he has Professorial appointments within the UTS School of Business and RMIT’s School of Health Sciences.  Dr. Sharp provides consulting and coaching services to individuals and organisations as well as Positive Psychology Training programs to relevant professionals.