Sometimes doing all the things that are supposed to lead to happiness can feel like a long list of chores—which pretty much defeats the point. Instead of adding more things to your pursuit of happiness list, why not try a different approach: knowing how to be happy in the moment you’re already in.
The expert-vetted tips on this list focus on how to boost happiness in all aspects of your life, whether it’s at work, while sitting at the dinner table, or even when you’re out and about. It’s more about enhancement than having something else to “do.” (Way better, right?)
Ready for a mood boost? Here’s how to find happiness…
According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and author of The Happiness Diet and Eat Complete, food is a big indicator of your brain health. In other words? The gut-mind connection is real. Certain colorful foods—think red beans and purple cauliflower—can actually boost brain cell functioning and therefore your general level of happiness. So when you’re eating your next meal, try to include oysters, walnuts, and other staples of the diet. You’ll literally be eating a happy meal.
Everyone has moments when work feels like a total drag—even if you’re lucky enough to have landed a job you love. If anyone knows a thing or two about being happy at your desk job it’s Sophie Keller, chief happiness officer (yes, that’s a thing) of Los Angeles’ Village Workspace. Her tip? Color code your work space and sip on infused water (think refreshing flavors like strawberry or mint) while you work. Both tricks have been found to be 9-5 mood lifters.
If you’re feeling a little down, your instinct is probably to skip out on social events and binge-watch Netflix at home instead. While everyone needs alone time every now and then, studies have found that being in a social community—and actually being an active participant in it—is an enormous happiness booster. (And no, commenting on your favorite fitness Instagrams doesn’t count as “participating.”) So go interact with others IRL.
You’ve probably felt that amazing rush of endorphins when you’re pushing yourself to the limit during a workout. But imagine having the same feeling even after your run. A study published in Translational Psychiatry found that combining mental and physical training reduces symptoms of major depressive disorder by 40 percent. The takeaway here? Meditate before you workout—or focus on a mantra while you do (SoulCycle-style), and you’ll reap more than just physical benefits.
Smell is super powerful when it comes to transforming your mood—and it happens instantly. Spas have been tapping into this for decades, but there’s a full-on aromatherapy craze happening now, as more people have learned about the happiness-boosting benefits. Stock up on a mood-boosting spray for an anytime, anywhere perk-up.
It turns out the key to landing that promotion is taking care of your health, like getting enough sleep and staying active. (Hey, maybe soon you’ll be able to expense that ClassPass subscription.) And killing it at work is a major happiness-booster. “Self-care positions you to be your most successful self,” says Caroline Ghosn, who is no stranger to career counseling—she’s the co-founder and CEO of Levo, a career building site and community. Ghosn’s other tips for getting ahead: making yourself visible in the workplace and oozing confidence (even if it’s fake).
Masturbation has physical, chemical, and emotional benefits. SuperSize Me star Alexandra Jamieson advocates the act of self pleasure because it truly floods you with happy hormones and makes you feel invincible. It can even give you a happy gut-microbiome—something you already know is extremely important. So don’t feel guilty for spending some quality time with you, yourself and, well, you.
How about choosing a workout based on your mood, a la Kate Hudson? Here’s how she does it. And though there aren’t studies to prove it, we think wearing chic leggings can make you feel a little happier.