Last week we talked about finding lasting happiness, which usually takes work and sacrifice. Maintaining a positive mindset is critical and creating a new narrative for yourself may put you on a path to a rosier future. What else can you do?

Make your environment great. From the country you live in to the bedroom you sleep in, you can effect change to make yourself happier. Let’s start with the macro view.

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Live in a happy country. What constitutes a happy country? People who study these things say freedom, social support, a healthy life expectancy, a generous population, the lack of corruption, and sufficient money to live reasonably well are the markers of a happy place. Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland are the top five, in that order. The United States is ranked 14th. If you don’t want to move, you can apply those markers to your personal life. Cultivate social support, take care of your health, be generous to others, keep your integrity intact, and find a satisfying job where you can earn what you need.

Live in a happy community. Even if you can’t move to another country, you might want to consider moving to another community. It may sound superficial, but it turns out living in someplace pretty can have an effect on your happiness. Someplace that’s charming or scenic or full of trees and green space gives you a lift. Add to that a community that fosters social connections like public spaces, inviting restaurants, walking trails—that’s where people are happier. And they’re happier still when others are open and welcoming.

Go outside. Spending time in nature is good for you. Talk a walk. Get out among the trees or take a hike up the mountain or explore the river valley. You will get a psychological as well as physiological boost. While you’re at it, soak up a little sunshine. SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) is a real thing. Sunlight can improve your mood.

Spiff up your living space. You don’t need to spend a lot to redecorate. Maybe it’s enough to just tidy up a bit. Excessive clutter can bring you down. And getting organized can make you feel better. Get rid of things that don’t make you happy. Throw out anything that isn’t important. And see how good you feel after a vigorous spring-cleaning.

Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Two of the strongest indicators of happy people are good sleep and good sex, which make your bedroom an important place. Paint your walls a tranquil color. Make sure your windows are adequately covered to keep out the light. Turn your mattress on a regular basis and don’t skimp if you need a new one. Maybe a duvet with a washable cover can eliminate the need for a tangling top sheet. Maybe a new pillow that fits your contour will help you sleep better. Put some lavender in a vase by the bed and a dimmer on the light switch. And get rid of distracting electronics like TVs and iPods, except for the device that plays soothing, sexy music.

Your environment, from macro to micro, can make a big difference in how you feel. One of the most important aspects of your happiness is your relationship with others. We’ll talk about that next week in the third installment of our series on being happy.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.co.m/contact.

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