Think about others first and you'll be a happier person

DEPRESSION and stress involve a constant focus on our inner world, but by focusing on others, we shift our thinking.

So practice some random acts of kindness and feel the benefits - visit a sick friend, help a stranger in need or volunteer for a charity.

There's a good chemical explanation for the benefit of being kind. Helping others and feeling of use can kick start the feel-good hormones in the brain, such as oxytocin.

The other positive impact on our mood is the connections we make with friends.

People typically tend to associate with others who have similar personalities, so if one day you find yourself in a room of nine moody people, guess who the tenth one might be?

Making new friends is a way to effectively find fresh air and perspective, and it's never too late to expand your circle of friends. People who have an upbeat, positive, and energetic outlook tend to associate with each other, so finding even one such new friend will bring about a happier outlook.

Staying connected is also a proven mood-lifter. It's never been easier, thanks to technology, to stay close to friends and family, no matter how far-flung.

A few positive, cheery emails or Facebook messages can make the difference to your whole day.