Leadership

Here’s how Michelle Obama’s No. 1 daily habit can make you happier

Former first lady Michelle Obama understands the challenge that comes with finding the right work-life balance. Rather than feel inundated with calendar requests, Obama recently said the secret to being happier and healthier is allowing herself to enjoy "me time."

"My number one daily habit is to give myself permission to be happy. It's physical and mental; it's my diet, physical activity, and emotional state. That's all tied together," Obama said in a recent Refinery29 interview.

Michelle Obama dances with students during the first-ever White House Talent Show at the White House in Washington, DC in 2014.
Jim Watson | Getty Images
Michelle Obama dances with students during the first-ever White House Talent Show at the White House in Washington, DC in 2014.

Obama admitted that taking time to check in with herself isn't easy: "As women, this can be challenging because we're not always taught to do it," she said. "We feel like it's somehow selfish."

Instead of feeling guilty, Obama has come to understand the bright side of focusing on herself first. "I've learned that when I actually put myself on the priority list along with everyone else in my life, it actually benefits them, too," she said.

During last year's inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, Obama said that being "ruthlessly efficient" and "fiercely organized" were key to getting anything done.

"I have to plan my happiness. That's the thing, we think happiness just happens and it can, but you've got to work in some happiness too," she said at the Summit.

Obama told Refinery29 that giving herself permission to be happy is beneficial to everyone around her as well.

"When I'm happier and healthier, my family is happier and healthier, and it affects how I interact with my friends and the people I work with," Obama said.

"So I've freed myself to say, yes, I can make choices that make me happy, and that will ripple out and be good for the people I love as well," she added.

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