1. Be comfortable in your own skin.

The first step to becoming happy is to feel comfortable in your own skin. Everyone was born with a flaw. No one is perfect. Accept yourself with what you’re born with whether it be your background, your skin, your nose, your eyes, your hair, your freckles, your breast, or the size of your private part. You have to accept yourself for who you are and love yourself.

It is the number one happiness killer. Because if you are not comfortable in your own skin, this becomes your biggest concern that stays on the top of your mind everyday — it kills your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and the happiness that comes from within. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of all and if you can’t make peace with it, it will keep bothering your mind.

If you find it hard because other people discriminate or make judgments about you, distance yourself from people who are shallow and narrow-minded. You are better than that. Prove to them and to yourself that you are capable and talented in so many other ways. Surround yourself with people who value the same things as you and leave the people with bad attitudes behind.

2. Appreciate what you have and never compare yourself with others.

You will never be truly happy if you keep looking outside and wish you have what you don’t. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side but that does not mean it’s actually greener. If you keep wishing, hoping, expecting for something else and don’t feel happy with what you already have, you will always feel miserable and feel like something is missing in your life.

Worse if you keep comparing yourself to others, wishing your life was like theirs; your face and body were like theirs; your family was like theirs; your partner was like theirs, you will feel the jealousy burning within you. While comparing yourself to others in a healthy dose as to set yourself a benchmark of success or accomplishment can be motivating, doing so with jealousy burning within is not.

If you can live simply and appreciate what you have, acknowledge that everyone is different, and stop comparing yourself to others, you will experience joy and happiness in everyday life.

3. See the positive in every situation.

You will always run into unfortunate situations in life that are outside of your control. You can choose to feel sad, annoyed, angry, or stressed about the situation or turn it around and focus on the positive. You can choose to be stuck in a bad situation or let go, move on, and start anew.

Learn from a failure or a bad experience and never repeat the same mistake. Every setback and bad situation in life teaches you something. Growth doesn’t happen in comfort. Take it as an opportunity to train your mind to be stronger, more resilient, and more equipped to be able to deal with things life throws at you.

4. Let go of your need to control.

Control makes you feel secure. But at the same time, with control you also lose freedom. Confusing isn’t it? When you try to control your life, situations, and sometimes others, you do so because you want to feel more secure.

However, when you feel more secure because you take control of it, you lose control of yourself and very likely of those you try to control. This is because you become dependent on the feeling of having control. And it can drive you crazy because things don’t always go as planned. Trying to control things will not only drive other people away which will make you panic even more when that happens, but it also hinders you from achieving happiness from within.

5. Drop the resentment within.

Most of the time you hold onto anger because you believe it would make the person you’re mad at upset and realize that they have done something wrong. But the fact is that you are actually hanging yourself up on something that’s burning you within. When you’re mad at someone, the pain is onto yourself more than it is onto the person you’re mad at. When you hate someone, the fire is within your own mind.

No matter what one does to you — hurt you, look down on you, underestimate you, backstab you, abuse you, or cheat on you — when you hold the hatred, you hold the hurt. Only when you learn to let go, you let your soul free from the pain. No matter what it is that caused them to do certain things to you, the best thing you can do is to let go.

It will be hard to do if you’ve never done it before. But slowly, one day at a time, be patient, let it go, forgive those who’ve done you wrong, you will feel that each day you get stronger and more powerful.

If you’re struggling to let go, start with meditation. Even meditation is hard because you need to control yourself not to think about anything while meditating — but that’s the key! Being able to control one’s thoughts and focus, and keep one’s mind at peace strengthens the mind’s muscles — this is the secret power of meditation.

The fire is only within you. The person you hate doesn’t feel your hatred. Let it go. Let it go.

6. Live in the moment.

I believe that one of the reasons little kids and happy couples on dates are happy is because they live in the moment. They focus on what is happening in front of them and pay attention to the person they are with. When you live in the moment and do your best, you just feel happy. Why wouldn’t you? You don’t worry about the future, neither do you feel sad about the past.

Take every waking hour as it comes and do what you are supposed to do and complete what you’re supposed to complete. Stop overanalyzing or trying to predict and plan things too far. The only constant in life is change. Just live in the moment and do your best.

7. Avoid overanalyzing.

This is what a lot of us do — overanalyzing things from relationships to career and finances. Overanalyzing is dwelling on the thought about something, thinking about it over and over, trying to dig deeper and deeper, because somehow you believe it could end up giving you a way out. When in doubt, overanalyzing somehow gives us comfort. Most of the time, we never actually get an answer but a set of worries.

In order to avoid overanalyzing, we need to be more outspoken with people whom we have doubts about, take things as they come, and listen closely to our intuition.

8. Stop worrying about the future.

Many of us worry. We worry about our future — about our career, health, living, finances, and about the people we love. We worry because we are scared. However, worrying doesn’t make anything better unless we stop worrying and start taking actions towards our goals. If you’re worried about your health when you get older, then you should start eating healthy and exercising regularly. If you’re worried about your finances, then you should start saving up for the rainy days. If you’re worried about your kids, then encourage them to take actions to help you ease your worries.

Remember that worrying about your loved ones doesn’t actually make them better. It only affects your health and your blood pressure. Your loved ones will need to take actions themselves. All you can do is to encourage them and help them move towards the right direction.

9. Drop your ego and be true.

We have our ego as our security guard that protects our self-esteem from being attacked. However, sometimes we become a victim of our own ego. This is when the ego takes control and we become too arrogant and act above ourselves. We distort the reality about us. We live in an illusion. Sometimes we do so because we believe it will take us somewhere. Sometimes we do it because it makes us feel good about ourselves.

Whatever it maybe, letting your ego become your front shield actually hurts you more on the inside because you can’t be your true self. You just live with lies. In the end, you just can’t take it anymore because you are just faking it and are attracting people who are also faking it. Over and over, you will become tired of it and feel like no one really understands you. This is when you will realize that you will never be truly happy unless you stay true to yourself and others.

10. Have an open mind.

Having a narrow mind can hurt you more than you think because naturally we as humans don’t like being disapproved of. We don’t like feeling like we’re wrong because it makes us feel rejected and unaccepted.

So if you don’t have an open mind which means you stand firmly on your beliefs and ideas and oppose others who think otherwise, you will feel extremely agitated and uncomfortable when people with different beliefs and ideas are presented in front of you.

On the other hand, if you have an open mind, you wouldn’t mind hearing about the different beliefs. In fact, you would embrace the difference, want to understand it better, and become adaptable and flexible in your approach. You wouldn’t have to fight with yourself in accepting others. You’d feel at ease with differences and feel positive about change.

Southbourne Positive Living Group (SPLG) meets on the last Wednesday of the month (excluding holidays).

Join a group of like- minded people and rediscover the purpose and meaning of your life.

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Security and Risk Online on 'Tis the season to be HACKED: Experts reveal how to stay safe online for last minute Christmas shopping

'Tis the season to be jolly — but it's also the season for identity theft, phishing and credit card fraud.

With Christmas just days away, people are using their smartphones and other devices to get a handle on their last-minute shopping.

Hackers are on the hunt as well, looking to steal personal information from easy targets.

'People just need to have their radar up, so that when they're trying to get their perfect gift to grandma's house in time for Christmas day, they're not clicking on things they shouldn't,' says Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Experts say the first thing you should do is make sure your phone's operating system and all the apps you use to shop are up to date.

That way you'll have the fixes for any recently discovered security problems.

You should also enable multi-factor authentication in the settings on your important accounts.

This is a security measure that requires you to enter a temporary code in addition to your password when signing in; services often text this code to your phone.

It complicates life for hackers should they somehow manage to get your password.

Improvements in credit card fraud detection have pushed hackers to focus on stealing legitimate login credentials, so adding an extra layer of protection to these accounts is a must, says John Dickson with the cybersecurity firm Denim Group.

And while some cybersecurity experts question the value of changing your password frequently, Dickson says it's not a bad idea this time of year.

'If you had a New Year's resolution to change your passwords, move that up by about four weeks, because this is fraudster season,' Dickson says.

SANTA (AND HACKERS) ARE WATCHING

Nobody likes to dip into their mobile-data plan, but you might want to set aside a few gigabytes for your holiday shopping.

Signing on to free Wi-Fi at a store or coffee shop can be risky.

Hackers could be lurking on the networks, ready to use that connection to steal credit-card numbers or other personal information. If you're using free Wi-Fi, at least wait till you get home to check your bank account balances, Kaiser says.

FEAST OF THE PHISHES

Phishing spikes during the holiday season.

Emails that offer great deals on holiday gifts or donation pitches from charities could actually be attempts to steal your credit card or login information.

Another popular trick: Fake emails supposedly sent by online retailers or shipping companies.

Don't click on links in these emails, as they may lead you to a fake website that looks legitimate.

CHECKING IT TWICE (OR MORE)

Shoppers need to keep a close eye on their accounts. The easiest way to do this is to use the same credit card for all of your holiday shopping. Avoid debit cards — running up a credit card balance is one thing and can be challenged; draining your life's savings is another.

Use different passwords for your various shopping accounts. That way if one is compromised, it's less likely that the others will fall to hackers as well.

NAUGHTY OR NICE?

Websites that advertise hot deals on popular or hard-to-find gifts are probably scams. So are those touting free or deeply discounted gift cards. Stick with e-commerce sites you know are real. Don't click on web ads.

And if something advertised on a website or social media looks too good to be true, it probably is, says Brian Reed, chief marketing officer for ZeroFox, a cybersecurity firm that focuses on social media.

Instead of getting a great deal on a North Face jacket or a free iPhone, shoppers are getting their money and personal information stolen.

Also avoid apps that promise to generate gift card codes for various retailers, Reed says. The apps can harm your device. And, if you manage to use a code, you're committing fraud.

GIVING THE GIFT OF IOT

Internet-connected gadgets — whether they be a 'smart' thermostat, baby monitor or a talking toy — will be under many trees this year.

But the lack of security built into many of these devices is becoming an issue.

Experts worry that they could be used to breach a home or business network and let hackers access another device that holds private information.

There's no way to tell from its box how secure any given gadget is, but an online search could fill you in on previously reported problems.

Default passwords should be changed right away, if possible.

Do some research to understand exactly what personal information the device is collecting and where it's being stored or sent.

Down the road, make sure your smart devices get their security updates.

That includes your wireless router. If it's an older model, you're probably going to need to get them from the manufacturer's website.

Newer models often send updates through apps.

And if your router is really old and not getting updates, you might want to add that to your gift list.

'If that's your gateway and it's not secure, then you're allowing people to get into all of the devices connected to it,' Kaiser says.

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