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7 Steps to a Happier, Healthier, and Longer Life

7 Steps to a Happier, Healthier, and Longer Life

You deserve true happiness. In fact, your emotional and physical health depends on it. Positive emotions not only feel good, they also reduce stress-related risks for heart disease, cancer, and more. Follow these 7 steps to happiness and good health:

  1. Use positive self-talk. Trade self-put-downs (e.g., What an idiot I am!) for encouraging words (e.g., Nice going! I'll do better next time! I'm great at learning from my mistakes!).
  2. Connect with friends. Really talk with people you care about. Get physical, too. Hugs stimulate oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone," spreading a feel-good boost among friends.
  3. Keep a daily gratitude journal. Writing down what you're thankful for makes you healthier and more optimistic.
  4. Exercise your way to a better mood. Being active at least 30 minutes a day increases happiness and makes your body's RealAge 2.8 years younger. Get happy by making time for daily exercise.
  5. Meditate to stay happy. Meditation eases stress, strengthens immunity, and increases happiness -- big time.
  6. Understand unhappiness. When it happens (it will), learn from it. It's a chance for you to make positive changes.
  7. Pay it forward. The real secret to being happy is to realize that true peace comes when you recognize the gifts you have -- gifts you can pass along to others.

Take these stay-happy steps and you'll cope better with pain and stress, and reduce your risk for colds, flu, heart disease, and even cancer.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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