5 Ways to Get Your Happy On

With the heavy skies of winter blanketing most of the Northeast this time of year, many of us are struggling to keep our sunny dispositions intact.

But intentional activities and practices can account for as much as 40% of the individual differences in happiness, whatever the weather may be.

Here are 5 quick ways to get your happy on, regardless of the weather.

Set a Sunny Outlook

Your inner world directs your outer experience.   Where the mind goes, the body follows and along with it the ability to quickly transform your mood.

Grey skies got you down?

Close your eyes and as vividly as possible imagine yourself in your favorite place in nature with the sun streaming down on your upturned face.

Picture a brilliant sun against a clear and cloudless blue sky, feel the heat on your skin and the light of the sun bright red behind your closed eyelids, hear all of nature alive with summer.

Relax into the warmth on your skin, smooth the muscles of your face, take a few deep breaths, smile and quietly notice, “when there is sun within, the sun is always out.”

Now open your eyes and notice how much brighter everything looks.

Move Your Body, Move Your Mind ~ Try Something New

Rather than going into hibernation this winter, give yourself a boost with the anticipatory thrill of the new.

If you’ve been promising yourself to try salsa dancing, indoor rock climbing, learn a new language, or join a book club, now is the perfect time of the year.

Although many of us try to beat the doldrums by pursuing passive activities such as surfing the net or checking out our Face Book page, research shows that after about 30 minutes they start sapping our energy.

Our brains love to be challenged.  And novelty often sparks a feeling of natural vitality simply by engaging in new activities.

Something to keep in mind … one man’s mountain is another man’s public podium.

The more thrilling and challenging the activity is to you – and the bigger the perceived risk – the more likely it is to light up the reward centers of the brain.  The riskier the behavior the more nature’s natural anti-depressant, dopamine, is produced in the brain.

Perhaps, for you,  a course in public speaking is every bit as adventurous and risky as skiing down a mountain.

Volunteer Your Time or Do Random Acts of Kindness

Research has proven the adage, “It is better to give than to receive.” 

It increases our general sense of well-being and may lead to a longer life, expressly when it is tied to altruism and service.

Never do we feel as good as when we are helping someone less fortunate than ourselves.  Keep in mind, it’s best to mix it up a bit.  Five small kindness spread out over the course of five days is more beneficial to your level of happiness than one big grand gesture.

On a more practical note, it may well help to control our tendency to imagine and then compare ourselves with others more fortunate than ourselves.  It often serves to remind us to be more realistic in our views about how fortunate most of us truly are when we are helping others less fortunate than ourselves.

Pay Attention to All You Have to Be Grateful For

Being mindful of what we have to be grateful for helps us minimize the brain’s natural tendency to create what I call “a not quite satisfied set-point” in our lives, where things never seem quite good enough.

This set-point often results in us taking too many things for granted. Things that immediately become more valuable to us in their loss than they once were when we had them . . .  a standard of living, a loved one, or our health.

So what if the sun isn’t shining today?

Instead of feeling grouchy, be grateful for the electricity to power a light, the loved one that forgets to turn it off, and the ability to get up and turn it off yourself.

If you’re afraid this might kill your ambition or drive, think again.  Research shows that happy, satisfied people are more productive and successful in all areas of their life.

By noticing what you have with a “good enough for now, moving toward better” attitude, you can balance the gratitude you already feel with the drive and desire to have or experience more.

Rather than using unhappiness as a way to motivate yourself to be happy in the future, notice that gratitude can increase your sense of success and happiness right here in the now.  By recognizing how much you already have it’s much easier to notice how much more you can create.

Watch Your Spending Habits

It’s not so much that we spend money, it’s what we spend it on that counts.

Buy yourself a different kind of ‘retail therapy’ this winter.  Rather than shop for the latest gadget or new pair of shoes, go to the movies, take a short vacation, or host a party.

Research shows that people get more satisfaction purchasing experiences over things.  So if you have to, go ahead and buy yourself that new outfit, just remember to make memories while you’re wearing it.








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