01/30/2015 11:20 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2015

5 Ways to Be Happier Today

Brrr, its cold outside!

These cold, grey winter days can send even the most positive people into a downward funk. Now that winter is truly upon us, what can you do to keep your spirits up? Here are five ways to be happier TODAY:

1. Start a gratitude list or journal. Concentrating on what you are thankful for in your life is a sure-fire way to feel better about yourself and improve your attitude. A few lines written in a journal is sufficient -- I like to simply jot down something I am grateful for each day on my calendar. Don't have pen and paper handy? That's okay, you can also think about what you are grateful for -- or even state it out loud. Once you get on a roll with this, it's amazing how quickly you can turn complaints into gratefulness.

2. Do something you love. Take a few minutes out of your day to spend time on a project you enjoy, read a few pages of a book you love, or engage in an activity that brings you joy. It is so easy to get caught up in our crazy, busy schedules and "to-do" lists and then, before you know it, you are simply going through the motions of life instead of enjoying it. Taking a little time each day to fully engage in something that you love to do will increase your satisfaction in life and therefore increase your happiness.

3. Connect with others. Call a friend or family member to talk. Or better yet, meet someone you have fun spending time with for coffee or a bite to eat. Connecting with the people we love is a terrific way to feel happier about your life. After all, what's better than reminding yourself of the people who love you and enjoying their company?

4. Exercise. Moving your body will help reduce stress, improve your health and make you feel better about yourself. Exercise is an underused happiness booster. When exercising, your body releases endorphins. I'm sure you have heard runners talk about a "runner's high." When they mention this, they are referencing this release of chemicals -- those endorphins that create a surge of positivity.

5. Help someone else. This tip is a guaranteed way to feel happier. Help out at a shelter, pick out a toy or coat for a child in need, buy a drink for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop or even just offer a compliment and a smile to a harried store clerk. Have doubts that this will work? Give it a try -- it's simple and infectious.

Next time you find yourself feeling down, pick one of these ideas and go for it. Odds are good you'll reap the benefits immediately with an increase in your happiness level regardless of the weather. Want to boost your happiness further? Incorporating some of these practices into your regularly weekly routine is a fantastic way to create an overall happier life.