Move over, mood board! Manifesting happiness starts with a “gratefulness collage,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of The How of Happiness. “Cut out photos of people and things you’re grateful for—or something that signifies good health, your home, anything that gives you tingly feelings,” she says. Hang your collage in your cubicle, or take a picture of it to use as your phone’s wallpaper. Every time you see it, take a second to reflect on each item and you’ll get an instant dose of gratitude and reap its benefits, Lyubomirsky says.
Write It Down
Try this experiment: At night, think of three things you’re thankful for from the day (or, if you’re a morning person, the day before). “This trains your brain to look for the good in life,” says Philip Watkins, a professor of psychology at Eastern Washington University, in Cheney. Jot them down in a journal, then add a sentence or so about how each makes you feel. This part of the exercise is key to fully processing your appreciation, Watkins says. They can be big or small: having an umbrella on a rainy day, finishing a report at work. Do this during the week, then take stock of your outlook at the end to see if it’s sunnier.
Type It In
“You can pick anything as a password, so choose something positive,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. If you have to type what you’re grateful for when you open your email or make a purchase on Amazon, it’ll be a good reminder to pause to appreciate that thing. She suggests something like family, love, or even a hobby. (Just be sure to add caps, numbers, and special characters for security.) You could also try a funny phrase your mom said to you as a kid or a family motto: “If something gives you that little burst of joy, it’s definitely a keeper,” says Rubin.
Find Your Moment
Counting blessings around the dinner table is a classic gratitude play. But if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t force it. Instead, pick a frequent action in your life that you can use as a cue to be grateful. “For me, coming and going from my apartment building is a good one because of how happy it makes me to be out and about in New York City,” says Rubin. Maybe it’s waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning or walking the dog around the block before bed. Whatever you pick, use that specific task to prompt a few thoughts of gratitude, and make this your ritual each day.