After having written over half a million of words on this website, this blog is littered with real tips on how to be happier.
But there are some specific tips that deserve an extra mention. Most of the existing guides on how to be happy are rather thin and uninspiring. Example: a lot of guides tell you to start meditating if you want to be happier. But where do you start? What actions should you take next?
The articles within this section – and the others on this blog – will give you a toolbox of tips, with actionable ways to implement them straight away. As this guide grows and gets updated, so will this section on Happiness Tips.
Not every tip will be suitable for you, but if you can find 2 or 3 small changes to make to your life, you’ll be surprised at how much influence they can have over time!
Write down why you want to be happier
Grab a piece of paper, put a date on it, and start writing down whatever is on your mind. This especially helps if you are currently feeling stressed or anxious. Here are some great benefits of writing:
- Writing down your thoughts forces you to actually confront them.
- It allows you to better deconstruct what you’re missing without getting your thoughts distracted.
- Writing something down can prevent it from causing chaos in your head. Think of this as clearing the RAM memory of your computer. If you’ve written it down, you can safely forget about it and start with an empty slate.
- It allows you to look back at your struggles objectively. In a few months time, you can look back at your notepad and see how much you’ve grown.
It might not be hard to imagine that people often start journaling when they are in a difficult situation. Even though writing down your thoughts might sound silly, it can have a direct effect on your mentality. Do not underestimate the power of writing down your feelings!
Create small goals that you can actually reach
Change happens one step at a time. You cannot change your life overnight, which is something that might be difficult to accept. If you determined 6 issues that you want to change in your life, then you would be smart to only focus on 1 at a time.
Because you have to build habits. There’s a chance that the things you want to change have been a part of your life for a long time already. Therefore, it will be difficult to change these things.
You have to consider these changes to be long processes that require constant effort. Improving your life is similar to a marathon and not a sprint. You can’t work on all these issues today and expect to be happy again tomorrow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Let’s say you want to start living healthier. This is, of course, a very big and noble goal, but it’s much better if you could narrow it down into smaller sub-goals. Try to figure out smaller, more specific goals, like:
- Stop eating junk food on weekdays
- Spend 30 minutes exercising twice a week
- Wake up before 08:00 5 days a week
- Go to bed before midnight
- Take 5,000 steps per day
Notice how these goals seem much easier to accomplish? This makes it much easier to build lasting habits that will slowly transform your life in a great way. And it doesn’t happen overnight. These goals can be narrowed down even further. An example:
Want to spend 30 minutes exercising twice a week? Start out with exercising for just 10 minutes tonight. Then, in 2 days, try to exercise 20 minutes. Next week, try to exercise 30 minutes, etcetera. Building habits isn’t about reaching your end goal immediately, it is about doing that one thing you want to achieve every day until it’s engrained in your schedule.
Try to make others happy
Your happiness can actually radiate to other people. Your smile has the power to bring a smile to someone else’s face! How can you put this to practice?
- Smile to a stranger
- Try to laugh when you’re around others (not in an awkward way!). Laughter is one of the best remedies for sadness.
- Do something nice for somebody else, a random act of kindness
- Make a compliment to somebody else and notice how it affects their happiness
Why would you want to focus on the happiness of others while you’re trying to be happier yourself?
It’s easy: Spreading happiness will make you happy as well. Teach by doing, and you’ll learn something for yourself as well.
Happiness is truly a subjective feeling that has a lot of myths, biases and different strong opinions. People say it can’t be measured, it’s a waste of time to pursue it and that happiness is not really measurable at all.
Despite all this, there is one interesting aspect of happiness that most people agree on, and that’s:
When you are trying to make others happier, you will paradoxically find happiness yourself.
Exercise, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk outside
“Mens sana in corpore sano.”
You’ve probably heard this phrase or its English translation, “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. It’s often used as a motto for sports clubs and I bet that you’ve heard it at least once from your middle school gym teacher.
The saying is so popular because it’s true. Physical health is an integral part of mental health and well-being, and it would be useless to think otherwise.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults aged 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week. That’s 2 and a half hours per week, which isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things.
Even if you’re not big on running, you should still be getting regular exercise. Not only is it good for your mental health in general, research has shown that people engaged in physical exercise also have higher self-esteem. Find an activity that works for you and get physical! From running to rowing, dancing to duathlon, fencing to football and everything in between, the opportunities are endless.
So what do you get for those 2 and a half hours you spend exercising?
That’s a topic of an entire different section! Some of the benefits of exercising are covered in this article.
Get off social media
If your Facebook and Instagram feeds are anything to go by, your friends are constantly on vacation, eating healthy, getting married, getting promotions and generally living a better life than you are.
Deep down you know that you’re not getting the full picture, but it’s still difficult to feel good about yourself when you compare your own life to the highlight reels of others. While a little bit of upward comparison can be motivating, research has shown that in most cases, it just lowers your self-esteem.
So if you’re prone to such comparisons, the best gift you can give yourself is to log off for a while. If you can’t do that for some reason, then use of the mute function and unfollow features that don’t add any value to your life and curate yourself a feed that lifts you up instead of bringing you down.
Be grateful for the things you already have
You’ve probably heard this one before, but I’m still going to include this here.
Practicing gratitude can have a great effect on your mental health, as shown by numerous studies.
There are a lot of things to be grateful for! How can you practice gratitude?
- Thank your family for everything they’ve done for you
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Look back at your happy memories and be grateful for those memories
- Think about and focus on the positive things you have going on in your life
I find that remembering good memories helps me maintain a happy mind. Thinking back about that time that I laughed my ass off about something silly brings a smile to my face. This is something I try to do daily, whenever I find a moment to stand still and think about my life.
Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 6 years.