Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the US, affecting around 15 million adults a year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Add the current controversial political and social climate to general everyday woes, and now, perhaps more than ever, we could all use a little cheering up!

Here are eight easy, practical ways to create more joy in your daily life, starting today:

KEY 1: Transform trials into stepping stones
We are often faced with challenges in our lives which can easily “get us down”. When this happens we need to choose the best way to respond. WE have to face reality, but we can’t let everything impact us negatively, either. Ultimately, it isn’t what happens to us, but what we do with the situation. Before Louise Hay became one of the world’s most famous authors and speakers on life transformation, she was completely broke and literally had nothing. Sound familiar? J.K. Rowling admits she was a poor single mother when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. If you are going through a serious challenge, be on the lookout for ways you can transform it into a stepping stone to learn and grow.

KEY 2: Fear is what we make of it
Remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous words: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” There is a lot of truth in this statement. Fear is a major road block for those achieving true joy. Identify what you are fearful of in your life, and then ask, “why”. Find ways to combat your fears by facing them head on.

KEY 3: Make time for joy
Yes, this seems cliché and simplistic, but when was the last time you actually made time for joy? A friend of mine runs a monthly singing group called The Mockingbirds. They will never be famous. They will never be paid for their singing. But, singing together brings these people great joy and they make time for it once a month. Find ways to incorporate joy into your life. Be purposeful about it. Make a “joyful list” of ideas you really want to do that make you smile. Then, take action. Create the time and space to actually do them. You will be glad you did!

KEY 4: Release judgments
Being judgmental about ourselves and others is guaranteed to do one thing; suck the joy right out of our life. Consider using discernment rather than judgment. By doing this you don’t waste your time and energy on dividing the world into good or bad -- the world just is. Practice judging less and accepting more, and enjoy the boost of happiness that can come from living in that state.

KEY 5: Release expectations
So much of our lives are built around expectations – expecting a job, a relationship, a promotion, an invitation. When our grand expectations are not met we feel a sense of loss. If we choose to release expectations we make more room for joy. Live in the moment. Allow the experience to be what it is, and enjoy the journey.

KEY 6: Choose to be happy
Yes, we can choose to be happy. Admittedly, it might be one of the most challenging things we can do for ourselves. Some may be wondering, can we actually choose to be happy? Yes! We can see the glass as half full or half empty. It is our choice, even if it is a challenging one. We have all heard of people who go through really difficult challenges and yet they made a choice to remain happy and hopeful. Why? By surrendering ourselves to life’s difficulties, we give up our right to be happy. Take it one moment at a time and make the choice.

KEY 7: Show your appreciation
This is one of the easiest things we can do to be more joyful in life. It is easy to say thank you to people, to let friends know we appreciate them, to pick up the phone and call family or friends. The more we appreciate others, the more we are appreciated, and round it goes!

KEY 8: Contribute to the world around you
Nothing brings more joy into our lives than giving of ourselves to those who are less fortunate. Find a community service meaningful to you and get involved. There will be great joy in helping out and meeting others who share you values.

Our keys to a more joyful life do not have to be complex or emotionally draining. They may challenge us at times, particularly when we’re breaking the habits and responses we’ve grown so accustomed to. But we all have the potential to shift from that spot where we just aren’t connected with the goodness in this world to a place where we cannot help but be joyful about even the smallest delights in life.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA, is an internationally recognized positive psychology coach and author of "Are We Happy Yet? Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life." Lisa hosts the popular radio show Harvesting Happiness, which has helped millions of people around the world generate more joy and fulfillment in their life. For more information, visit and visit Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram