Research in positive psychology and the psychology of happiness suggest a number of cognitions and behaviors that can increase a person’s sense of happiness. Here are some simple things to do to make yourself feel happier. These suggestions are culled from research and compiled by happiness researcher, Sonja Lyubormirsky.

1. Practice random acts of kindness. Simple acts such as complimenting someone, opening a door, or helping to carry groceries can make you feel better. Try to perform 5 acts of kindness each day.

2. Write a gratitude letter. Think of someone in your life who did something important for you. Write them a letter expressing gratitude. It will make you, and them, happier.

3. Volunteer. Working for meals on wheels, becoming a mentor, or helping out at a hospital can make you feel useful and happy, and can also make you realize how good you have it.

4. Count your blessings. Research where students kept a journal recording times when they felt thankful increased their happiness. Write down things that you are thankful for.

5. Imagine a positive future. Feelings of optimism and hope increase feelings of happiness. Spend time thinking about your ideal future, including your work life, social life, and positive things you will experience, such as vacation travel.

Happiness is a state of mind, and something that can be cultivated. Spending just a few minutes a day in these activities can significantly increase your happiness and sense of well-being.

Source: Lyubomirsky, S. & Layous, K. (2013). How do simple positive activities increase well-being? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 57-62.

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