Everyone gets the blues occasionally, but people who can extricate themselves from a bad mood may have discovered the secret to happiness.
"The secret to having a happy life isn't to be constantly laughing, but to be able to bounce back from a bout with unhappiness, to use little tricks -- some happy habits -- to jump-start your mind and revitalize your energy," says Bix Bender, author of "7 Habits of Highly Happy People."
Mr. Bender gathered the following strategies on how to beat the blues from friends, neighbors and strangers. One or two of these happy habits may help lift your spirits the next time you're feeling down.
Get that 'good tired' feeling
"When you exercise, you're doing something for yourself -- your body, mind and spirit," Mr. Bender says. "After a day of strenuous activity, such as cleaning house or gardening, you're probably tired -- but it's a good tired. This feeling has to do with the fact you did something that needed doing, but it also means your mind and body worked together in a pleasing way."
Try a little comfort food
Satisfying your cravings in a healthful way can comfort a wounded spirit. Try these recipes for happiness:
Make some homemade bread. Pound and knead the dough as though it were all your problems. Eat a couple of slices while the bread is still warm from the oven.
Or prepare yourself for a tough day by getting up early enough to have a long, leisurely and filling breakfast. This small pleasure can help you keep your head up in the hours ahead.
Or call some friends and invite them to dinner. You'll be too busy preparing the meal to stay depressed.
Do something you like
You may be able to jump-start happiness by doing something for yourself that makes you smile. To make your day happier:
Write down the words to an inspirational song or poem and tape the piece of paper where you'll see it every day. Use it to remind yourself of how you want to live your life.
Go to a sporting event-the cheering will boost your mood.
Turn up your car stereo and sing along at the top of your lungs.
Draw a beautiful, peaceful, happy scene.
Spend time in nature
"The great outdoors can soothe the spirit and inspire happiness," Mr. Bender says.
To learn from nature:
Have a special wild spot -- a lake, park or forest where you can go for restoration.
Grow something. It doesn't matter if you tend to a whole garden, a tree or a bean in a paper cup.
Walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach.
Doing things for others helps you get your mind off your troubles. To spread the happiness habit around:
Do something to make someone smile.
Do a favor for someone without being asked.
Enjoy the little things
"A person doesn't become happy in big gushes and explosions," Mr. Bender says. "Someone who feels good about life builds happiness one little moment at a time, one decision at a time, one smile at a time." To acknowledge life's small pleasures:
Think about those you love and those who love you.
Spend time with positive people.
Find happiness in little things -- smelling freshly cut grass, making it to the gas station before your car runs out of gas, saying hello to a stranger and having the person smile back.
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