Six ways to make your life better

WANT to be happier? Want to feel better about yourself, and about life in general?
Want to do it now? Here are six ways to make your life better today.

1. Practice an attitude of gratitude.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to become happier is simply to appreciate all that we have. Many of us get into the habit of focusing on what we lack, while taking what we do have for granted. We’re not saying that you should live in denial or ignore problems that need to be addressed. But while you’re addressing those problems, you can also look around and appreciate all of the things you can be grateful for.

Think about your family, your friends, your home, your health, your opportunities, and anything else you can come up with. If you make alist of everything in your life to be grateful for, you’ll be amazed at how long the list grows, and you’ll begin to notice how closely happiness is tied to gratitude.

2. Focus on the now.
Be. Here. Now. Live in the present moment. Yes, the future may be scary. And sure, you may have regrets about the past. But the more you can be here now, the happier you’ll be.

So find ways to focus on the present moment. For example, if you wear a watch that chimes, set it go off every hour as a reminder to stop and appreciate whatever’s going on right then. Or if you believe in prayer or meditation, take a few minutes at different points during the day to ground yourself spiritually. Do all you can to be fully present in this very moment. After all, it’s really the only one you have.

3. Take the long view.
When we were children, it was hard for us to understand the cyclical nature of life. When we were upset, we had a hard time imagining a time when we’d be happy again. But we’re not children anymore. We now know that even if we’re unhappy in the short term, we can still be happy long-term. We just have to maintain a perspective that’s aware of this long view.

The next time you’re down, take a look at yourself. Don’t be critical or judge yourself for how you’re feeling. But do recognize that your feelings are temporary. That they change. Concentrate on the fact that your circumstances and emotions will change, and that before too long, you’ll be happy again.

4. Choose to treat others right.

It’s not always easy to do, but it’s very rewarding to treat other people well, even when they don’t do the same for you. Choose to do the right thing, regardless of how you’re being treated. When you’re tempted tobe rude or mean, show kindness. When you feel like lying, tell the truth. When you’re offered the chance to say something cruel about an unpopular person, say something positive. You’ll make the world a better place, and you’ll feel better about yourself.

5. Watch your self-talk.

As you go through your day-to-day routines, pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Rather than constantly repeating discouraging and critical phrases, be positive. Instead of saying, “That was so stupid of me to tell that terrible joke on my date,” focus on all of the ways that the date went well. Instead of saying, “I’m so undisciplined,” say, “I’m going to come up with a realistic strategy and stick to my plans.” Focus on the good things about yourself, and it will be a lot easier to address the areas where you’re still a work in progress.

6. Slow down.

No wonder it’s hard sometimes to enjoy the moment. We’re so busy rushing from one event to the next that we often don’t even realize that we’ve actually lived a moment before it’s passed.

This week, findways to slow down just a bit. Get up 30 minutes early so you can sit and read the paper before leaving for work. Then, when you get to your job, sit in the car for an extra two minutes and just prepare yourself to pay attention and enjoy each moment of your day. Slow down enough that you can tell yourself that you’re going to be grateful today, that you’ll focus on the now, that you’ll treat others right, and that you’ll be good to yourself. By doing all of this, you’ll make your life better today.

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