We spend a lot of time helping people stop being anxious, depressed and stressed, but we often fail to help them develop the alternative, happiness. People can only spend so much time working on their “issues.” What should they do the rest of hte time? Learn 12 Happiness Habits that can help anyone start feeling better.
Habit: Awareness and Authenticity
Habit: Acceptance
Habit: Gratitude
Habit: Compassion
Habit: Breathing
Habit: Purposeful action and Long-Term Goals
Habit: Back-Talk
Habit: Thought Conditioning
Habit: Be Sense-sational
Habit: Peer Pressure
Habit: Forgive
Habit: Project Happiness

Awareness and Authenticity
To get your wants and needs met, you first need to be aware of them by practicing mindfulness.
~ What do you need
~ What vulnerabilities do you currently have
~ How can you mitigate them
~ How can you prevent them
~ Why is it important to prevent them?

Living authentically means living in a way that is true to yourself.
~ Define what happiness means to you:
~ What makes you happy?
~ How will your thoughts and outlook change when you are happy?
~ What is the impact of happiness on your health and body (energy, sleep, weight, pain, illness…)?
~ When you are happy, who do you see in your support system and what will your relationships be like?
~ What will be different in your day to day life, hobbies and activities when you are happy?
~ How can you start making these things happen? (Principle of Reciprocity)

Fighting against things that are unchangeable (or not realistically changeable by you) wastes a TON of energy. Instead of struggling with your feelings or unchangable situations, accept the situation by saying “Okay, what now? What is the next step to help me continue moving toward my goals of happiness?”
Decide whether you will…
~ Change part of the situation to make it more tolerable
~ Change your reaction to the situation

It can be easy to focus on all of the things you don’t have or what is not going right. An attitude of gratitude helps you refocus on the positive, appreciate the simple things, and let go of envy and jealousy. Even if one area of your life is a mess, it is likely that you have other things to be grateful for.
~ Keep a gratitude list. Add at least one thing that went well each day
~ Look around and compare yourself to others who are not doing as well and/or the you in the past

Compassion means sympathetic awareness of others' distress and a desire to alleviate it. Often times people have compassion for others but not for themselves. Many of us were raised to think that if we are compassionate with ourselves it means we are lazy, weak or a failure.
~ Think of three times you have been compassionate in the past week. To whom? Why? How did it impact them?
~ How are you compassionate to yourself? How could you be?

Breathing (and Laughter)
Deep breaths help oxygenate blood and reduce fatigue, and slow deep breaths also help lower heart rate and trigger the relaxation response. For a bonus, laughter not only makes you breathe deeper, but it also releases endorphins.
~ Practice deep breathing after each meal
~ When you are stressed, take a few deep breaths
~ Schedule in 10 minutes to laugh every day.

Purposeful Action and Long-Term Goals
When you see that you are moving closer to your long term goals it inspires hope, and each small step toward a rich and meaningful life can make you feel happier. Purposeful action means using your energy to do things to achieve your goals, and focusing on things you can control.
~ Define what a rich and meaningful life means to you
~ Identify 3 small changes you can make today to move closer to that life.

Back Talk
Choosing happiness habits means quieting the negativity and changing behaviors. Actually talk back to your internal critic and ingrained habits can cause you a lot of distress.
Back talk means telling the critic to be quiet and pushing away negative thoughts, and telling yourself “No” when you start to engage in unhelpful habits such as stress eating, smoking, or engaging in unnecessary conflict.

Thought Conditioning
Most of us are not in the habit of always seeing the bright side or the silver lining. Just like conditioner softens your hair, thought conditioning softens your thoughts by helping you look for the positive, walk the middle path, and eliminate cognitive distortions.
~When something upsets you, find the positive. For example, “It is awful that I lost my job. On the positive side, I can hopefully find a job I like better, and I have family and friends that are supportive.”

Be Sense-ational
Your moods are largely impacted by your environment. By paying attention to what you see, hear, smell and feel you can create an environment that triggers happiness.
~ What smells make you happy? (Essential oils, memory-related smells like grandma's banana bread)
~ What sights make you happy? (Pictures, colors, organization)
~ What sounds make you happy? (birds, music, water)
~ What feelings/touch makes you happy? (warm fireplace, thick angora sweater, cool silk…)
~ How can you integrate these into your home, car and work space?

Peer Pressure
It is important to surround yourself with positive people. Positive people can often help you condition your thoughts, provide support and are more encouraging. Negative people tend to drain energy and enhance a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
~ Think of a person you know who is extremely negative.
~ How do you feel when you see they are calling?
~ How do you feel after spending time together?
~ Think of a person you know who is extremely positive.
~ How do you feel when you see they are calling?
~ How do you feel after spending time together?

Resentment, regret and guilt are natural responses to a threat, but holding on to these feelings drains your energy like trying to control a big dog on a leash that wants to chase a squirrel.
The feeling is telling you something bad happened and you need to fix it and/or protect yourself.
~ Think about something you are resentful about.
~ How does holding on to the resentment help protect you?
~ What would happen if you let go of the resentment?
~ How can you forgive the person, or yourself, so it stops draining your energy

Project Happiness (Fake It ‘Til You Make It)
When you walk hunched over, looking at the ground you feel more depressed, and miss some of the simple pleasures and opportunities to positively engage with people.
~Sit and walk sitting up
~ Look up from your phone
~ Make eye contact and smile
~ How else can you project happiness so others can tell you are happy?

Happiness doesn’t magically happen. By choosing habits that promote happiness, you can start feeling happier. Your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and environment all contribute to your mood. Choose happy!

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