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24 Things Happy People Never Forget to Do

Happiness isn't just a trait you're born with, it's a choice. These simple habits of happy people are guaranteed to get you there.

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Happy and healthy

While it's widely agreed that stress can cause poor health, Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Adult Development study—one of the world's longest studies, which began during the Depression in 1938—found the opposite is also true. Happiness promotes good health, and the quality of our relationships is key. "How happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health," Waldinger says. "Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too." Don't miss these 13 things psychologists wish you knew about happiness.

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Drink plenty of water

The human body is around 60 percent water, and it's important to keep it that way. The negative effects of dehydration range from plain old bummers, like stress and difficulty concentrating, to physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. Drinking water regularly keeps the mind clear and the body energized. If you have trouble remembering to sip water throughout the day, try drinking full glasses on a timer to keep your fluids in fighting form. And avoid the liquids that actually dehydrate you.

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Eat well

Loading up on junk food may satisfy cravings, but eating foods low in nutrients leaves you feeling cranky and sluggish. Work nutrient-dense foods into your diet, such as brain-boosting seafood, organic greens, and antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes. A nutrient-rich diet will not only improve your mood but also can help normalize blood sugar levels, making your energy more balanced. Beyond a fridge full of fresh fruits and veggies, here are 13 things happy people have in their homes.

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Get some exercise

Whether you prefer a morning jog, lunchtime yoga, or pumping serious iron after work at the gym, getting daily exercise of any kind will go a long way toward improving your mood. Along with boosting self-confidence and appreciation for what your body can accomplish, physical activity spurs the release of endorphins. A surge in these hormones ramps up feelings of happiness and relaxation, and that helps dispel feelings of stress and anxiety. Don't miss these 6 ways exercise makes your brain better.

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Follow a morning routine

The stress of a groggy, chaotic morning can linger well into the afternoon, but with a solid routine, you can take control of your mental state throughout the day. In addition to the usual hygienic rituals, spend a few minutes planning out your day, setting goals, and meditating. These gentle, mindful tasks help center your mind and give you confidence to tackle the day head-on. Try these other 22 tricks for a happier morning routine.

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Cut yourself some slack

Big goals take a long time to accomplish, so it's easy to feel dismayed when results aren't immediate. It's important to reward yourself. Break up the monotony of long-term planning by indulging in the occasional treat. It doesn't have to be a food treat, either. Reward yourself with a good book or movie or take time off work to head to the beach—you've earned it. When you fall into a pattern of overeating or lose the habit of regular exercise, just get started again—don't waste energy berating yourself. Here are 12 health benefits of being kinder to yourself.

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Get enough sleep

Along with giving most of us some much needed downtime, a full night's rest restores all the systems of the body and keeps our brains working at maximum capacity. Lack of sleep not only makes your workday harder by diminishing concentration and focus, it can also sour your mood, causing irritability and grumpiness. Lack of sleep on a regular basis has serious health implications; it's associated with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, which can lead to a shortened life expectancy. Here are 20 things you do before bed that sabotage your sleep.

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Express gratitude

Write a thank-you note to someone who did you a favor, keep a gratitude journal, or just take time each day to meditate on things you're thankful for. Taking time to give thanks for what you have really does keep you from dwelling on what you lack. A randomized, controlled study in Psychotherapy Research looked at about 300 people seeking mental health services; one group was treated with therapy alone; another group was treated with therapy and journaling, with a focus on their deepest feelings about things that were causing them stress; and a third group was treated with therapy and "gratitude" journaling. At the end of treatment, the gratitude group reported significantly better mental health than the other two groups. This is what a gratitude journal really looks like.

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Focus on experiences

Money can't buy happiness, but it might be able to buy happy memories. Instead of spending on new gadgets or clothes, indulge in an experience. Take a day trip, go to a concert, or try something new. Sure, retail therapy is effective but it's also short-lived, while experiences work their way into your memory, encouraging happy thoughts for years to come. Check out these 18 one-of-a-kind adventures to add to your bucket list.

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Turn that frown upside down

If you're feeling blue, try to think of a pleasant memory and flash those pearly whites. The simple act of smiling can give a short-term boost to your happiness and help ward off negative feelings. And if you're not feeling happy, fake it 'til you make it; it works. A study published in the journal Psychological Science showed that smiling lowers the body’s response to stress and even lowers heart rate. These 29 mood-boosting quotes will get you thinking more positively.

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