Q: Could you give me a list of suggestions of things to do to help me raise my level of happiness? My doctor said I would likelier be happier and healthier if I “quit thinking about what you don’t have and start concentrating on what you do have.” That irritated the heck out of me, but I can see he might have a point.

 A:  Here are few suggestions.

  • Studies have demonstrated that listening to positive music may be an effective way to improve happiness, particularly when it is combined with an intention to become happier.
  • Do something you love every day. Do not just wish to be happier, do everything that lies in your power to affect this change. Remove from your life what makes you feel miserable. Learn to deal with difficulties in your life that you cannot get rid of. Listen to happy music for 10-15 minutes and choose to be happier because of it.
  • Understand that your brain is designed to react more intensely to negative events—perhaps as a safety mechanism. By actively focusing and appreciating the positive aspects of your life, no matter how tiny and seemingly insignificant, you can gradually transform perceived misery into gratefulness and happiness.
  • Practice learning how to “be in the moment.” Establishing peace of mind helps you to be happy. PET Scans have shown that the left frontal area of the brain correlates with feelings of joy, happiness, and excitement.
  • Live life by design, offering your “gifts” in service to others, at least at some level. For example, list all your talents. Then list what you are passionate about. How can your talents be put to work for your passion. If you love to read, donate an hour a week to reading to someone who is blind or to children at the local library. If you have great compassion, volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank for an hour a week. If you love to help kids succeed, donate an hour a week to coaching a child in some area of your expertise. You get the idea. There is always something you can do.