It has been a stressful month for me so I restarted a little practice that you might find interesting. There are a lot of methods to this but I prefer a simpler one that I can implement all day long. It's a one step program. Step one: SMILE. That's pretty much it.
If you want to be happy at any given moment just take the time to smile and really feel the smile. To do that some people have to think of happy memories or recite a sentence or two in their mind. When I was first taught about the inner smile I was given sentences like “Every day in every way I'm feeling better and better”. As silly as that sounds it works. I'm a natural skeptic so when I first heard about the “inner smile” I was, well, skeptical. Trying something new that doesn't cost anything is an easy choice to make. I tried it and it improved my mood dramatically.
Since I developed interest in the daily practice of the inner smile I have read a lot on the subject. I've seen articles that claimed smiling reduced stress hormones. There are also articles that say even when you're unhappy smiling can shift that mood. I'm no scientist so I can't really verify whether that's true or not but it certainly feels that way when you are legitimately smiling.
Whatever you do, don't fake smile! To quote an article from the Baseline of Health Foundation: “A 2011 study at Michigan State University in East Lansing found that people who had to be polite all day at work and produce fake smiles ended up with overall worse moods than others. Yet, when those same subjects were told to conjure their smiles based on happy thoughts, both their moods and their productivity levels increased.” (http://www.jonbarron.org/article/fake-smile-equals-lower-stress)
There are even people who think that smiling is a key to their success in life. Here's where I'm going to really indulge my inner skeptic just a bit. A smile is certainly a sales tool. Nobody is going to buy something from a rude or depressing salesperson. However, if the item being sold costs three times as much as the competition the fact that the salesperson is smiling just makes me think they're smiling at how much of a fool I am to buy from them. So, while smiling is a tool I don't for one moment think that it leads automatically to success in business or in life. Good people and bad people smile, but that's the subject of a separate article.
Another important point to me is that there is no downside to smiling. Take for example something we should all be doing, exercise. You have to be careful not to injure yourself doing specific exercises in the wrong way or with bad form. How can you smile wrong? Smiling is that universal language that every person in every culture on the planet earth understands. It can't be done badly and is always understood.
One last point before I let you go. Make sure that you don't just smile with your mouth. Smile with your eyes too. Smile so broadly from happy memories that you engage the muscles around your eyes. This is known as “Duchenne Smiling” and is the real smile that reflects the mood from inside. The inner smile.