I've been thinking about the happiest women I know, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm surrounded by at least seven self-fulfilled and inspiring women between my family and close friendships.
Wanting to take a page from each of their books, I came to them with this question: What is your healthiest mental habit? I've seen them systematically go through everyday life putting these nuggets of intelligence into practice in order to live their best lives, but I wanted to find out how they think and what they do differently.
What I heard was equal parts fascinating and pragmatic—these are relatively simple choices that aren't difficult to put into practice.
Health is not only absence of disease, but it's also an attitude toward life and toward ourselves. It starts from the inside, especially the dialogue and relationship we have with ourselves. It's not just about working out or eating consciously: It's about training our behaviors so that living well gets easier and more rooted in our daily routine. Health and happiness go hand in hand!
Here are their generous answers to my question: What is your healthiest mental habit?
1. Know how to ask for help. It benefits everyone.
"[W]hat made the biggest difference in my life was being able to take advantage of having support to raise my kids. I [used] that opportunity to be a more grateful person and really made room for the things I enjoyed doing."
2. See the good in others.
"The most important healthy mental habit I have is to always look at the good side of everyone and always try to get more of that good side. I honestly focus on the good of every person."
3. Live in the moment.
"In my life, I've experienced times with no job and having to manage alone—with four kids. The lesson I learned and that I put into practice every day is not to schedule anything beyond what's REALLY mandatory and refuse to worry about something that hasn't happened yet. I'm profoundly committed to living in the moment."
4. Be the anti-drama.
"I'm totally anti-drama and staying pragmatic. I organize problems according to their order of importance and urgency to be solved. I never regret nor do I look back on those hard decisions I had to make to solve an urgent problem; regret just seems so unuseful to me."
5. Choose a partner, but don't be afraid of being alone.
"I've always done things that I liked, never stopped doing what I enjoy just to please others…and I knew that having a partner meant that he needed to be independent and accept me as I am. Sure, there were adjustments, but there are no restraints. I strongly believe that if he wasn't like this, I would have stayed single for a longer period. I know this sounds unromantic, but I think that a partner must be additive to our lives and not a blockage. That's just the way it works for me."
6. Remember to plan pockets of enjoyment for yourself.
"I never had problems doing things alone like going to the movies or shopping for groceries, and I try to do what pleases me at least for an hour every day. The main pillar of my joy is having a walk every day after sunrise. I wake up really early every day, and this helps me maintain my mental and physical health."
7. Understanding, forgiveness, and "me time."
"Meditation helped me be calmer and identify my best thoughts and not-so-great reactions. Understanding one another is also a main key to being more balanced. And once a week I go out for two hours by myself and leave our child with my husband and go for a walk or to the hairdresser: This sounds shallow, but it gives me an extra sense of confidence to face everyday challenges. It has worked so far."
The theme? Permission. Give yourself some slack, and allow some happiness in your day to day. I hope this inspires you in a very pragmatic way!