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Health & Balance

At last! All the secrets of HAPPINESS explained!

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6. Security

True security means feeling good about your current place in life. It’s recognizing that becoming rich or the most popular party host on the block will only get you a bigger, more crowded house. It won’t change you, and that’s a good thing. “Happy people simply like who they are,” says Baker. “They’re not slaves to popularity or financial status.”

Security also stems from the knowledge that who you are today is the culmination of all the little moments in your history that can never be taken away from you. Your family history, your education, shared experiences with loyal friends -- none of these things can be whisked away by the whims of fate, a fact that instills a sense of grounding and inner peace. So whenever you’re feeling off-kilter, Niven recommends conjuring one of those self-defining moments (accepting your diploma, say, or listening to your best friend’s toast at your wedding). Mentally reliving these formative experiences will help you keep your footing in the rockiest of situations.

7. Good health

The mind and body are intrinsically connected, so taking care of yourself both above and below the neck makes for head-to-toe happiness. “One of my favorite quotes is from a famous 1920s physician who said, ‘Health is the optimal condition that allows for the ultimate engagement in life,’” says Baker. “What he’s saying is that health doesn’t necessarily mean being fit, but being able to live fully.”

The easiest way to achieve this optimal state of being: Get moving. Regular activity -- be it walking, dancing, or playing Frisbee with your dog -- releases endorphins (the substances responsible for a runner’s high) and increases levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Best of all, just 10 minutes of exercise is all it takes to produce the mood-boosting brain changes, according to Northern Arizona University researchers.

8. Spirituality

People who tap into their spiritual side have greater life satisfaction than those who don’t, according to a growing body of research. It reminds us that life may have bigger meaning beyond our knowing, explains Niven, so we don’t dwell so much on the little things.

Research also reveals that religion can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health: People who regularly pray or attend religious services are less likely to suffer from hypertension, anxiety disorders, and depression, according to experts at Duke University’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health. Any soulful act, including meditation, walking in the woods, reading an inspiring book, or listening to a moving piece of music, can help you dial into the bigger picture, assures Baker.

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