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How To Be Happy: 12 Things You Should Do Today

How To Be Happy: 12 Things You Should Do Today

To some, happiness always stays by their side. What makes happiness magical is that it can be anything or nothing.

If you know it well, it is everything. If you misunderstand it, it is always out of reach, despite the 10-digit in your bank account.

We may think that richness means happiness, but it isn’t. We may think happiness is a constant emotional stage, but it isn’t. We may think happiness is a goal, but it isn’t.

Everyone has a different definition of happiness, but there is one thing that always holds true and is universal to “everyone’s happiness” – happiness never rejects us.

Most of us aren’t happy because what we believe about happiness is false.

We live in such a fast-paced world where nothing ever seems to be good enough, fast enough, affordable enough, or attractive enough. Money, jobs, people, flashy things, new tech items, and success take the reigns for what most of us look to at some point to find happiness.

If you think back to the times you were the happiest because of no ulterior motives or external factors, you’d likely see that what truly brought joy to your heart was something much different than what it’s now made out to be in the world. Happiness exists all the time within us, it’s just taking the proper steps to actually find it again.

While we stress that happiness lies right inside of us, external factors do play a part. For example, personal satisfaction goes up with income and fame. It is easily imaginable.

But it is not an incremental game. The return of personal satisfaction is diminishing as we achieve certain level of income and fame. The happiness level will eventually flat out and no longer goes up. Having 100 million or 110 million means no difference to us at that point.

    To make things worse, we will soon be used to the satisfaction gained from money and fame. They just can’t feed our appetite.

      Therefore, after all, the strongest predictor of happiness is not money, or any external recognition through success or fame. It’s having meaningful social relationships and spiritual contentment.

      Happiness makes NO discrimination.

      Remember what has just been said? Happiness is not consistent. We have to boost it from time to time. In fact, happiness does not discriminate any one of us. We all can reach happiness irrespective of who we are and what we do.

      A study conducted in 1978 investigated whether the background of a person does anything with the number of good days. There are three distinct groups of people to be studied, lottery winners, typical douchebags and those with injuries rendering them paraplegic or quadriplegic. Supposedly, lottery winners ought to have the most good days. Yet, interestingly, all groups recorded similar number of good days versus bad days.

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      So, it’s all about prioritising happiness with the tiny things we can do daily. There’s nothing to do with how much we have and what we have lost.

      Happiness comes from the smallest things you do daily.

      1. Get outside more.

      What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor rather than the probability to face a sudden drizzle? It’s sunlight!

      What sunlight does to us is that it gives us Vitamin D. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and is naturally found in the sun’s rays, therefore, natural sunlight is one of the most powerful tools we have that we can use to feel better quickly. It’s been proven that those with depression or constant sadness have low Vitamin D levels in their body.

      Since we work indoors all day and are not exposed to Vitamin D like people once were ages ago, we need to make a point to get some outside time each day. If you have the option to work outside, definitely take advantage of that.

      If not, try to go outside at least 15 minutes each day. You may also look into taking a Vitamin D supplement to increase your levels naturally. Look for Vitamin D3 when possible which is easier for the body to absorb than Vitamin D2.

      2. Find new experience.

      Novelty is important in our daily life to freshen ourselves. It reminds us of the fact we are not living in an infinite loop – Working. Weekend. Working. Weekend.

      A new experience brings excitement to us, making our life less dull and tedious. It can be anything.

      We may join a new club in weekends. New activities will do the work. We can also be brave to meet some new people. It can be anyone. Colleagues from another department. Friend of a friend.

      We may also explore new hobbies. Simply look for anything that we have never attempted and do it! Even if it doesn’t fit us, it’s fine. We can stop and turn to another one.

      Remember, our life is like a bowl of salad. Freshness is really important.

      3. Exercise for 7 minutes every day. (Yes 7 minutes only!)

      Daily exercise is best for stimulating brain power and engaging neurotransmitters in the brain that help produce more serotonin and natural endorphins, but even a few times a week will make a difference. In other words, it clears our minds and keeps us motivated.

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      This one step naturally helps you feel happier even if things in your life aren’t going as well as you’d like them to be.

      Even walking outside can be counted towards your goal, but more vigorous exercise is even better.

      While we all know it is difficult to spare time out of our tightly-stuffed schedule, try to squeeze 7 minutes out of it at the very least. For example, we may take an alternative route to walk back home.

      Or, if we are taking public transport, why not get off one stop sooner? There’s always a way to do it.

      4. Smile wherever whenever.

      Ever heard of a deutsche smile? It means a genuine smile so bright that our eyebrows are subconsciously raised. A true great smile definitely melts people’s heart.

      And what keeps us from making a creepy smile? Practice! Yes, smiling needs practice.

      Try to smile more. It can be done anytime. On our way to home. When a colleague greets us. Or even when we are looking at ourselves in the mirror. We can practice smiling anywhere anytime. Don’t be shy. We can do it!

      5. Sleep enough.

      Sometimes everything is done right but we just feel wrong. Say, we finally finish the long project and there are only days away from our long-awaited vacations. But we just do not feel as hyped as expected. What went wrong?

      While we are working so hard on the project, we may have overlooked the importance of the average 5 hour of sleep every day. And this is what makes the difference. Sleeping is not only involved in our physical well-being. It contributes to our mental health too.

      In fact, a good night’s sleep can help in raising creativity and attention. We may want to cut our sleep one hour short to get things done. But it may turn out that it takes double the time for our drowsy brain to do the work!

      I know vacation is short and we always want more time awake to have fun. But we still need to balance the time on bed and the time outside. So, snooze your alarm and bury our head into the pillow!

      6. Eat right.

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      Make it a goal to add more fresh foods into your meals, and skip the fast food and junk foods with sugar. Sugar and processed foods, (along with fast foods high in harmful fats), force the body to work harder and also increase insulin levels that can lead to diabetes and imbalanced neurological function.

      On top of your new healthy meals that you’re eating, add some probiotic-rich foods to your menu. Probiotics help repopulate the good with beneficial bacteria that the body uses to produce more feel-good hormones and keep you healthy. The brain and gut are directly connected, and it’s been shown that those who have a healthy gut feel less stressed and also suffer less anxiety and depression. Try to eat more plain yogurt, kefir and even kimchi.

      Start to avoid alcohol. Alcohol decreases mood-boosting hormones in the body as it leaves the system and also hurts the liver (as you most likely already know), which can interfere with the body’s natural detoxifying abilities. Start making it a goal to only have one drink per week or a small glass of red wine with dinner. If you can’t handle stopping at that point, it might be time to seek help.

      7. Buy less.

      Materialistic way of living is really tough. We always have something to chase after. And after we get it, something new has shown up in the market. It’s true that we can get satisfaction from having the luxurious items. But it’s even more important not to be led by them. There are simply too many things to catch. So many that we shouldn’t even consider catching them.

      There is one important lesson to learn in life and it can change our life.

      Live with what we have. Look at what we’ve got but not what we haven’t. What we have in hand is permanent. Things out of hand are just mirage.

      8. De-clutter your life.

      This can mean many things to individuals, and it’s often a hard thing for us to think about and do, but it’s critical. You might have a so-called friend who puts you down all the time, a family member that hurts you, a boyfriend or girlfriend that doesn’t treat you right, or maybe even a boss that takes advantage of you. Or, maybe none of those apply, and your diet or bad habits are just hurting you in more ways than one.

      Think about things in your life that cause you pain and distress, even if those things may seem okay and manageable some days. Whatever does not serve your future or road to happiness, learn to let it go.

      Write this down if you need to and take actions to learn to let go of these things. This might mean telling a person who treats you poorly that you need to move on, it might mean changing jobs, and it might just mean re-hauling your diet or stopping the late nights out drinking.

      Whatever it is, start to let go of what does not serve. This is one of the most important things you’ll do when learning how to be happy for life. It’s also a valuable tool you can use for the rest of your life that will help you stay accountable of your life and not engage in things that hurt you rather than help you.

      9. Connect with a friend every day or week.

      Sometimes, we just need to talk to someone who isn’t at the office or that’s not our parents. If you’re not usually one to be social (my fellow introverts will understand this completely!), then make it an attempt to meet with someone this week to chat. It’s nice to just have a conversation with someone you trust and care about even if you don’t talk about anything heavy-hearted.

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      Go for coffee, out to eat, or whatever else you enjoy. Or, ask a friend to join you for one of the workouts you’re now doing! When you finally manage to connect with a friend, you can immediately see changes have been made.

      10. Have quality time with family.

      Be very careful about quality time against quantity time. This makes a HUGE difference. Merely staying at your house with your family while doing things on your own is hardly quality time. Even if you spend an entire week doing it, it simply doesn’t help.

      Try having deep conversation instead. Not about anecdotes. But something that is hidden in your heart which is rarely talked about. Family members are the closest ties we have and letting them know more about you is important.

      You can relieve your stress and feel loved with the affection they express. You can also build self-esteem through the unlimited support they give us. It is just far more worth than finishing the whole season of TV series on Netflix.

      11. Record what you think.

      One thing that can help us live a happier life is that we are constantly aware of our thoughts and emotions. We have to understand ourselves more before we can take a step forward to make changes. Using paper and pen is one way to record our daily thoughts. It can be anything that triggers us. Realising what we have in mind can keep track of our emotional state and understand if we are having the prime of our time or on the downhill.

      If you aren’t a fan of writing. Gadgets can also do the work. There’s an APP called Moodtrack Diary: Social Mood Tracker & Mood Tracking Journal that reminds you that you can be happy all the time and to appreciate your life more.

      12. Build your resilience.

      Resilience is important for dealing with hard issues, and it can help make happiness come more easily over the long-term. Maybe this means listening to an inspirational podcast on your way to work or some music while you make dinner. Or, maybe it’s to stop in a bookstore you enjoy during your lunch break, or spend Saturday morning making yourself something special for breakfast. Take actionable steps to really focus on enjoying your day-to-day life more as you continue making changes.

      We all have our defeated times. What’s important is that we need to embrace the failure and learn from it. Keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to fail at something. Don’t treat failure as a defeat. More precisely, it is a procedure for us to grow.

      Resilient people are always able to find a silver lining or two in the darkest days. Things may look extremely rough at first sight but there is always something hidden within that is worth celebrating. Instead of focusing so hard on the wound, try looking at the areas that are healthy and intact.

      Start with the small changes, and happiness will become handy.

      Life is an ongoing process of trail-and-error. If you don’t even encounter any error part, you have never really lived your life.

      There will surely be down times throughout your life, but by learning how to deal with those times, you’re getting closer to happiness. It’s all about how you live your journey that keeps you happy.

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      Last Updated on June 12, 2018

      Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

      Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

      A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

      You know how this looks:

      • Parents constantly comparing children.
      • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
      • Domestic violence.
      • Adultery…
      • And many others.

      For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

      Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

      Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

      This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

      In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

      If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

      How to fix a dysfunctional family

      In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

      And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

      Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

      It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

      Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

      Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

      There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

      Dysfunctional… Or just average?

      Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

      The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

      You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

      A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

      Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

      Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

      • Unrealistic expectations
      • Lack of interest and time spent together
      • Sexism
      • Utilitarianism
      • Lack of empathy
      • Unequal or unfair treatment
      • Disrespect towards boundaries
      • Control Issues
      • Jealousy
      • Verbal and physical abuse
      • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

      The link to productivity

      You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

      If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

      Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

      How to turn it around

      When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

      But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

      One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

      We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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      As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

      What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

      Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

      Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

      Correction is possible

      In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

      Verbalize it.

      All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

      Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

      This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

      But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

      So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

      Putting it to work in real life

      In real life it would be something like this:

      “OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

      Or:

      “Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

      Or:

      “Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

      As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

      This is what you have to remember:

      1-Stop.

      2-Why it’s wrong?

      3-What you need.

      And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

      It’s a family thing

      A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

      Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

      In other words, you will need cooperation…

      So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

      Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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      We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

      You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

      It’s not a free-for-all battle

      In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

      No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

      Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

      And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

      The method

      1. Drop the ego

      Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

      You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

      Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

      What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

      It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

      After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

      Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

      Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

      Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

      And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

      You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

      2. Not blame, but responsibility

      When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

      But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

      When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

      What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

      Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

      As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

      You will do something like this:

      “Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

      I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

      You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

      I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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      It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

      What happened here?

      We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

      We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

      We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

      And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

      You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

      This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

      3. Doing the work

      What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

      This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

      Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

      If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

      It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

      “When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

      I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

      But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

      You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

      Love is all you need

      You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

      That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

      And what happens if it simply is not there?

      What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

      What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

      There is only one thing you can do:

      To break away.

      Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

      There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

      “We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

      If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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      Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

      You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

      Putting distance

      So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

      What do I mean?

      Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

      Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

      Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

      Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

      They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

      Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

      I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

      I choose my peace of mind.

      And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

      Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

      Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

      How to prevent it

      There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

      • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
      • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

      Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

      You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

      Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

      Priorities and clear thought

      You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

      You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

      You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

      Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

      If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

      And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

      Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

      But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

      Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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