Happiness, to me, was always a shiny yellow ball that, when I reached a certain point in my life, would descend upon me in an ethereal manner and consume all my fears. Well, that’s so untrue I don’t know where to begin. In matters of love and romance, happiness cannot be achieved between two people, no matter the compatibility of interests, unless each individual is independently happy.

How then, can you be happy if you don’t have everything you want, or even need? The answer is annoyingly simple: it’s not a matter of having what you want, but wanting what you have. This does not eliminate ambition, or instill placency, it simply stifles the all consuming self pity that can hinder one’s ability to achieve. Shiny, happy people do well in life, but how do you become one of those people?

Power of Food: If you pour sugar into the gas tank of a car, it doesn’t run, it clogs up the work and creates a mechanic’s nightmare. Now, imagine your body as a car, you put the wrong things in and you’ll get little in return. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fats or sweets, but if you’re feeling lethargic and run down, the first instinct is to grab for the comfort foods. The fuzzy end of the lollipop is where you’ll find yourself in this situation, because that cheeseburger or candy bar will only dig you deeper into exhaustion. Find things that are healthy, but taste good. I always feel better after I eat a salad, but I don’t stick to low fat dressing with plain lettuce. I spice it up with crumbled goat cheese, craisins, chopped walnuts, and a variety of other cheeses, dried fruits, and nuts, and maybe some croutons or parmesan. Add flavor to your healthy foods, at least you’re eating a salad. I love to warm up pineapple and bananas in a frying pan and sprinkle them with cinnamon. You have to enjoy what you do and eat, because what’s the fun of being skinny and energetic if you constantly starve yourself?

Physical Fun: What ever happened to just running because it was fun? When was the last time your friend chased you through a park and it wasn’t because you slept with his girlfriend or stole his iPod? It’s a struggle to go out there and exercise if you’re not hard wired for it, but once you get on a roll, you might like it. The key is to find something that gets to excited, something that holds your attention. I like to box and to row. I can’t afford to row, so wherever I’m living I find a place that offers boxing. I recommend a private trainer for the first couple of times, and most places will offer some kind of deal. I’m often surprised that I pay someone to make me work until I feel like passing out, but I feel great after and my energy level goes through the roof. I have friends who play Frisbee, join soccer teams, jog, do pole dancing and strip tease classes, take dance lessons, and they all rave about how much more motivation they have when they exercise, they just had to find something to maintain their interest. Even if it’s watching TV while you work out, whatever does it.

Self-Hypnosis: Alright, I know this sounds crazy, but you can actually talk yourself into being happier. A lot of us are naturally inclined to find the negativity in a situation before they look to the positive. Here’s a little trick that’ll get you smiling more: when you walk into work in the morning, before you do anything, write down three things you’re grateful for. After fifteen days, you’ll start to see a significant improvement in your demeanor because you’re training your mind to naturally try to find positive things in your environment. This also works when you’re fighting with your hubby, sit down, breathe, and tell him or her three things about them that you’re grateful for. Verbalizing makes it more tangible. I like to list three things I’m grateful for before I go to sleep at night, out loud, and it helps calm me into a state where I can more easily fall asleep, and it prepares me for the morning. Mind over matter, just try it.

Healthy people are happy people, and happy people make great partners. Try a few of these tips, and maybe sit yourself down and ask what it is you want in life. Even if you know you want to be in better shape, have better skin, a better job, a new pair of sneakers, etc, verbalizing it will make it easier to visualize and eventually obtain. Trust yourself.

Written by Ashley Teal, Campus Clipper Blogger

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