Imagine you wake up one morning to find you’re turning 30 at the end of the week. You stop for a moment and realize that life looks nothing like you thought it would. Sure, you have some pretty great things going on like a boyfriend who has been crazy supportive, a puppy who makes you smile, and friends who have your back like woah. But you’re spending your days working a job that is completely not the right fit and that is taking quite an emotional toll on you.

What do you do?

You come up with a plan, try your damndest to stay positive at all costs, and get the hell out of there, right? Life is too short to be unhappy.

Ok, so maybe you can’t just up and leave. I get it. Or maybe it’s not a job that’s the source of your darkness. Check out these 9 exercises to help you find happiness when it feels kind of impossible.

  1. Choose to be happy. It might seem crazy at the time but the simple act of telling yourself “I choose to be happy right here, right now” actually works wonders.
  2. Smile. Studies show that just moving your mouth into a smile automatically improves your mood.
  3. Make a list of 10 things that never fail to make you laugh. Then do one of those things. Whether it’s reading a corny joke, watching a favorite YouTube video (here’s one that never fails to make me laugh), or playing with your dog. Keep this list around and refer to it when necessary.
  4. Dance. It’s a proven fact (at least it is in my world) that a mini dance party can turn any frown upside down. It’s also a great way to re-set for any reason at any time of day.
  5. Practice gratitude. This can really be as easy as telling the Universe “I am grateful for this butterscotch hot chocolate”.
  6. Give someone a compliment. How does this helpĀ your mood? Smiles are contagious and you’ll likely make that person’s day.
  7. Cross one thing off your to-do list. Sometimes our lack of happiness stems from the fact that we’re overwhelmed and overworked and just feeling like the world is too much. Completing one task (and for some of us, physically crossing that thing off your list) can feel like such a relief that it’ll help your mood, even if it’s a simple task that only took you 30 minutes to get through.
  8. Meditate, even if it’s only for 2 minutes.
  9. Take care of your body. Drink some water. Eat some veggies. When your body is happy your mind will be, too!

For me, simply choosing to spot the happy has made a huge difference. Several years ago, when I left my toxic corporate job, I participated in #100HappyDays on Instagram. It was a great way to help me pick the happy out of my everyday life as I was beginning a new adventure of entrepreneurship. When things got dicey this fall, I did the same. I’ve chosen to make it easy– I don’t HAVE to post something every day if I’m not feeling it. But I’m aiming for 100 total consecutive posts of things that make me happy. Sometimes these are simply gratitude lists. Other times I’m diving deep. I’d encourage you to try the same– it’s amazing how hard it can feel to find the happy some days!

Follow along on my latest #100HappyDays journey.

What’s your favorite happiness trick? I’d love to get a list of other ideas going in the comments.