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It's hip to be happy! Want to feel awesome every single day? You can--here's how to make it happen.

Last year, you had the absolute best birthday ever. You woke up psyched, then dashed downstairs to find your mom had made your fave French toast breakfast. You got tons of super-fab presents (everything from the iPod you were big-time cravin" to the most gorge platform espadrilles on the planet). Your crew came by to take you for a day of rollerskating, and your BF had secretly planned a dreamy dinner-and-a-movie night to top it all off. You were so happy, you could hardly stand it. Too bad you can't feel like that every day, huh? But here's big news: You can!

Contrary to what some people think, happiness is a choice. Sure, life's gonna steer your bike tires into a muddy puddle from time to time. But happy people choose to feel positive despite the bad sitches that happen. Let's see how you're lookin' at life as a whole, zoom in on the things that might be keeping your finger off the joy button, and clue you in on amazing ways to amp up your days.

TUNIN' IN TO YOUR 'TUDE

Your first move toward being happier is to figure out your take on fife in general. If you see your Big Gulp cup as half-empty instead of half-full, you're not alone. Lots of girls use negativity as a way to protect themselves from disappointment--often without even realizing it.

Say you failed a bio test, twisted your ankle in gym and got dumped by your BF--all in one day. Your mood's gonna stink. After all, what's the point of feeling hopeful when another icky incident's bound to smack you in the bangs?

Remember, though, everything happens in cycles. Sure, you'll have bad days, but if you expect only rotten stuff to happen, you'll totally overlook truly great opportunities, events and surprises. The key is to look at fife in a balanced way.

When you're feeling gloomed out, say to yourself, "OK, I feel really gross about what's going on. So what can I focus on that's gone really well for me lately?" Think about the props your coach gave you yesterday at track. The icky stuff is only a small part of your life.

BEATIN' THE BUMMED-OUT BLUES

Once you've adjusted the or attitude, check yourself to see if any of these mood mashers are roadblocking your happiness.

CHICKEN LITTLE If you're afraid of feeling "too happy," it could be because you believe happiness is temporary. You're scared you won't be able to handle a crisis if it happens, so you're always on edge.

Break the Habit It all has to do with self-confidence. You do have what it takes to handle any problem life sends your way. Remind yourself of the tons of times you've triumphed over trouble.

THE PERFECTIONIST You feel you have to "earn" a good time. It's a sunny Saturday, and your BFF calls to invite you on a hike. You've got a Spanish test Monday, though, and think you don't "deserve" a break until you've learned all your vocab backward and forward.

Break the Habit Chill out by realizing happiness is a part of life to be accepted, not earned. Learn to treat yourself well.

GOTTA-HAVE-IT GIRL You're convinced you'd be the happiest girl in the world if only you had Nicole Ritchie's wardrobe. Or if only Ben, the hottie in homeroom, asked you to the May Day Dance. Or if only your family won the lottery and could move to Laguna Beach. Righto.

Break the Habit Any single element will not make your life perfect. Real happiness draws from many satisfying sources, like lab friends, a good family vibe and liking yourself as you are. When you're busy being bummed about what you're lacking, you can't actively enjoy what you do have.

CELLAR DWELLER You keep your mood on low by replaying a yucky mistake in your mind (missing that basket and losing the state finals) over and over.

Break the Habit Everybody flubs up, so accept that you're human. No matter how bad the boo-boo seems now, you can--and should--move on. Talk to your 'rents, an older sib or favorite teacher. They can offer perspective and remind you of the great things you're capable of.

GET YOUR JOY ON!

After you've taken measures to quit that stinkin" thinkin', you've still gotta take some more smart action to truly get--and stay--as happy as you possibly can. Practice these easy exercises and, soon, they'll be second nature.

STEP ONE: QUIZ YOURSELF

Feel yourself frettin'? Grab hold of the sitch by asking yourself these questions:

1. What am I really unhappy about?

2. Why is it freaking me out so much?

3. What can I do to feel better?

Say you're stewin' because you're the only one in class who hasn't yet gotten an invite to Jamie's spring fling party. By digging a little deeper, you might realize: 1) "I'm wiggin" because maybe Jamie doesn't like me." 2) "If that were true, I would be so embarrassed because everyone might see me as a total reject." 3) "I know that one party invite doesn't measure who I am as a person." Feel better?

STEP TWO: KICK FEAR TO THE CURB Happy people don't let fear keep them from going for the gusto. If you want to try something a little scary--auditioning for the school play or giving your first debate club speech--give it a whirl! What's the worst that could happen? Maybe you won't get cast or will lose the debate. So what? By pushing past the fear and giving it your all, you'll have learned how to do better next time around--and you get an A+ for effort.

STEP THREE: STAY IN THE MOMENT

You and your BFF couldn't wait for The Chronicles of Narnia to come out on DVD. Now that it has, you can't enjoy the movie because you're too busy wondering why your crush Jack hasn't called you yet.

Don't weigh down fun with worries about the future. Jack might call later; maybe he'll never call at all--which will clear the way for you to meet even cooler guys. Deal with it when the time comes.

STEP FOUR: SPIN YOUR FEELINGS

Happiness is really all about perception. If we think positively about a sitch, we fed good. If we think in negative terms, we feel bad. Simple, right? Not always. If you find out your dad's been transferred so you're moving to another state, your first reaction might be to lose it over leaving your crew. But you can totally flip the sitch on its bright side: "I can keep in touch with my buds, plus meet tons of new friends. How exciting!"

This definitely takes practice. Lots of people let an initial bad reaction snowball until they can't see the benefits of a major change. Look at it from every angle. Make the most of the good parts, and ignore dark thoughts that'll wreck a new experience. It helps to write down the pros and cons of a sitch. You'll see that things aren't always totally awful.

STEP FIVE: KEEP MOVING FORWARD

If you think you said something dopey in English class, shrug it off. Nobody's gonna remember it tomorrow, so why let it ruin your day? Regrets don't get anybody anywhere, and they for sure don't make you happy.

A really great trick for moving on from mistakes--whether they're real or all in your mind--is to think of life as a huge movie blockbuster with a gigantic cast. Every person you know thinks he or she is the star--you're just a supporting player in their version of the film. Anything you do just isn't all that important to their storyline in the long run anyway. So why feel self-conscious?

You're the star of your own life, though, so live it up to the max. Have the best time you possibly can! You deserve to enjoy your accomplishments, no matter how big or small. So keep a smile on your face, and focus on the good things throughout your day. Soon, you'll inspire everybody you know to do the same. How cool is that?

ILLUSTRATION BY ANNIE CROSSE
COPYRIGHT 2006 Monarch Avalon, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Author:Mulcahy, Lisa
Publication:Girls' Life
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:1358
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