What happiness strategies can improve my mood?

Christine Carter, PhD
Health Education

A few surprisingly easy changes in your habits can have a big effect on your mood and level of contentment. In this video, sociologist and happiness expert Christine Carter, PhD, discusses easy steps toward happiness.

Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

Here are some happiness strategies that can improve your mood:

  • Count your blessings and appreciate what you have: Every day, either write down three things you are grateful for or tell them to your partner or a close friend. People who actively focus on what is going right in their lives become happier people.
  • Practice optimism: Expect positive outcomes and always try to see the best in people, situations, and circumstances.
  • Focus on your own life and work on making it everything you want it to be: Don't compare yourself with other people. People who live life without making comparisons are happier.
  • Surround yourself with loving, supportive, positive friends and family: Social interactions change the very chemistry within your body. In your brain, serotonin and dopamine levels increase in response to positive social interactions. Positive social interactions cause oxytocin levels to rise in women and vasopressin levels to rise in men. Oxytocin and vasopressin are "tend and befriend" chemicals that drive people toward tighter social connections. People with strong, supportive social networks live healthier, happier, longer lives.
  • Learn to manage stress: Stress plays a pivotal role in initiating depression because the high cortisol levels associated with stress disrupt the brain's ability to modulate the feel-good chemicals of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • Live in the present: Enjoy the moment. You don't have to be serious all the time.
  • Learn to accept what you cannot change: Try to let go of things over which you have no control. If you can accept that there are things in life that aren't always ideal but your life can be good anyway, you've taken a giant step closer to happiness.
  • Include exercise into your daily routine: When you exercise, you change the chemistry in your brain, but more importantly, you ultimately change the very structure of your brain. Repetition is required so that there is strong and consistent signaling to stimulate the brain to strengthen the synapses of existing nerve connections and to build up new and improved networks

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.