The Happiness Jumpstart Plan

Find out how to boost your happiness.

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The Science of Happiness (3:50)

Are you ready to give yourself a happiness boost and feel better on a daily basis? Check out Dr. Dow and Dr. Montminy’s step-by-step plan to jumpstart your joyfulness and improve your mental, emotional, and physical health at the same time.

Related: Quiz: How Happy Are You? 

Set a Goal to Do One Selfish Thing a Week

This step is what’s known as the “behavioral” portion of cognitive behavioral therapy and it has the power to change your happiness chemicals. When you notice yourself feeling depressed, taking part in an activity that always makes you feel better can make a huge difference. Whether it’s shopping, taking a yoga class, or going to the movies with a friend, it can help you snap out of your negative thoughts. For people that have high cortisol levels thanks to constant stress, or have low serotonin levels, it’s extra important to do these so-called “selfish” things because they can really improve your outlook and overall health.

Make a Vitamin B6 Trail Mix

To give yourself a mood boost and jumpstart your happiness, snack on foods rich in vitamin B6. You can make your own trail mix with sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and dried pineapple. Simply carry it around in little sandwich bags so you can always reach for it when hunger strikes.

Related: The Best Foods to Eat and Avoid to Improve Your Mood

Drink Kefir When the Afternoon Slump Kicks in

If you’re an afternoon soda addict, try swapping that for kefir. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda can kill off good gut bacteria and the sugar in regular soda can cause energy dips. Instead, switch to probiotic-rich kefir, which will help you manufacture serotonin and improve your mood. Good bacteria can also produce acetylcholine, which can balance your nervous system and provide you with the energy you need. Regular kefir consumption may aid in the production of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) naturally, which is the same stress-relieving effect you normally find in addictive prescription drugs. Having enough GABA in your system can promote restful sleep, lowered depression, minimized anxiety, and an overall calming effect.

Related: How Kefir Helps Detox Intestines

Detox Your Friend List

When most people hear of detoxing their friend list, they assume it has to mean taking them out of the phone and blocking them from their life. However, a true friendship detox also has to incorporate adding the right people into your day-to-day schedule too. When you simply dump toxic friends, you are left isolated and alone, which can lead to backsliding and reverting back to old habits. Break the cycle by making plans with someone you really like so you can focus on the positive influences in your life and ignore the negative ones.

Make a Gratitude Bowl

Dr. Montminy’s updated take on a gratitude journal involves a gratitude bowl. The problem with some types of journals is that people get tired of reading their own words over and over again, but with a gratitude bowl, it’s a whole different story. Leave an empty glass bowl with note cards and a pen near the front entrance of your home or by the dining table. Every day, add a few notes to the bowl and encourage your roommates or family members to do the same. These notes don’t have to be profound, they can be anything you think of that makes you smile. The next time you’re feeling down, grab a note from the bowl and read it. Your mood will be boosted right away.