6 Ways to Get a Little Happier...ASAP

By Lynne Freeman, REDBOOK

Happiness. Eat Something Spicy

You might feel uplifted after sprinkling red pepper flakes on top of your pasta or biting into a hot pepper. Capsaicin (the stuff that adds that flavorful kick) triggers pain receptors in your mouth, say researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and that signals your brain to release endorphins, which give you a light, happy feeling.

Make the Bed Tomorrow

Tucking those sheets into hospital corners may seem trivial, but "it allows you to start the day with a feeling of accomplishment," says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and the upcoming Happier at Home. Experts agree with her that bed-making, counter-wiping, and other basic acts of orderliness have a positive effect on your mental state.

Related: Feel a Little Happier Every Day

Spread a Little Sunshine

Nope, you don't have to write a nightly list of everything you're grateful for--though that is a proven pick-me-up. The mere act of thanking a friend for treating you to dinner or telling your husband he looks nice is enough to get you smiling, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Go Ahead, Order That Latte

Women who drink two or more cups of coffee each day are about 15 percent less likely to develop depression in their lifetime, according to a recent Harvard University study. (Four cups reduced the risk by 20 percent.) Some experts believe the benefit could come from coffee's antioxidants, while others attribute the feel-good effect to caffeine. We say it's the yumminess.

Related: Hugh Jackman: Secret Barista

Stay Focused

Daydreaming isn't as la-di-da as it sounds: The more you let your mind wander, the more you open yourself up to negative thoughts. "When people stop focusing, they sometimes start to think about things they're worried about," says Harvard University researcher Matthew Killingsworth. To keep your mind grounded, experts have suggested eliminating distractions while at work (Facebook, anyone?) and reading a good book or chatting up other riders during your commute.

Go to Sleep Earlier Tonight

People who log seven hours of sleep or more a night tend to be happier, according to a study out of the University of Michigan. "Six hours or less of sleep is not enough for most people and has adverse physiological, mental, and emotional effects," says Norbert Schwarz, the study's lead author and a psychology professor. So how much of a difference can more shut-eye make? Researchers have found that sleeping that one extra hour every night can make people just as happy as banking an extra $60,000 a year.


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