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Building on my last happy advice column, I’d like to offer another ten easy things you can do today to make your life a little happier.

1. Smoke a Cigar.

This probably is more appealing to the male audience though quiet a few women enjoy the leaf as well.  Use my recent Cigar Guide as a starting point and see if you like the hobby.  You only need one, it won’t cost that much and it will only take an hour or so to enjoy.  I’ve researched the health risks associated with occasional cigar smoking – it’s negligent.  In fact, I think the relaxation benefits far outweigh the .002% increase in the risk of problems.

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2. Lose the News.

The commercial news in America is boring at best, toxic at worst.  You will not miss anything important if you take a break for a day or so.  Murders, wars, theft, depression, scandal, etc. will go on in your absence – only you won’t be dragged down by it.  Consider ignorance bliss and disconnect.  This advice, of course, does not extent to your favorite blog.

3. Slow Down Some More.

Last time I recommended slowing your pace in life in order to de-stress and feel better.  Do it some more.  Remember, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.  Who likes rats?  Check the emails tomorrow.  There’s enough food at the house, lay off the super-market today.  Let the little old lady merge into your lane.  Be happy.  Be free.

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(This guy won the race.  Google.)

4. Let Someone Tell You, “You Can’t” and Prove Them Wrong.

So many people are afraid of things – everything.  If they can’t conceive of a way to do some particular thing, they assume nobody can do it.  In psychology this is called transference or projection or something.  They’ll say you can’t lose the weight.  They’ll say your business won’t make it.  They’ll say such a hot blonde will never go out with you.  Don’t listen.  If you really want to do something and it’s meant to be, you can’t fail – unless you fail to try.  A young man at Yale was told his presented idea in an economics class would never be feasible; years later, the man put his plan into action and founded Federal Express.  When you succeed, take comfort in your accomplishment.  Remember to be gracious to your detractors, maybe you will inspire them to rise above their own roadblocks.

5. Encourage Someone.

The pre-emptive strike against worldly negativity is to place faith in someone else’s ideas.  When someone runs by a plan for something new by you, tell them what you think, but make sure you end it positively.  A little encouragement goes a long way and may be just the boost a person needs to get over their fears and societal conditioning of failure and make “it” happen.  Praise is contagious too.  Start a fire!

6. Write a Letter to the Editor.

I used to do this with very limited success.  Now, I’m the editor and everything I write gets published – and read.  Pick a topic you’re passionate about and tell the world your opinions.  Everyone is an expert at something, share your insights.  Like encouragement, it might spark somebody to positive action.  A common tactic is to write an “open” letter to a CongressCritter or some other prominent person or organization and forward a copy to the local fish-wrapper.  Knowing your views will be viewed by a wide audience may give a politician or other figure more reason to act than your letter alone would.  Try it and see.

7. Question Authority.

People in power frequently use their power to limit the powerless.  Challenge them.  Thomas Jefferson once said, “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”  One can’t have a better role model than old T.J.  When the cop asks you if you knew how fast you were going, don’t answer; this denies them your assistance in your prosecution and takes a little of the bully out of them.  If a teacher tells you heat rises, ask why, then, does the TOP of the pond freeze.  Make her explain thermodynamics in full.  Be polite and don’t do anything so outrageous as to risk arrest.  By speaking truth to power or denying the power altogether, you can preserve liberty and concurrently increase understanding – both admirable ends.  This, again, does not apply to your favorite blog (wink, wink).

8. Take a Hike!

Last time I relayed the benefits of a simple walk around the block.  Hiking through God’s country increases the benefits, both in terms of exercise exertion and scenery.  Hikes need not be limited to the woods or the mountains.  Stalk away through the dunes or a country road.  Explore your local park or the land along the river-side levee.  Make sure you have good shoes for this one.  I once reached in the closet, without looking, for boots to take to the Smokey Mountains.  A mile or so in I realized duck-hunting boots were not made for trudging up-hill… 

9. Write a Book.

I recommended reading a book.  That’s always good advice.  Take it to the next level and make your own literary contribution to the world.  If it’s not a full-length book, then write a pamphlet or start a blog!  By the way, books are easier than ever to publish these days.  Check out www.createspace.com, there’s a link here on the left.  This service will not only turn your ideas into print but will make them commercially available to the masses – all for free.  Your book can be about anything.  There are no rules and no constraints anymore.  Read James Altucher’s excellent column on the subject – http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/05/why-and-how-i-self-published-a-book/.  This was my inspiration to start blogging and ram through my first book (soon, I promise…).

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(Create!  Google.)

10. Give Thanks for Something.

Anything.  Good or bad.  “In everything give thanks.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18.  God does everything for a reason.  Thank Him.  Too smart for God, then thank Mother Earth, or Father Time, the Tooth Fairy or whoever.  Believe in something bigger than you.  As for the good and the bad, even non-Christian philosophers speak of accepting both with the same stoic resolve.  See Marcus Aurelius on that point.  Spread the word.  Accept, give thanks, take action, be happy.

BONUS! 11. Forward this advice to people you know.  Come up with some more things people can do!