The key to being happy is finding joy in the “small stuff.” That’s the message from psychologist Dr. Fred Bryant, who says too many of us feel unhappy, because we tell ourselves that we’re “too busy” to do the things we enjoy. But lots of research shows that people with a happy outlook tend to recover more quickly from illness, and live at least 7 years longer, on average! So, here are some things we can do to be happier, that take only seconds:

  • First: Share a happy memory. Call or email a friend, and talk about a specific experience you had with them that made you happy. Studies show that sharing happy memories is one of the most powerful ways to strengthen our social connections, and magnify feelings of joy.

  • The 2nd way to be happy: Focus your senses. For example: The next time you take a bite of chocolate, close your eyes and savor the taste on your tongue. Dr. Bryant says shutting out some senses, while focusing on others, helps heighten our enjoyment of positive experiences. And it can even make fleeting happy moments seem to last much longer!

  • Another happiness trick: Think about how things in your life could be worse. Our expert says too many of us have the “grass is greener” mentality where we think our life would be better if we had something other people have – like a bigger house, or a fancier car. But upward comparisons like that will only make you feel deprived. So instead, think downward - about what you have that others don’t - or how your own life used to be worse than it is now.

  • Finally, try this: Lose yourself. In other words, put on a funny movie, and laugh out loud like it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or turn off the lights, and listen to your favorite music in the dark! Research shows that our feelings of happiness are greatest when we’re 100 percent immersed in something that brings us joy.