Want to feel more joyful, optimistic and satisfied in the year ahead? We thought so. 

Here, Gretchen Rubin, author of the forthcoming book, Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits Of Our Everyday Life, and David Niven, Ph.D., author of 100 Simple Secrets Of Happy People, offer sensible and sometimes surprising tricks to finding true contentment. Try them and you’ll be smiling a whole lot more in 2015.

1.     Set Specific Goals

“So often, people create vague objectives in their quest to feel happier, like ‘I want to be in better shape’ or ‘I want to save money,’” says Niven. “But abstract goals lack tangible markers of progress, which leads to frustration.”

Niven’s solution: “Set concrete objectives, like ‘I want to run a 5K’ or ‘I’m going to put $20 a week into my savings account.’” These goals are easier to plan for and attain. That means you’re more likely to see the results of your efforts, which will leave you with a greater sense of accomplishment.

2.    Make Time For Loved Ones

Our relationships and the time we spend nurturing them are key to a satisfied life, according to Rubin, Niven and countless other experts. “I tell people to carve out a few hours twice a week to connect face to face with people they care about,” says Niven. So skip the long text chats with friends and family and make a plan to meet up for dinner, a walk or some other shared activity. And it pays to apply the same effort to making new friends, too. “Join a book group or take a yoga class with the express goal of meeting people, which can help bring a lot more happiness into your life,” Rubin says.

3.     Get More Sleep

It may sound obvious, but catching your zzz’s is crucial to feeling focused in life. “Most people need seven to eight hours, and they rob themselves by staying up too late for no good reason,” says Rubin, who advises giving yourself a bedtime and setting an alarm at night to make sure you actually get in bed. “That way you don’t lose track of the hours watching TV or answering e-mails, only to realize it’s 2 in the morning and you’ve blown yet another night of good sleep.”

4.     Invest in Experiences

Debating between spending your cash on a shiny new flatscreen TV or a weekend getaway? Take the trip, says Niven, who reports that the happiness boost we get from purchasing material objects wears off much faster than the long-lasting benefits of positive memories gained from new experiences. So skip the gadgets and book that plane ticket — stat.

5.  Follow the 'One-Minute Rule'

Ripping open a piece of mail, putting a dish in the dishwasher, hanging up your coat… Taken individually, these are tiny, easy-to-do tasks, but when we forgo all of them, they have a tendency to overwhelm. That’s why Rubin suggests adopting a “do it as you go” approach to life. “If you can accomplish something in less than 60 seconds, don’t put it off,” she says. So, that email you’ve been meaning to answer? When you finish reading this article, take a minute and do it... it’s the first tiny step toward a happier you. We promise!

6.     Indulge in Scents

"This happiness booster doesn’t cost money or require you to expend extra energy,” says Rubin, who points out that appreciating the pleasant smells around you is one of the simplest ways to lift your spirits. Whether it’s the energizing jolt you experience after breathing in the citrusy scent of grapefruit or the warmth that envelops you when smelling a pot of freshly brewed coffee, take a moment to really appreciate these aromas. Doing so will help you feel more present. Plus, certain fragrances, like lavender and freshly cut grass, are study-proven to help you feel calmer, too.

7.     Designate a Weekly 'Power Hour'

We all have that mounting list of chores we dread. The longer we put these to-do's off, the more monstrous they become in our minds. Rubin’s solution: “Once a week, I set aside an hour to tackle the things I really don’t want to do. Maybe it’s setting up a printer or taking luggage to be repaired. I tell myself that an hour is manageable, and whatever it is, I can get through it. Plus, the reward I feel after getting some annoying task done is huge.”