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How to Live Life to the Fullest

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Feel like your average day is a buzzing BlackBerry, ringing iPhone, and overscheduled frenzy? We’ve all been there. But it’s not impossible to seize the day, even if only in bite-size chunks. Live each day to the fullest with these feel-great tips.

Related article:   How to Live Authentically

Act like a kid

Sometimes being a grown-up is, well, boring. Yes, you should pay your bills, make your deadlines, and clean your apartment, but make sure to leave time to be a little silly and have fun. “Even jumping on your bike for an afternoon ride with friends will make you feel more carefree,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Add More -Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness.

Be still

Whether you meditate or just take some quiet time to yourself, being still may help you embrace the moment and appreciate your life. “Being still reminds you that life isn’t about racing as fast as you can to get to the end of your to-do list,” says James Baraz, a meditation instructor and founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, Calif.

Get some lovin’

Regular romps are more than just fun and games. Sex is great for your health. It can satisfy all sorts of emotional and physical intimacy needs and helps partners stay close, says Anita H. Clayton, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia and author ofSatisfaction: Women, Sex, and the Quest for Intimacy.

Work your muscles

Not only does working out do wonders for your body, but physical activity also improves your overall well-being and health. “Exercise, yoga, or any kind of regular movement helps get you out of your head,” says James Baraz, a meditation instructor and founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, Calif. “In addition to being a healthy activity, it triggers endorphins that have a profound effect on lifting your spirits. It makes you come alive.”

Make time for your pooch

Simple activities, like hugging you dog or cat, can put you in a good mood. Petting a dog for just 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol, a University of Missouri—Columbia study suggests.

Indulge in food you love

You’ve heard it before: Healthy eating is all about moderation, so that means you don’t have to deny yourself the foods you love. Just indulge in a smart way. “Depriving a sweet tooth is a recipe for disaster,” says celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels. “Don’t cut things out so you binge later. Instead, try allotting up to a fifth of your daily calorie allowance to the sweet of your choice.”

Sing out strong

Whether you’re in the shower, in your car, or on a public stage, belt out a tune. You’re a terrible singer, you say? Irrelevant. (A million karaoke lovers never let that hold them back.) Research suggests that an organ in the inner ear is connected to a part of the brain that registers pleasure. So singing may make you happier, even if you’re no Beyonce.

Find fresh air

Make time to go outside during the day, rain or shine. Just 30 minutes in the sun can boost your mood, according to a University of Michigan study. But even on wintery days, a breath of fresh air is, well, refreshing.

Catch some z’s

Don’t feel guilty about catching a few extra hours of shut-eye. Sleep boosts your mood, improves your memory, sharpens your focus, and can help you maintain a healthy weight. The health benefits of a good night’s sleep improve your quality of life.

Read a book

Take the time to sit and read, a practice that previous generations recognized as a necessity, not a luxury. You can aim to get in touch with what’s really important in life (Henry David Thoreau’s Walden is good for that), learn something new, or just go for pure escapism with the latest frothy romance or beach-read paperback.

Get artsy

Have you always wanted to paint, but don’t know where to start? Visit your local art store and get going. Participants in a Boston College study became happier when they distracted themselves by creating artwork that expressed their negative feelings. Writing in a journal has been shown to have a similar effect.

Share your goals

If you want to make things happen, spread the word! Tell your family and friends about your goals. Your loved ones can hold you accountable and help you stick to your guns. Sonja Lyubomirksy, PhD, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, believes this ups your chances of success.

Get out of town

Plan your getaway for a week or just a weekend. A 2009 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicinefound that engaging in enjoyable leisure-time activities can lower stress hormones and blood pressure. Plus, it’s fun.

Give back

Help yourself by helping others. People feel good when they do good, “but research now shows that giving is good for you emotionally and physically,” says Margaret Clark, PhD, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Yale University, in New Haven, Conn.

Sit down and eat

The Italians have practically made this an art form. They know that preparing and eating meals together can help you bond with others, and just all around enjoy life more. If your crazy schedule seems to never leave room for a sit-down meal, opt for easy prep meals and fit them in on weekends.

Schedule fun every day

You can enjoy life without taking an extravagant vacation. Each morning, think, “What can I do today that will make it an amazing day?” suggests life coach Victoria Moran, author ofLiving a Charmed Life. Create your own personal list of simple pleasures, and work them into your day.

Soothe yourself with sound

Need to chill out? Try listening to some tunes. In a 2010 study, researchers found that soft, soothing music reduces anxiety as well as a massage does. Plus, hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, which is good for your heart.

Get social

Prioritize time together with friends. Whether you go out or stay in, it’s important to let your hair down and blow off steam every once in a while with your pals.

Make negativity a no-no

Turn your to-do list into an adventure, without letting negativity get in your way. Push all doubts to the side and write down your thoughts and feelings. “You’ll boost your self-esteem and happiness by gaining control of your situation,” says Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot. This will pave the way for you to get excited about doing everything you have to do.
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