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Ever notice how some people just seem to do well and be happy, even in tough times?   They are resilient.  They typically attract other people to them.  When they get down, they bounce back quickly.  How do they do that?  Some of it may be genetics, but we’ve got more control over our lives than many of us imagine.

Bad things happen to all of us.  We all have days where we’re not at our best.  But cultivating a way of life that allows us to thrive, to be our best, is a worthy goal.  Here are some suggestions:

Physical self care is critical to well being.  Without enough rest, exercise and a reasonably healthy diet, it is hard to have the stamina and energy needed to cope with life’s challenges.   That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.  You don’t need six pack abs to thrive, but taking care of the physical self supports mental and emotional health, too.

Cultivate your social network.  Human beings are social creatures, and we rarely thrive in isolation.  Even monks have community.  Making time for friends almost always improves your mood.  Unless your friends are all complainers with a negative outlook on life.  Then you need new friends.

Help others less fortunate than yourself.  Maybe it’s helping a coworker; maybe it is volunteering to work with youth or the homeless; contributing to the lives of other people helps give life meaning.

Have some fun.  You would think that would be an easy one, but not in 2011.  We’re working long hours (if we’re working), and many people are not in a playful mood.  What’s fun for you?  (If you can’t answer that question, please consider working on it a top priority.)  When did you last do something just for kicks?  If it’s been a while, rethink your priorities.  Fun relieves stress, nourishes relationships and keeps life from becoming drudgery.

Try something new.  Learn a language.  Pick up a musical instrument.  Change your routine and include new personal or professional activities.  Life becomes more interesting and your brain could use the exercise!

Limit useless complaining.  Whining is not a trait associated with thrivers; too often, it becomes self-perpetuating, causing us to expect unhappiness.  If something isn’t the way that you want it, take action.  Remember that you’re the one who is ultimately responsible for your life.  Conversely…

Think positive thoughts.  Thinking positively about the future and about your self helps.  Stop self criticism (which is different from constructively facing your problems).  What is going right in your life right now?

Know when to get help.  Sometimes life becomes overwhelming, or we’re just not succeeding in making changes on our own.  That’s a good time to talk to a professional who can help you create and maintain the life you want.