Photo by Corinne Nicholson
Long-term goals are important, but don't make the mistake of putting your happiness on hold until you achieve them. Here are seven simple ways you can have a great life starting tomorrow morning:
1. Get enough sleep. It makes you smarter, nicer and a better problem-solver. You'll also have fewer traffic accidents, fewer health problems and a stronger sex drive. And, according to Web MD, you'll even lose weight and live longer. Technically you can live on five or six hours of sleep a night, but you'll live better if you get eight.
2. Say yes with enthusiasm. If you're going to be on the committee, tell them you're delighted. If you take the kids to a water park, be the first one to jump in. There are absolutely no benefits to being lukewarm. Enthusiasm is contagious and it increases the likelihood that things will turn out fabulous.
3. Say no without guilt. If you can't get excited about something, don't do it. Nothing sucks the life out of a project or outing faster than begrudging participation. You're not doing anyone any favors by agreeing to something you loath. When you say no, you open the door up for someone else to say yes.
4. Smile at people. It's free and works wonders. It makes you look younger and more attractive. It also gets you better service in restaurants, boosts your immune system, and relieves stress. Scientific studies show that smiling can actually trick your body into changing your mood. Smile at 20 people a day, and see what happens.
5. Assume people are nice. Sure, you'll get burned a few times. But you'll also be right 99 percent of the time and you'll save yourself a lifetime of worrying about who is trying to do you wrong. Imagine how nice it would be to go into every interaction confident that the other person is on your side.
6. Recognize your own power. You're part of every experience you have. Whether it's your family, your work or your church -- you're one of the people who sets the tone. You have the power to make every situation better or worse. You don't have to dominate, just decide that you're going to be an additive person not a subtractive one.
7. Be grateful. Gratitude is like a gateway drug, it leads you to other things, most notably happiness. Think about every miserable person you know, and you'll see a total absence of gratitude.
We tend to believe that something good has to happen for us to be happy, but that's not how it works. We're grateful first -- grateful for the promotion, the healthy baby or vacation. It's the gratitude that floods us with joy, not the event.
If you want to be happier, start being more grateful. Make a list of the good things in your life and put it beside your bed. Read it before you go to sleep and right after you wake up.
Having a great life doesn't mean that you have to scale mountains, win the lottery or cure cancer. It just means that you're happy to get out of bed every morning.
So don't wait for a big event to start enjoying yourself. Your regular old life can be a great experience if you decide to make it one.
Business strategist Lisa Earle McLeod is the author of "The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small," a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book.