You probably know someone who's eternally positive and makes you feel good just by emanating his or her perpetual sunshine. How do you become this kind of magnetic individual? Do what happy people do.
1. Refuse to make assumptions.
Don't you hate it when someone assumes you're thinking or doing something that you're not? Honor the Golden Rule and give yourself a mental kick when you notice yourself engaging in this harmful behavior.
2. Exist in the present moment.
Don't waste your time rehashing the past or fretting about the future. Life goes by quickly, and unless you're intentional about paying attention to the here and now, you'll miss it. What this looks like: getting offline, engaging with the real world, and really listening to people who will relish your attention.
3. Help someone.
Can you do a good deed every day? Certainly. In fact, research shows that performing five random acts of kindness a day can boost your happiness. They don't have to be major gestures. Try holding yourself accountable for reaching the simple--and attainable--goal of making someone smile.
Happy people are social people. If you often find yourself stuck in traffic with no one to call on for help it's time you became intentional about building more or better-quality friendships. If this is a problem area for you, check out Jeff Haden's advice in "9 Habits of People Who Build Extraordinary Relationships."
It follows that happy people smile more than unhappy people, but what if you're a serious type? Faking it won't work. In fact, a 2011 study found that faking a smile actually makes you feel worse and results in lower productivity. What does work: purposefully recalling pleasant memories as a way to elicit a smile, something called "deep acting" that can improve your mood.
6. Have sex.
Maybe you can't necessarily pull this one off every day, but you should take every opportunity you can to spend some recreational time between the sheets. According to research performed at the University of Colorado, Boulder, people who have frequent sex also report higher levels of happiness. Big shocker.
7. Count blessings.
Rutgers University psychology professor Nancy Fagley recently surveyed nearly 250 college students and found a positive correlation between appreciation and happiness. So, the question is, what can you be thankful for, right now or at any given moment? Don't take even little things for granted. For instance, when was the last time you've felt thankful for your car or refrigerator? Modern technology is grossly underappreciated by most people.
8. Avoid energy vampires.
Everyone is surrounded by an energy field or aura that others can sense. Ideally, yours is a positive one that entices others to want to spend time with you. Unfortunately, some people consistently radiate vibes such as tension, anxiety, and anger. They're called energy vampires, and they'll suck the life out of you, making you feel tired and depressed. Avoid them at all costs.
9. Avoid perfectionism.
Yes, perfectionists are high achievers and can be some of the most conscientious people on the job, but they're also prone to anxiety and depression. In fact, according to a study recently published in the Review of General Psychology, perfectionism is so destructive to a person's sense of well-being it amplifies the risk for suicide. Just remember--happy people don't dwell on their every mistake and are comfortable in their own skin. They laugh often and understand most things that happen every day aren't significant in the grand scheme of things.
It's pretty common knowledge that exercise keeps depression at bay. But for a long time scientists didn't understand exactly why. It turns out that exercise helps your body purge a harmful protein associated with stress-induced depression. That's according to a recent study conducted on mice at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, which found that conditioned muscles adapted to exercise express enzymes that detoxify a substance called kynurenine, a byproduct of stress and inflammation.