Getting to joy
Release the past
Video: How to be happy
"The biggest mistake people make is they take past chapters of their autobiography and paste them into their next chapter—they make their past their future," says life coach and motivational speaker Lisa Nichols, author of No Matter What! (Grand Central). "NegaHowtive experiences are part of you, and you have to love yourself regardless of what's gone before." See mistakes as lessons and move on.
"Those who focus on what they are thank ful for live longer and are healthier and happier," says Hollywood, Florida–based life coach Casandra "Coach Cass" Roache.
Video: How to be happy with less
"Keeping a gratitude journal helps us stop focusing on what isn't working and refocus on what is going right." When you realize things do go your way, you can ride the awareness like a magic carpet.
"A negative body image can get in the way of your feeling good about yourself," says psychotherapist Nicola Bird, Ph.D., author of The Boomerang Effect: How You Can Take Charge of Your Life (iUniverse). "This often affects women of color, who may buy into media images of White women as symbols of beauty." Instead, says Bird, "Claim your true beauty by defining it on your terms. Every day celebrate your body: your skin that protects you, your legs that carry you, your back that supports you, your arms that hold your child."
Seek positive people
"Studies show that creative connections with others fuels success," says Shawn Achor, founder of Good Think, Inc., and author of The Happiness Advantage (Crown).
Video: How to ditch a toxic friend
It works the same way with happiness, so avoid energy vampires and make a point of being around supportive, nurturing and joyful people.
Savor the journey
"God didn't say everything in your life would be served with warm cookies and milk," says Nichols. "But God did say you have a birthright to abundance and prosperity." To design your destiny, she counsels you to think Why not? That mind-set will keep you moving toward your goals. And don't forget to enjoy the process. "Many people make happiness contingent on something else," says Isaiah B. Pickens, Ph.D., a New York psychologist. "They think, I'll be happy when..." A more powerful approach is to focus on what drives you: com passion, love, integrity. Says Pickens: "Happy people know the process supports what's most important—their values."
"Take a little vacation on your own mental playground," says Bonnie St. John, coauthor of How Great Women Lead (Center Street). "Conjure a wonderful future or reminisce about a great moment, then physically post images of these around you. Communing with these pictures is like hitting a giant reset button on your attitude."
It's easy to get caught up in all your grown woman problems, but it wasn't always that way. "Babies are born knowing to seek comfort, love, connection, and ease," says Cynthia Occelli, author of Resurrecting Venus (Agape Media). "They do not question whether they deserve it. They know they do." Get back in touch with your inner child. Watch cartoons, re read a favorite story, daydream.
It's hard to feel serene when you're drowning in stuff, says Sherry Burton Ways, author of Feel Good Spaces (Wealthy Sistas). Do a purge of paper, appliances and nones sential furnishings. Even memo rabilia that serves no functional purpose can go. "Say a prayer and pass it on," suggests Ways.
Plan "you" time
When you take on the superwoman role, you wind up stressed and resentful. "Sometimes we can't d o it all, and the good news is, we don't have to," says Brooklyn-based holistic coach Aja Davis. So prioritize and (gasp!) trim your to-do list, then pencil in time on your calendar just for you.
Share your blessings
"The greatest secret to happiness is that you find it when you aren't looking," says success coach Mark Black, author of Live Life From the Heart (Strategic Books). "When you make someone else happy, their joy makes you joyful."