While our individual happiness is affected by circumstance and to some extent genetics, research suggests that up to 40 percent of it can be influenced by our everyday thoughts and actions. If you start to feel down, here's how to elevate your mood.
See also: Signs that you might be depressed
1. Listen to lively music
Many studies have shown that listening to upbeat music can significantly improve your mood. Play whatever gets you moving - whether that's an 80s album, Motörhead or the soundtrack from Grease.
Even if you don't feel like it, dancing can signal to the mind that you're happy, much the same way as scientists have discovered that smiling (even if you don't want to) can improve your mood. Don't worry about whether it's working, just turn up the volume and move!
2. Read or watch something funny
Laughter raises dopamine levels in our brains, which is a chemical that improves mood, according to a researchers at Stanford University. Having a giggle has also been shown to increase the amount of oxygen in your body, calming our stress response system and promoting a feeling of relaxation. So the next time you're in a bad mood before you leave the house, switch off the news and watch your favourite comedy series instead.
3. Walk some of the way to work
Exercise is one of the best ways to banish morning grumpiness. Don't worry, we're not suggesting you hit the gym before work. Studies show that even doing mild exercise, like stretching in your bedroom or walking for 20 minutes, can elevate your mood. Exercise near some greenery or by water - walk through the park or by the canal for instance - and your mental wellbeing will benefit even more.
Clutter, whether physical or mental, can sap your energy and make you feel overwhelmed. If your 'to-do' list is forever growing, take some things off your workload. Promising yourself that you will go to the gym or sort out the garage will only make you feel bad if it doesn't happen – so take it off your mental to-do list and stop beating yourself up.
Likewise, decluttering the house can create mental headspace. A recent study found that people who washed up experienced a better mood than those who left the side covered with dirty dishes. Have a five or 10-minute tidy session before you leave for work. Focus on one room or one area only – you might be surprised at what you can done, and the achievement will set you up for the rest of the day.
5. Hug someone
Scientists have long known about the benefits of human touch. Hugging someone stimulates oxytocin, the feel-good 'bonding' hormone. If you don't have anyone to hug, stroke the cat or dog. Petting an animal has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase oxytocin.
Don't have anyone to hug and the cat's not interested? Try rubbing your own arms, forehead or hands. Self-massage has been shown to decrease heart rate and lower the stress-hormone cortisol.
6. Remember a time when things went well
If you know you're in for a tough day, it can be hard not to fall into a bad mood. Whether you're facing a nightmare boss or an awkward meeting with family, thinking the worst is only going to bring you down.
Try focusing on what went well on other occasions. Was there a time you had a positive meeting with your boss, or your daughter-in-law did something nice for you? Mentally re-living a time when things went well can help to reduce feelings of stress, and if you go into your day feeling positive, things are more likely to go well (and even if they don't, you'll be in a better state of mind to handle them).
7. Have a healthy breakfast
Do you have cereal or toast for breakfast most days? Foods that are high on the GI scale, such as cornflakes and white bread, turn to sugar quickly in the body – and when your blood sugar level drops again, you can be left feeling irritable and tired.
Consider swapping to something that releases its energy slowly, such as porridge or eggs. A recent study found that people who eat fruit and vegetables at breakfast reported better mood and wellbeing. Add some berries or a banana to your porridge, or pack your omelette with peppers and spinach. Can't face much in the morning? Whizz yourself up a fruit or vegetable smoothie.
8. Do something nice for someone
Studies show that people who do something nice for others experience increased happiness themselves. You don't need a grand gesture – small acts of kindness can make a big difference to someone's day and improve your mood. Send a lovely text message to a friend, give your neighbour a compliment, or make your partner breakfast in bed. If you have more time on your hands, volunteering has been shown to significantly improve life satisfaction and feelings of wellbeing.