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Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW

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How to Be Happier Every Day: 6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mood

Posted: 01/17/2013 8:00 am

It may be a new year, but is it really a new you? Let's face it -- it's unlikely that you've suddenly acquired a new wardrobe, started a new career, found a new family, or overhauled your personality.

Do not despair. You don't need a life makeover to experience more happiness. By putting a few simple habits in place, you will increase your happiness every day.

And don't worry, these habits are simple and easy shortcuts to inner peace -- no daily kale drinks or hours at the gym required.

Say a Morning Affirmation -- The first thought in your head should not be "ugh" or "Is it Friday yet?" Try an upbeat intention instead, such as, "This day is going to be wonderful," "I'm lucky to be alive today," "I have gifts to share today," or "I'm going to have a terrific experience." Keep Post-Its with positive affirmations next to your bed or on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to fill your head with positive thoughts.

Say "I Love You" Every Day -- Before you leave the house, say "I love you" to a loved one in person, by text, or on email. Say it to your spouse, to your children, or to your pets. Look in the mirror and say it out loud to yourself. Open your heart to love and watch your mood improve. We are designed to connect with other beings and when we do, we feel better.

Smile -- Whenever anyone asks you, "How are you?" bring to mind at least one way that life is grand. Say "I'm terrific" and notice how people around you respond. When you say this with zesty energy and a smile, you send a message to your brain that you're happy.

Wish Others Well as You Commute -- When you're in your car, on the train, in the subway, or walking to work, look around at other people and wish them well. Wish them peace, joy, and love. Each person you see is fighting his or her own battles (with health, with finances, with fear, with loneliness, with aging, with loss). Open your heart with compassion to others and your happiness level will rise.

Breathe Deeply -- Whenever you take a break to snack, drink coffee, or go to the bathroom, take a moment for a deep, cleansing breath. Try "Take Five": breathe in for five, hold for five, and exhale for five. Breathing deeply calms the body and the mind, making it an ideal shortcut to inner peace.

Be Grateful, Every Night -- As you're falling asleep, review your day and recall three things for which you are grateful. It could be a relationship, good news, or a happy email. Be grateful for food on the table, for a warm bed, for electricity, or for your eyesight. You will definitely rest in peace when you count your blessings instead of sheep.

Intentionally make these six simple habits a regular part of your day and you can look forward to a very happy new year. Make the old you a happier you!

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