Happiness is that elusive state-of-mind that even the most upbeat people have trouble maintaining. This becomes a struggle because, for some reason, the world continually highlights unhappiness.

The odd thing is most people—individually—are good-minded. But, something seems to happen when people mass-up (or watch the evening news). It’s a phenomenon I haven’t decoded yet.

What I have been able to crack, however, is the formula for maintaining happiness that carries me through any level of difficulty.

There isn’t anything earth-shattering about these techniques. Like most things in your life, it’s not awareness that’s the problem. It’s the execution.

To make it easy, 80% of this happiness how-to formula can be done on your own. You might need a few playmates for the other 20%. We simply can’t escape the fact that next to food and shelter, people’s greatest needs are love and appreciation. Remember that the next time a friend comes to you in need.

  1. Smile. It’s easier than frowning. It takes less energy. And, it makes you feel good no matter what. Extend it to a laugh and it’s impossible to be upset even if for a moment.
  2. Be Grateful. A grateful person never takes anything for granted. I promise that no matter how bad you think your life is, there are many things to be grateful for. If all else fails, think about people in the world who will never have what you have at this moment. There. All better.
  3. Exercise. It looks painful if you’ve never tried it, but when it’s over you’ll feel better. It’s just how our physiology works.
  4. Travel. Seeing new places is fantastic. It stimulates your brain, which normally likes to operate on a path of least resistance. (Don’t worry, it’s biologically set up to do that so don’t feel guilty.) When you plan and take a trip, you get a three-fer—the anticipation, the experience, and the memory. If you can’t afford to hop on a plane, get in your car and drive to a new neighborhood. Look at the houses. Check out the trees. Don’t run anyone over while you’re gaping.
  5. Spend time with people you love. Just make sure you’re smiling together and not moaning.
  6. Buy a dog. My dogs have taught me more than any human being not named Mom or Dad. Pay attention to the way they live. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Unconditional love. Anyone who scratches or pets them is their friend. Every meal is the best meal even though it’s always the same meal. A walk is the daily highlight. They always focus on the present moment. I’m convinced they were created to be human antidepressants.
  7. Eat somewhere new. Try new things. Even if the meal isn’t the best meal. Take notice of the environment and presentation of the food. Take in the ambiance, smell, lighting, glassware, dishware, and so on. If you’re a homebody, make something new for dinner once every week.
  8. Sleep. It’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. A tired mind is awful.
  9. Slow down your day. Here are 21 Ways to Slow Down Your Day.
  10. Accept. The sooner you accept what is, the happier you’ll be. “What is” is what’s supposed to be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be.

I’d love to hear from you: What are your techniques for being happy?