Would you like to experience more happiness?  Of course you would!  Who couldn't use more happiness in their life? 

Research has proven that happiness is a skill.  It has nothing to do with luck, chance or even your circumstances (as many people believe).  It's a skill.  Which means the more you practice, the better you'll get.  So, are you ready to add more happiness to your life?  I'm going to share 10 easy things you can start doing immediately that will do just that.  The best part is that they're all FREE.  Now I know that alone, should make you feel happier.

Be sure to get some form of exercise every day.  After puberty, your brain slows down on the amount of dopamine it produces.  Since dopamine is the chemical responsible for pleasure, biologically speaking, it becomes more difficult to feel happy the older you get.  Exercising, however releases large doses of dopamine, which increase your brain's ability to feel happiness.

Take time to smell the roses. I mean that literally. Rutgers University recently conducted a study and found that students who wrote term papers in a lightly floral scented room used three times as many happiness related words than those students who wrote their papers in an odorless room.

Do at least one thing differently each day.  Brain research has proven the old saying true.  Variety really is the spice of life.  Whether you try something completely new each day, or you do something you've done a thousand times, but you do it differently, changing things up , even slightly, increases your capacity for happiness.

Practice random acts of kindness.  When you do kind things for other people, it stimulate the part of your brain that experiences pleasure, so from the brain's perspective it's as if the kind act is actually happening to you.  Isn't that interesting?

Wear bright colors. Next time you're in a bad mood, consider a wardrobe change.  One study found that people who wore bright colored clothing scored significantly higher in the happiness category than individuals who wore gray or muted clothing.  Yellow, by the way, scored as the happiest color. 

Listen to happy music.  Music stimulates your brain's nucleus accumbens (the part of the brain that perceives reward).  As a result, when you listen to upbeat music your mood becomes instantly elevated because the brain believes it's getting rewarded.

Make time to play.  There's a reason why children are so happy.  They spend most of their time playing.  So, if you spend even a small part of your day doing something you truly enjoy, you'll feel happier too.

Nurture close intimate relationships.  You are wired to connect, so intimate relationships play a big role in the amount of happiness you experience.  It isn't necessarily the amount of friends you have, but the quality of the connection. Even if you only nurture one or two close relationships in your life, you'll be happier than someone with a boat load of menial friendships.

Laugh hard and laugh often.  It's hard not to feel happy when you're laughing isn't it?  In fact, it might just be impossible.  Laughter feels good and makes you happier because it releases endorphins into your body and oxygen into your blood stream.  It's the perfect stress reliever and it's just plain fun! 

Practice gratitude.  I've heard it said that "all happy people are grateful people and ungrateful people cannot be happy".  When you take time to focus on the things you're grateful for, you initiate a shift in the brain which causes it to magnify the things you are bringing to its attention.  The end result is that you feel fuller, more satisfied and just plain happier.

So, next time you're feeling kind of blue, or you're fed up with all the frustrating things in life that are out of your control, I hope you'll remember that happiness isn't something that has to elude you.  It isn't a matter of luck or chance, it's a skill that you need to practice.  You can be happy and you deserve to be happy!  But because it's an internal state, you need to choose it for yourself.  You can have as much happiness as you want.  Go for it!



    Christine Slobodin, LCSW is a psychotherapist who maintains a private practice in Somerville, NJ.  She helps people, just like you, reduce their stress and increase their capacity for love, happiness and satisfaction.  You can contact her by phone at   (908) 927-9333.


    July 2014