7 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be Happy

If you read yesterday's column (of course you did), then you've already adopted three new ways to be happier. Here are seven more. No, winning the lottery isn't one of them. We YOU Docs want you to bet on a really sure thing: training your brain to be happier. The payoff ? Huge. You'll be better able to cope with stress or pain and to fight colds, flu, heart disease, and even cancer. Plus you'll be happier!
  1. Talk nice to yourself. Is your inner voice quick to snap out things like, "How could you forget that, you idiot?" Trade put-downs for encouraging words; they set you up for success.
  2. Connect. Talk -- really talk -- to people you care about; you'll both benefit by connecting. Get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone," spreading a feel-good boost. Lovemaking does, too, in steady relationships (those couples report the highest happiness levels).
  3. Keep a gratitude journal. Simply writing down what you're thankful for makes you healthier and more optimistic. 
  4. Don't sit around. Physical activity is a significant happiness booster. Get moving for 30 minutes a day -- you'll also make your RealAge more than 7 years younger. 
  5. Meditate. We do. It eases stress, improves sleep, strengthens immunity, and measurably increases happiness (in one study, by 20 points on a scale of 100). 
  6. Help others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, hospital, or shelter. Giving back adds more meaning which is essential to happiness in your life.
  7. Go outside. Spending time with awesome Mom Nature makes you feel alert, enthusiastic, energetic, and, simply happy.

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