True serenity comes from within, but even Buddhists can use a little jump start now and then.
Step 1: Laugh often Laugh as often as you can. It causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop dramatically, leaving your feeling profoundly relaxed.
TIP: People with a strong sense of humor are less prone to depression and anxiety.
Step 2: Find time for friends Find time for friends and family. Researchers who studied very content people found that every single one was extremely outgoing and reported strong social bonds.
Step 3: Take charge Take charge of your life—even if that means standing up to a controlling loved one or finding a job that gives you more freedom. Confronting a troubling issue now will ensure more serenity later.
Step 4: Do what you love Start a career doing what you love. A Swedish study found that people who work hard at something they find fulfilling are more satisfied with their lives.
TIP: No matter how much you love your job, take vacations: people who don't are more susceptible to heart attacks!
Step 5: Don't feel guilty Be a couch potato without guilt. A study of women who kept a daily mood diary found that watching TV at night was their daily relaxation peak.
Step 6: Sleep more Get more sleep. A major impediment to serenity is fatigue due to lack of sleep.
Step 7: Return to nature Go for a hike, take a walk on the beach, or garden—just get outside. Scientists believe that we're actually hard-wired to relax when we're in the presence of the natural world, including plants and animals.
Step 8: Go with the "flow" Go with the "flow," which is the state of intense well-being that occurs when we are so immersed in an activity that we lose all track of time—researchers say this is a key to contentment.
Step 9: Keep a gratitude journal Keep a gratitude journal. Studies show it helps us want what we already have — the true key to happiness.
FACT: The well-known "serenity prayer," attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, says, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."