Gretchen Rubin

Need a simple way to boost your mood in one minute? Look at a photograph of someone you love.

A reader sent me an email telling me about a strategy she uses when she needs a dose of happiness: she imagines the smiling faces of her family and other beloved people in her life.

That certainly rang true for me. We have a long line of photographs along a windowsill in our bedroom, and I often stop to look at each photograph, even though I’ve seen them all a thousand times, and it always cheers me up.

I read a note in the May O Magazine about a study in which people were asked about their moods before and after eating chocolate, listening to music, and looking at photographs of loved ones. The only activity that altered their moods was looking at photographs – they got an 11% lift.

I’ve never been one to carry photos of my family in my wallet (I figure that it's safe to assume other people aren't as interested in my children as I am), but now I’m going to start – not to show other people (though I’m sure I won’t be able to resist), but for my own benefit.

I was surprised, however, that this study suggested that listening to music didn’t boost people’s moods. I’ve read other research showing that listening to music is one of the most effective ways to get a lift. Maybe the people in this study didn’t get to pick music they liked.

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Countdown continues! Tomorrow is the big day! The first Women's Murder Club airs -- ABC, 9:00 Eastern.

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