Today, I consider myself an extremely happy person, but it hasn't always been that way. The truth is that I've made HUGE strides to be where I am today. I had to dig deep inside myself to access authentic joy, the kind that cannot be manufactured by false promises and one-night-stand mantras spit out by pop psychologists.

If you feel depressed, or if your life doesn't make sense right now, you're not alone. Many people have feelings of self-hate, regret and depression.

So what's the real problem?

What's the source of this mass unhappiness?

Why are we all running around trying so hard to "get" happy?

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Could it be that our frantic pace is indeed what's causing to our lack of joy?

Could it be that we're all looking for answers in the wrong places?

As a self-help author with a book on how to Find Your Happy, I find it incredibly rewarding to help people reach a state of more joy. But there's a downside to the pursuit of happiness, and most self-help authors, teachers and speakers gloss over it: happiness is a way of life, not a destination.

So many of us approach happiness as a goal: "We have to get happy to be happy." But happiness is not "out there" somewhere; it's already inside all of us. It's our job to remove the barriers, limiting beliefs, fears and insecurities keeping us from accessing the lasting joy. But this removal process can be fun. It can be play. The more we access our own source of happiness, the happier we'll be.

When I was depressed and stuck in life, I would read articles about happiness, hoping it would be my magic bullet. I was always looking for that "happiness hit" to pull me out of my own darkness. But that method in itself is what kept me from accessing lasting joy.

Accessing lasting happiness is a process and a lifestyle; it's not a one-hit wonder drug. The "pursuit of happiness" is indeed what keeps most of us from being happy.

If you feel as if you're constantly trying to be happy but don't see any results, these tips can help.

1. Avoid self-blame.

When people mistakenly buy into the overblown claims of instant happiness, they can begin habits of self-blame and fear of failure, especially when they don't achieve the outcome they've been promised. Instead of going to self-blame, recognize that there are great lessons to learn in the struggle.

2. Pump-up daily.

The more you can access happiness from within, the easier it becomes. It's a lot like a muscle: you have to work it out daily in order to strengthen it. One way to do this quickly is to do what you love daily.

3. Stop trying to get happy and just be.

Recognize that all of the work you're doing is part of the bigger picture. The books you read, the people you talk to and the lectures you attend are all part of the healing process. When we approach happiness as a lifestyle rather than a "got to get there" destination, we can recognize it's already with us. It is like eating a healthy diet — we don't eat a healthy diet to get healthy, we eat a healthy diet to BE healthy. Happiness is the same way.

4. Follow your nudges.

The most important part of accessing lasting joy is to trust your own heart. The nudges you get daily are your indicators to help guide you to true happiness. The inner pull from your heart that says, go buy that book, call that friend or go for a nature walk is the inner voice that knows you better than the outside world. The key to accessing lasting joy is to honor those nudges and let them be your own best friend.

If you want more guidance on how to access happiness from within yourself, download this FREE guide.

How are you creating a life of more joy and happiness? I would love to hear your comments on this topic below.

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