How to be happy
Increase your wellbeing with these 19 happiness hacks
The last 12 months have proved challenging for many people. Against such a backdrop, happiness is still a worthy goal we should all strive to achieve.
Even though happiness levels will never rank a 10 out of 10 every minute of every single day, with a few tweaks and improvements we can all give ourselves a happiness boost by implementing some of these 19 rapid-fire ways to boost happiness.
1. Stay positive
With Covid-19, a recession, job losses, and no shortage of keyboard warriors on social media, it’s time to take a break from all of the negativity. Let’s end our negative patterns of thinking by stopping negative thoughts before they get too carried away and start searching for the silver lining in everything. It’s always there, somewhere, let’s find it.
We’ve all heard this before, but have we listened?
Endorphins are chemicals our body generates during exercise. These are an amazing mood booster, not to mention the delayed kick we get from other chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Experts are nearly unanimous that exercise gives a happiness boost, so if we don’t already have an exercise routine, we’d be wise to make it a priority. It’s one of the best and simplest ways to be happier in life and will probably lead to us living a longer and more energetic life as a result!
3. Build meaningful relationships
Having deep friendships and family links is a great way to improve happiness.
If some of us are struggling to develop friendships, there are even plenty of tips out there on how to make friends as an adult.
Giving money is a proven way to buy happiness, though money isn’t all we can give. There’s something unique about turning our focus to others, and it is probably one of the greatest keys to increasing our happiness.
We can look for opportunities to be kind to others and spend time on them and worthy causes when we get the chance.
5. Slow down
Life is a rush, and many people complain about being “too busy”.
This is where less is more. When we find ourselves stressed about having too much to do, we can take some time to figure out what we want to carve out of our schedules. Maybe we find that mowing the lawns is a drag, so we could hire a lawn service. Avoiding over-committing helps, and we can also benefit by building in some intentional “empty time” in your schedule to slow down, breathe, relax. Find the things that we most enjoy and figure out how we can do more of them.
There are scientific reasons that being creative make us happier, including a suggestion that creativity creates an upward spiral of wellbeing.
7. Be grateful
Scientists have found that people who feel grateful more often are also happier, achieve more, and are more satisfied. They also sleep better, have less pain, and do not get sick as often. One explanation is that grateful people think about the world in a more positive way, another is that they have better friendships.
Whatever the reason, taking a moment each day to reflect on what we’re grateful for is time well-spent. Not sure what to be grateful for? – How about these things we probably all already have:
- You woke up this morning.
- You can see.
- You can read.
- You can walk.
- You can reason.
- You have fresh air to breath and water to drink.
- You can get yourself something to eat.
- You have a place to call home.
- Plumbing, hot water.
- Ability to dream.
- You have a device to read this on.
- Opportunity to get it right.
- Any measure of health.
- Whatever you might have been through, you’ve survived all of it. Your survival rate so far is 100%!
- Freedom of speech, religion, thought, and any number of other things.
- Money in the bank.
- Parents and family.
- Learning from mistakes.
- …and that’s just for starters!
8. Smile and laugh more
Smiling and laughter can help us in many ways:
- Directly. The direct benefits of smiling and laughter are similar to that of exercise. Many of the same chemicals are released deep inside us.
- Indirectly. Smiling makes us appear more approachable. Interaction with others is easier and more enjoyable when smiles and laughs are shared, and these behaviours are contagious, making others feel better too, and make us a more appealing and attractive person to be around. This in turn should have a positive effect on our well-being.
We can achieve this by hanging around people who might make us laugh and feel happy, watching comedy, by thinking of things that make us smile and laugh, and even just by smiling to ourselves as a trick to make us happier.
9. Get outside
Humankind didn’t evolve by living inside, maybe sitting in a cubicle in an artificially lit room, staring at a screen. Our ancestors evolved as hunter-gatherers who spent their lives trying to escape predators and the elements while finding shelter and food. This means there’s something deep within all of us that connects us to the outdoors and nature.
We could probably all benefit by spending more time away from the electronics and breathing some more fresh air. While we’re at it, try putting distracting devices on airplane mode, and taking in outdoors surroundings. Chances are we might have a lot better time than if we were scrolling through social media!
10. Forge our own path
This means living our own life and keeping our focus on creating the life we want to live. Avoid the noise.
Don’t worry about what other people think and quit comparing ourselves to others.
11. Relax about things we can’t control, focus on what we can
2020 threw a few things at us we couldn’t control. Try as we might, we can’t control many of the things this world has faced. Literally nothing is achieved when we focus too much on things out of our control. Focus on what we can influence and change,
This is the single most important principle of Stoicism, which is surging in popularity lately. Famous philosopher Epictetus sums it up as: “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .”
We might note that everything on this entire webpage are things we can control.
12. Live a balanced life
Our lives are like a wheel, with each spoke representing a different aspect of our life (family, friends, money, charity, hobbies, career, etc.). Wheels don’t roll very well if the spokes are different lengths.
It can help if we’re intentional about developing the “spokes to our wheel”. With greater balance we can find greater strength and happiness.
No one likes to be stuck in a rut. Variety is the spice of life, so look for ways to break up our routine. Maybe take some time to research our area and try something new. We might take a day trip to a nearby area we’ve not spent time in.
Try mixing up our routine, even simple things such as taking a different way to or from work.
14. Acknowledge change is the only constant
When we find ourselves in a tough spot, don’t obsess about it. To expect change can give hope during challenging or unexpected life events.
Remember the only constant in the universe is change. We all face changes every day – whether it is a simple change in the weather, our schedule or expected change of seasons.
Change affects us all and we each deal with change differently. Change itself is the only constant in life, the only thing we can be sure will happen.
15. Be curious
If something interests us, we should pursue it. Take that first step. A lot of the things we pursue won’t stick initially but keep going regardless. Before long, something usually “clicks”, and everything falls into place.
16. Get a dog
Reputable research has found that dogs provide significant benefits in our lives, including a positive impact on our happiness.
Better yet, maybe we can rescue a dog from our local shelter. The dog will probably be happier too!
17. Enjoy the present
There’s no changing yesterday, so cherish the best of it and don’t focus on past regrets.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to us either, so the present is all we really have – it pays to treasure every minute of it. Yes, of course we can all dream for tomorrow, but we can be happier if we avoid thinking too much about the future at the expense of living today.
18. Challenge ourselves
Continually seek out challenges. Stretch our limits. We’ll have fun working through the challenge, it can even be a laugh to be terrible at something to begin with. The reward of success at something we needed to learn (maybe from scratch) can far exceed the sense of accomplishment we can feel doing something we’re already good at.
Challenges and learning new things has plenty of well-known benefits for our brain too.
19. Believe the best is ahead
Optimism is a virtue. Our mindset goes a long way in creating our reality, and our tomorrow may well be better than our today simply by believing it to be true. Be an optimist.
We can’t change yesterday, but tomorrow offers unlimited opportunity.
The bottom line - how to be happier
Happiness is a process, not a one-off event. It won’t happen overnight, but by following the steps above we might all live more fulfilled lives.