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What Happy Couples Do Differently
4 simple ways to bring happiness to your marriage and those around you.

Embrace who you are and the nature around you, it will beget happiness.

Civility generates happiness! Smiles rebound good energy.”
While vacationing in the Caribbean, I had the leisure to observe families, couples and individuals without being detected—like the fly on the wall. I wouldn’t exactly call it spying, just paying attention. When people wear scant clothing on the beach, stripped down to core behavior—without all the pretenses—you learn a great deal about human nature and most importantly your own.

My traveling companions asked me if I was on a Prozac drip because I was so cheerful. While they complained about the unusual seasoning, slow service or the waiters’ inability to communicate in English, I delighted in the variety of the buffet, the gorgeous walkways and the amazing experience of summer in winter as it was snowing back home. With a gardener’s eyes, I praised the landscape and absorbed its beautiful generosity. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I greeted everyone in the few Spanish words in my repertoire, thanking the hotel staff for everything; consequently, they couldn’t do enough. I noticed that very few people said, "Gracias" or greeted the staff. It was as if they were entitled to all the beauty and warmth because they had paid for it. Too bad because they shortchanged themselves: Civility generates happiness! Smiles rebound good energy.

With that said, here are four happiness generators you can apply to married life and those around you!

1. It's simple, be kind. Happy couples are kind to one another. Even happy couples that have been together for 40 years act lovingly in small ways. On the other hand, many couples that are distant compete with one another. Each one becomes selfish—two selfish people whose personal needs collide. Most likely a history of suppressed anger and hurt overwhelmingly dictate present-day interactions. One is on high alert, waiting to pounce and berate one’s partner for any perceived indiscretion. Isn’t it time to declare a truce and get reacquainted? Every individual has buried treasure—start excavating!

2. Express gratitude. Words evoke feelings and using positive words help you to perceive the cup as half full. If the plane is delayed or the airport security lines are long, think to yourself "safe arrival tips the scale." On vacation my friends kept saying that the "squeaky wheel gets greased." However, squeaky people are unhappy in their annoyed demands. Instead, try patience and humor. Begin with one another and then expand to other people in your circle, especially those in the service business. Soon you will be having a romance with life.

3. Get back to nature. Walk rather than ride hotel golf carts or trams. Walking encourages couples to speak casually or profoundly. Many of these conversations might never happen otherwise.

Life on earth resembles a vacation—it is limited. Therefore experiencing life with your five senses maximizes your joy about being above ground. Human beings are designed to move to feel alive and alert and to shed stress. Caribbean rhythms coaxed most vacationers to use their natural rhythm and dance. Couples who are in rhythm on the dance floor also get physical in other ways.

4. Remove your mask and be your true self. I overheard a group of older women wistfully wishing to have the great bodies of younger bikini-clad women. Better to redirect these self-pitying impossible comparisons to becoming the best you can be. For example, I was an obese teen with bad acne and ugly glasses. I lost the weight, got treated for acne and fitted with contact lenses. I changed just for me. Because I worked on myself for myself, the positive changes took hold. And by the way while I was obese, I cultivated intellect and creativity on the inside. I wouldn’t change this progression for anything.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-reduction specialist, a radio show host and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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