4. Set strong boundaries. Mean what you say and say what you mean.

Does this sound familiar? You're just about to sit down to have some well-deserved me time when after a surprise phone call from your sister, you find yourself in your car with her three children on your way to Chuck E. Cheese wondering why you said yes when you really, really, REALLY wanted and needed to say no and resenting the heck out of your sister.

We were saying yes for reasons ranging from fear we wouldn't be liked if we said no to "at least it will get done right if I do it myself." In the end, the reasons don't matter because if you say yes to everybody else when you don't mean it, there is nothing left for you. We've discovered by walking through the uncomfortable feeling of saying no, there is incredible peace and freedom on the other side. We found we had to practice saying no because it didn't come naturally to us. Here's our trick. When someone asks us to do something, we say, "Hmmm, let me think about that and get back to you." This buys us time to carefully consider the request. We look at our schedules, think about whether this is something we have the time or really want to do and then call the person back with our thoughtful response. Whether it's yes or no, we owe it to our friends to be honest because, let's face it, friendship is not something that thrives well if there is resentment. Ultimately, we've learned that if you do what's best for you—you do what's best for everyone.

3. Learn the simple trick to finally being happy. As we say in the Midwest, "It's time to poop or get off the pot."

The bad news is we are not born knowing how to be happy. It turns out it's a skill we have to learn and practice, like riding a bike. The good news is that just as with bike riding, once you learn it, you will always know how to do it, and with a little practice you'll get really good at it. Remember the story of Pollyanna? By finding the positive in every situation and being glad about it, Pollyanna affected an entire town and changed everyone's lives for the better. What was so bad about that? We'd like to know when Pollyanna became a four-letter word? We practice being happy every day by embracing our inner Pollyanna and finding something each morning and evening to be glad about. Some mornings all we can say is, "I'm glad I woke up." At night we might brush our teeth and say, "I'm glad I have teeth." Other days, we're able to say, "I'm glad I have a passion for writing," or "I'm glad I can rewire a lamp." The more we practice the glad game, the less time we spend focusing on what we don't have and the better we feel. It's like going to the gym. Start small and build your happiness muscles.


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