Find simple steps to your happiness

While reading “Simple Steps to Happiness” by Rosie Hamilton-McGinty last week, I began woolgathering—forgetting what Hamilton-McGinty had to say and thinking what simple steps could make me happier.
Rosie has 100 helpful steps to happiness. I, on the other hand, came up with eight–a more manageable number.
Here are my steps (in no particular order):
1). Smile more and 2). Laugh a lot.
For years, I’ve tried to watch at least one old sit-com every day. Some of my favourites are “Green Acres,” “Mister Ed,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “McHale’s Navy,” and “I Love Lucy.”
And I purposely laugh heartily while watching.
Besides making you happy, laughter is sometimes called “the best medicine.” William Fry, who is a laughter researcher, says that one minute of hearty laughter is as good for your heart as 10 minutes on a rowing machine.
3). Have lots of friends and stay in touch with your family, and that’s pretty easy when you smile and laugh.
People don’t care to be around “sour-pusses.”
4). Have clear goals, either written or in your head. When my mother retired at 80, she had two very clear goals. She wanted to learn how to bake bread and she wanted to “do just what I want to do and nothing else.”
5). Then, once you’ve formulated your goals, try to make some progress on them every day—even it’s “doing just what you want to do.”
6). Give yourself a treat each day and savour it. My treat is a few squares of dark chocolate.
7). Get some exercise at least two or three times a week. Of course, walking is excellent exercise, but water aerobics is lots of fun for people who have difficulty walking. Or yoga may suit you better.
8). Have some fun every day. Play games with friends or the computer. Watch comedy. Talk and laugh with friends. Go shopping. Do whatever is fun for you.
Those are my eight simple steps to achieving happiness. And notice how many of the steps make you not only happier, but also healthier.
Hamilton-McGinty begins “Simple Steps to Happiness” with this statement: “I believe that happiness is paramount in our daily lives, and that everyone feels more comfortable being around a happy person given the choice.”
She also reiterated something that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln said many years ago: “People are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
There are many things that can make you unhappy. It takes work and determination to be happy, but isn’t it worth a little work?
So remembering you “are as happy as you make up your mind to be,” why not begin with some tips from Rosie’s book.
•“Start each day being happy—you have a choice to be happy or unhappy.”
•“Never allow yourself to be in the company of negative thinking people–they drain your energy.”
•“Don’t think about the past. It’s gone! Think about how you can make the future brighter.”
•“Happiness comes from joining new groups, meeting new people–this helps you discover new and stimulating ideas.”
•And last of all, “a smile breaks down barriers.”
Why not get started right now formulating your personal list of simple steps to happiness?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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