The 7 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Your Happiness Right NowNone By Jessica Cassity
Need an instant mood makeover? Research shows it can take just seconds to go from feeling glum to feeling good, if you pick the right approach. Here are seven of the simplest, most effective ways to fast-track your happiness.
Hug Someone You Care About
A shoulder rub or a pat on the hand will stimulate your touch receptors, automatically releasing the feel-good brain chemical oxytocin and at the same time decreasing the stress hormones in your body. Hugging will give you these physical benefits plus the added emotional support that comes from connecting with someone you care about. For best results, try sharing a squeeze for around six seconds, the amount of time some research suggests is necessary to really harness the power of a hug.
Look for the Nearest Walking Trail
Your home or office may feel like a breeding ground for dark thoughts. But you can actually walk your way to a happy place, say Canadian researchers. In a recent study, people were asked to think about a painful experience before heading out on an hour-long walk. By the time they returned their spirits had lifted. The idea is that nature is so distracting (and in many cases, beautiful and peaceful) that once you step out in it, it's actually pretty hard to hold onto negative thoughts. So, while you may start off in a bad mood, you'll forget about it as soon as you see a beautiful flower, or hear a bird chirping, or smell the cooking coming from your neighbor's kitchen. The best part about trying this on your own: You'll get the same boost in mood whether you head out for a hike in the woods or a walk around your neighborhood.
Dress to Impress
Casual wear may equal comfort, but it's also the dress-code of the depressed, say British scientists. To feel good fast, reach for the opposite type of apparel. According to one poll, a majority of women reach for a favorite dress on days they're feeling happy, so for an instant perk-up, put on a special occasion outfit. A quick glance in the mirror will help your mood improve.
Smiling—even if it's a “fake” smile—can help improve your mood. That's because our brains are hardwired to associate the activation of the face's “smile muscles” with actual happiness. When you turn up the corners of your mouth your brain physiology will change and you'll automatically feel bette