Whether you’re in the middle of a bad day, or you’re just feeling bored at the office, wouldn’t it be nice if you could take a shot of happiness? According to science and psychology, you definitely can. There are certain small acts that we’re predisposed to enjoy—a “secret sauce” component that turns a standard moment into a lasting mood-booster.
Want to turn your attitude around in an instant? Here are seven quick ways to make it happen.
Say, cheese! Really. Smiling isn’t just the result of a positive mood, the facial expression itself can enhance your good vibes. Research has linked the simple act of smiling to feeling happier and less anxious, while also showing that a frown can cause someone to experience more pain during an uncomfortable procedure.
Buy an Experience
You know the old adage that money can’t buy happiness, right? Well, that might not be true. Researchers have found that buying an experience (like a trip to the Bahamas) makes people happier than buying a material good (like an iPhone). Researchers believe this is because you’re able to excitedly wait in anticipation for your experience purchase, it is more likely to be socially-based and connective, and you’re less likely to compare your experience purchase to others. Time to buy those concert tickets!
If you’re feeling glum and have a few minutes to spare during your workday, think fast, says Art Markman, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin and author of the new book Brain Briefs. “Call a friend and have a good conversation, do a puzzle you enjoy, or listen to fast upbeat music,” he explains. “Your brain has to follow along and that lifts your mood.”
Drink Green Tea
If you want happiness in a glass, reach for a cup of green tea. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s actually scientific. According to a study in the journal Appetite, researchers believe a flavonoid in green tea (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) has a mood-boosting effect. Those who sipped the drink saw an increase in self-rated calmness and a reduction in self-rated stress.
Accomplish a Goal
Just like acing a presentation at work or getting into a great grad program can lift your spirits, Markman says that happiness also accompanies the process of achieving small goals. “Find something you have been working on that is near completion and finish it,” he explains. “Crossing something off your to-do list gives you a shot of good feeling.”
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Just in case you needed another reason to munch on fruits and vegetables, you can add this one to the pile: It just might make you happier. According to a study of 80,000 UK residents, those who noshed on the most fruits and veggies were the least likely to deal with anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders,” and were more likely to feel “happy and satisfied with their lives.”
Expose Yourself to Positive Things
If you’ve only got five minutes and need a dose of happiness, make the most of your time by gravitating toward positive moments. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. It’s simple: “When you are down, think back to something great that happened to your recently,” Markman explains. “Happy memories make you happier.” Or if you can’t think of anything? “Kitten videos and puppy videos are a great pick-me-up,” he says. “We are wired to like babies, with their big eyes and heads and small bodies—so a minute or two of watching baby animals frolic is uplifting.”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.