I want to be in a better mood – NOW.

Okay, then… Lower those shoulders, please; now exhale slowly. See how much more relaxed you feel already? Here are my tried and true tips, sweet friends. Start by looking around. Find people who make you feel happier, and surround yourself with them – a lot. Get back into reading. Trust me on this one. A great book is a gateway to all kinds of new worlds. Think about asking your best friend to read the same book. Then go ahead and have a book or movie review for two. Preferably over coffee and donuts. Eat more hole foods. Heh.

Pay attention to the small miracles around you. When was the last time you marveled at a bird or colorful butterfly as it sashayed by you? If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies. Think about that.

Know which foods are high in serotonin, that natural mood enhancer. Pick one: cherries, bananas, pineapple, tomatoes, or plums. Or treat yourself to some chocolate. Yes, chocolate, which is chock full of flavonoids. Did you ever notice that there are no recipes for “leftover” chocolate? Treat yourself to a morning cup of coffee or tea. Waiting on a line? Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you for no reason at all. Let’s be honest. Coffee shops are like gas stations for humans. My work out tip for the day: Get really heavy coffee mugs. Lol. Pay someone a compliment while you’re at it. Today’s good mood is sponsored by coffee.

Get off your own back. Give yourself permission to be human, and make those mistakes that we all make eventually. Do a good deed. Being compassionate to others makes you appreciate all the blessings in your own life. And let’s be honest. Sometimes you simply have to love people more than they deserve. Goodness and graciousness are free. Sprinkle them everywhere.

So you had a less than dreamy night’s sleep last night, too? If today is an uphill battle, it’s time to get yourself out of the house – even if you just trot down to the store for a carton of milk. Take a walk around the nearest park. Exercise in the morning, before your brain figures out what you’re doing. And no, running late does not count as exercise. Get your blood circulating and keep your mind off those worries. Try to replay some things in your mind that actually went well today. I’m sure you can come up with at least one. Hey, you woke up this morning. How’s that for looking at the sunny side of life?

Do most of your conversations start with: “Did I tell you this already?” or “What was I going to say?” Getting a tad older? Guess what? Research shows that folks become happier as they age. Go figure. P.S. – Don’t let aging get you down. It’s too hard to get back up.

By all means, have some fun. Please do something you really enjoy. And not something you may relish and revel in at the moment, but will seriously regret later – like drinking an extra three cups of wine, or eating the entire leftover cheesecake.

Press “Play” and tune in to your favorite music. Music: “On.” World: “Off.” Make a soundtrack of your favorite upbeat tunes. Sing along. G’head. It releases endorphins and oxytocin – both anxiety and stress relievers.

Treat yourself the way you treat your best friend. You already want to take a nap tomorrow? Yikes. The less serotonin you have, the less sleep you get. The less you sleep, the worse you end up feeling. Heck, I look forward to going to bed at night, because I know that when I wake up, I get coffee. So do make sleep a priority, please.

Never seem to have enough time? You may need to park yourself a seat, figure out the big picture; your long-term goals, and all the little things that will help you achieve them. Make lists; I do it all the time. I love to make lists, then leave them on the kitchen counter and have to guess what was on them when I get to the store. Heh. I made a huge “To Do” list for today, but I just can’t figure out who’s going to do it. But seriously, know when you can delete, defer, delegate, or simply have to do.

Break your routine. Any activity will do the trick. Tidy up the house, garden, or garage. Call a friend or chat with a neighbor – especially the one who didn’t put a password on her Wifi. Talking to someone helps to bring you out of yourself.

Think fast. That’s right: brainstorm. Don’t allow yourself the chance to wallow. Give yourself two minutes to come up with as many solutions as you can for your problem. Go.

Light a vanilla-scented candle or just take a whiff of some vanilla beans. Ahhh. Instant mood-enhancing. Eat a banana for an instant dopamine hit. They contain 50 times as much dopamine as potatoes. And admit it: You’ve never seen anyone fall because of a banana, right?

Last, but not least: Find out what makes you happy and take small, simple steps. Expect nothing, sweet friends. And appreciate everything.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.