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At last! All the secrets of HAPPINESS explained!

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

Redbook Magazine LogoKristyn Kusek Lewis

Scientists reveal the 12 secrets that keep happy people smiling.


What would it take for you to be truly happy? A new house? Flat abs? In this era of reality-show fantasies, extreme gratification seems like the only key to lifelong happiness. But while we’re all for the mood-boosting power of brand-new bedroom furniture (and a bear hug from Ty Pennington, for that matter), researchers who study happiness say these external changes don’t do much for your long-term state of mind. In fact, positive events like losing some extra weight and even life-altering milestones like getting married cause only a brief “bounce” of bliss that fades fast, allowing your old outlook to return full-force.

“What makes people truly happy is how they live ‘inside of themselves,’” says Dan Baker, Ph.D., author of the best-selling What Happy People Know and director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, AZ. “Meaning that if you want enduring satisfaction, you have to approach life with a mind-set that allows you to walk on the bright side, no matter what’s thrown at you.”

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you have to be perpetually chipper to be happy. Rather, decades of research indicate that true bliss stems from possessing 12 distinct characteristics that enable you to navigate life’s rough spots with greater ease and feel content no matter the outcome. The good news: You already have most of these qualities – it’s just a matter of tapping into them. Read on to discover the science-backed secrets to lasting happiness.

1. Optimism

Embracing all of your life experiences -- even the really painful ones -- with the knowledge that something good inevitably will come out of them is what optimism is all about. “It helps minimize fears about the future that could otherwise become debilitating, allowing you to move past them more quickly and ultimately lead a more carefree life,” says Baker. Case in point: A classic study from the University of Massachusetts found that accident victims who had become suddenly paralyzed were more hopeful about the future than lottery winners.

The reason: The tragedy allowed them to see that most of the stuff that gets us down isn’t really worth fretting over.
To become a more “glass half-full” thinker, take stock of how past bad experiences may have benefited you in the long run. For instance, perhaps getting dumped by your college sweetheart made you available when your true love arrived on the scene. And when you’re anticipating rough times -- say, a crushing week of work deadlines -- devise an “optimism emergency plan”: Make a list of what you hope to gain from the experience, and ask yourself if there’s an opportunity to learn or grow. Approaching a potentially bad situation with an open and eager mind primes you to see the upside in everything.

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