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8 Ways To Become Happier With Your Day-To-Day Life!
Find happiness every day with these 8 simple tips.

Happiness is easy to achieve if you follow a few simple tips.

It’s ironic: Most of us have everything we need to be happy. The tragedy is we’re sleepwalking through life without really noticing that truth.”
We’re all longing for happiness. We think we can achieve it by losing 10 pounds or kicking a bad habit or making more money, and that’s why we vow to do those things year after year after year.

However, I’ve found that true happiness isn’t about those kinds of achievements. Instead, it comes down to learning to love yourself, and there are some very specific things you can start to do now to move in that direction.

If you get the feeling that our nation’s overall happiness level is deteriorating, you’re right. According to a 2007 Reuter’s.com article, a study done by Italian researchers found that Americans are less happy these days than they were thirty years ago. Culprits include longer working hours and a decline in social relationships.

While I admit that everyone’s path is different, I believe the real key for all of us is self-love. When we can stop beating ourselves up over our mistakes and start celebrating all the things we do right, we can finally be happy. We must change the way we think about ourselves—and for some of us that’s a major journey—but the good news is there are some specific shortcuts that will get us there faster.

I’ve come up with eight simple things people can do to become happier in their daily lives. You don’t have to do all of them at once—just focus on the three or four that resonate most with you and do those.

1. If you don’t exercise, start. You already know exercise keeps you healthy and helps you control your weight, but did you know it’s also a natural antidepressant? Plus, you don’t need to run a marathon to reap these benefits.

Every day should be the day you finally make exercise a part of your life. Even a 20-minute walk every other day is great for both your body and mind if you do it consistently. The good news is you can do it with your spouse or kids—and spending more time with them is another shortcut to happiness.

2. Be easier on yourself. A lot of resolutions are little more than thinly disguised vehicles for beating yourself up—"I’m too fat—this year I will lose twenty pounds!"—sound familiar? There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, but it needs to come from a place of love. Yes, you need to love and forgive yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings… and that’s tough for many Americans.

The American work ethic has made our country great, but it has also made us chronically unhappy. Many of us have a, "we’re-never-good-enough-or-doing-enough" mindset that’s antithetical to happiness. It’s not easy to change these ingrained thought patterns, but it can be done—and becoming aware of this tendency is the first step.

3. Find some way to put your gifts and talents to work. Talent wants to express itself. If your job doesn’t allow it to do so, find something that does. (Yes, it would be better to find a job that lets you do what you’re great at, but let’s face it that’s not always possible in a bad economy!).

Playing to your strengths brings real happiness. When you combine those strengths with a desire to do something good, it’s a double whammy. For example, if you’re a store manager with a flair for writing, and you also love animals, you might offer to pen a weekly newspaper column for a local dog or cat rescue group.

4. Build richer relationships with loved ones. Is your marriage running on autopilot? What about your relationship with your kids? Do you come home from work and sit in front of the computer while they play in another room (or worse, watch TV)? Too many Americans fail to engage their families in a meaningful way.

Not only do you miss out on the joy your loved ones could be bringing you, on top of that you end up feeling guilty about neglecting them. Decide that you’re going to improve these relationships. It is really about spending more time with the most important people in your life doing what they want to be doing with you.

5. Celebrate your spouse. And speaking of your marriage… how is it? If your marriage is mired in negativity or characterized by bickering or tension, you’ll never be happy. The good news is that it may not take a lot of effort to dramatically change the tenor of your marriage.

If you’ve gotten to a place where you resent your spouse or feel chronically angry with him or her, only you can change that. Make an effort to speak gently and kindly. Surprise her with a small gift, or do one of his chores, or pick up something special for dinner. Random acts of kindness are always powerful, and that’s even truer inside a marriage.

6. Let the people you appreciate know it. Yes, of course you need to let your close friends and family members know how you feel about them. That’s a given. But what about your co-workers? Your barber? Your child’s teacher? The neighbor who keeps an eye on your house when you’re away? Most of us are too self-conscious to make a big fuss over the people who are sort of on the periphery of our lives but who nonetheless make a big impact—and changing that is a key component of happiness.

Be generous with hugs. I’ve always been a hugger, and while people may be taken aback at first, they quickly come to appreciate my openness. If you’re just not the hugging type, that’s fine: Try thank-you notes instead. Letting people know how grateful you are for what they do makes two people happy: them and you.

7. Forgive someone who has wronged you. This is the other side of the "forgive yourself" coin. Just as you deserve a break, so do other people—and forgiveness is, at its heart, an act of self-love. If you can’t let go of pain and anger, you can’t be happy.

Living with your anger and resentment is a recipe for misery. For one thing, those two emotions reverberate through your mind and body, setting up toxic thoughts, physical stress, and, yes, illness. And for what? You are the one walking around feeling miserable while the objects of your anger are often totally oblivious to your feelings.

The point? Resolve to forgive someone who has caused you pain. Whether you call or visit an estranged ex-friend or write a letter to a deceased parent, you may find the gesture immensely liberating.

8. Become a giver. Happiness is not about how much you make; it’s about how much you share. Your income and/or net worth has nothing to do with happiness. (I’ve been wealthy and miserable at the same time, so I know.) How much you give—of your money, your time, your self—does, however. That’s why you should find a way to share your fortune (not necessarily the monetary kind!) with others.

If you have good health, a sound mind, and as little as an hour a week to spare, you are truly fortunate. Whether you’re tutoring kids who need a helping hand or delivering hot meals to the elderly, there’s great joy to be found in giving.

Many people know this intellectually; they’ve just never put it into practice. Just give up some of the time you waste in front of the TV or mindlessly surfing the internet. You’ll find that it’s no sacrifice at all.

What I’m really talking about is a shift in attitude. All of my tips are simply devices for helping us make that shift.

It’s ironic: Most of us have everything we need to be happy. The tragedy is we’re sleepwalking through life without really noticing that truth. If we could learn to live with an attitude of gratitude—for our kids, our homes, our friends, our health, the food on our tables—we wouldn’t need to worry about finding happiness. We’d be living it every day.

Todd Patkin, author of "Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In" and "Twelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People," grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. His new book, "The Sunny Days Secret: A Guide for Finding Happiness," is coming in 2014. After graduating from Tufts University, Todd joined the family business and spent the next 19 years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter. You can also follow him on Google+ here.

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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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