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I didn't realize until years after I moved back to the States, but the German outlook suits my personal view of life much better than the American one. I admire their unapologetic skill in taking the bad with the good. That means that negativity is not only normal, but totally healthy from their perspective!

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A tragedy survivor's 9 keys to happiness

I've survived a lot: a tragic house fire, multiple severe car accidents, abuse as a child, multiple suicide attempts, my biological mother abandoned me, etc. I have a learning disability and other mental illnesses, as well as a very rare, incurable bone disease.

Given all I've been through, you'd think I'd be miserable. Quite the opposite, however. My keys to happiness are simple…

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From therapy I learned how powerful positive self-talk and mantras can be, but only if they are a constant part of your self-care routine. I already kept a journal to help let go of my haphazard thoughts, so I decided to add a few sentences each day to document the positive parts of my day. Ultimately, finding the positive in every day wasn't as easy as I had anticipated, but I pushed through and gained both a powerful new perspective on my life and some solid coping mechanisms that I could put into place…