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30 Days to a Happier Life

2. I know that change will always bring something good into my life.

On a daily basis, life throws us curveballs — people file for bankruptcy, lose beloved pets, miss planes, are diagnosed with cancer. Although research shows that it takes longer to adjust to a negative event than a positive one, desirable changes, such as losing weight or having a baby, come with challenges too. And, yes, any of these experiences can cause hurt and frustration. "But even the hardest, most painful changes will eventually bring a gift to your life," de Bonvoisin points out. "Sometimes the gift will be obvious, and sometimes it will take a while to realize."

Remind yourself of this guiding truth when you're facing any bump in the road. To do that, think back on three or four very stressful changes from your past, and the good that eventually came from them. What comes to mind for me: I didn't get my dream job after college — but I met my husband at the company where I landed. And 10 years ago, my brother-in-law developed early-onset Alzheimer's — awful, yes, but as my sister reached out for emotional support, our bond became deeper; my role shifted from little sister to valued friend. The list — for me and everyone else — is endless.

3. I know I am resilient, strong, and capable of getting through anything.

We all have what de Bonvoisin calls a "change muscle" — and it's stronger than we think. Take 36-year-old Jenny Evans of Minneapolis, who went through an agonizing divorce. "Although at times it was literally painful to breathe, I wasn't eating or sleeping, and I thought I might die, I didn't," she says. Since her divorce, Jenny has become better able to deal with life's other ups and downs, such as handling frenzied days at work or helping her daughter cope with bullies at school. "If I could get through my divorce, I can get through anything," she says. "Now, I almost view a stressful event from the perspective of 'Is that all you've got? That's nothing compared to what I went through two-and-a-half years ago!'"

Whether you've survived the death of a spouse, a Hurricane Katrina–like disaster, or giving birth to triplets, there's some moment of truth you can call up to remind yourself how much you can handle. "Your change muscle is the part of you that knows, deep down, you'll be okay," says de Bonvoisin. "You're more powerful, resilient, and intuitive than you know."

To tap into that resilience, write a "change résumé." List the big changes you've been through, from transferring to a different school to a breakup. Pick three or four of the hardest ones and ask yourself: What strength did I develop during this change? How did I overcome my fears? What did I take away from the experience? "You'll see that you've sailed through many challenges — and can handle even more.

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