Somehow it sounded so easy back in the 1980s when Bobby McFerrin encouraged us all to Don't worry, be happy. But with economic stresses, job challenges and personal difficulties, being happy isn't always easy. Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to change that.
Marci Shimoff, author of Happy For No Reason — 7 Steps to Being Happy From the Inside Out says we all have a natural happiness set-point, and if it's not as high as we'd like it to be, we can change it.
How's your happy meter running?
Take the Happy For No Reason quiz at happyfornoreason.com to find out your own Happy For No Reason score.
Raise your happiness level these five ways (from Marci Shimoff):
1. Question your thoughts: We have about 60,000 thoughts a day; for the average person, 80 percent of those are negative. Just because you think something doesn't mean it's true. Happy people question their thoughts.
2. Focus on gratitude: Keep a journal. Write five things a day that you're grateful for. It can be as simple as I'm grateful I ate lunch, I'm grateful I can walk. Being grateful shifts your focus from what you don't have to what you do.
3. Exercise: Exercise changes the physiology of your body. Even doing just 10 to 20 minutes of exercise gets your circulation going and your happiness juices flowing.
4. Meditate: In just two weeks of practicing meditation for 15 to 20 minutes a day, you can change your happiness level. It doesn't matter what form of meditation: Just close your eyes, go inward, be silent. Focus on your breathing. When your thoughts stray (which they will), bring your focus back to your breathing. People who are happy have a practice of going inward.
5. Surround yourself with support. We catch the emotions of the people around us just like a cold. We become the average of the five people we're around the most. We worry about who our kids hang out with because of the influence. We should also think about who we hang out with.
Marci Shimoff says the key to being happy for no reason is realizing that happiness comes from within; it doesn't come from a job or another person