Want to boost your happiness? Here are the little things that can make a big difference, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.

  • Don’t buy boxed sets of DVDs. Economist Tyler Cowen says that a lot of the joy we get from purchases lies in the experience of seeking them out, getting them home, and opening them up. Iif you get 18 DVDs in one package, you’ll use up the buzz all at once. So, buy your DVDs one at a time and you’ll get a hit of happiness every time one arrives in the mail.
  • Keep your child’s baby shoes in your desk. Or pictures of a great vacation in your wallet. Simply looking at something that emotionally connects you to a treasured experience is a great, instant mood booster.
  • Another way to boost your happiness: Read, watch or participate in something that takes your breath away. A recent study found that people seek out newspaper articles that inspire awe, that hard-to-define feeling you get when you’re exposed to great beauty, power or accomplishment. So, do whatever gives you that lump-in-your-throat feeling, whether it’s praying, watching a nature program, or reading stories of personal triumph.
  • Also: Pet a dog – any dog. Experts say that physical contact with animals works wonders, because it increases the brain chemicals associated with pleasure, and decreases stress chemicals. Even people without pets can get a mood boost simply by hanging out for a few minutes at a dog park.
  • Finally: Smile. It’s the ultimate mood booster. That’s because people react better to you when you look happy, which leads to a reinforcing cycle of good vibes. Plus, thanks to something called “facial feedback,” looking happy actually fools your brain into thinking you are happy, and eventually, you’ll actually start to feel happy.