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Health & Balance

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At last! All the secrets of HAPPINESS explained!

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.

2. Love

Having a sense of compassion for the people in your life and knowing that you’re cared for in return is one of the biggest predictors of happiness, says Baker. Whether it’s the thrill of romantic love or nurturing parental love, feelings of companionship provide a comforting sense of belonging that enhances overall life satisfaction. One of the most well-documented ways to increase the love in your life: share quality time with others.

“Feeling isolated makes it easy to succumb to negative feelings like self-doubt and insecurity,” explains David Niven, Ph.D., author of The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People. “But spending time with loved ones strengthens the human connections that silence those self-defeating thoughts and improve mood.”

So keep planning movie nights with girlfriends, and enlist the company of others when you’d normally be alone. For instance, instead of throwing dinner together solo, ask your guy to help out. And to experience the mood-buoying effects of loving bonds even when you’re alone, carry photos of loved ones in your wallet and peek at their smiling faces for an anytime pick-me-up.

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