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By Arricca Elin SanSone
Try a few of these happiness-boosting strategies to find what works for you.
1) Maintain a Sense of Purpose
People are happier when they focus on what really matters to them. "As obvious as this sounds, we often don't do whatever it is that gives us a sense of meaning in our lives," says Timothy Wilson, Ph.D., author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. In both work and leisure, focus on meeting the goals that matter most to you, whether it's taking care of your family, strengthening your spirituality or improving your community.
2) Schedule Your Worrying
If you can't stop yourself from fretting, schedule a time to worry. "Tell yourself 'I'm not going to do this right now, but I will think about it tonight from 7:30 to 8 p.m.,'" Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. "Sometimes by the time your 'appointment' to worry rolls around, you don't feel you want or need to do it any more."
3) Ask Yourself "What If?"
Write about all the ways a positive event -- say, meeting your spouse or a career breakthrough -- might not have come about in your life. "My colleagues and I call it the 'George Bailey' technique," says Wilson. In the classic movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey sees what the world would have been like if he'd never been born. "Research has shown that by imagining how the good things in your life might not have occurred, you're able to see them as surprising and special again," says Wilson.
4) Savor Daily Joys
It may seem cliché, but it's actually quite powerful: Pay close attention to the small moments of happiness you encounter every day. Use all of your senses to appreciate momentary wonders: The sound of your baby's laughter; the way your pet's soft fur feels against your hand; the smell of fresh air; the taste of your morning coffee and pastry; or the way the tree branches are silhouetted against a crystal blue sky.
5) Forgive Small Injustices
Let go of the little things that bother you every day. "Many times we're hurting ourselves more than the other person by holding onto our anger," says Lyubormirsky. Ask yourself if whatever upset you will really matter next week, next month or next year. Then let it go.
6) Go to Bed Earlier
With our busy lives, sleep is often the first thing to get sacrificed. "It's such a basic need, but millions of us skimp on it," says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. "You can't feel energetic, calm and cheerful if you're always exhausted." To get to bed on time, do all the prep -- take out your contacts, brush your teeth, walk the dog -- long before bedtime so you won't have any excuses for dawdling.
7) Do Good, Feel Good
Do good things for others including family, friends and strangers. Give to charity. Attend fundraising events. Volunteer your time. "Doing good is self-affirming," says Wilson. "We're helping other people by our actions, but kind acts make us feel good about ourselves at the same time. It causes us to view ourselves in a better light."
8) Pursue a Passion
Most of us are so overscheduled that we need to give ourselves permission to unwind. "Lose yourself in activities that truly engage you," says Lyubomirsky. Discover new hobbies that feed your passion. Learn to play an instrument or speak a new language. Take an art class. Learn to knit or cook. Whatever you choose, make it something that challenges and absorbs you.
9) Stop Over-Thinking
Don't dwell on negative events. "We sometimes think we have to keep ruminating over a problem to resolve it, but we often end up just going in circles," says Lyubomirsky. "Break the cycle by distracting yourself with an enjoyable activity." Shoot some hoops, read a magazine, play with your pet, work a Sudoku puzzle -- anything to redirect your attention.
10) Be Silly
Look for the silliness in any situation, says Rubin. Juggle oranges with your kids when you're putting away the groceries. Tell jokes or sing funny songs. Plus, research shows that feelings are contagious; if you grump and growl around your house, the negative energy will likely spread to the rest of your family. And that doesn't help anyone feel happier.
For 20 more happiness-boosting strategies click here!
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