18/06/2012 14:13 BST | Updated 18/08/2012 06:12 BST

Who Decides Your Happiness?

Have you ever felt that other people are holding you back? That the things or people around you are the reason for you being unhappy? Or perhaps that it's because of the train or bus running late that you are having a bad day. Have you ever considered that all this is a matter of perception?

I'm not saying that life isn't hard sometimes, or even a lot of the time. But how would it be to see or experience it much more positively and to feel that you are in control of how things are for you?

Someone told me a story recently about their brother-in-law, a doctor in a small town in the west of England. Each day his secretary would put in front of him a list of his patients for the day. From this list, and based on whether he had any 'difficult' people on it or not, he decided whether today he would be having a good day, or a bad day. Can you imagine handing over your happiness to others in that way? Perhaps you can.

One of the most useful things that I have learnt through all the training that I have undergone, is the positive consequence of my gradual shift from being fairly externally focussed or ELOC (having an External Locus of Control), to being much more ILOC (Internal Locus of Control), through the therapeutic work I have had myself. The doctor described above is obviously very externally focussed. He could also choose not to let his patients dictate how he feels each day. How much better would that be for him? I have found that the more I bring things back to an ILOC position, for me, the better life becomes - and I see it in my clients too.

If you imagine a line, with ILOC at one end and ELOC at the other, most of us are not right at the extreme of either, but somewhere along that line. The theory goes that the further along the scale towards ILOC you are, the happier you're able to be and the less stress you'll feel.

How much better would it be to feel that your success in life is dictated by what you can achieve rather than by what opportunities others give you? Not to feel like a reed blowing in the wind, but to have that inner strength that allows you to stay strong no matter what is going on around you. To really understand that you always have choices, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

There are a few things you can start to do to become more ILOC in your own life:

1. Realise the choices in every situation - that by not making a decision to change something, you are actually making a choice.

2. Plan and goal set so you can positively steer your life in the direction you would choose.

3. Spend time working out who you are and what you want from life - increasing that inner strength.

4. Embrace the concept of 'There's no failure only feedback' and dare to try.

It's not all about a simple change in perception as often there can be deeply held limiting beliefs that get in the way. Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help with this and leave you free to experience life in a much more positive way. Just imagine for a moment how it would be to not allow your happiness to be dictated by what's outside, but rather by what's inside yourself? It sounds good doesn't it? How could you move along the line, further towards an ILOC way of life?

Kirsty Hanly is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist working from No 1. Harley Street, London.