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3 steps to living happier

We're at the time of year in Central New York when the sky, roads and lawns all become the same color gray. The sky is gray with clouds, the road with salt and lawns with dirtied snow. It's dark late into morning and early into the evening. Businesses are struggling to hit their end-of-year numbers, and lots of people are running around hectic and haggard for their Christmas shopping (yes, Christmas shopping – if you're like me, you did your holiday shopping in preparation for Channukah, which is already over with no rush to worry about).

People are really unhappy. So, let's look at some simple steps you can take to get happy.

1. Own the bad to own the good

Don't like your job, location or the length of your holiday list? Your fault. Own all the choices you've made to this point that brought you here. And here's why: Love your friends, hobbies, favorite restaurant and cell phone plan? The same choices you made to get the stuff you don't like, you made to get the stuff you like. You can't take credit for the good stuff without taking credit for the bad stuff. Once you recognize the universe isn't out to get you and that you're responsible for both the good and the bad, you can make better choices to get the good you want.

2. Eat better and supplement your diet

We spoke last week a little bit about comfort and specifically things like comfort foods that lull you to complacence. Food is fuel. Do you really feel gassed up and ready to go after a big plate of mac n cheese and fried chicken? No, you feel like taking a nap. I've written before about getting foods with high oxytocin content into your diet (things like bananas, eggs, etc.), but there are ways to supplement your diet. Here are the supplements I use (I like use over take, because I need to be honest that anything that isn't food is a drug).

• Caffeine (year-round, daily)
• Ginseng (year-round, usually on work nights)
• BCAA (year-round, usually on work nights but sometimes also in conjunction with a hard workout)
• Dopamine (my pre-workout is a dopamine modulator – I try to take it only on days I work out, skipping at least once a week, and with a week off every month or so; dopamine is the happy drug you release from intense exercise and sex)
• Vitamin D3 (primarily fall and winter, on low-sun days – this is the vitamin you get from sunlight, and especially working nights, I get very little opportunity for sunlight directly on my skin from October to April)
• Vitamin C (primarily during cold season; since I started working from home, I'm exposed to fewer airborne particles, which means my immune system isn't working on new invaders all the time)

3. Drink more water

I average about four liters of water a day. Now, understand that I work from home at a sitting-down job and I'm not chasing children around or anything, so I have the time to drink four liters of water a day without thinking about it. That's probably more than you need anyway; eight, eight-ounce glasses of water is more like two liters. Anyway. You wake up dehydrated (you might not feel like it, but you haven't had any water for at least as long as you've been asleep). Take a few good long swallows of water when you wake up. And remember that in winter you're running your heat, which is drying you out, so drink more than you would in a milder season.

There we have it. The most difficult thing on that list is a change of mindset. And if you're not interested in a mindset change, well, good luck.

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