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10 Ways To “Trick” Ourselves Into Being Happier

“The measure of mental health is the disposition to find good everywhere”.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Human brain… With 100 billion nerve cells, the brain’s complexity is mind-bending. With all the knowledge we continue to gain, yes, human brain is still a puzzle to be solved.

However, we are now finding more and more proof that we have the capability to trick our neural system to cultivate positive states of mind.

1. Surround Yourself With Smiling People

When we see someone smiling, it’s safe to assume that person is happy. We associate smiling with happiness, and if we surround ourselves with happy people, we can become happier as well.

One heart study followed 4,700 people in Framingham, Mass., for the past 20 years. It’s amazing what different data it produced, including a study proving that – happiness is contagious.

The report also showed that knowing another happy person increases your own happiness by 15.3 percent. Friends of the same gender seem to come to the top of the list of potential happiness spreaders.

So the next time you need a happiness boost, find a friend in a good mood. Then work together to turn any Debbie Downer’s frown upside down!

2. Be a Smiling Person Yourself


If you are into nagging and nitpicking another person, and you tend to do that often – it really saps your positive energy, and negatively affects others, plus then you have to deal with his or her potentially negative resulting reactions…

Whenever you can, try to avoid being negative yourself. It can prove to be a serious mood lifter. Instead of constantly worrying about everything in life (especially when there are endless to-do lists) – which can trigger negative emotions that we easily transfer to the people we love, take steps to refocus your energy and thoughts to more uplifting and productive things.

To get things rolling, try taking a second look at the types of relationships you have in your personal and professional life, their dynamics and your goals for them.

Maybe there are areas where you could bring more ease and joy? Does the laundry/dishes/dusting really need to be done right now? Could you and your partner or friend squeeze in a few minutes together laughing, making food together or going for a walk?

Spending time with the people you care about is more precious than any chore. You will be happier, as well as people around you, but also you won’t waste so much energy trying to micromanage your own expectations – two factors that can certainly help lift one’s mood!

3. Enjoy a Tasty and Healthy Meal

Fresh foods are healthier and happier foods than processed foods. The foods that we eat actually produce the chemicals in our brain that create feelings of happiness.

The great and happy foods are complex carbohydrates – such as legumes and whole-grain breads – providing lasting energy and protecting us against chronic fatigue. Foods like fish, meat and beans are a great choice, since they are protein-packed and contain the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine and amino acids.

Simply eating right can help you trick yourself into being happy. Just make sure you keep your eating habits in perspective, and avoid imposing all kinds of diets upon yourself.

4. Have a Green Thumb


Tried gardening before? Plant some veggies, maybe even fruits, flowers, herbs… Gardening is a wonderful combination of exercise, sunshine and fresh air, productivity and can provide healthy food. All of these ingredients have been proven to increase optimism, zest, energy level and sense of self.

5. Try the 5 Percent Trick

Sometimes in life, happiness gets squashed under the powerful feeling of being overwhelmed. After all, there are all these tasks we face daily in our personal and professional lives. There seems to be less and less of leisure time. Less and less people seem to be able to devote time to their passions.

Things still need to be done; however, taking things one at a time helps you gain a happier outlook on everything that’s going on in your life.

Psychotherapist Dr. Nathaniel Branden suggests a simple solution for people who feel overwhelmed with life: the 5 percent rule. Saying something like “If I were 5 percent more responsible today, I would _________.” By filling in the blank, we can identify — and work on things we might not even know are bothering us in an incremental and take-a-small-step way.

As a result, we can better manage overwhelming situations, which in turn lend us a happier outlook.

6. Crank the Tunes


Play music – especially inspiring, memorable or upbeat tunes! Together with some other pleasing things such as food, intimacy, to name some of the activities, music can produce a positive response in our brain.

Also, just like being around smiling people can positively affect you, so can listening to music with others.

Music therapy is becoming a practice that experts are increasingly suggesting to help lift the blues, and for treating patients suffering from injury-related language impairments or dementia-related maladies.

7. Use Your Money to Do Something Nice for Someone Else

People feel good when they perform selfless, altruistic acts, like donating to charity or helping a stranger in need. Even if it sounds a bit cynical, MRI studies show that when we do an act of kindness for someone else, we’re actually getting something in return – pleasure. The brain’s reward center, the region that’s activated when something good happens to us, also comes to life when we do something nice for someone else.
So next time you want to feel happier – pay the toll for the person in the car behind you, pick up an extra sandwich for a homeless guy, or donate to your favorite charity.

8. Volunteer for a Favorite Cause


If just donating some cash isn’t enough to put a smile on your face, consider volunteering in person. You may even live longer because of it!

It’s all about spending meaningful time with other people. When you volunteer, you tend to share your particular passions and interests with people whom you can form a unique social bond with.

Plus, there’s the thrill of seeing the impact your contribution is making firsthand. It’s one thing to get a good feeling as soon as you; it’s another to have You receive the visual and emotional memories that come with doing good work in person, a much more rewarding feeling than simply dropping a check in the mailbox or clicking a button on the computer.

9. Work Out

Even a single workout can noticeably improve your mood!

A 2009 study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine found that the post-exercise “glow” can last as long as 12 hours, much longer than anyone thought before.

But instead of one workout happily affecting your one entire day, why not adopt a regular workout regimen that can have a lasting impact on your mood?

For example, a study conducted at Duke University followed two groups of depressed participants, one on a dedicated exercise regimen and another on a regimen of the antidepressant Zoloft. After four months of exercise or Zoloft, both groups’ regimens were discontinued and after an eight-month period, the researchers revisited the participants. They found that overall, the group that exercised was happier than the group that had taken the drug.

10. Get A Pet


Pets are a big commitment. Depending on the species, your pets will probably live a long time, so there’s a lot of responsibility and day-to-day care needed. But – if the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that pets inspire endless giggles, joy, and warm feelings in us with all the silly things they do, with their goofy personality quirks, and with how loving and loyal they tend to be.

Pets have been increasingly proven to promote happiness in a very tangible way. For example, there are more and more services around the United States that pair veterans with dogs that need a loving home. These animals provide the sort of unquestioning and nonjudgmental companionship that many veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) find hard to manage with human confidantes. And that sort of therapy can definitely boost happiness levels.


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