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5 tips for becoming a happier person

October 20, 2014

Theres a lot to be grateful for - especially during retirement, when you have more time than ever to explore your hobbies and focus on what makes you happy. However, theres always room for improvement. Follow these steps to find more joy in your daily life, and share them with others who may need some cheering up.

1. Identify what makes you happyTheres no universal checklist for achieving happiness. Instead, it must include activities, people and thoughts that promote your own well-being. While it may seem obvious, devising a plan of action for being positive is actually more involved than you might think. It may be best to start by reflecting on what makes you happiest, Robert Holden, Ph.D., director of The Happiness Project and Success Intelligence, told Think of the last time that you were truly ecstatic. What were you doing? Who else was there? You dont necessarily have to recreate the experience to find joy, but it helps to identify what exactly it was that made you feel that way, and seek it in other activities.

2. Devote one day each week to familyWhile happiness should be found within yourself, having strong, healthy relationships with others is also important. In a recent interview with Pope Francis, Holden explained that "Sundays are for families," the Catholic News Service reported. When applying this tip to your own life, you may need to modify accordingly. For starters, the definition of "family" can mean whatever youd like it to. Whether theyre your blood relatives or your close friends and neighbors at your independent living community, theyre people who love you and you should surround yourself with them as much as possible. Depending on schedules - both yours and everyone elses - Sundays may not be the most convenient day. Coordinate with your loved ones and decide what works best for everyone to meet up and enjoy each others company.

3. Forgive quicklyHolden noted that holding onto grudges is basically an attempt at changing the past, and it will never work. By letting go of lingering feelings of betrayal, youll be able to release yourself from the hold that the negativity has on you. Whether its forgiving a friend for a wrongdoing or yourself for a regretful act, youll be on your way to happiness once its done. Forgiving someone doesnt mean youre weak - in fact, it takes a great deal of strength to let go of emotional hangups. Everyone has flaws, and the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to find more happiness.

4. Think positiveHappiness is contagious. Positive thoughts lead to better actions, which then inspire others to do the same. Although adopting a happier mindset is easier said than done, its extremely beneficial once you do. It may be helpful to keep a journal that lists several moments throughout each day that made you grateful. List even the smallest happy influences - nice weather, a good hair day - and eventually, youll find yourself searching for happiness in all things. When a negative thought floats into your mind, let it pass by. Flood your mind with positivity, and youll soon become a much happier person.

5. Live in the momentAs Holden explained, the past cant be changed. Spending too much time analyzing what happened and what could have been is detrimental to your happiness. Similarly, anticipating the future is also unhealthy and often leads to worry and unnecessary stress. Instead, Zen Habits suggested slowing down to embrace the present. Meditating is extremely beneficial, and can help you find more inner peace and happiness.