Michelle Obama's daily habit is all about happiness


It's not easy living life in the public eye.

With all the pressure that comes with leading a public life, from the Senate to the White House, Michelle Obama *must* know a thing or two about work-life balance.

And in finding that balance comes happiness.

In a recent interview with Refinery 29 for International Women's Day, Obama sat down to speak with a number of girls from around the world to talk about the importance of girls' education and empowerment.

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When asked by 20-year-old Pearl Quarmyne, from Ghana, about her "most effective daily habit," Obama responded in the sincerest way.

"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. And as women, this can be challenging because we’re not always taught to do it — we feel like it’s somehow selfish," she explained.

Over the years, Obama has learned that her own happiness is just as important -- and necessary -- for the well-being of her family.

"But 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. 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, she explained.

Obama added, "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."

Related: Iconic images of the former first couple

Female empowerment and mental well-being have long been a focus for the former first lady. For her, healthy eating and staying active contributes to her success.

"I also do some jump rope, some kickboxing -- and I'd like to take up Pilates, if I could figure out whether there's time. After I had Malia, I began to prioritize exercise because I realized that my happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself, even if that means I have to get up at 4:30 so I can do a workout," she said in a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey.