How to be happier

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10 things happy people do differently

By Christine Webber


People with a positive outlook tend to live longer, enjoy life more, deal with traumas and illnesses better, and have more friends.

To people who aren't naturally jolly, this can feel unfair – it's not your fault you don't always feel chipper. But the reality is, we can ALL learn to be happier.

Happiness can become a habit, just like any other habit, from exercising regularly to eating more veg. As with all new habits, cut yourself some slack: don't expect it to stick overnight. But if you work at it, you can definitely become more joyful.

Here's how those smiling-all-the-time types do it:

1. They recognize happiness when it's happening

Often, when things go wrong in our lives, we look back and say: 'I now realise how happy I was before all this happened. Why didn't I enjoy life when I had the chance?'

Isn't this sad? The fact is that life does throw up reverses of all kinds, but happy people make the most of the good times. They recognise when they feel happy, are grateful for it and enjoy it.

2. They tend to be active

It's much harder to be content if you feel stodgy and unfit. Happy people know that they feel better when they exercise – so they make time for it.

For decades scientists have been telling us that when we're active, we produce more of the body's 'feel good' chemicals, endorphins. And more recent research has led many experts to believe that regular exercise can lift our mood as effectively as anti-depressants.

So, whether you choose a brisk walk, a dance class, or simply kicking a ball around in the garden with your children, you'll find that moving your body more should help move those bad moods too.

3. They don't let bad moments ruin their entire day

Happy people aren't 'rays of sunshine' all the time. They have their ups and downs like everyone else.

But if their train is cancelled, it rains when they don't have an umbrella, or their team loses a match, they don't let this disappointment ruin their entire day.

Of course, temporarily, they're likely to feel fed up. But they quickly draw a mental line under it and move on.

4. They are aware of others

People are rarely truly happy if their motto is: 'Look After Number One'. Do you know any truly self-centred individuals? If you do, I'm sure you'll agree with me that they tend to be bitter, irritable and unpleasant.

Happy people recognise that they are part of the world's community. They are aware of inequalities, and often give to charities. And they are likely to be involved in volunteer projects too.

This is good news for themselves, as well as for those they're trying to help – because research shows that volunteering is great for elevating our mood and our sense of contentment.

5. They tend to eat well

A lot of miserable people resort to junk food in a bid to cheer themselves up. Such 'cheer' is usually short-lived.

Happy people, on the other hand, recognise that they're responsible for their own bodies and minds, and they usually make it their business to understand good nutrition to be as healthy as possible.

6. They make time for their friends and family

Happy people are often ambitious, but no matter how busy they are, they recognise the importance of a strong social network.

All happiness experts agree that interaction with those close to us is a basic requirement for contentment.

And there is a growing body of research which suggests that those of us who have good and supportive relationships with friends and family are likely to be healthier, and to live longer.

7. They just get on with things

We all have to do things we hate. And we all experience set backs when we're trying to achieve something we want.

But happy people develop what some psychologists call High Frustration Tolerance – or HFT. In a nutshell, they make themselves study for an exam, rather than hope for the best. And if there's a tax form to be filled in – no matter how much they hate doing it – they don't leave it to the last minute, because they know they'll feel relieved when they've done it.

Happy people rarely procrastinate, instead they do all they can to minimise their potential for future frustration. Their motto is 'Just do it!'

8. They take responsibility

When things go wrong, happy people don't stand around muttering: 'Someone should do some