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10 Sweet surprises to brighten your day

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Get happy

Ready to start each day with a spring in your step? Try these 10 sweet surprises to brighten your - or someone else's - day!

Happy woman

First and foremost, get enough sleep; it'll make your daytime hours that much more enjoyable. With more than 70 million Americans short on sleep and more than half experiencing sleep problems almost every night, sleep has never been more important.

Once you get that out of the way, here are some other simple joys that will help you enjoy each and every day:

1Bust it out.

One of the fastest ways to brighten things up at the end of a long, stressful day -- or right in the heart of it -- is to let go and dance. Not a mechanical two-step... really dance! Lock the door if you need to, turn up the music (for real, or at least the music in your head), and let loose. Dancing is uplifts fast because it sparks areas in your brain that make you feel happy and energetic.

2"What's the best thing that happened to you today?"

Ask someone you care about to just chat about her day. You have no idea what it will mean to her.

3Woman with cameraShoot the birds & the bees.

...With a camera, that is! The average adult spends 90 percent of life indoors. For many reasons, spending so much time inside walls and under artificial lighting is bad for your physical, mental and emotional health. Getting outside and indulging in nature, even if it is only for 20 minutes, is a sure way to boost your mood. And by taking even just a few pictures of the natural scenes around you -- birds, bees, clouds, flowers, trees -- you will get your focus off stressful thoughts quickly.

4Buy a flowering plant.

Bring the outside inside with houseplants. A NASA study found that certain houseplants can be highly effective at detoxifying the air in your home, in addition to being visually uplifting.

5Laugh -- Even if nothing is funny.

Many studies show that laughter is indeed the best medicine. But the laughter doesn't even need to be real: Recent studies also show that even fake laughter produces amazing benefits that include stress and pain relief, lower blood pressure, better brain function and mood improvement.

6Transform the grumpy.

Compliment the grumpiest-looking person you can find on something -- shoes, jewelry, eyes or whatever stands out to you. Or at least share a passing joy with him about the weather. For example, tell someone who is not smiling, "I bet you have a beautiful smile" -- and then watch as that smile unfolds.

6Listen to your power songs.

Pop on your favorite tune and remind yourself that you feel powerful, upbeat, alive, etc. Send the YouTube link for the most upbeat song in your head to a friend who needs a little smile.

8Ignite yourself with newness.

Push your boundaries and try something new. It doesn't have to be monumental, but listening to a different type of music, reading an article in a different genre, taking a different route home, or trying an ethnic food that you've never had before can help stop your mind from being cranky. Instead, it will concentrate on the novelty.

9Be quiet.

Constant noise causes stress. Put in noise-eliminating headphones and enjoy complete silence for 20 minutes -- oh, and no talking, either.

10Do something good -- anonymously.

Clean all the litter off your neighbor's patch of lawn. Place a 5-dollar bill in a teenager's backpack. Write a note that says, "I just wanted you to know that someone in this world thinks you are a really beautiful person" and place it under a random windshield.

More ways to find happiness

10 Tips to find happiness
The five secrets to happiness
Easy ways to reduce your stress & be happy

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