On a scale of one to grumpy, how happy are you? How often do you find yourself down in the dumps? For most people, moments of pure happiness are few and far between. Even when joy does wriggle its way into our hearts, it’s fleeting. So what’s the secret?

Here’s a few ways to find happiness – and never let it get away.

1. Stop taking everything so seriously. We’re all familiar with the phrase “it is what it is.” This saying has become more popular in recent years, and I like to take that as a sign that people are starting to realize that they can’t control everything – finally. This isn’t an easy thing to accept, but once you reprogram your mindset and embrace the fact that not everything needs to be overanalyzed, you can stop stressing and start enjoying life. Pros and cons lists aren’t for making dinner plans, people!

Yoga on dock

2. Learn to let go. Sometimes happiness is only one deep breath away. The next time you’re on the search for a little bit of joy, take a deep inhale through your nose – hold it for three second – and then let it out slowly through your mouth. As you exhale, feel tension and stress melting off your shoulders. Allow your body and your mind to release any pent-up emotional stress, worry and anger. Still not happy? Don’t give up so quickly. Take five more breaths. Practice yoga. Have a glass of wine. Enjoy a relaxing bubble bath. Feel better yet?

 3. Keep Karma in the back of your mind. Happiness is a lovechild of kindness and gratitude. Always remember that every move you make and every thought you think has a consequence, and you’re in charge of that ripple effect – so throw your stones wisely. Metaphors aside, if you find you’re crankier than you’d like to be, try offering a compliment to a stranger or simply send a silent “thank you” to the universe. What have you got to lose?

Happiness is a lovechild of kindness and gratitude.

4. Stop to smell the flowers. We live in a very busy world, and often we’re too preoccupied with work, family and other responsibilities to notice the beauty that surrounds us. Sometimes simply setting your phone down and taking the time to acknowledge your environment can be extremely healing. Suddenly, going on a run isn’t a requirement of your fitness plan, but a time to unwind and enjoy the weather. Walking to the mailbox isn’t just a chore, but a meditative stroll. You’d be surprised how appreciating the little things in life trains your brain so that happiness isn’t a rarity, but a default.Woman smelling flower

5. Stay present. Often a lack of happiness stems from a lack of mindfulness. In other words, it’s difficult to be happy if you’re not even here. In order to be more “in the moment”, you have to start noticing where your mind is at all times. Are you caught up in the past? Are you too worried about planning for the future? Instead, try to let all of that go and focus on everything that’s going on around you right now. Notice smells, sounds and sights. Fully immerse yourself in the act of simply being, and you might just find happiness taking the place of stress and unease.

6. Schedule self-care. There’s nothing more important in life than loving and caring for yourself. Many people avoid self-care because they think it’s “selfish” or because they have “better” things to worry about. But the truth is, providing for yourself is a precursor to providing for others – family, friends, co-workers, strangers – so when you really think about it, self-care is the least selfish act on the planet! Listen to your body and mind and let them guide you when it comes to self-care, and don’t be afraid to reschedule other plans in lieu of looking after yourself!

7. Be honest. Nothing kills happiness faster than dishonesty. But being honest doesn’t have to apply to improving communication with your partner or coming clean about a secret you’ve been harboring. More simply, improving your happiness can be as easy as practicing being honest to yourself. In this day and age, we tend to take on too much. As a society, we’re stressed and overworked and fatigued the majority of the time. How do you feel? Once you’re able to pinpoint your mental, emotional and physical states, you’ll be better equipped to improve them. And be honest with yourself, because the truth really will set you free.

8. Say goodbye to people and things that no longer serve you. We all have that one aspect of our life that we’ve been clinging to for way too long. And chances are, it’s holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself. Don’t get me wrong – it probably won’t be a quick fix. In fact, removing that person or thing from your life might be a complex surgery that leaves you broken and scarred. But I’m willing to bet that it’ll be worth it. Having trouble moving on? Talk therapy is a great solution that can help you let go of what no longer serves you… and it might help you sort out a few of those other pesky emotions at the same time!

Talk therapy is a great solution that can help you let go of what no longer serves you… and it might help you sort out a few of those other pesky emotions at the same time!

Girl watching sunrise.jpg

9. Look on the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining. What is meant to be will be. These encouraging mantras might be cliché, but there’s a layer of truth to them that helps pick me up whenever I’m feeling crummy. It’s easy to focus on the negative, but sometimes the difference between a bad mood and a good one is as easy as shifting your perspective a little bit. Didn’t land the job of your dreams? Another one will come along, and now you have time to build up your portfolio. Break up with your boyfriend? Now the man of your dreams can find you! Simply thinking of one positive might be enough to change your entire outlook.

10. Laugh often. Laughter releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine makes you happy. And, to quote the beloved Elle Woods: “Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”