9 Instant Ways to Feel Happier

You could get Botox for those frown lines...or try these surprisingly simple moves that will keep a perma-smile on your face.

Find 15 More Shortcuts to Happiness Here


1. Grin, even if you don't feel like it. This is one time it's okay to fake it. Just force yourself to smile when you need a lift. Research at Clark University found that students who were induced to smile actually felt happier. "Even just going through the motions can trigger feelings of joy," says David G. Myers, PhD, author of The Pursuit of Happiness.
Related: Feel-Good Tricks for Blah Days

2. Go out on a school night. The blahs tend to multiply when you're holed up by yourself. A few hours of pure play and friend therapy - even if you do have a morning meeting - will get you into a sunnier state of mind.
Related: Cheap and Easy Ways to Get Happy

3. Shorten your "I wish I'd…" list. Look, you can't rewrite history, and harping on the past only makes the present seem bleak, so don't dwell on what you could've or should've done differently ("I could've asked him for his number," "I should've bought that damn sweater on sale"). Banish regret by refusing to second-guess yourself.
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4. Own your screw-ups. Say your car gets towed or you snap a heel while running to get to work on time. Instead of cursing the evil forces that are conspiring to mess with you, claim some responsibility: You should have read the street sign or left the house earlier. "Feeling out of control - like the world is doing these things to you - is stressful and saps happiness," says researcher John Reich, PhD, professor of psychology at Arizona State University. "Acknowledge that you played a part and you'll feel more in charge. That's the healthiest way to deal with life's pitfalls."
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5. Get engaged. Sorry, we're not talking about the kind that comes with a diamond ring. We mean those times when you're so totally absorbed in what you're doing that you forget about watching the clock. Whether you're thumbing through your latest issue of Cosmo or even fine-tuning a work project, you're completely in the moment and experiencing what's called flow, says Myers. "When you become so unself-consciously immersed in an activity, you boost your sense of competence and well-being."
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6. Always have something to look forward to. Make dinner reservations three weeks in advance. Buy a pair of concert tickets for next month. When you pre-plan a fabulous future, you sweeten your outlook on life.
Related: How to Stay Positive at Work

7. Perform a bad-mood intervention on yourself. One nasty moment can spiral into a full-on freak-out because of your body's involuntary response to the stress. Your computer crashes or you have a fight with your sister, so your heart beats faster and your muscles tense up. But even after the moment has passed, your body keeps sending those bad-mood signals, so your brain can't shake the rotten feeling. To short-circuit ongoing crankiness, distract your body by putting your palms over your eyes to block out light and letting out a few deep sighs. These two moves send instant chill signals to your brain.
Related: Mental Tricks That Make You Feel Happier

8. RSVP "no" to invites that feel like obligations, like a coworker's baby shower or a third cousin's bar mitzvah.
Related: Nice Ways to Say "No"

9. Paint a wall, rearrange your furniture, or take the curtains off of your windows to let in more light. "Exotic colors, a powerful piece of artwork, more sun…any of these positive changes in your personal scenery will elevate your mood because they arouse your senses," says Walt Lockley, author of The Psychology of Residential Space.

What makes you happiest? Do you have any daily mood-boosting rituals?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.