Finding true love and happiness in a world that’s more crowded and fast paced than ever can feel like a supreme challenge. One key to finding these sometimes elusive states of being is to take a deep breath and slow down. Place your attention on the people with whom you feel strong connections and develop connections with individuals you admire and respect. Give the people in your life your time, patience, encouragement and affection. You’ll be happier for it and more than likely find love along the way.

Step 1

Focus your thoughts on the present moment, and make a decision to be happy now, not in the future, after you have attained some goal. “Nothing will ever happen in the future. It will happen in the Now…. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind,” says Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now.”

Step 2

Make a list of people and things for which you are grateful, or keep a gratitude journal. Children see the world with new eyes, finding joy in snowflakes and mud puddles. Tap into your sense of gratitude by finding pleasure and happiness in the small things you encounter every day, such as the smile of a coworker, a good cup of coffee or an unexpected compliment.

Step 3

Spread joy and love to the people in your life. Surprise someone with a gift, tell a friend how much she means to you or invite your best friends over for dinner. “Patience, love and understanding are the missions in our relationships. As we give love we receive love back,” says Eric Alsterberg, author of “Life Is an Adventure: A Guide to the Path of Joy.”

Step 4

Realize you’re not lacking anything if you’re single. Although contemporary culture often reinforces the idea that single people are second-class citizens, happy singles abound. Moreover, if you go out into the world with a “woe is me” attitude, you’ll more than likely drive away potential romantic partners.

Step 5

Accept yourself for who you are, including your flaws. Everyone has fears, doubts and insecurities; some people are just better at hiding them than others. Embrace your talents, skills and strengths and use them to make the world a better place. Turn off the voice in your head that tells you you’re unworthy of love and happiness and replace it with a sense of purpose and compassion–for yourself and others.

Step 6

Avoid negative and overly critical people, who will sap your energy and sabotage your dreams. “Negative ‘No People’ have the uncanny ability to extinguish hope in others and smother creative sparks before they catch fire,” say Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirshner, authors of “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand.” Create relationships with individuals who encourage you to be the best person you can be.