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7 Steps to Happiness

I remember a time when I felt crippled by my life. I often felt like I was drowning in a pit of disappointment and bad decisions. It seemed like I would never feel better, and then I did.

What changed? Me.

In my CERT training I recently learned about the psychology of disaster and the power of a positive attitude in horrible conditions. Why is this any different than our daily struggle? It's not.

The only person who can help you is YOU. Yes, it's hard. No, it's not fun. Relinquishing control is much easier than accepting responsibility for your life, but if you seize it and make it your own, you will be thrilled with the results.

When I fall into one of life's little shit pits, I try to implement these 7 things. Between therapists, books, doctors and meditation, these are what I have found to be the most helpful. I know they will help you, too.

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For one month commit to YOU. You will feel awesome!

7. Take control of your eating

Do not go on a "diet" but strive for life changes. Maybe instead of saying, "I'm going to give up all carbs," try adding vegetables to every meal. Take a multivitamin or start juicing. This is your opportunity to read up and try being the healthiest you. Calorie counting and obsession have no place here, so keep it fun and give your body issues the month off.

6. Drink more water

This is an ongoing goal but you can make it fun. Challenge coworkers or friends to a contest and create interesting prizes. Loser has to stay an extra 30 minutes on Friday afternoon to wipe down everyone's desks or clean out the office fridge. I love doing this one with the husband; loser has to do the dishes!

"Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?" — Rumi

5. Get more sleep

I know, easier said than done. You don't have to do this every single night, but maybe a couple days a week you don't turn on the TV after 8 p.m. Join or create a book club with a friend and force yourself to do more reading. If you are me this is a great trick because I can only read for about five minutes without falling asleep. Mission accomplished!

4. Stop hanging out with people that drain your soul

We all have these friends or coworkers who are always unhappy, constantly complaining and never fun to hang out with. It's hard because we don't want to be rude, but as I said before, we are all responsible for ourselves. You cannot sacrifice your happiness for someone who refuses to look in the mirror and consider that you are not the right friend for them. I always fantasize about helping these people snap out of their misery, but the reality is that they don't want to be happy, and would actually enjoy it if you were unhappy also. Sorry, dude, no space for this.

3. Cut yourself some slack

Maybe your friend has nicer clothes, more free time or better hair. Good for her. I had a yoga teacher who said, "Don't bother looking at the person next to you. Yes, maybe they ARE more flexible, but all that means is that they are more flexible. Don't overthink it." We all have a tendency to project—if your friend has nicer jeans then she must be happier, have more friends and no cellulite. This makes no sense, so try to catch yourself when you think these things and instead fantasize about Henry Cavill's butt or frozen yogurt. It's genuinely healthier.

2. Do stuff that makes you happy

Yes, we all have to go to work, and maybe that does not always spark joy, but after work you can go to the gym or watch YouTube videos of puppies or scrub your shower or whatever floats your boat. Just 15 to 30 minutes of doing exactly what makes you happy is all we need to keep us going. Read a book, take a nap, have sex. Be creative and enjoy.

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1. Tell yourself that you are doing great and force yourself to smile every time you think of anything negative or counter-productive

The brain recognizes smiling as happiness and actually makes you feel better. The power of positive thinking cannot be emphasized enough. You are doing great, and you can feel good about that.

Bonus points: Google photos of your favorite celebrity crush and look at them when you need to remember the beauty in the world. Tom Hardy works on those abs so you can enjoy them—don't let him down!

Let's Tweet about helpful books - I have a TON of 'em! Which ones help you?

Image via E Online/Twenty20/Tom Dance

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