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“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Charles Spurgeon

Contrary to popular belief, once our very basic needs are met, more money and material possessions don’t bring us long-term happiness. But what about that wonderful feeling of buying something new, you ask? Yes, it feels good, but only for a brief time. Rather than more things, what contributes to happiness is more experiences. Experiences like a walk in the park with a friend, a favorite meal with a relative, exploring a new place alone—these are more likely to bring you lasting happiness.

Think back to an experience you had that brought you happiness. How can you have more happy experiences?

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“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

A friend, family member or colleague will often simply want, and need, nothing more than our ears. Our first impulse, instead, may be to offer feedback or advice. After all, in our self-help/DIY world, we are used to seeking solutions and solving problems, right now. Being fully present to another person, while listening openly and fully, may be difficult to do. But by remaining silent and simply witnessing, we may be giving that individual one of the greatest gifts we could give to another person: the present of presence.

How can you remind yourself to be more patient, to listen with empathy and openness rather than to rush in and give advice?

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“Make a game of finding something positive in every situation. Ninety-five percent of your emotions are determined by how you interpret events to yourself.” – Brian Tracy

Cue the music. Dean Martin at the microphone singing the classic Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen tune: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.” Accentuating the positive or finding the benefit in a difficult situation may take a concerted effort, but it is worth it. We positively impact our physical and emotional health, as well as improve our social connections.

What can you do to shift from fault-finding to benefit-finding?

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“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain

We all know how good it feels to receive a compliment–be it about our work, our family, our appearance. When we are seen and appreciated, it strengthens our connection to the person doing the complimenting us, expands our sense of self, and boosts our overall confidence. We can do the same for another person simply by finding something positive to say or even making eye contact and smiling. These seemingly simple gestures can have a profound impact on another person, on ourselves and on the relationship.

How can you remind yourself to commend and compliment others rather than overlooking the good in them?

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“Habits of thinking need not be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think.” – Martin Seligman

A barrage of thoughts run through our minds throughout the day. Some of these thoughts bring with them negative subtexts. Often those messages have been with us for a very long time and we come to consider them our reality when there is actually an active choice we can make whether to listen to them or not. Challenge them or continue to accept their tyranny over us? That is the question.

Rather than engaging in negative self-talk, how can you remind yourself of your true self? Beneath the fear and negativity, who are you really?