I have found nine principles to be the cornerstone of the emotional base of people who have mastered happiness. At the top of the list is gratitude and kindness.

“Every day in the life of a poor person [that is, someone who keeps thinking about what is wrong and missing] is bad, but a person with a tov lev, a cheerful heart [that is, someone who is constantly grateful for the good in his life], will live life with the joy of a party” (Proverbs, 15:5).

At every moment, we choose whether to live with the distress of the first half of the verse, or whether we will joyfully experience life as expressed in the second half of the verse.

Every time you think about happiness and joy in a positive way, you improve yourself in ways that are consistent with happiness and joy. Individuals who regularly read these nine principles find that their minds automatically create more moments of happiness.

Test it out for yourself. For the next 30 days read this list at least three times a day.

1.I think appreciatively and gratefully.
What five things am I grateful for now?

2. I speak and act joyfully and kindly.
(When you speak and act joyfully and kindly, your brain produces the biochemicals that create joyful feelings.)

3. I assume there is a benefit.
What is good about this?
(Develop the skill of reframing. Find positive ways of viewing events, situations, and circumstances.)

4. I strive for meaningful goals.
What is my goal for now?
(Being clear about your priorities is the first step to accomplishing and achieving goals. Take a step forward.)

5. I see myself being the way I wish to be.
How do I want to be?
(As you picture yourself speaking and acting in ways consistent with your highest and wisest self, you create your ideal self.)

6. I focus on solutions.
What outcome am I looking for?
(If a problem arises, first clarify the problem. Then ask, “What can I do now to solve it?”)

7. I let challenges develop my character.
“This too will develop my character.”
(Look at difficulties as divinely sent opportunities to upgrade who you are. What quality can you develop now with a challenge that you faced or are facing now?)

8. I consistently access positive states. My awesome brain stores my best states. What state do I want for right now?
(When you give names to your favorite and best moments, you will find them easier to access. Just tell your brain to access the specific state you want to experience now.)

9. I smile and wave to mirrors.
They always smile and wave back to me.
(Research has shown that smiling to yourself in a mirror creates positive chemicals in your body. This works even if you smile without a mirror.)

Read these principles a number of times a day. The more frequently and enthusiastically you review these ideas, the greater the imprint on your brain.

The positive effect is even stronger when you read this list with a friend or group of friends. In a group, having discussions about these ideas will benefit all those who attend. Each individual will have a unique way of thinking and reacting.

This list has been taken from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's new book: Life is Now: Creating moments of joy, courage, kindness, and serenity (Artscroll publications)