You can increase your happiness in ways that are both easy and enjoyable.

First, laugh daily. You not only enjoy laughter in the moment, but the mood begins to last longer, leading to an optimistic outlook.[1] Laughter has also been shown to improve one’s health. Lately, I’ve been recording and re-watching reruns of sitcoms like Frasier.

But even if you have nothing funny handy, just start laughing, make the sounds of laughter. After a moment or two, you’ll begin to feel it; the laugh becomes real.

Second, act happy.  Smiling, straightening your posture, and walking as if you feel happy and confident actually help you to experience those feelings.

Third, Meditate. The biggest misconception about meditation is that you have to fight to keep your mind from wandering. Some people even direct frustration or anger toward themselves when their minds wander. This is counterproductive.

You can view meditation as a process of noticing when your mind wanders. Mind wandering is perfectly natural, neither good nor bad. Noticing wandering is like noticing whether you were lying on your side or on your back when you woke up this morning—neither good nor bad, just a fact. When you notice your mind wandering during meditation, feel proud that you noticed and glad that, now, you get to refocus.

Fourth, Nurture your gratitude. When something good happens, smile and say, “Thank you,” aloud or in your head. Express sincere gratitude to others.

As we’ve seen, boosting your own happiness increases the happiness of those around you. It’s easier to deal with people—to communicate and build consensus—when all concerned are happy.[2]

In the next installment in this series, we’ll explore the ways our thoughts and words affect happiness.

[1] “The Persuasiveness of Optimism,”

[2] “Why Is Happiness Like an Oxygen Mask?”