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7 Secrets to happiness

Pure bliss

True joy - not quickie mood boosts but that totally stoked mental state - boils down to these surprising essentials. Behold, your ticket to bliss.

6. Liking Yourself Is Nonnegotiable

Since you're human, you have no doubt had one of those "Omigod!I can't believe I said that" moments, followed by a "Stupid, stupid, stupid" fist to the forehead. Like, say, the time you introduced your guy to Bob the CEO at the office barbecue, only Bob's name is actually Bill. Then you spent the rest of the night harping on what an idiot you are. "We tend to beat ourselves up, but it's necessary to let ourselves off the hook," says Ed Diener, PhD, professor of psychology and leading happiness researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Inevitably, you're going to make mistakes, and yet you still have to like yourself."

The same holds true for those so-called physical imperfections that you let deflate you. You know, the slight crook in your nose that you swear makes you a prime candidate for The Swan. We can all point to 10 things that are wrong with us, but the key to happiness is appreciating yourself despite them, adds Diener.

And that ain't easy. But it's important to learn to keep your inner critic in check. So for every time you get down on yourself, remind yourself of something you excel at and get comfortable talking yourself up by tossing one positive thing (e.g., props from your boss or a sweet e-mail from your boyfriend) into conversation. "We tend to downplay our successes because we don't want to sound like a braggart, but sharing good news is uplifting," says Diener. "Not only are you reflecting on something that made you feel awesome, but the other person is going to get excited for you,which gives you an even bigger lift."

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