Every day has something positive in it.  Some days you just have to look a little harder.  Here are seven things you can do to bring positivity and happiness into your life.

Write in a gratitude journal every day.  Make sure to be specific!  A number of studies have found gratitude to be linked with positive emotions, and overall well-being and life satisfaction.  For tips on how to make a gratitude list that really works, read this post.  

Listen to music that sounds the way you want to feel.  Research has shown that music activates the region of the brain that releases the feel good chemical dopamine and also relaxes the body.  So “happy” music can in fact make you feel happier!

Share positivity by sending one thank-you email or doing one kind act every day. There are several studies that show that acts of kindness can boost happiness, reduce depression and even help you live longer.

Challenge your negative thinking.  Ask yourself, “Is there another more positive way I could view this?”  Hundreds of studies have shown that being able to think optimistically is good for your health and well-being. 

But, it’s not just about adopting a Polyanna attitude—optimists are better problem solvers and better at accepting bad situations.  Read this post to learn how to rid yourself of negative thinking patterns.

Smile.  It might sound simplistic, but research has shown that it actually helps you feel happier.  Feedback sent to the brain from facial muscles can actually impact the development of emotions and the effect is even stronger if you combine the smile with a positive thought.  So smile at the next cute kid you see!

Follow your passion.  Do something you feel excited about.  Volunteer for a cause you believe in or sign up for a class to learn something new.  Several studies have shown that people who feel a sense of meaning in their life are healthier, live longer and have greater life satisfaction.

Meditate. Even just 7-minutes of meditation a day has been shown to improve mood, decrease stress and improve sleep.  Regular meditators are calmer, have greater self-awareness and have better focus too. 

If you’re wondering how to fit meditation in to your already busy schedule, start with an informal mindfulness practice.

You don’t have to let bad news and negativity ruin your day.  You have a choice about where you focus your attention and how you choose to respond to any situation.  Try incorporating these tips into your life and I’m confident you’ll see how the positives outweigh the negatives.

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© 2015, Erin Olivo, PhD

About the Author

Erin Olivo, Ph.D.

Erin Olivo, Ph.D., is an assistant clinical professor of medical psychology at Columbia University.

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