Sometimes it can feel hard to keep up a happy state of mind. The emotion, like all the others, isn’t always permanent. But there are ways to keep it up or boost it when you need it ― and luckily, they’re simpler than you think.
1. Log some time with your furry friends.
Play fetch with Fido or sneak in a few cuddles with your kitten. Interacting with your pets can release oxytocin in the brain ― you know, the “warm and fuzzy” hormone ― resulting in that joyous feeling.
2. Count your blessings.
There’s nothing like a little thankfulness to boost your mood. Research shows expressing gratitude can make you happier. Try writing down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each night.
3. Remind yourself how great you are.
PSA: You are awesome — you just gotta believe it for yourself. Studies show self-acceptance is crucial to a happier life, but it’s a habit we barely practice.
4. Call your mom.
Pick up that phone. Research suggests hearing your mom’s voice can help reduce stress. And less stress means a happier you.
5. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
The list of meditation benefits seems endless, but perhaps one of the more positive perks is what the practice can do for your mood. Research shows that allowing yourself a few moments of zen-like escape each day may make you happier.
6. Listen to music.
Admit it: There’s nothing quite like a solo jam session, and apparently science agrees. Research shows that trying to boost your mood while listening to music actually can help lift you to a more positive state. Press play ASAP.
7. While you’re at it, listen to sad music.
No, really. Studies also suggest listening to sad music can help boost positive feelings. (We just see this as another excuse to listen to Adele on repeat.)
8. Give back.
We didn’t get to where we are without a little help, so why not extend that same generosity to someone else? Not only will your kindness influence others, studies show it’ll also make you happier, too.
9. Hang out with someone who is happy.
Joy really is contagious. Research shows the more you surround yourself with positive people, the happier you’ll feel. Time to go catch up with your BFF?
10. Watch a funny video.
Find something that tickles you, watch and let the giggles ensue. Laughter can reduce stress, after all.
11. Plan a vacation.
The anticipation for a trip is almost as good as the trip itself. Prepping for a vacation has been shown to increase our happiness levels, the New York Times reported. The warm sun or exciting slopes are just an added bonus.
12. Whip up a good meal.
Feeling blue? Tap into your inner chef and hit the kitchen. Researchers say people who employ creative process in small ways ― like coming up with a new pasta recipe for dinner ― feel happier overall.
13. Get in a good workout.
Consider this our love letter to exercise. Not only is it good for your body, but it’s equally as beneficial to your brain. When you work up a sweat, you release endorphins, immediately upping your happiness levels. Go ahead, get moving.
14. Spend money on experiences.
A fulfilling life doesn’t lie in our possessions, it’s found in the experiences we have and the people we share them with. If you’re going to spend a little moolah, spend it on a trip, a concert or any other experience that will bring you joy. Science says you’ll be happier in the long run.
15. Challenge yourself.
Work for that promotion or take on that marathon. It’s a lovely treat for your mind, according to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. “Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness,” Rubin wrote in Real Simple. “The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction.”
16. Fake a smile.
We get it — smiling may be the last thing you want to do when you’re in a sour mood, but it could help to turn that frown upside-down. Research shows faking a smile can help elevate our mood, even if we’re not genuinely into it right away. Talk about the power of suggestion.
17. Go outside.
Take advantage of your backyard or stroll a park you’ve never been to before and thank yourself later. One study found that going for a brief walk in nature can help improve your mood and alleviate stress.
18. Make some new friends.
Research shows making friends increases our happiness and well-being. Join a club, talk to your coworker or strike up a conversation in the grocery line — you never know what kinds of new connections you can make.
19. Drink a glass of milk.
Dairy contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps create serotonin, the “happy” chemical in the brain. Milk: It not only does the body good, it does the brain good too.
20. Take a cozy bath (like Barry the dog).
If that isn’t the look of happiness, we don’t know what is. Plus, research suggests that warm baths make us feel warm on the inside, too.
21. Get enough sleep.
More sleep = A happier you. Too little shuteye slows down our cognitive processes and increases the risk of depression. Try hitting the pillow 30 minutes earlier each night or taking a nap in the middle of the day.
22. Embrace the aging process.
Most people wish they could avoid aging, but studies show that we’re happier as we get older. Experts theorize this could be because the older we get, the more we reflect on positive experiences. Sounds like a great reason to love those birthdays.
23. Have a good cry.
It sounds counterintuitive, but it may actually work. Research has found that crying can lead to positive increase in mood following the flow of tears. Those in the study reported feeling better than they did before they had a reason to cry.
24. Follow the “golden ratio.”
This theory, developed by positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, holds that for every one negative experience you have, you should have three positive ones in order to achieve happiness. Makes sense to us!
25. Show your appreciation for someone else over email.
Technology isn’t all bad. Take a break from your overflowing inbox and switch gears to a different kind of email. “We fight so hard against the negative and we forget to tell people how powerful a two-minute positive e-mail could be,” Harvard-trained researcher and Before Happiness author Shawn Achor told Oprah in 2014.
26. Give someone else a compliment.
27. Find the perfect temperature.
The weather outside has a direct influence on how we feel on the inside. One study found that happiness is maximized at an approximate 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
28. Keep a one-sentence journal.
Sometimes the most mundane moments turn out to be the loveliest source of happiness. Research shows recording these everyday events may make us happier later on because we appreciate them a lot more when they’re revisited. In other words, if you ate a scrumptious chocolate brownie on Wednesday, write it down.
30. Stop to smell the flowers, literally.