These research-backed mood boosters come straight from your friends in white lab coats. They know what works!
Why is this our first tip? Because it’s the number-one secret experts give for getting happier, fast. Some studies say it’s just as good as antidepressants! Even a single workout (cardio, strength training, yoga—take your pick) can give you a boost, relieving stress and releasing feel-good endorphins. For motivation, call your gym bag your “happy bag.”
It will prevent grumpiness and help you perform. No, a single cup of coffee (or tea or soda) does not count.
“So many people think, If I do more, then I’ll be happier,” says celebrity life coach Sherri Ziff Lester. “There’s too much doing. We need to do more nothing—just take time to be.”
Focus on Making Memories
Researchers found that 57 percent of people reported they were happier when they spent money on an experience (like a vacation or a class), while only 34 percent reported being happier after buying stuff
Remember that big room? With the blue roof and the fresh air? Sometimes the floor is green? Just five minutes walking in the great outdoors has beneficial effects. Notice we said “walking,” not “walking and texting.
Face Your Challenges
New concept: Actually doing the things on your to-do list. That work thing, that guy thing—whatever it is, get it over with. Studies show that the more you put things off, the more anxious you’ll feel about them.
“Being assertive enhances self-confidence and shuts down feelings of helplessness,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., the author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. Plus, there’s that little perk of actually getting what you want!
Say Something Nice
Tell that woman on the train how much you love her dress. Look, she’s happy! Now you’re happy! It’s a mini joy explosion caused by her good taste and your nice compliment.
Set a Smarter Bedtime
Get at least seven hours of sleep. You’ll recharge your body and mind to get you ready for the next happy day.
Savor Your Snapshots
Those photos of your friends on the refrigerator door and the inspirational quotes taped to your computer? You put those there to make you happy, so you shouldn’t need a scientist to tell you to look at them!
The Happy Diet
“Food has a huge impact on your mood,” says L.A. dietitian Ashley Koff, R.D.
Eating every three to four hours (no skipping!) keeps your body satisfied and your blood sugar stable.
Less White Stuff…
Sugar and white flour can lead to an energy and mood crash. Every meal should have whole-grain carbs, protein and a little healthy fat.
But No Deprivation!
“When you feel like certain foods are completely off-limits, it’s like one awful, unending diet,” says Koff.
Variety, and Lots of It
Say no to the same salad for lunch every day. Our bodies don’t want us mono-eating!
The Happy Body
Feel fantastic from your head to your happy little toes!
The Happy Face
“There have been probably a hundred studies that have shown that if you simply put a smile on your face, even when you’re sad, you can actually produce a happy feeling,” says James Laird, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The Happy Back
Good posture actually elevates your spirits, says Laird. Instead of slumping, roll your shoulders back and down, stand up straight and pick your chin up; positive feelings will follow.
The Happy Foot
“If your feet are sore, you’re going to be grumpy,” says Keith Wapner, M.D., president of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. He prescribes a good foot rub at the end of the day (research shows it boosts mood all on its own) and stretching out the back of your ankles, which can get overly tight from switching between heels and flats.
Happy Beauty Tips
A recent survey found 41 percent of women feel happy when they feel pretty—that includes us! We asked beauty experts what works for them.
Citrus in particular is known to boost happiness.
One Happy Playlist
You know it, and research confirms: Listening to music can improve your mood.
3 Random jokes to brighten your workday.
Talk Yourself Happy
Stop with the self-hate already, says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., who teaches clients “happy scripts.” Flip your negative thinking.
When You Hate Your Job…
Instead of: “Maybe they’ll fire me and put me out of my misery.” Say this: “This job doesn’t reflect who I am, but I can still kick butt and get ready for something better.”
When He Hasn’t Called…
Instead of: “Obviously there’s something wrong with me.” Say this: “He’s not interested—so what? Time for the next possibility.”
When You Run Into Your friend With a Perfect Life…
Instead of: “I’ll never get it together like her.” Say this: “Jealousy is data; what’s my envy telling me about my goals?”
When You Haven’t Been to the Gym in Weeks…
Instead of: “I might as well order another half dozen cupcakes.” Say this: “Oh, well! I needed that. But I can make a healthy choice right now.”
Good for heartbreak, boredom and everything in between.
Hug It Out
“It’s critical to have some kind of physical affection in your life,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness. “It doesn’t have to be a hug. It’s about the power of touch.”
Do not. Roll. Your eyes. Write down the things you’re grateful for. Yes, it’s hokey. But it works—by forcing you to focus on the good things in your life.
Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. ~Ruth Ann Schabacker