24 Shortcuts to a Happy LifeYou could get Botox for those frown lines...or try these surprisingly simple moves that will keep a perma-smile on your face.
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Real happiness -- the kind that leaves you feeling ridiculously giddy and radiant -- isn't just about those occasional big-ticket bliss experiences, like falling head over heels in love or landing your dream job. It's also about the simpler moments of joy in life, the ones that come around a helluva lot more often. "You can create happiness by focusing on the small, everyday positives and minimizing the negatives...not by waiting for that lottery jackpot hit to happen finally," says researcher John Reich, PhD, professor of psychology at Arizona State University. Cosmo has unearthed piles of research on the power of positivity to show you just how easy it is to put yourself on cloud nine in an instant.
Don't believe everything you think. When your inner critical voice starts heckling you about how your abs are flabby or making you feel like crap 'cause that guy so isn't interested, assume the voice is wrong.
Quit spying on yourself during sex. A lust-fueled romp is the ultimate all-natural upper, but "spectatoring" -- detaching and analyzing yourself during the act -- kills the mood faster than Mom calling midsession. "For sex to be great, you have to be fully engaged, spontaneous, and open, which is impossible when you're disconnected," says sex therapist Gloria G. Brame, PhD.
Copy the catwalk. According to a Skidmore College study, people who take bigger strides, swing their arms, and walk with their heads up (think: runway goddesses) feel happier than those who take short, shuffling steps. The reason could be because upright posture and extra movement get blood flowing more freely, which boosts your heart rate and your attitude.
Pad your time. Running late and rushing around like a total madwoman is like putting your nerves in a deep fryer. So instead of being terminally frazzled, give yourself a 10-minute buffer. Set your watch ahead or allow yourself more prep time when you have someplace you have to be.
Get engaged. Sorry, we're not talking about the kind that comes with a diamond ring. We mean those times when you're so totally absorbed in what you're doing that you forget about watching the clock. Whether you're thumbing through your latest issue of Cosmo or even fine-tuning a work project, you're completely in the moment and experiencing what's called flow, says David G. Myers, PhD, author of The Pursuit of Happiness. "When you become so unself-consciously immersed in an activity, you boost your sense of competence and well-being."
Grin, even if you don't feel like it. This is one time it's okay to fake it. Just force yourself to smile when you need a lift. Research at Clark University found that students who were induced to smile actually felt happier. "Even just going through the motions can trigger feelings of joy," says Myers.
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