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I’m a firm believer that lowering the stress in your life will help you live longer.  The best way to do this is to make your attitude more positive.  But how do you do this?

Work to live, don’t live to work. I work for a great company and enjoy my career.  However, I don’t let it consume my life.  When I’m away from work, I try not to think about it very much (other than those time when the phone rings at 2 AM and I have to help resolve a production problem).

Get a hobby. Having a hobby can take your mind away from problems for short periods of time.  It can be following a sport, mountain climbing, or stamp collecting.  It’s not terribly important that the hobby is, just that there is a hobby.  I have a few hobbies in my life.  Obviously, The Soap Boxers is my biggest hobby, and I am also a rabid baseball fan.

Spread happiness. A good mood can be contagious, so try to spread it around.  I generally try to get a few people to laugh every day.  I like to pipe up with a random “whutup, dawg?” as a greeting as some point in the day.  It’s a complete departure from my normal manner of speaking, and usually catches a person off guard.

Make your workplace a less dreary environment. Like it or not, you will spend a lot of time at work over the course of your lifetime.  First and foremost, find a way to get along with your co-workers.  They don’t have to be your BFFs, but if you can comfortably chat with them around the water cooler, it will be easier to work with them when the stress level is higher.  If you have some control over your work environment, customize it to make it less of a downer.  I have worked in a cubicle for the last 13 years.  I’m one of those people who over-customize their cubicle.  I have a parade of small animals lined up on my cubicle walls.  During a high stress situation, looking up and seeing the T-Rex stalking the squirrel puts a smile on my face.  My co-workers are also amused by the animals.

Music, baby.  MUSIC. Music can be a huge key to happiness.  There are a few “happy songs” that can pull me out of just about any bad mood.  Off the top of my head – Take it Easy by The Eagles, Let it Be by The Beatles, Fins by Jimmy Buffett, and Cheap Seats by Alabama.  If I can get those songs going through my head, my mood will almost certainly improve.

Finally, realize that some things are simply beyond your control.  Example: you have plans to go to a baseball game this weekend.  There’s a massive storm cell threatening the area.  If your city gets pounded by the storms, the game is going to get rained out and your weekend will be ruined.  This is a bad situation – but what are you going to do about it?  You can’t control the weather … so just let things unfold and make the best of the situation.  There’s no point in getting stressed out over something as uncontrollable as the weather.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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