1. Express Gratitude -- Lots of people have recently discovered this. The Psalms are full of praise to God, especially at the end of those that express in vivid terms how the pray-er is despondent and devoid of hope. At the end, he praises God nevertheless. Always find something to be grateful for.
2. Cultivate Optimism -- I think this is closely related to number 1. The biggest font of optimism that I have found is Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. " Hang tightly onto that verse and keep it close to your heart.
3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison -- How hard this is for me!! I grew up smack in the middle of a family quite found of both over-thinking and social comparison. The solution for this is holy simplicity. Our dear spiritual fathers St. Benedict and St. Francis were very in touch with the value of humility and simplicity--so much so that Francis literally gave everything he owned away--even the clothes on his back.
When tempted to over-think we need to rest in God and trust that He has things under control.
The Serenity Prayer is apt here as well:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I canand the wisdom to know the difference.
So many religions have as a central tenant, the idea of letting go. This goes a long way to inner peace.
4. Practice random acts of kindness -- This is another idea that is taking off like gangbusters, but can never be done enough. How easy it is these days to keep in our own heads and not even notice there are others about much less reach out to serve them.
Our faith tells us differently. If we are not thinking of others, we are not practicing our faith.
5. Nurture social relationships -- This is another difficult one for me. I think, also, that this is tied with the one previous. Reach out to serve others and you will nurture social relationships.
6. Develop coping strategies -- Many support groups recommend having a trusted friend you can call at any time. With the advent of new technology, it is possible to communicate instantly and silently with a trusted friend in the midst of many an emergency. Remember also, that you can always call on God. Journaling is another coping strategy as is saying the rosary.
7. Learn to forgive -- another central tenant of our faith, learning to forgive is hard. If we are aware of our own failings, forgiving others will come easier.
8. Increase "flow" experiences -- Marc defines "flow" as when you are one with a task. I think we can each identify a task that does that for us--playing an instrument or singing, reading, gardening, walking or playing a sport. Getting out of our own heads is important.
9. Savor life's joys -- This is very important and also a challenge. Life's joys, like life's sorrows, do not last. The joys need to savored in the moment. Living in the moment is another important aspect of many of the world's religions.
10. Commit to your goals -- Sometimes it is difficult to commit to our goals because we are afraid to fail. Do it anyway. Make God your partner and you will not fail, even when it seems as though you have.
11. Practice spirituality -- It has been shown that those who practice a religion are happier. I know I could not long survive without my faith. A faith that gives you Someone to love and to share your sorrows with, along with a purpose in life and an explanation for its sorrows, is one that will make you more well-balanced and happier.
12. Take care of your body -- Another challenge for so many reasons. My advice here would be to take this to prayer if you are having difficulty, either believing you deserve it, or in paying for it in this challenging economy.