• The Sunshine State of Mind.

Happiness, even in tough times, is very much under your control. The past year has been hard and we have learned that we can’t always control our circumstances. But humans have an amazing ability to overcome challenges that may seem insurmountable. Experts say that 50% of our happiness is genetically determined and 10% is due to circumstance, like where you live. The other 40% is under our control. Here are some tricks you can try. Find which one works for you.

1. Let your mind wander. We often think of daydreaming as bad, as a waste of time. But recent research shows that your brain is working hard when you daydream. Daydreaming allows you to tap into the executive part of the brain, the logical and problem solving part. It also allows for creative thought and introspective thinking.

2. Give money away. Once a person’s basic needs are met, studies show that having more money doesn’t make people happier. Money people spend on themselves is unrealated to happiness, but the more money people donated or gave away as gifts the happier they were, even if it’s just a dollar.

3. Talk to your spouse like a stranger. We all want to make a good impression. So why not make a good impression on your partner. Studies show that people feel happier when in conversation with someone when they are trying to make a good impression. Try it with your spouse and see if you feel better.

4. Settle for good enough. There is no such thing a perfection, so stop driving yourself crazy. We tend to think of choices as freedom, but they can bogg you down and leave you bewildered. So narrow down your choices to those that are good enough and then just pick!

5. Know when enough is enough. Most of us are not good at walking away from a bad situation. It takes a lot of courage. Instead it’s easier to stay in a bad marriage or a job you don’t like because we think we would be wasting time and money by calling it quits. But we can’t recoup what we have lost. So make the choice as though you were not already invested in a specific plan of action.

6. Make something. Few activities are more pleasureable than making something with your own hands. Whether it’s sewing, woodworking or origami, a great deal of satisfaction comes from completing a project with your own hands. I guess I better start making that dress I’ve got cut out.

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