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7 ways to have a great life

Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011, at 2:56 PM

Long-term goals are important, but don't make the mistake of putting your happiness on hold until you achieve them. Here are 7 simple ways you can have a great life starting tomorrow morning:

1.Get enough sleep - It makes you smarter, nicer and better problem-solver.

You'll also have fewer traffic accidents, fewer health problems and a stronger sex drive. And, according to Web MD, you'll even lose weight and live longer. Technically you can live on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, but you'll live better if you get 8.

2. Say yes with enthusiasm - If you're going to be on the committee, tell them you're delighted. If you take the kids to a water park, be the first one to jump in. There are absolutely no benefits to being lukewarm.

Enthusiasm is contagious and it increases the likelihood that things will turn out fabulous.

3. Say no without guilt - If you can't get excited about something, don't do it! Nothing sucks the life out of a project or outing faster than begrudging participation. You're not doing anyone any favors by agreeing to something you loath. When you say no, you open the door up for someone else to say yes.

4. Smile at people - It's free and works wonders. It makes you look younger and more attractive. It also gets you better service in restaurants, boosts your immune system, and relieves stress. Scientific studies show that smiling can actually trick your body into changing your mood. Smile at 20 people a day, and see what happens.

5. Assume people are nice - Sure, you'll get burned a few times.

But you'll also be right 99% of the time and you'll save yourself a lifetime of worrying about who is trying to do you wrong. Imagine how nice it would be to go into every interaction confident that the other person is on your side.

6. Recognize your own power - You're part of every experience you have. Whether it's your family, your work or your church -- you're one of the people who sets the tone. You have the power to make every situation better or worse. You don't have to dominate, just decide that you're going to be an additive person not a subtractive one.

7. Be grateful - Gratitude is like a gateway drug, it leads you to other things, most notably happiness. Think about every miserable person you know, and you'll see a total absence of gratitude.

We tend to believe that something good has to happen for us to be happy, but that's not how it works. We're grateful first -- grateful for the promotion, the healthy baby or vacation. It's the gratitude that floods us with joy, not the event.

If you want to be happier, start being more grateful. Make a list of the good things in your life and put it beside your bed. Read it before you go to sleep and right after you wake up.

Having a great life doesn't mean that you have to scale mountains, win the lottery or cure cancer. It just means that you're happy to get out of bed every morning.

So don't wait for a big event to start enjoying yourself. Your regular old life can be a great experience if you decide to make it one.

Business strategist Lisa Earle McLeod specializes in sales force and leadership development. A sought after speaker, she is author of The Triangle of Truth, a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book.

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Angst is in the air: Be careful it's catching
Lisa Earle McLeod
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.