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Everyone wants to be happy in life. Unfortunately, sometimes you get rainy days instead of sunny skies. When that happens, you can find yourself trapped in the doldrums in a way that can linger for the rest of the week. Your mood should not be held hostage, however, by circumstances beyond your control. Thankfully, there are ways you can take back control. It may sound cliché, but you are the only one who can decide whether you are going to lead a happy existence or if you are going to be at the mercy of life’s fickle circumstances. 

Saying “I will be happy” is not enough to guarantee that you will have a good or happy life. You have to make choices and practices habits that will bring you happiness. Listing those habits and conditioning you to make those choices is the subject of many self-help books and blogs. You can go as far as you want when it comes to a happiness-inducing lifestyle. You can totally overhaul your entire life, or you can make one small change at a time. You can either dive in headfirst or take baby steps. The choice is up to you. In the event that you are not looking to uproot every habit you have, here are a few painless ways to increase your happiness every day.

Soak Up the Sun

Sunlight is the nutrient that so many people forget they need. People spend their weekdays trapped inside offices and often do not get home at night until the sun has set. Even in the event that they do get home before dusk, going outside is rarely a priority in the evening. There is dinner to cook, laundry to do, dishes to wash and, of course, everyone hopes to get some sleep. Catching a few rays does not rank terribly high on the evening priority list. Unfortunately, sunlight often gets pushed aside on the weekend as well. Despite bemoaning that they spend all day inside during the week, plenty of people do not take advantage of the weekend to get outside. 

Spending all your time inside and away from sunlight can cause you develop a vitamin D deficiency. This, in turn, can drag your mood down. Vitamin D can affect the level of serotonin in the brain. In extreme cases, serotonin imbalances can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder with depressive symptoms that can occur during darker months of the year, or even mild depression. Catching some rays, however, will boost your levels of vitamin D and give you a lift in your mood. So, when you are feeling down, go step outside and give yourself a natural happiness boost.

Treat Yourself Well

How you treat your body effects how your mood shifts. If you eat nothing but junk food, stay up late binge watching Netflix and refuse to exercise, you are likely to be tired, irritable and apathetic to the world around you. If you want to be happier, treat your body well. Eat good, whole, healthy foods most of the time, and make processed, fatty or unhealthy foods a rare treat. Snack on fruit instead of candy bars, and trade out the potato chips for some carrots. Drink plenty of water, and for heaven’s sake, get enough sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, you are all but guaranteed to be grumpy the next day. 

An extremely healthy mood enhancer is exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that give your mood a big lift. The sense of accomplishment that often follows a workout is another boost to your happiness. So, when you are feeling irritable, go take it out on the treadmill instead of stewing on the couch. 

Practice Gratitude

It is actually impossible to feel stress or anger at the same time you are feeling gratitude. As such, thankfulness can be a huge mood booster. If you are feeling down in the dumps, make a mental list of all the things for which you are grateful. They could range from being thankful that you had a wonderful vacation to being grateful that you have a safe, dry place to sleep to even just a heartfelt T.G.I.F. The key is to be thankful for something. 

Gratitude will block anger, stress and sadness from getting a foothold on your mind. It will also focus your thoughts on the good things in life. As a general rule, when you think about good things you are happy. It is when you start focusing on the negative that your mood tends to take a downturn. 

Be Altruistic

Helping people actually makes you happier. When you act in an altruistic manner, you tend to experience a lift in your mood. This happiness then makes you more likely to do something else kind for another person. That act of altruism makes you even happier. In this way, a feedback loop is formed. 

Acts of altruism and kindness also have the advantage of making other people happy. By acting with compassion, you not only make yourself happier, you spread the joy. Those people are then more likely to make others happy in some way. This leads to a domino effect where the general mood of an entire community can be lifted. 

Choose Joy

Cliché as it may sound, the truth is that happiness is a choice. You can choose to focus on the negative aspects of life, or you can choose to hunt down the silver lining on each thunder cloud. Living an actively and determinedly joyful life is not always easy nor is it something a person can learn to do overnight. It takes practice, but learning to choose joy is guaranteed to make you happier. After all, you are actively deciding to seek out choices that are more likely to result in your happiness rather than hoping joy somehow falls into your lap.

Happiness is, in many ways, a choice. You can choose to make decisions and form habits that will make you happy, or you can decide to live your life at the mercy of your ever-shifting circumstances. The choice is yours. Which sort of life will you choose to lead?
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