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There’s a lot of hype about March MADness, and if you’re an NCAA fan, or married to one, you know it well. But I’d rather think in terms of March Happiness, training mind and body, just as those basketball players train to remain positive, even when faced with stress, sadness and the cyclicality of life. You can create a habit of happiness.

During March Madness, 68 teams in the College Basketball Association compete in the national championship. They are all vying for that one feel-good moment they’ve worked so hard to achieve. They’ve dedicated a large portion of their lives to training body and mind, and when the final two teams compete, one team, each team member, and thousands of fans experience fulfillment and happiness.

This month, compete against yourself. Train your mind and body to be healthier and happier than ever. At this point in the game, you may feel the odds are against you. For example, about 40 percent of people who set New Year’s Resolutions have already quit trying. But this month, you are powering up, not gearing down.

Finding happiness

You can do it. Here are my Top 3 Tips for being happy in March---and all year long:

*Smile and wave goodbye to toxic people. Waving goodbye has never made you smile so big. In a world where everyone faces uncontrollable stressors and negativity every day, no matter how happy they are, you must get rid of the things and people who are only going to bring you down even further. Rid yourself of the toxic people in your life, the haters and the hurters. Take control of your happiness by not allowing others to steer your emotions up and down or steal them altogether. If you can’t rid yourself of negative people, set boundaries to minimize your interactions with them. Saying goodbye means saying hello to happiness.

*Take time to decide. The best way to be unhappy is to go around making promises or commitments you can’t live up to or if you do live up to them, you despise every moment of it. You get one life; so make it a happy one. Don’t overcommit to someone else and then under commit to yourself. Your happiness is just as important as everyone else’s, and don’t think otherwise.

When you make an impulsive decision, it is typically based on intense emotions and  with little thought. In most cases, quick decisions are not only poor decisions; they also reduce your control and even ruin your credibility.

To create happiness, make a habit of taking time when making both large and small decisions. Retreat, Rethink, React are your new decision-making steps, in that order.

*Forgive. When you hold grudges, become angry or find yourself always looking backward, it is hard to move forward. The great thing about forgiveness is that you don’t have to feel it, you just do it. And you are doing it for you, not the other person. If you are angry with someone, your attention and energy are given to them, not you. You can’t control your past, and that can be upsetting sometimes. But you can control your future, and you can drive right up to happiness.

As you compete against yourself in March, you must dedicate a portion of your life to training your body and mind. This takes time and commitment. Remember that you are competing for one thing-- that feel-good moment when you notice more days seem brighter; when you notice the win. It not only lies within you, but within your family (team) and all those who you interact with (fans) as well.

This March, turn your Madness into Happiness.

By Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D., LMHC

Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D, LMHC, is the author of “Type ‘S’uperWoman – Finding the Work-Life Balance: A Self-Searching Book for Women,” (www.mindfulrehab.com). Motivated by watching those she coaches become successful and with a true passion for helping others, Dr. Kulaga earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s and doctorate degrees in counseling.




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