POST 50
06/30/2016 04:02 pm ET

11 Happy Skills Everyone Should Learn Before They Turn 50

The acquisition of things rarely raises our happiness quotient, but the quest for them certainly lowers it.
Tracy Morgan via Getty Images

1. How to count to 10.

Anger isn't your friend. In fact, learning to control it could add years to your life. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2014 found that angry, argumentative people lived shorter lives. Besides, nobody really likes that guy who screams at the waiter because the soup is too salty, now do they? Don't be that guy.

2. How to play nice with strangers.

Be the guy who lets the other driver cut in your lane. Give up your seat on the subway for someone who needs it more. Doing nice things for people makes us feel better. In fact, studies show that those who volunteer reap health benefits that may help them live longer.

3. How to be content.

You have what you have and that's what you have. The acquisition of things rarely raises our happiness quotient, but the quest for them certainly lowers it. Science says that while we know material goods don't matter as much as life experiences, some of us get trapped in a rat race of competitive acquisition. 

4. How to love nature.

The more time you spend outside, the happier you will be. Just trust us. Better yet, trust science.

5. How to not abuse your body.

After all, you only get one and spare parts are hard to find. Lost in all the hoopla about whether marijuana should be legalized is the fact that alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge-drinking patterns, says the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. An estimated 32 percent of fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated driver or pedestrian. 

6. How to share.

Get deep. Get heavy. Share. Not in a Facebook sharing way, but really share. It's hard to expose yourself, we know, but you can't be in a real relationship unless you know how to trust. Open up and let it out there.

 

7. How to make friends.

People with good friends not only live longer, but they also are happier. A recent study found that people with a large network of friends outlived those with fewer friends by more than 20 percent. Some people think it's that your friends keep you from doing things that are bad for you. Frankly, we think it's just that they make your life more fun and worthwhile. Cue up Barbra singing "People" please.

8. How to listen.

Sure, you probably hear just fine. But do you really listen? Do you read body language, facial expressions, what the eyes are telling you and not just the mouth?

  

9. How to forgive.

Some of the saddest, most miserable people we know are those who hold grudges, insist on being right all the time, and carry around the weight of past injustices like a prize they somehow earned. Lighten your load, forgive and move on. Everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. The difference is in how we react to that hurt. Forgive, even if you can't forget and you'll be better off for it. Save bitterness for your kale, which is about the only time it's good for you.

10. How to stick up for others.

Playground bullies don't go away after 5th grade. They grow up and become bosses, neighbors and somebody's in-laws. Cowering when they come around didn't work in grade school and generally doesn't work in adulthood either. Everyone deserves to live a bully-free life. Remember that if you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Being a bystander to mistreatment isn't cool. 

 

11. How to say "yes" more than "no."

Negativity sucks the air out of a room. Be a glass-is-half-full kind of person. Work at trying to say something nice and doing something good, be responsible for your actions and the damages they cause, try to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Life is less about what you make it and more about how you see it. See it positively or you will not only be miserable, but you'll make everyone around you miserable to. We all know someone who does this to us, so send them this column now and ask them to read it to the end.

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