Sometimes we fall into a slump in life, and no matter what we do, we feel stuck. We may ask ourselves “When will I ever find my groove again?” Thankfully, there are a few simple habits we can apply to our life to take us out of our slump and restore the happiness and joy of life.

Oftentimes, someone bad happens, and immediately we think, “Well, I was on a roll, but I guess that’s over now.” And then we retreat to a hole of sadness. Sometimes, this darkness pushes us to reexamine our path, and eventually, we pull ourselves out, but in other cases, much like sinking sand, we get stuck. And once we are in a prolonged cycle of unhappiness, we may begin to believe that happiness is a thing of the past. I am here to tell you it isn’t.

There are several habits you can participate in regularly to create a new pathway to a happier and more joy-filled life. And while you may be shaking your head, I promise you, happiness and joy is more of a perspective than they are a destination.

Here are 12 habits to restore your happiness and bring you joy that you can begin implementing now.

1. Declutter your home & your life.

Sit down, and make a brain dump (list) of everything chaotic in your life. Start with the basics, and work towards decluttering each area one at a time. Not only will this make it easier for you to move forward in all areas of your life, but science also shows decluttering helps with depression. Also, change helps break up the monotony and can help get you out of a

2. Practice gratitude.

Studies show that when we reprogram our minds towards gratitude, it helps us to be more optimistic and it also helps improve our overall wellbeing. While many would say “Well I am just a pessimist, I can’t do that.” or “What if I don’t have anything to be grateful for?” There is always something to be grateful for so start with the simple things. And gratitude and optimism are skills. The more you work on them, the more you will notice your blessings.

3. Start your day off right.

Rather than waking up and rolling over and saying “Ugh, I have to get up and start my day,” change your language to reprogram your mind towards a happier mindset. Say “I get to get up and start my day!” or “I’m thankful for another day.” Then, turn on some upbeat music, dance around, and practice some positive affirmations to get your day started right.

4. Stay mindful.

Mindfulness is the awareness of your present moment. Oftentimes, we get so lost in the what-ifs, or the past, that we miss out on the simplicity of the present moment. When you feel yourself getting stressed, remind yourself of where you are and what you are doing in the now.

5. Get some sun.

Sunshine promotes vitamin D production in the body, and vitamin D facilitates a better mood. Not to mention, it just feels good to sit under the sun and soak up the warmth.

6. Learn something new.

With the hustle and bustle of chores, work, bills, etc, life can become stagnant. Shake things up by learning something new, or immersing yourself in a new hobby. It doesn’t have to be expensive, hobbies can be cheap or even free. And with the internet as a resource, you can learn just about anything.

7. Embrace fear.

Everyone gets caught up in fear from time to time. Rather than running from fear- face them head-on. Start small. I’m not saying that if you have a healthy fear of falling off a cliff to go stand on the edge and dance- but if there is something you fear that you need to face, face it. The more you practice this one, the easier it will be to move past your comfort zone and truly reach for your dreams.

8. Feed yourself good stuff.

You are what you eat. If you eat things that are bad for you and harmful to your body, eventually it does catch up with you. You don’t have to eat perfectly all the time, but adding balance to your diet does help. Studies show a balanced diet improves overall mood, boosts energy and so much more! You owe it to yourself to give a damn about your health.

9. Exercise.

Exercise releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Do you remember this saying from Legally Blonde? Regardless of Elle Woods- this is the truth. And it doesn’t have to be strenuous. Simply taking a walk, doing some yoga, or getting in more steps truly does boost mood.

10. Create an abundance mindset.

When we limit ourselves and hold on to every penny, we create a scarcity mindset. Try to develop an abundance mindset by giving freely and by changing your perspective. If you feel like you aren’t loving enough, give more love to others. If you don’t feel like you make enough money, give some to someone who needs it.

11. Dance when no one is looking.

Sometimes, when I feel my mood slipping, I smile real big (and genuinely) and dance around like no one is looking. More often than not, I do this when I am alone. But I can’t tell you how much it changes my mood and the overall outlook for that day.

12. Do things you do when you are happy- even if you aren’t.

A team of UC Riverside psychologists put things into perspective by saying, “Positive emotions may aid those feeling trapped or helpless amid negative moods, thoughts or behaviors- for example, grief, pessimism, or isolation- spurring them to take positive action.” Fake it till you make it! Well, it’s more than that. We make positive associations with certain actions, so if you are feeling down, and going to your favorite park makes you happy, you associate that place with happiness. When you get there, your mind says “Okay, it’s time to get happy.”

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