8 Habits of Happy, Self-Loving Women

Originally featured on HerAfter.com.

To see the full series of 11 Habits of Happy, Self-Loving Women, click here.

My name is Rachael. I'm a cancer survivor, speaker, and writer, and I'm incredibly fulfilled by all three roles. But I'm not going to pretend I'm always happy (a pressure cancer survivors can especially relate to), or even that I'm always in love with myself. But I am, luckily, always in love with life. Good or bad days, I always practice gratitude for having a life at all. This commitment was largely born from surviving cancer as a teen, and realizing what a miracle it was to have a second chance at life. But every day feels a little different, a little easier or more difficult than the day before, to appreciate and respect myself, and simply be happy.

Thankfully, there are a few habits I've picked up along the years that really help to not only transform a terrible day, but help you create a life of elevated joy regularly. These are the tidbits of wisdom I've learned from women before me, including my incredible mother who saved my life during and after cancer, and many other teachers, mentors, and friends I've had the privilege of knowing. We women are such wise, intuitive beings, and I hope you thrive with the help of these habits as much as I have.

8 Habits of Happy, Self-Loving Women

They know passion is everything

There are certain aspects of life that we just have to do, like laundry, flossing, scrubbing the bathroom floor. Then there are the things we have the opportunity to do, like express ourselves, communicate, create, envision. Women haven't always had these rights, and generations before us worked very hard to offer us these rights. Happy, self-loving women utilize these opportunities, and they do so with passion.

In the areas of personal choice, like career, beliefs, artistic creation, and even fashion, happy and self-loving women put in all the passion they have. They know that passion is an infinite well-spring, not an allotted amount that will someday run out. They know that passion breeds passion, in themselves and within others. They know passion is contagious, they share it and they seek it!

They ask "how do I feel about myself?" -- and they ask it often

We usually avoid this question because we're afraid the answer will not be a positive one. But answering "not good" is nothing to fear; it's the only way you can make a change. Realizing you don't feel good about yourself or your choices forces you to take responsibility, but that responsibility is the key to taking charge, to making better choices, to learning and to growing bigger, better and stronger. Do not fear facing yourself, fear a life unquestioned and a consciousness unawakened.

They make themselves a priority

Your boss, your kids, your partner, your friends; you'll always have a million people and reasons to push aside your own needs and wants. But happy, self-loving women know that they must make themselves a priority too. They make time for their passion projects a priority, time to care for themselves (like sleeping well, relaxing, working out). They set aside some of their own time for just themselves. Just like love, you have to give your time and energy to you first before you can offer any to other people. Otherwise, you just find yourself burnt out and unhappy.

They spend time alone

We talk a lot about spending time alone on HerAfter, especially time alone that includes pampering like manicures and bubble baths! Why? Because time alone is time to check in with your body, mind and heart. It's the time when the rest of the world and everyone else's wants and needs can quiet down, and you can hear the voice within you. It's also necessary because time spent with your own body keeps you connected, with ownership to your physical self. And a woman who owns, respects and appreciates her body is the sexiest woman there is!

They refuse to talk badly about themselves, out loud or in their own mind

Self-love has just about everything to do with respecting yourself. For some reason, many women have adopted a little-sister attitude about how we'll allow ourselves to be treated; we won't let other people say rude things to us, but we'll say endless mean or negative things to ourselves! It can't work that way. You must not only demand that other people speak to you with respect and compassion, but that you do so for and to yourself.

So refuse to talk badly about you. You wouldn't let your best friend say terrible things about herself, would you? Do the same for you! It's part of being your own advocate, and your own best friend.

They listen to their bodies

Just like we referenced in "spending time alone," happy and self-loving women listen to their bodies. They make caring for their bodies a priority, whether it's just a moment of gratitude and compassion in the morning shower, or a long yoga class once a week. They know that their bodies are always speaking to them by the way they feel physically, by the areas in which the body is holding tension, and even more literally by it's menstrual cycle, injuries, and more. The body is a very communicative thing. Happy, self-loving women know that a lot of knowledge and awareness comes from simply listening and trusting your body to tell you what's right for it!

This is especially true in the way we work out. If your gym's spinning class leaves you feeling so sore it hurts, and feeling terrible about yourself, listen! Your body doesn't need to be in pain to improve, neither does your mind. Listen to the types of work-outs or relaxing activities that help you reach your goals while being kind, loving, and supportive to yourself. You can read more about working out with self respect here.

They stay curious

Happy women are curious women. Self-loving women always remember that they are students of life. They stay open to new ideas, they never turn down an opportunity to learn or expand themselves. They know that mastery is over-rated, and possibly non-existent. Happy, self-loving women treat their minds like a beautiful piece of art, always in the process. It's not about getting to an end goal, it's about realizing the richness of life as much as possible. Stay curious, follow passion, ask questions, be hungry! You never know what's out there...

They forgive, they support, and they encourage themselves

Life will always have ups and downs, even for happy women. It will have obstacles, we'll all face struggles, and we'll all make bad decisions. But happy, self-loving women know that there is divine peace in the act of forgiveness. They know that forgiving themselves is the most healing, self-affirming gift they can offer themselves. They support themselves, in their dreams and aspirations. So instead of all the reasons why they can't, self-loving women keep in mind the reasons they can. They are their own cheerleader. Again, they are their own best friend! It doesn't mean you shouldn't rely on other people for encouragement, we all need a support system. But you can only be as good to others as you are to yourself. So love yourself fully, and you'll have endless love and joy to offer everyone else.

Rachael is a writer, blogger, cancer survivor and the author of HerAfter.com, a women's site about conscious and stylish living. After years as a fashion journalist, she now writes women's lifestyle articles about life, love, style, and thriving after surviving not just cancer, but all of life's big battles.

Catch up with her on Twitter ( @RachaelYahne ) and read more of her work on her website, and in her new ebook, Her Happier, Healthier After -- A Women's Guide to Building Happiness and Self-Esteem