girl on beach sitting next to sign.

Are you happy right now? 

It’s a much harder question to answer than you’d think. When you’re going through each day taking care of your responsibilities and making sure your work gets done, thinking about your level of happiness takes a backseat when you’re in go-mode. But while you’re taking care of business, how happy you are—or aren’t—can start quietly affecting your performance at work and in school. Before you find yourself getting overwhelmed or behind on tasks, there are some easy ways you can trick your brain into being happier right now. Here’s how. 

It’s important to be aware of how you feel. 

Whether you’re sad, angry, happy, or just frustrated, being aware of your emotions and how they impact your day to day life is key to working toward success. Sometimes, though, paying attention to your feelings can seem overwhelming or distracting. If you’re struggling to get through each day, it’s vital that you talk to a mental health professional. But if you just have a downer day every now and then, or forget to take time to make yourself happy, the following tips and tricks can help you get through a rough patch. 

Invest time in self-care. 

Self-care isn’t just about treating yourself, though that can be a part of it. It’s about taking time to take care of yourself. Whether that means eating a healthy meal, making sure you get enough sleep, spending time on your education, or taking a second away from the rush of everyday living to just breathe, it’s essential. Self-care at its most basic is ensuring you are healthy, emotionally and physically. Any activity you do to promote a healthier you is part of the process. 

Investing time in yourself and your needs is important, but it can be tough to do. Not only are you busy, but you may also feel guilty for “selfishly” taking some time away from friends and family to concentrate on yourself. That’s normal! But taking care of yourself can help you take better care of the people you love. When you’re happy, it’s easier to spread that to those around you. Start with small blocks of “me-time.” You can even let the people in your life know when that is or write it in your daily planner to make sure it happens. Some first steps to get in the habit of making me-time a priority could include

  • Taking a five-minute walk
  • Going to a coffee shop you like by yourself or with a friend
  • Taking the long way to work so you have some more time to think
  • Plugging your earbuds in and blasting your favorite song

You can use your few minutes of alone time to think through what you need to accomplish during the day, or even just to daydream for a bit to boost your mood. Whatever works best for you!

Find the positive. 

Bad things happen. Stressful days make everything seem like a struggle. But if you train your brain to see the positive, to always look for the silver lining, you increase your likelihood of being happier. That doesn’t mean you ignore the bad things or pretend they don’t affect you; you find a way through them. 

For example, maybe you made a small mistake at work. Nothing that would cause you to get in trouble or lose your job, but a little silly mistake that could have been avoided. You’re upset that you made the mistake, you might even be beating yourself up. But instead of focusing on the negative — you weren’t perfect, you feel stupid — think about the positive outcome of your mistake. You’ve learned something, right? Because of that small issue, you now know you need to double check your process or you should take more time when working on a project. That’s something you can use in the future to improve your work and show your boss that you can learn and grow. 

Return to nature.

You don’t have to completely unplug and run into the wild to find a bit of quick happiness. But spending some time outside is proven to boost your mood. The sun, of course, provides you with necessary vitamin D, but did you know that your skin can also produce serotonin? Serotonin is a chemical produced by your body that impacts your emotions, and though scientists are still studying why a lack of it can be a major contributor to depression, they do know that it’s essential to regulating your mood. Getting outside, even just to sit in the grass for a while, can give you the boost you need to get through the day. 

Be actively kind. 

Complimenting others, opening the door for a coworker, or bringing a coffee into work for a friend who is having a rough day are small acts that don’t require much extra work or thought. These small acts of kindness, though, make a big difference in how happy you feel day to day. Being actively kind can reduce stress, boost your immune system, and even reduce the negative feelings that pop up throughout the day like anger and annoyance. If your day is off to a rough start, take a minute to do something good for someone else. You’ll feel a bit better and the person you did something for might pay it forward and brighten someone else’s day!

Be you. 

This is the toughest to accomplish, but being yourself is one of the best bets for long-term happiness. Having the ability to be true to your values and express yourself can help you build confidence and feel more in control of your life. You’re also more likely to stand up for yourself and be assertive when you need to be. Your confidence will benefit your work and personal relationships, you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, and you will believe that any bad day you have is just temporary. Further, not being yourself is more stressful. You have to constantly remember to hold back the real you, and that’s a lot of work! 

Believe in yourself — we do! 

At the end of the day, whether it was a no good, awful, very bad one, or a happy one, it’s vital to believe in yourself. You’re determined, you’re strong, and you’ve got this — whatever this means to you. At Penn Foster, we know you can ace that next test with some hard work, that you can practice your interview skills and get that promotion, and that, when you’re feeling good you do good.