Feeling happy even when you aren’t, requires a lot of self motivation, self discipline, and consistency.

By taking steps to feel genuinely happy, you will find peace during difficult times and lead a life with less stress. Happiness is a decision that requires internal motivation, but the effort to maintain a happy state will lead you to a fuller and more productive life.

Here are 6 ways to feel happy even when you aren’t

1. Exercise. Make sure your body receives 30 minutes of cardio, 3-5 times a week. Working out releases endorphins that changes your body and state of mind, helping you to focus on the day’s tasks.

2. Spiritual Growth. Managing stress and sadness by choosing the best attitude possible will enforce an awareness of spiritual maturity. When we maintain the clarity of a new insight, possibility and positive change are gained. A spiritual connection promotes inner peace and gives you solace when consistently practiced.

3. Freedom to Express. Expressing feelings through writing, speaking, drawing or other forms of communication broadens your reach to the world. Communicating warmth and words to people around you is a great connector and promotes a sense of inner peace.

4. Count Your Blessings. Taking time to reflect on the good things in your life is a priority, especially on days when you feel like you have to dig deep to find them. Make a list of things you feel grateful for, then take time to write to a friend or compliment people in your environment. These small acts of kindness can create a mental shift that establishes an inner state of happiness and affects everyone in your reach.

5. Work Hard and Play Hard. Nurturing laughter and working hard on your life’s goals will create personal satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and a reason to celebrate the many mountains you climb. Look at life, set a goal, get what you want and smile while you are doing it.

6. Be a Lifelong Learner. Exercising the brain is always enriching. By taking time to learn new things, you will boost your self confidence, stimulate your thought processes and give yourself an edge over the majority of the world.

Feeling happy even when you aren’t requires a lot of positive self talk, list making, motivation, and discipline. Remember it is far easier to fall into the black hole of doom and gloom than it is to work the muscle that makes you reach higher for the next rung on the ladder. But when you do the pay off is huge and so is your level of happiness.

Being happy is first a decision, then a habit.

Feeling sad can feel like forever. When you are blue, feeling down, or just sad for a couple of hours or days, then you are normal. But if you are feeling a more intense that lasts longer than a couple of days, you are spiraling downward toward a place where you will never be happy.