Most of us want to live a happier life, but we get lost in the daily grind of responsibility and adulthood. While we all have to make sacrifices in life, no one should stay in a situation that makes them perpetually unhappy. On the other hand, you also have to evaluate if it really is the circumstance making you unhappy, or simply your attitude about life. Many people forget that happiness is not a destination, but a choice. If you’ve been searching for more happiness but have come up short, we have a few ideas to put a smile back on your face.
Here are 50 ways to have a happier life:
1. Buy some flowers (or look at them in nature)
If you have found yourself down in the dumps lately, looking at flowers can make you happier, according to a study done by Harvard. If you want to add more nature into your life, buy some flowers or take the scenic route to work.
2. Take a selfie
Taking a happy or silly picture can make you happier, according to research published in The Psychology of Well Being. Smiles are contagious, even if you’re just looking at your own happy face!
If you want to have a happier life, imagining yourself in a different situation could do the trick, says a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Called “self-guided positive imagery,” this technique can help dispel negative emotions in the short-term and even change the structure of your brain over the long-term.
4. Take a social media sabbatical
People who spend more time on social media are less happy in real life, says a study published in Depression and Anxiety. Don’t aimlessly scroll through your social media feed; instead, only get on when you have something important to update your friends about. This way, you will compare yourself less to others’ “perfect” lives and spend more time living yours.
5. Walk in nature
A study published in Environmental Health and Medicine found that walking through forests increases your health and well-being. So, get outside and explore when you can!
6. Make a decision
Using your free will, even for a small decision, can make you happier, according to research in Frontiers in Psychology. Yogurt or ice cream? Take your pick!
7. Donate to a charity you support
Giving money or supplies to a cause you truly support can help you live a happier life, according to research done by Harvard Business School.
8. Be the bearer of good news
In a study done by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that sharing even little positive things helped both the sharer and receiver feel happier.
9. Spend time with your kids
Sure, parenting comes with a lot of challenges, but when things seem tough, remember that your kids will grow up someday. Truly relish the moments you have with them now and don’t take any moment for granted.
10. Learn about your heritage
People who know where they come from have a better sense of identity, which promotes feelings of happiness.
11. Surround yourself with positive people
You’ve heard that happiness is contagious, so having happy friends can boost your mood, say researchers at Harvard’s Medical School.
12. Be intimate with your partner
Couples who were intimate at least once a week were happier than those who had less physical contact, but being intimate more frequently didn’t produce any more happiness than once per week contact, according to a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
13. Make a change
Making a positive life change will help you live a happier life due to altering your routine, but remember to appreciate your new life for a while instead of constantly needing a change.
14. Catch your smile in the mirror
Just like looking at a silly picture of yourself, smiling in the mirror will instantly make you happier.
15. Count your blessings
If your happiness depends on anything outside yourself, it will never last. Learn to be happy with what you have rather than focusing on all the things you don’t have.
16. Remember to take breaks
To live a happier life, you need to take short breaks to give your mind a rest, according to a study published in Work and Stress.
17. Treat yourself
Reward your hard work with something you enjoy, such as a cookie or a new pair of shoes. Everyone deserves a treat from time to time.
18. Eat a balanced diet
You can’t feel happy if your brain and body don’t get the nutrition they need to function. Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lean meats and dairy if you wish.
19. Don’t work too hard
If you make a lot of money but work all the time, you’ll have no time to spend that hard-earned money. Having free time and less money is better than being overstressed and overpaid.
20. Live within your means
Having too much debt can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, so to combat this, try not to buy anything you can’t pay off in a few months. Or, pay down your existing debt faithfully over time without making other large purchases to add on top of it.
21. Nurture your relationships
A happier life depends on us forming and maintaining connections with others. After all, we need other people to survive, so human connection can’t be emphasized enough.
22. Be kind to yourself
Accepting and loving yourself as you are right now can make you happier and more confident, say researchers at the University of Hertfordshire.
23. Offer help to the homeless
Whether you give someone spare change, a blanket, or a hot meal, you will feel much better caring about the well-being of your community instead of just worrying about your own needs.
24. Find happiness in the small things
Happiness exists all around you all the time; you just have to remember to open your eyes and notice it. The breeze on your skin, a child laughing at the park, and the sound of the rain are all reasons to smile.
25. Move your body
The effects of exercise are well-documented, so make sure to add some sort of movement to your daily routine. Exercise doesn’t just affect your physical health; it boosts your mental and emotional health as well.
26. Remember to breathe
Mindful breathing practices, such as Sudarshan Kriya yoga, can help to alleviate severe depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
27. Add positive thinking to your life
Focus on all the good things in your life instead of ruminating on the bad things. You’ll have a brighter outlook and be able to live a happier life.
28. Don’t buy things; buy experiences
Studies have shown that experiences, not things, make people happier. While you still have to spend money on experiences, you’ll have memories and connections to show for it instead of just a physical object.
29. Learn to say no
You can’t do everything and be everywhere at once, so don’t try. Saying no will free up your schedule and help to eliminate stress, which will bring you more happiness.
30. Keep an open heart
This world can be a scary place, but not everyone has evil intentions. Trust people until they give you a reason not to, because you can’t form any connections in life without some level of trust.
31. Eat your veggies
Eating your fruits and veggies boosts both physical and mental health, says a study published in the American Journal for Public Health. The study found that people felt happier with each serving of fruits and veggies eaten, up to eight per day.
32. Go outside
If possible, try to get out into the country every once in a while where the air is purer. Breathe in deeply and enjoy the fresh air in your lungs!
33. Hug someone!
Physical contact helps promote happiness and releases feel-good hormones such as oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding.
34. Give thanks
Remembering what you’re grateful for will help keep things in perspective and help you stay focused on the positive things in your life.
35. Turn off the tech
It seems that depression and anxiety are on the rise in part due to the rampant use of technology, according to a study published in Computers in Human Behavior. Take a tech break for a couple hours a day to live a happier life.
36. Do yoga
Because yoga combines deep breathing, exercise, meditation and stretching, it’s the perfect recipe for happiness.
37. Cut out alcohol
Or, try to cut back on it, at least. One drink a day won’t hurt you, but any more than that can cause depression and other health problems in the long run.
38. Spread kindness whenever you can
However, don’t just do it for likes on a video or to brag to your friends. Show people kindness because it’s the right thing to do, and you’ll notice it’s easier to live a happier life.
39. Wake up with the sun
This might be hard for night owls, but not impossible. Getting up earlier will help you accomplish more during the day; it just takes time to establish a routine.
40. Give up smoking
Ditching cigarettes improves both your physical and mental health, according to a study published in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine. Two-thirds of people in the study who quit smoking reported having a better mood and fewer episodes of depression.
41. Make new friends
Friends are vital for our health, and making new ones can boost happiness levels due to forming bonds and sharing experiences.
42. Cook at home instead of eating out
Eating at home is not only healthier for you, but more relaxing as well. You don’t have a bunch of people talking, dishes clattering, and that overall hectic feeling when you dine in at home.
43. Focus on solutions instead of problems
If you wallow in negative thinking, you won’t be able to see the solutions available to you. Acknowledge the problems and then brainstorm ways to solve them so you can live a happier life.
44. Practice active listening
If you want people to listen to you, start listening to them. Don’t just wait to respond so you can make your voice heard; really hear what the other person is saying, because listening is one of the greatest ways to show respect.
45. Give away things you no longer use
To live a happier life, try giving away items to the less fortunate. You’ll not only help out other people who can’t afford to buy everything brand new; you’ll also gain physical space and mental freedom.
46. Don’t be so hard on yourself
Everyone makes mistakes in life, so don’t expect perfection from yourself. Embrace your failures and learn the lessons from them. Show yourself compassion and take it one day at a time.
47. Drink plenty of water
Living a happier life isn’t possible without taking care of your physical body first. Stay hydrated by keeping a reusable bottle with you at all times and filling it up throughout the day.
48. Avoid comparing yourself to others
When you strive to be like others or get jealous of their lives, you fail to see your unique beauty and can’t appreciate your own life. Enjoy what you have and who you are instead of getting sucked into the toxic world of social media comparisons.
49. Do something you’re afraid of
Nothing boosts your confidence like conquering a long-time fear! If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, for instance, but have allowed your fears to stop you, just book an appointment to get the ball rolling! You can always cancel if you truly don’t feel ready, but remember – now is as good a time as any.
50. Visit your grandparents
Older people can get lonely, and nothing makes them happier than to see their grandchildren. Knowing that you have brought a smile to their faces will help you feel good and live a happier life, too.
Living a happier life comes down to changing your mindset, utilizing positive thinking, and taking care of your mind, body, and soul.
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