Have you ever experienced a negative spiral, where it felt like your bad mood made everything worse? Just as negativity can be a self-perpetuating cycle, positivity can lead to even more positivity. To feel happier, you can cultivate an optimistic outlook simply by spending more time thinking about good things, affirming yourself, and associating with other positive-minded people. All you need to do is trigger a virtuous cycle.
Something as small as your facial expression can make a big difference in your outlook for the day. Research suggests that smiles are contagious. You don’t have to mean it; even an insincere smile will release a cascade of pleasurable neurotransmitters, including serotonin—chemicals that boost your mood and ease your stress.
Unfortunately, bad moods are contagious, too. Negativity transmits between people, in person and online (especially on social media). Try to spend less time associating with negative personalities in your interpersonal networks, because they might inadvertently bring you down.
Happiness isn’t a state of mind that you stumble into; it’s a capacity that you must actively nurture. Learn more in our Instaread on The Blue Zones of Happiness.