Choose to be happy! These six easy tips will help you focus on leading a positive, happy life.

Do you tend to see the black cloud or its silver lining? If you said “black cloud,” it’s time to re-train your brain to focus on the positive. It’s the first step toward choosing to be happy.

“What people spend their time and mental energy on becomes their reality,” says Suzi Murphy, a wellness expert who works for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. “Unfortunately, so many people get in the habit of focusing on the negative.”

ChooseToBeHappyHowever, it can be just as easy to choose to be happy. Murphy offers these paths to more happiness:

  1. Be grateful. Each morning for 21 days, write down five things you’re grateful for. By the end of three weeks, you will have retrained your brain to focus on gratitude.

  2. Remember the best. At the end of each day, jot down a positive experience you had that day. Repeat daily for 30 days.

  3. Simplify your life. We’re all so busy, we feel like we have to do two or more things at once. Slow down. Focus on one thing at a time. This will lessen your stress, which is sure to make you happier.

  4. Focus on your strengths. Not your weaknesses.

  5. Exercise. Research shows that people who have just finished exercising can solve problems better, be more creative, and are more focused.

  6. Try meditating. When you quiet your brain and focus on taking long, slow breaths in and out, it changes the electrical brain impulses and calms your mind and body.

Sounds easy, right? Then why is it so hard for people to choose to be happy? Murphy blames the many barriers that trip us up along the way.. For example, writing in a journal requires having a notebook and a pen or pencil handy when the mood strikes. If you have to find a notebook or sharpen a pencil, it can seem like a chore.

The answer? Figure out what barriers are keeping you from choosing to be happy, then find ways around them.

If you want to take our advice and write down five things to be grateful for each morning, keep a notebook and pen by your bed. You can reach the notebook and start writing before your feet even hit the floor. If you’re leaning toward tip #5, but are reluctant to exercise, then find an activity you like. Try walking, biking, swimming or dancing, and find someone to do it with you. You’ll be more likely to go if you know a pal is waiting for you. You’re also likely to have more fun (fun=happy).

Just give it a try. If these tips don’t work for you, set up an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. It may be something more serious.

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