As far as we know, we'll only live once. Some use the knowledge as an excuse, others as a rationalization, and for a few it's even a license to live on the edge, but many people simply want to embrace life: live long, be healthy, and enjoy what they can as best they can.

If that's your attitude, here's a list of eight simple changes that can help you achieve a happier, healthier life.

1. Slow down your food

Because modern life is highly paced, many people convince themselves that a quick bite at a fast food outlet is no big deal. Unfortunately, healthy, sustainable, and economically sound fast food restaurants simply don't exist.

Fast food items are crammed with carbs and fats, and lack nutritional value (yes even the salads!) — either due to being frozen or undergoing transport (food loses vital nutrients as time passes). In the event it's been transported, you're also eating food that has an enormous carbon footprint, and has been harvested, manufactured, and served to you by individuals living on or below the poverty line.

Resisting this temptation will encourage health and wellness for you and in your community.

2. Let yourself feel bad

Life isn't always easy or fun, or filled with laughter, and that's okay. If you have a tendency to feel sad or dumpy, don't just try to feel “better”; try changing the way you think about those emotions. Applying additional qualifications to an emotion, saying sad is bad, happy is good, doesn't make matters any better.

In fact, thinking that way puts you on a slippery slope. Instead, embrace all emotions, accept that each comes and goes in turn, and allow yourself to experience everything fully — even the bad.

3. Explore natural healing and prevention

Health doesn't have to be dictated by your annual checkup. A holistic approach to health, one that includes traditional western medicine but is open to an array of alternative experiences and options, will keep you healthy longer, and will put you in better touch with your own body.

Try acupuncture (it doesn't hurt at all!), reflexology (yes, massage!), and take herbal supplements. These are all good ways to start investigating methods of staying healthy and healing that have been around for centuries.

4. Accept your age

Oh, how getting old can make us miserable. People over the age of 30 are especially guilty: we talk about aging ad nauseam.

Imagine if we weren't youth obsessed; imagine if grey hair was a badge of honor, instead of another imperfection to hide with dyes and creams. The truth is, only those who aren't youthful have the ability to empower themselves and their aging comrades. Think of your age differently, and you might just grow to love it.

5. Turn off your screens

If you want to be healthier and happier, turn off your digital devices! Not all the time; obviously, they're essential tools. Instead, consider the following list, and if you regularly use a device with a screen when doing two or more of these activities, it's time to cut back.

— driving (under no circumstances are driving and texting, talking, using Facebook, tweeting, etc., conducive to a long and happy life)

— eating a meal

— visiting with elderly family members (imagine how disrespectful and rude this seems to them)

— hiking, biking, or engaging in other outdoor activities

— watching a movie, play, opera, etc. (really, one mode of entertainment isn't enough for you?)

— waiting in line anywhere, being checked out anywhere (regardless of what you think, its horribly rude)

— playing with your baby

— actively communicating with another human being (unless you're showing them something, or using the screen together)

6. Go outside

Scientists say we're experiencing a unique form of disconnect: everyone cares about “nature” as though it were this external thing, totally separate from ourselves as humans. As silly as it may seem, going outside and doing activities that don't involve electronics or other modern conveniences improves people's well-being, and bridges the gap between man and nature.

7. Simply smell the roses

You've probably already heard that Facebook is making you lonely, but did you know it's also making you self-centered, a naval gazer, and it's ruining your most valuable possession: your memory?

The next time you see a beautiful feast or a vibrant rainbow, sit on a sandy beach or accomplish an impressive athletic feat … try keeping it to yourself. Once upon a time, we didn't share every little experience while we were having it. Instead, those truly special experiences stood out and we recalled and shared them with our most valued friends later.

This act of recollecting and sharing is essential to bonding, which is an important part of being a happy human. Try simply smelling the roses without tweeting about them; you might find they begin smell better.

8. Relax

Just because the world tells you to be constantly on the go, consuming and creating, producing and destroying, doesn't mean you shouldn't find the time to stop and relax. Get a massage, take a bath, or try a natural muscle relaxant and let yourself rejuvenate. This indulgence is one of the most effective ways of living healthier and being happier.

Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn't writing, she is outside on her bike and comtemplating her eventual trip to graduate school.

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Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn't writing, she is outside on her bike and comtemplating her eventual trip to graduate school.

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