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How to Keep Joy in Your Life All Year Long

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WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

Redbook Magazine Logo It's the one resolution you must keep this year! Start by taking inventory of what matters to you and what makes you happy. Then, work on savoring those experiences! Here, four ways to create more delight each and every day from Michelle DeAngelis, life consultant and founder of Planetjoyride.com.

Play more! We all need a few minutes a day for "adult play," advises DeAngelis. Too much to do? Schedule "fun appointments." Go bowling! Cook for friends! "When you do something physical—such as laughing or singing—it's chemically beneficial and can get you out of a funk," DeAngelis says. Another joy booster: Share funny anecdotes, or tell stories. Every evening, ask your man to talk about the high point of his day—and you do the same. It'll encourage a positive conversation, instead of one focusing on your daily annoyances.

Experience the power of choosing. If you feel like you're in the movie Groundhog Day —living the same grind day in and day out—take control. "If you could wave your magic wand, what would your life look like?" asks DeAngelis. "Even if it seems like a fantasy, there'll be a grain of reality to work with." If you feel you deserve a raise, for example, don't wait for your boss to bestow one on you. Choose to make a case for yourself. Knowing that you have choices will lift that burdened, "stuck" feeling, making room for more joy.

Release what you don't need. Get rid of psychological and physical clutter: old fights, used linens—whatever slows you down. If you're trying to forgive someone, write a letter that you may never send, suggests DeAngelis. "You can even burn it after you've purged your feelings. The process is cathartic, and it'll make you feel lighter." When you're done, celebrate!

Be present. Most of us are engaged in the here and now about 8 percent of our waking hours—the rest of the time is spent thinking forward or backward, dwelling in worry or regret, according to research. One strong sign that you've checked out of your own life: Friends are always saying, "I just told you that." "Improve your active listening skills by making eye contact with people. It conveys interest and connection," says DeAngelis. Life—and your relationships—are much more fulfilling when you're actually there to enjoy them!

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