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Health & Balance

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3 Steps to a Happier You

Step 3: Talk to yourself with kindness.

Now that you've moved past the difficult feelings that often come with life's obstacles, focus on comforting yourself. If you can talk to yourself as mercifully as you would to your best friend, you'll start to see yourself as worthy of that care and forgiveness. And eventually, you'll be able to tap into that self-loving mind-set whenever you're in a tough spot.

To find the right words, think about what you'd say to comfort someone close to you if he faced the same issue — then say it to yourself. Or picture a wise friend advising you lovingly; you can even write yourself a letter, as if it came from her. Consider using a prop to summon up these comforting thoughts, says Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., who's done clinical research on self-compassion at the University of Derby in England. "Try holding a small, favorite object or even a stone, like quartz, when doing these processes," he advises. "Keep it handy and rub it to cue up soothing feelings when you need them."

Learning to be more loving toward yourself also brings a less obvious but equally important benefit: You'll soon find yourself extending that compassion to others and, in the process, making the world a kinder place.

Originally published on September 11, 2007

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