We’ve all heard about the importance of smiling each day. In fact, even a forced smile can have a positive impact on a person’s mood. In tests, those who smiled exhibited lower heart rate than those who maintained a neutral expression.
But you don’t have to force a smile to put yourself in a good mood each day. There are things you can do that will both create a natural smile and improve the overall quality of your life. Here are 15 ways to make yourself smile every day.
1. Start your day with nature.
Studies have found that exposure to sunlight naturally boosts a person’s mood, so consider taking your cup of coffee out on the deck. Instead of checking emails on your phone, spend time appreciating the scenery in front of you. You’ll likely find it naturally brings a smile to your face.
2. Hit the gym.
Whether you wake up a half an hour earlier or take a break at lunch, the endorphins released by exercising can lift your spirits immediately. If the gym is out of the question, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk to your morning meeting.
3. Visit the office humorist.
Every office has one. Make a stop by your funniest co-worker’s office when you need your spirits lifted. A five-minute conversation can make all the difference. I personally call up my friend and fellow Entrepreneur writer John Rampton for a comical laugh all the time.
4. Do one nice thing for yourself.
Often we spend so much time taking care of things for others that we forget to help ourselves. Do little things for yourself, like grabbing your favorite cup of coffee on the way into work or reading a good book at lunch.
5. Do something nice for someone else.
People who do volunteer work have been found to be happier than those who don’t. Even if you don’t have time to perform charity work regularly, though, you can improve your overall quality of life by doing little things for other people.
6. Count your blessings.
You’ve likely heard the advice to write down the things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal. Turns out there is science behind the advice, but only to a point. One study found people who wrote those things down once a week were actually happier than those who wrote them down more often.
7. Listen to music.
If you drive to work each day, you likely think of your car radio as background music. It actually can be a great way to pep yourself up for the day. Create a playlist of your favorite music and pump up the volume every morning.
8. Take the scenic route to work.
Instead of beating the same path to work and back every day, mix it up occasionally. Avoid the interstate and take back roads. It might add a few minutes to your commute, but it will be well worth it.
9. Eat a delicious meal.
Whether you take time in the morning to make a full breakfast or have a great lunch at your favorite restaurant, enjoying your favorite foods can give a boost to your day. You’ll also have something to look forward to each day.
10. Stay off social media.
If the first thing you do each morning is check your social media accounts, you may be harming your overall well-being. Research has found that people who use Facebook experience negative emotions associated with their time online.
11. Keep smile-inducers nearby.
In addition to the work reminders and notes posted in your work area, you should also keep items around that make you smile. Photos of your loved ones, drawings your children made or birthday cards from friends and relatives can induce a smile when you need it most.
12. Watch funny clips.
There’s a reason cat videos are so popular. Pinpoint those things that make you laugh and find videos you can watch whenever you need a pick-me-up.
13. Read something funny.
There’s no shortage of opportunities to get a joke delivered every day, whether you subscribe to an email joke-a-day service or purchase a daily tear-off calendar. These services can be a great way to get the smile you need.
14. Chat with strangers.
You may not be a morning person, but you’d be surprised how much small talk with a stranger can help. A “good morning” to a stranger in the elevator could turn into a conversation that completely lifts your mood.
15. Spend time with loved ones.
Despite your many successes, your greatest accomplishment is your family. You likely smile more when you’re with your spouse and children than at any other time of the day, so that time is extremely valuable.
Just one smile can relieve a person’s stress, leading to a more productive day, as well as an increased feeling of well-being. By finding ways to bring a smile to your own face each day, you’ll also seem less stressed to co-workers, allowing you to make a better impression on everyone you meet.
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This post originally appeared on entrepreneur.com