1. Don’t start with profundities.
Rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting yourself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness. Learn how to Get a Good Night's Sleep.
2. Do let the sun go down on anger.
Studies show that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.
3. Fake it till you feel it.
Feelings follow actions. If you're feeling low, deliberately act cheery, and you will find yourself actually feeling happier. If you're feeling angry at someone, do something thoughtful for her/him and the feelings toward her/him softens. This strategy is uncannily effective.
4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things — learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places — are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. Remind yourself often to “Enjoy the fun of failure” and tackle some daunting goal.
5. Don’t treat the blues with a “treat.”
Often the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it’s easy to think, we feel good after we have a few glasses of wine…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans, it’s worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.
6. Buy some happiness.
Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do and having a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. Learn to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences.
7. Don’t insist on the best.
There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
8. Exercise to boost energy.
Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten one's outlook.
9. Stop nagging.
Replace nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying “Milk!” instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on a schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task yourself.
10. Take action.
Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. It won’t take you a whole year.