18 Habits of Happy Women

18 Habits of Happy Women
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Let’s be real -- no one’s happy all the time. But some people are definitely better at making happiness a regular, even daily, habit. They work at it. They make it a priority. They have tricks.

Certain tricks are more or less universal: Getting outside. Enjoying coffee -- uninterrupted. Dancing when no one is watching (and even when they are). A glass of wine at night. Singing at the top of your lungs. Alone time. And sleep -- plenty of sleep.

Daily, weekly, and even occasional practices like these act as a bulwark against the things that erode our happiness — stress, distraction, the frustrations and mundanity of parenting or work or relationships or all of the above.

Here are 18 more happiness habits to inspire – and steal.

  • Tackling First Things First

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    For Anoushka Yeoh, a mother of two boys in London who runs groups that support children with autism and their families, it starts with a cup of coffee before everyone else is up. And then, “prioritizing the thing I need to do, but don’t want to do, and then surfing the wave of relief, achievement, and satisfaction for the rest of the day.”

  • Taking Creative Risks

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    Abby Zilch is a therapist, mother of two, and also a singer-songwriter, and it’s that last part that fosters a lot of happiness in her. It’s about “creative pursuits that involve some level of risk-taking,” she says.

  • Putting Heads To Bed

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    “One habit that keeps me happy is 7 p.m. bedtime for all three kids, age 5 and under. It gives me three hours alone with my husband or to rest,” says Alexandra Frost, a mom from Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Making Time To Putter Around

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    Alyssa Valentine, a real estate agent and mother of two in La Cañada Flintridge, California, says, “I putter all the live-long day. Nothing is more satisfying than having (mostly) everything in its place.”

  • Practicing Random Acts of Kindness

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    For Stevie Swift, a writer and mother of one from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, it’s coffee -- times two. “Drive-thru coffee pick-up and paying for the person behind me,” is her happiness habit.

  • Being Spontaneous

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    For Lizzie Goodman, writer and mother of two in Chicago, Illinois, getting outside, no matter the weather, is key. But also “doing something spontaneous with my kids all in an effort to surprise them and keep them on their toes” helps increase her happiness levels.

  • Choosing the Right Words

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    For Lesley Ling, a human resources director and mother of two in California, something as small as word choice can make a big difference. “Not saying ‘Sorry’ when I really mean ‘Thank you.’ ‘Sorry I'm late’ becomes ‘Thank you for your patience.’ This practice minimizes my own self-doubt practice and reinforces gratitude. It's a two-fer,” she says.

  • Talking to Yourself Like You’d Talk to a Friend

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    Ling’s sister, Lisa, a mother of three who lives in Oregon, agrees. She also makes sure “that the conversation in my head is kind and encouraging. This ensures that I’m at least as kind to myself as I am to a good friend.”

  • Playing Secret Santa — Any Day of the Year

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    Jill Bartlett, a writer, actor, and mother of one in Los Angeles, likes to dance around the living room and write down all of her “good things” each night to think about before she falls asleep. Those go-to habits are also punctuated by impromptu gift-giving. “I try to send secret gifts to people with no return address once in a while,” she says.

  • Powerlifting

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    For Micco Caporale, a writer in Chicago, Illinois, it’s powerlifting. “For me, it feels like I've tried every fitness craze and even many unpopular things, and [powerlifting] is the only form of exercise that has actually helped my mental health. I'd love to see more women get into lifting and go heavy!”

  • Turning Off

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    For Jennifer Johnsen, who works in reproductive rights in New York City, it’s giving herself permission to spend time not being productive. “Guilt-free mini holidays from thinking about anything serious or making decisions,” she says, bolster happiness. That, and nightly foot rubs with her partner.

  • Writing Your List

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    For Heide Brandes, a freelance writer and professional belly dancer based in Oklahoma City, gratitude is everything, and keeping a daily gratitude list of “10 things you are grateful for” every morning changed her life. “It sets a fantastic tone for the day,” she says.

  • Checking in With the Universe

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    For Ellie Madriñan, a school counselor and mother of one in Encino, California, it’s about finding five or 10 minutes on her way to or from work to connect with something that feels larger than herself. “I'll pull my car over on a random side street by my house and do a quick meditation, focus on what I'm grateful for, and ask the universe or my mom or dad (who recently passed away) to take fears, worries, or heaviness off my shoulders.”

  • Prioritizing Female Friendship

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    For Danielle Simone Brand, a writer in Boise, Idaho, it’s about moving her body every day, “whether it's yoga, running, or just taking walks.” And also this: “Keeping my female friendships alive, even when it's the last thing I have time for.”

  • Singing to an Imaginary Audience

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    Janell Cox, a therapist in Los Angeles, gets a happiness boost from singing. “When I’m home alone, I put on music loudly and sing my favorite songs to an imaginary audience with a fake microphone – usually a candle.”

  • Giving Hugs

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    For Edie Weinstein, a writer in Dublin, Pennsylvania, hugging equals happiness. “I do the FREE HUGS thing as the founder of Hugmobsters Armed With Love,” she says.

  • Waking Up Early

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    Amanda Parrish Morgan, a mother and writer based in Connecticut, says one of her favorite habits is to wake up "early enough to have a cup of coffee alone at the start of the day – even if that means 5 a.m.” (Her kids wake up really early.)

  • Stopping to Marvel

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    For Iva-Marie Palmer, a YA author and mother of two in Burbank, California, reading fiction every day and running or boxing every week builds the base. “But also — and this sounds so cringingly earnest — trying to stop during my everyday tasks to marvel. Like, I love that the walk to school with my kids each day seems to calm everyone down even on the worst mornings. I’ve also found just looking up at a certain tree or slice of sky cheers me.”

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