Marin Alsop

 Photo: Courtesy of Grant Leighton

Marin Alsop
Music director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

"Being totally engaged in the moment is the most uplifting thing I can do, and fortunately, I am able to do it frequently. When I'm engaged with 100 musicians and 2,000 listeners in a journey through a Mahler or Brahms symphony, there is a genuine and heartfelt human connection that goes beyond words. I feel the same depth of connection when I take a hike in the Colorado Rockies with my 5½-year-old son. His joy at what is is contagious."
Dacher Keltner

Photo: Courtesy of Natalie Keltner-McNeil 

Dacher Keltner
PhD, UC Berkeley professor of psychology and author of Born to Be Good

"I believe in the absolute brilliant delights of lightheartedness, whether it's rough-and-tumble with my daughters or wordplay with my wife: goofing around, calling each other nicknames, punning. I try to make sure a big part of the day is spent just being silly."
Elizabeth Alexander

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander
PhD, inaugural poet, essayist, and Yale professor

"It always works to take a walk when I am blue. Letting pace and breath govern the fretful body calms the mind and rinses it of worry—the endorphins take the edge off anxiety. There is no walk that has not left me better able to face even the gravest of woes. And to be a small creature among trees, sidewalks, trucks, oceans, mountains—wherever the walk takes place—puts problems in proper perspective."
Lorrie Moore

Photo: Courtesy of Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore
Novelist and short-story writer

"Champagne celebrates good tidings, and many elaborate events—weddings being the most dire—are engineered just for a lovely glass of it. But why wait for happiness? Start directly with the celebratory drink, just as the Cowardly Lion achieves his quest for courage by first putting on a medal. Even Spanish cava in a cheap glass flute can produce feelings of uplift and communion."
Cornel West

Photo: Arnold Turner/

Cornel West
PhD, author and professor of African-American studies at Princeton

"Most people try to escape their daily lives through stimulation or titillation. But spiritual uplift happens through real connection—conversation, community, action, music. I lift my spirits listening to Mahalia Jackson."
Philippe Petit

Photo: Jemal Countess/

Philippe Petit
High-wire artist

"I do magic constantly. I have magic tricks in my pocket, in case I meet anyone out of chance, especially a group of kids. Seeing them amazed by a coin that disappears and comes back—seeing the face of a child believing in magic—is something that will transport anyone from the darkest mood."
Taxi Driver Larry Kalkstein

Photo: Courtesy of Larry Kalkstein

Larry Kalkstein
NYC taxi driver

"I lost everything in some bad investments a year ago, and now I've been driving a cab for ten months. I make $700 to $900 a week, working ten to 12 hours a day. When I'm feeling down, I stop at the Frick Collection on Fifth Avenue and look at the Rembrandts. How he painted hands is the most beautiful thing in the world. Rembrandt's hands always lift my spirits."
Need a lift? Try these quick mood boosters
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