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Thomas Jefferson placed such a high premium on happiness that he included it — or at least the pursuit of it — as an “inalienable right” in the Declaration of Independence, right up there with life and liberty. Still, though we intuitively know how important it is to be happy, it isn’t something we are always adept at pursuing. Ask someone how to lose weight and they’ll likely have a dozen answers. Discuss getting in shape, and there are endless suggestions and programs. But when it comes to getting happier, it’s easy to be stumped. Maybe you’re just not the shiny, happy type.

While some people do seem to have a sunnier outlook, it turns out your level of happiness is something you can change. In this issue’s cover story, Alison Highberger explores ways to find greater satisfaction and contentment in our lives. Happiness doesn't usually just happen — there are proven tips and techniques that you can employ to help you feel happier in good times, and when things aren't so great.

Sometimes finding happiness means accepting some unexpected changes in our lives. In our Healthy Retirement special section, Tim Robinson investigates ways to cope when you're in the "sandwich" generation — taking care of aging parents and raising children at the same time. While the burdens are considerable, the rewards may also be great.

And Lisa Fairbanks-Rossi explores a thought-provoking new book, The War on Moms by Sharon Lerner, with local women who have struggled to balance a career and motherhood.

Whatever your burdens are in this new year, I hope you’ll take some time to be good to yourself. Thanks for reading.

To your health!

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