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4 Steps to happiness

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Find your happy place

Corny but true: You really do need to love yourself before you can love someone else. Happiness and self-love go hand in hand. To help you get a handle on your own happiness, we’ve put together some simple strategies to get you smiling -- and attracting love -- in no time.

Girlfriends laughing

Cursive number 1Surround yourself with positive people.

Hang out with people who look on the bright side and don't bring you down with constant complaining and negative energy. Staying unhappy or grumpy in the presence of happy people is difficult, and positive energy is infectious.

Cursive number 2Show some gratitude.

Feeling inadequate -- wishing you had a better job, longer hair, smaller waist -- is all too easy, but it just sends you further down the depression spiral. To avoid feeling sorry for yourself, remember everything for which you are grateful. The best way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal (or just an ongoing Word document on your computer) in which you keep track of what you do have, versus what you don't. Once you've been doing this for a few days, you'll be surprised at all the things you have going for you: a close-knit group of friends, great pets, understanding siblings, a fabulous collection of vintage handbags... Write down whatever you feel lucky to have and look at it when you feel down.

Cursive number 3Embrace who you are.

At some point, you need to embrace your quirks, idiosyncrasies and anything else that sets you apart from the pack. You may think your frizzy hair, love of cross stitch or fondness for cheesy horror movies make you strange or unlovable, but these traits make you interesting, unique and worth getting to know. Learn to celebrate them, and you'll be much more likely to attract men who appreciate you for who you are.

Cursive number 4Give back.

Feeling down? Don't wallow. Get out there and help out those in need. Whether you donate some money, work a few hours a week at your local animal shelter, or even take a weeklong volunteer vacation, doing something positive can help you regain perspective. Giving back (especially when you're feeling out of sorts) can ground you and help you realize there's more to life than what you're going to do Saturday night and whether some guy is going to call.


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