Everyone wants to be happy. You see people who are smiling and laughing, and you want to be like them. You want every day to be picture perfect and to have a smile on your face. Social media encourages you to think this is possible. After all, your Facebook friends and Instagram followers all seem to have perfect, joyful, picturesque lives. In reality, however, no life is truly perfect. There are ups and downs. There are good days filled with sunshine and smiles, and there are bad days where you wear a scowl capable of scaring away both the sun and smiling people alike. There are ways, however, to ensure that there are more good days than bad days. Here are seven ways to make yourself happier every day.

Smile Often 

There really is some truth to the old adage “fake it ‘til you make it.” Research has shown that the facial expression you wear influences your mood. If you walk around frowning, you are more likely to be annoyed or unhappy. If you make it a point to smile, you are more likely to be happy and joyful.

It is not easy to wear a smile when you are having a bad day, but even forcing a smile for strangers or your coworkers can actually boost your mood. You do not have to be beaming and grinning from ear to ear, but wearing a pleasant expression for a long period of time will slowly improve your mood and help you have a happier day.

Stop Complaining

The more you complain, the more annoyed you become. If all you notice or talk about during the day are the things that annoy you, it is no surprise that you are unhappy. If you only pay attention to bad things, then the only input your emotions receive is negative. To truly boost your long-term happiness, stop complaining. Go an entire day without complaining even once, and see how you feel.  This means you cannot complain to the steering wheel about the terrible driver in front of you, commiserate with coworkers about the unseasonably cold weather or grouch to your spouse about your idiot coworker crashing the online system again. You will feel good, happy and empowered. Keep up that same habit of not complaining over a longer period of time, and the effects will build on each other. You will slowly stop paying as much attention to what bothers you. That is not to say that it will not annoy you when a driver cuts you off or that you will not be frustrated when a sudden cold snap ruins your weekend plans, but you will no longer be ruled by those irritants. You will be able to shake them off, move on and focus on the positive things in your life.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude has been shown to be the ultimate ticket to a happy life. Thankful and grateful feelings lower stress, alleviate depression and form a sort of feedback loop. The more you practice gratitude, the more you will find things to be grateful for in your life. This then leads you to appreciate and realize exactly how much goodness is in your life. It is difficult to be unhappy if you are consumed with counting the many blessings in your life. Even something as simple as a safe place to sleep or food to eat is worth being thankful for because not everyone is fortunate enough to have those necessities. 

Enjoy Art

As a general rule of thumb, beauty makes people happy. So, make it a point to enjoy beautiful things. Go to an art gallery and view your favorite sort of artwork. Do not let anyone tell you what you “should” like, but instead go spend an afternoon looking at what you find to be beautiful. If you only like classical sculptures or Impressionist paintings, go look at those pieces of art and ignore the modern art in the other wing. If you could stare at a Jackson Pollock painting all day, go sit in front of “Lavender Mist” or “Convergence” for two hours, and enjoy the chaotic colors. 

Art does not have to be visual either. If you are able to go to the theater, go enjoy a performance if that is what you like. Otherwise, sneak some art into the more ordinary areas of your life. Make your phone’s lock screen a beautiful painting or peaceful photograph. Listen to your favorite music while you commute instead of the news. Enjoy the arts in whatever way you can, and enjoy the happiness they bring. 

Pet Animals

Animals of all sorts are known to have a positive effect on human moods. Cats’ purrs have been shown to lower stress levels, and many dogs work as therapy animals to help lift the moods of hospital patients. Spending some time with a furry, four-legged friend is an easy way to bring some happiness into an otherwise miserable day. After all, it is difficult to be unhappy when a Golden Retriever is looking up at you and wagging his tail.

Be Healthy

How you treat your body has a lot to do with your general mood. What you eat can have a huge influence on your emotions, and a lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of general irritability. So, if you want your emotions to be happy, you need to keep your body happy. Eat healthy foods, and keep high-sodium, high-fat foods to a minimum. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, and make sure you are getting enough raw calories.  A lack of energy or lack of fuel can make you very irritable. There is a reason, after all, that the word “hangry” stuck in the common vernacular. 

Sleep is also essential if you want to be happy all day. If you are sleep deprived, you have less energy and are more prone to bouts of frustration, hopelessness, irritation or general misery. If you are walking around with a general feeling of malaise, take a closer look at your sleeping habits. Catching some extra z’s might solve your problem.

Avoid Negativity

It is difficult to be upbeat and happy when you are surrounded by negativity. If you truly want to be happier, you need to cut the negativity out of your life. Unfollow people on social media who only ever complain or gossip. Stop reading every news update you receive. If necessary, stop spending time with friends who are only interested in drama and complaining. When you truly want to be happy, you need to work to cut out as many unhappy influences as possible. Unfortunately, this means that you might have to say goodbye to everything from the TV drama that has you shouting at the screen to the gossipy friend with the best taste in beer. The good news, however, is that you can then fill those holes in your life with a feel-good show and a positive friend.

There may not be a magic potion that you can drink to automatically become happier, but improving your overall mood is not all that difficult. It requires a few lifestyle changes and a slightly different mindset, but anyone can make themselves happier if they are willing to really work for it. All it takes is a little practice and a conscious decision to choose joy.

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