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Be Your Happiest!
1. Short-circuit the negative.
Every time you think a negative thought, replace it with a positive one. Instead of fuming if a car cuts you off, think, This is a reminder for me to drive safely. You can also stave off dark thoughts by inserting sunny ones into your daily routine: Recite a mantra like "Life is good" whenever something goes right.
2. Do a joy inventory.
Each night, jot down or make a mental list of three things, big or small, that brought a smile to your face that day (you got a seat on the bus; your boss loved your proposal). This happy list will keep your optimism soaring. The more you look out for life's little joys, the more of them you'll find.
3. Inspire others to smile.
Compliment the checkout clerk at the grocery store or help a sick friend. Making someone else feel good has a boomerang effect: Seeing their joy, and knowing you made it happen, gives you a warm glow. Plus, when you value others' well-being, you learn to be kinder to yourself, too--and you become happier as a result.
4. Lighten your load.
It's easy to neglect the things you want to do for the things you've gotta do (such as tackling that stack of unopened mail). So build joy boosters into your day: For every "should" you cross off your list, give yourself a treat--even something as simple as taking five minutes to sit and daydream.
5. Celebrate the changes.
As you put these ideas to work, tune in to how you're responding. Maybe you're smiling more or there's a new spring in your step. Really bask in the feeling so you'll be motivated to stick with your joyful habits. And remember: Happiness is a journey guided by the belief that you can always choose joy.
Finding Joy: 3 Questions for Ariane
It seems like some people are just born happy. What are their secrets?
Happy people don't feel like they have to wait for something to happen before they give themselves permission to enjoy life. When you learn to live in the moment, your world seems a lot less stressful. People who are happy go with where life takes them instead of obsessing over where they should be – and they know that their journey will bring them new opportunities.
But that's just not me. Can I really change who I am?
You can train yourself to think more optimistically. Learn to find the positive by asking a new set of questions when something goes wrong. Instead of Why me? ask, What can I learn from this? and How might this be a gift? Shifting your inner dialogue helps you live in a state of positive expectations.
What are the biggest challenges to achieving happiness, and how can I overcome them?
Hanging out with unhappy people can sap our positive energy. To tone down their negativity, try reacting to them in a more positive way. Rather than commiserating as a pal grips about her job, ask what career she'd love to pursue. Also, sometimes the steps toward happiness involve work, like leaving a bad relationship. Remind yourself that the decision to make that change is often the hardest part – and that you'll be happier on the other side.