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America’s founding fathers were wise to embed the “A pursuit of happiness” in the DNA of the country – in the Preamble to the Constitution. It was a profoundly new idea that changed the world. Clients tell me, “I want to be happy!” and I show them how thoughts affect mood. How you relate to yourself can lift or dampen your spirits.

Happy people have an easier life, bounce back from problems, and generate love. Research demonstrates we are hard wired to focus on problems, which creates physically and emotionally damaging stress. As we learn to focus on gratitude, the positive effects are obvious. Practicing gratitude helps you notice good things, reduce your stress and anxiety, and feel better about yourself, your friends and family, and your life.

You can improve your relationship with yourself, your relationships with others, your work life, your home life, and even your health when you congratulate yourself on your personal pursuit of happiness, because Celebration + Appreciation = Motivation. The more you appreciate your effort, the more motivated and happy you will be.

The three components of happiness are:

Gratitude: Be mindful of and thankful for whatever you have, your friends, family and partner.

Generosity: Giving thanks and kindness to others will make you happy, and will be returned to you.

Ethics: You feel good about yourself and increase your happiness when you live according to a sensible set of ethics.

Here are my guidelines for creating more gratitude in your life.

  • Give thanks every day for everything that comes your way. Do this silently, for yourself, and think about how fortunate you are.
  • Keep a list about every good that comes your way: a funny email, a phone call, a business success, a loving gesture. You’ll be astounded by how much you receive.
  • Saying “Thank You” to another allows both of you to feel valued. Gratitude and appreciation are powerful motivators; much more effective than demanding, criticizing, or nagging.
  • Whenever a negative thought comes to mind, counter it with thanks for something good in your life to change your focus from what’s wrong to what is right.
  • Start counting what you cherish. Create a gratitude journal, box or jar and put in positive thoughts, favorite possessions, beloved friends and tender moments. Whenever you feel frustrated, down or discouraged, read your notes. Reminding yourself of all you have to be grateful for will cheer you.
  • Make a note of the happiness generators that are most effective for you and keep it handy, so you can increase your happiness whenever you want.

Looking for blessings in every day hones your awareness of how lucky you are, and increases the luck that comes your way. Think of it as receiving a gift. When you receive gifts with gratitude and pleasure, then the giver wants to give you more.

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Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page); Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences.

She publishes "Happiness Tips from Tina", an e-mail newsletter, and the "Dr. Romance Blog." Online, she is "Dr. Romance" with columns at, and Yahoo Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as "Oprah", "Larry King Live" and ABC News. She tweets @tinatessina and is on Facebook at and 

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