Whether you wake up on the right side of the bed every morning, or you’re known as the “Debbie Downer” in your group of friends, feeling constant happiness and contentment can sometimes seem like the impossible task. This is especially true when things just aren’t going your way — for instance like spilling something on your favorite shirt, getting a flat tire, or having your babysitter cancel at the last minute. It’s easy to find yourself in a foul mood when these types of unexpected incidences occur. But trying to keep a positive attitude will not only make you more enjoyable to be around, it can also help your health. One study found that people who reported feelings of optimism and high self-esteem were less likely to get sick than those who reported negative emotions.
If you need some help turning your frown upside down, we tracked down our favorite happiness and wellness experts, authors, and bloggers to learn how they stay focused on the positive, no matter what happens throughout the day. Find one of their tips that speaks you and try it today!
1. Create a happiness training routine.
Following a plan can help you prioritize a cheerful outlook on a daily basis. “Just like some people need to put extra effort into their workouts and meal plans in order not to gain weight, I need to put extra effort into my mental health,” says Kelsea Brennan, life and relationship coach. “It means there are certain exercises that I do every day to stay ‘happily fit.’ I will either make list of what I am grateful for or think a loving thought about myself or someone else. When I can get these thoughts on paper, even better. Writing strengthens thinking.”
“Happiness is within me, in the center of my being. I am happy now and always.”
2. Connect with someone.
Share time with a buddy to get a mood boost, whether it’s connecting via phone, email, or even better, an in-person get together. “Even on my busiest days I will always find time to cook dinner, make a phone call, have lunch and do whatever possible with someone I cherish,” says Nitika Chopra, talk show host and founder of YourBellaLife.com. “The presence of my loved ones around me is non-negotiable to my happiness.”
3. Practice BOP in the morning.
Starting your day off with habits that bring your awareness to happiness and gratitude can help you change the tone of the rest of your day. “Right now I’m focusing on a Brain Optimizing Process, or BOP,” says Heidi Hanna, PhD, author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress. “Before I think about anything in the morning, I go to the gym and work out to get the blood flowing and endorphins pumping. While I’m moving my body, I focus on the things I’m grateful for in my life and think deeply about them — almost meditate on them. Lastly, I think about what I want my focus to be for the day. Not necessarily the things I need to get done, but the type of person I want to be, like a good listener, someone who’s fully engaged and present, or a person who seeks opportunities to be kind to other people.”
4. Be of service to others.
Remember how you felt the last time you selflessly helped someone? They were probably extremely grateful and made you feel that your effort was appreciated. “There’s no better feeling than giving a gift for a special occasion, but we can choose to extend that service-minded attitude in all aspects of our lives by giving freely of ourselves as much as we can,” says Eric Paskel, certified yoga instructor, founder of Yoga Shelter. “Ways I practice this are by letting someone get in front of me in line at the store, giving up a parking space to another, or letting go of ‘my plans’ to help someone through a tough time. No smile has lasted longer than the one that comes from helping another.”
5. Say affirmations out loud.
Repeating a positive mantra out loud or in your head can remind you of specific happiness goals or help keep you levelheaded when the going gets tough. “Tell yourself, ‘Happiness is not dependent on outer situations, circumstances, or people,” says Dr. Susan Shumsky, author of Instant Healing and 9 other best-selling, award-winning books. “Happiness is within me, in the center of my being. I am happy now and always.’ If you’re feeling overwhelmed, say in a clear voice, “I am in control. I am the only authority in my life.”
6. Practice deep breathing.
No matter what kind of foul state you’re in, connecting with your breath is one of the easiest ways to come back to the present moment and feel better — fast. “When it comes to feeling calm, the best tool I have yet to come across is breathing,” says Jon Rhodes, clinical hypnotherapist in the United Kingdom. “Whether you feel stressed or anxious, breathing always becomes quick, shallow and erratic. To reverse stress or anxious feelings … concentrate on breathing slowly, deeply and evenly. After just a few seconds you can calm down, no matter how stressed you were.”
7. Find time for a furry friend.
Pets are more than just a cute and cuddly source of joy — their companionship is good for your health. So why not take at least a few minutes each day to walk, play with, talk to or appreciate your companion in some way? “When my two adorable mutt pups jump up on my bed in the morning, we snuggle and take deep breaths together while they lick me and I pet them for about 10 minutes,” says Natalie Berthold, health and lifestyle coach. How could I ever wake up in a bad mood when this is how I start every morning?”
8. Eat lunch without distractions.
If you’re like many Americans, you’re probably wolfing down lunch at your desk or in transit on the way to an appointment. But mindless, speed-eating habits can often lead to overeating because you’re not clued in to your body’s signals that it’s full. “I eat a proper lunch every day. I turn off all distractions, put my food on an actual plate, and sit somewhere away from my computer,” says Amanda Cook, certified holistic health coach. “Those 15 to 20 minutes bring me back into the present moment, make me enjoy my food much more, and I eat less!”
“She turned her cant’s into cans and her dreams into plans.”
9. Set a positive password.
You’re spending a big chunk of your week logging in and out of websites and email, so why not make this an opportunity to remember an affirmative thought or message? “Make your password a suggestion to be positive,” Ray White, author of Connecting Happiness and Success (slated to hit shelves on in June). “One of my recent passwords was ‘Help2bhappy’ which reminds me to help someone be happy. I have to change it every 60 days, so I find other happiness expressions to use.”
10. Reflect on the day’s achievements.
While you may feel like the entire day got away from you and you didn’t check anything off your to-do list, you’re probably underestimating your progress. “I end every day with a free digital service called iDoneThis.com, where I take a few minutes to remember and record what I got done that day,” says Ari Meisel, productivity and wellness expert at LessDoing.com. “Doing this helps me mentally process the events of the day so I maintain better self-awareness and improve the next day.” You might be surprised by how much you actually accomplished that you forgot about!
11. Conquer stress with laughter.
When you hit your highest stress time of the day — perhaps it’s after getting the kids off to school or when you have an important project due to your boss by noon — squeeze in a few minutes to watch a video that’ll make you giggle. “During stressful times, I’m rescued by animated videos,” says Mansi Goel, yoga practitioner and happiness writer at WorkoutTrends.com. “I’m a big fan of Pixar animation and a few absolutely hilarious characters like King Julien from the Madagascar movies, and the Minions from the Despicable Me movies, are my favorites. I keep a few videos stored in my cell phone, and whenever I feel beaten down by work, I steal a few minutes to watch a random video and pick myself back up.”
12. Keep inspirational quotes on hand.
When you see a quote that speaks to you, take a minute and jot it down in a place where you’ll remember — like a journal, a notepad app or text pad in your cell phone, or start a Pinterest board of sayings and images that make you feel good. “I keep a journal of my favorite quotes that I flip through each day,” says Natasha Stoneking, founder of Hello! Happiness Blog. “I started this ritual in college and it’s something I still enjoy doing, as it helps get my mind motivated to take on that day and enables me to focus on the positive. Right now I’m loving, ‘She turned her cant’s into cans and her dreams into plans.’”
13. Change up your vocabulary.
Make a decision to omit certain phrases and words from your everyday language that aren’t serving you well or helping you reach your goals. “My clients find it helpful to make small changes to language,” says Adina T. Laver, MBA, M.Ed., CPC, divorce and relationship coach. “Eliminating phrases like ‘have to,’ ‘need to’ and ‘should’ and replacing them with ‘want to’ is huge. Also, taking statements like ‘I don’t know how’ or ‘I can’t do that,’ and adding a ‘yet’ to the end is beneficial. Just that three-letter word changes the statement from being defeating to affirming. ‘Yet’ is filled with possibility.”
14. Practice positive visualization.
Spend some time thinking about the big things you want to achieve in life and bring to mind exactly what that can look like for you. “Visualize meeting the man or woman of your dreams, a successful relationship, and all the other goals and dreams that you have,” says Dr. Robert S. Berberian, D.O., founder of Whole Health & Soul. “Visualize them and dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamed before.”
“Having this daily practice helps us stay in touch with being grateful for what we have.”
15. Make your work space a joyful place.
Surround your most stressful environments — like your office space or car if you spend a lot of time in traffic commuting — with knickknacks and images that make you smile. “To keep myself happy throughout the day, I fill my office desk with a collection of little, colorful trinkets and characters,” Danny Groner, manager of blogger partnerships and outreach for Shutterstock. “There’s a small pink pig with an ice cream cone in its mouth that was a holiday gift from a coworker this year. My personal favorite from my collection is a little blue troll with wild hair that I got at a company event last year. These little gems are reminders during the day not to get too overwhelmed by work and to make sure to infuse it with a sense of excitement and color.”
16. Give yourself private time in the morning.
Find yourself at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule in the a.m.? Try waking up before the rest of your clan. “I stretch, lift some light weights, get a nice big cup of coffee and check the news, social media, and email on my phone — all while watching CNN curled up under a blanket,” says Dayna Steele, CEO of YourDailySuccessTip.com, author of 101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities For Success Every Day. “It’s just the dogs and me — nice and peaceful before the day takes over.”
17. Start a gratitude jar.
Having a visual reminder of appreciation is a good tool for helping you remember to say “thank you” for what you have each day. “My husband and I have a jar we keep on our kitchen island, and next to it, we keep slips of blue and pink construction paper,” says Keryl Pesce, author of Happy Bitch, happiness expert, founder of Happy-Bitch.com. “Every day, he and I write down something for which we are grateful, date it and
put it in the jar. Having this daily practice helps us stay in touch with being grateful for what we have. On New Year’s Day this year, we sat over a glass of wine and read
through all of the slips from the past year. There were lots of smiles and a few grateful tears. As a bonus, we keep green slips in there and ask our guests to write down
something as well. Everyone can do this.”
Which happiness tactics bring you the most joy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.