The 50 Greatest Happiness Hacks
Cloud nine? More like cloud ten.
Being happy is easier said than done. Some days, you might feel on top of the world. But on others, it’s easy for bad feelings—stress, anxiety, depression—to get the best of you, and bring your mood crashing into the ground. The good news is that it’s easy to beat back those days. By implementing a few tried-and-true hacks, you’ll skip right past cloud nine—and find yourself on cloud ten. And for more ways to boost your mood into the stratosphere, check out these 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
Stop Trying to Be Happy
Fact: everyone wants to be happier—and likely puts loads of effort in to achieve that goal. But a 2018 study in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review found that trying too hard to pursue happiness often results in not being very happy at all, usually because trying to be happy takes up all the time you could spend actually being happy. Instead, worry less about striving toward happiness and simply focus on being happy in the moment. And for more ways to slap a smile on your face, learn the 25 Best Instant Mood-Boosters.
Step Away from Your Screen
Watching your favorite TV show on Netflix will obviously make you happy, but binge-watch wisely: too much screen time does the total opposite. A 2018 study in Emotion found that those who spend more time playing video games, using social media, texting, and watching TV were less happy than those who had face-to-face social interaction or did activities away from the screen. So enjoy American Idol, then turn the TV off and pick up an old hobby instead. For some healthy ideas, check out these 40 Amazing Habits to Adopt After 40.
Send Some Selfies
While too much screen time isn’t good for your mental health, snapping some selfies for your friends on a regular basis can actually give your happiness a solid boost. A 2016 study published in Psychology of Well-Being found that using technology in this way can actually help you beat the blues. Plus, it’s a fun way to stay connected with your best buds.
Spend Time Interacting With Others
After a long day of work, it might sound so nice to blow off your plans and spend the evening at home by yourself. The only problem with that? Social interaction is really good for your mental health. A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found people experience greater happiness on the days they spend time with others opposed to spending time by themselves. So keep those plans. And for more ways to boost your mood, This Is the Single Best Way to Wake Up Happier Every Day.
Spend More Time Outdoors
There’s nothing a little sunshine can’t fix, right? A 2015 study in Landscape and Urban Planning found that even just a quick walk in nature can make you feel happier. But, that’s not all: researchers also saw other benefits to spending time in the Great Outdoors, too, like decreased anxiety and better memory.
Get More Sleep
When you’re an adult, you can stay up way past your bedtime and no one’s going to scold you for it. But maybe mom and dad were right about hitting the hay early. A 2,000-person survey looked at the link between sleep and happiness and found the happiest people get just over seven hours of sleep a night, while getting less than 6.8 hours led to feeling the exact opposite. And if you need help hitting the hay, learn the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.
Spend Money on Others—Not on Yourself
Buying something for yourself might feel good for a second, but the real way to be happy when it comes to spending your money? Getting something for someone else. At least that’s what a 2011 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found. Plus, you’ll score some serious brownie points with your friend group. And for ideas on what to buy, check out the 100 Unusual Gifts For the Person Who Has Everything.
Get Yourself Some Flowers
Why wait around for someone else to bring you a bouquet of flowers when you can boost your happiness levels by getting yourself some? A study in the journal Evolutionary Psychology found those blooms can boost your mood for days, so when it comes to your mental health, that vase always deserves a spot on your kitchen table.
Go to a Concert
Yes, dealing with overpriced beer and unnecessary concert fees is indeed worth it. An Australian study published in the journal Psychology of Music found engaging with music on a regular basis—whether by dancing or by attending concerts—is associated with being happier overall. So buy a ticket and enjoy every second of the show.
Enjoy the Little Things in Life
Happiness doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that it’s the simple pleasures in life that give people the most joy, whether that’s playing fetch with your dog or going on a picnic.
Be Kind to Others
While spending money on someone else can make you happy, being kind in general can help too. A 2016 study in Open Science Framework found that simply being nice to others can benefit your wellbeing, whether that’s opening a door for someone, dishing out compliments, or just listening to someone who needs to talk.
Eat More Fruit and Veggies
If you taste the rainbow, you’ll evidently see more rainbows. Research from Australia’s University of Warwick found upping your fruit and veggie intake to eight portions a day can increase your level of life satisfaction and overall happiness. Basically, the more produce the 12,000 participants ate, the more joyful they felt: “Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” said study author Andrew Oswald, PhD, in a press release.
Exercising keeps you healthy and helps you live a longer life, yes, but it has some serious mental benefits, too. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that being physically active increases your odds of being happy, even if you don’t do it every single day. Find a workout you love and stick with it to keep your mood up. And if you need some routines to start with, check out the 30 Workouts That Burn More Than 500 Calories An Hour.
One thing that’s sure to make you feel unhappy? Always striving to be someone else because you’re not satisfied with who you are today. According to findings out of the University of Hertfordshire in England, researchers found practicing self-acceptance could make a big difference in your overall happiness, and it’s the thing people practice the least. According to the study authors, that means being kind to yourself, learning from your mistakes, and giving yourself some well-deserved praise.
Everyone has been hopping on the meditation bandwagon. It’s not just a trendy wellness practice, though—it has a whole handful of benefits, including the ability to boost your happiness. According to a 2014 study published in JAMA, the simple act of sitting, focusing on your breath, and letting the world around you fade away can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, making you feel more joyful.
Spend Time Around Other Happy People
When it comes to keeping your spirits up, choose who you spend your time with wisely. A study from Harvard Medical School found just one person’s happiness can create a chain reaction, making everyone around them happy. And not just that: it goes beyond their group of friends to their friends’ friends and their friends’ friends’ friends, and the effects can last for up to a year. That’s a whole lot of people in great moods.
Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Possessions
Having a house full of things is only going to make you so happy. According to a study from San Francisco State University, true happiness comes from buying experiences—not more stuff. So instead of spending your paycheck on a new watch, use that money to take a trip and make some memories to last a lifetime.
Treat Your Emotional Exhaustion
Sometimes it’s hard to find true happiness until you resolve the problems preventing you from being happy in the first place. A 2017 study in Work & Stress found that dealing with emotional exhaustion at work is one of those road blocks. No matter what’s been wearing you down at the office, getting to the bottom of the issue can totally change the way you feel.
Wear Bright, Flattering Clothes
When it comes to your happiness, your blue jeans might, well, make you feel sorta blue. A study from the University of Hertfordshire in England found the item of clothing that women wear when they’re feeling sad is, more likely than anything else, jeans. On top of that, those feeling sad are also more likely to wear a baggy top. Happy clothes, on the other hand, are “well-cut, figure-enhancing, and made from bright and beautiful fabrics.” Interesting, huh?
Who needs a spoonful of medicine when you can have a solid dose of gratitude? According to research out of UC Davis, practicing gratitude can help you live a healthier, happier life, reducing your risk of depression and anxiety and making you more likely to practice healthy behaviors, like exercising and eating wholesome foods.
Forget About the Bad Times and Focus On the Good
There’s absolutely no reason to focus on your past regrets—especially when it comes to your happiness. As a study in Personality and Individual Differences revealed, researchers found those who are able to see the past through rose-tinted glasses are much happier than those who focus on the negatives. So start seeing everything you’ve been through in a positive light and your life will brighten up because of it.
Make a Donation to a Cause You Care About
Doing something good for others is an instant way to light up your life, and a study published in the International Journal of Happiness and Development took things a step further to find out what method of doing so make people the happiest. The winner? Donors who give to a charity through a friend, relative, or social connection feel happiest compared to those who donate anonymously.
Be More Generous
You don’t even have to be really generous. According to a study in Nature Communications, even being a tiny bit more generous can make you happier in life. That means simply being a little less selfish can give your mood a major boost. “You don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice,” said study author Philippe Tobler, PhD, in a press release.
Hang Out With Your Dog
It’s nearly impossible not to be happy around your cute, slobbery pup, right? In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers found simply being around your dog amps up your levels of oxytocin — one of the chemicals that makes you feel happy. So take your furry best friend for a walk, cuddle up for a movie, or play fetch; it’ll lift both of your moods.
Rekindle Your Love of Learning
Who says you should ever stop learning new things once you’ve graduated from school? If there’s a special interest you’ve developed, take a class: A 2016 study published in the journal Arts & Health found taking adult education classes can make you feel happier. And on top of that joy, you can also develop more self-confidence and form new relationships. Who knows—you might meet your new best friend in pottery class.
Sing Your Heart Out
It doesn’t matter if it’s in the shower, in the car, or, in this case, in a community singing group. A 2017 study published in the journal Medical Humanities found that belting out some tunes on a regular basis can improve your mental health, decreasing depression and anxiety and making you feel happier overall.
Become a Plant Person
You don’t need to instantly develop a green thumb, but attempting to bring some greenery into your live can do your happiness levels some good. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, having plants in your space can be very soothing, helping ease any built-up stress and lift your mood.
Do Something Creative
Who says you have to be under the age of 10 to enjoy playing with arts and crafts? Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found doing something creative every day—whether it’s painting, coloring, or even making a pasta necklace—will help you flourish in life, making you feel happier and more positive.
Do Some Yoga
While working out in general amps up your happiness levels, so does yoga. The practice has been around for centuries, and there’s a reason for that: a 2017 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found it only takes two minutes to start feelings its positive, mood-boosting effects. Warrior pose, here you come.
Nap It Out
It doesn’t matter if you’re a baby or a 40-year-old man: naps are great for the soul. And they’re fantastic for your mental health, too. In a 2017 study from the University of Hertfordshire in England, the participants who napped for a short period of time—under 30 minutes—were much happier than those who took longer naps or didn’t nap at all. So get your snooze on—you now have a science-backed excuse.
Drink a Cup or Two of Coffee
You already know coffee wakes you up in the morning—and keeps you up through the day—but did you know it also plays into your mood? A decade-long study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that coffee consumption can lower the risk of depression, meaning you’ll be feeling all sorts of happy when you consume it.
Call Your Mom
Giving your mom some love instantly gives you a much-needed dose of love, too. In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers found something as simple as giving her a call and hearing her voice will instantly make you feel comforted, giving you that feel-good, happy feeling that will last far beyond when you hang up the phone.
Pretend You’re Happy
They say you can fake it until you make it, and the same theory works with happiness. A study published in Psychological Science found that faking a smile and pretending to be happy when you feel stressed can actually decrease your stress levels, making you more joyful. Sure, it might feel like pulling teeth, but it can have a positive outcome.
Take a Bath
Who knew a little splash in the tub could result in so much happiness? In a study from the University of Nottingham in England, researchers found something as simple as spending time taking a long bath can amp up the amount of joy you feel. There’s nothing in the research about bubbles and rubber duckies, but they’ve gotta be worth some extra happy points.
Use a Sun Lamp
One effortless way to feel instantly happier? Just grab a sun lamp. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the ones with bright, white light can fight off depression, giving you a mood boost whenever you need it. And, the best part? They’re super easy to get: you can simply order one off Amazon.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Sometimes it’s nice to write down the things you’re thankful for to look at anytime you’re feeling down, and that’s where a gratitude journal comes in. According to the University of California, Berkeley, all it takes is jotting things down things that make you feel grateful; do this thrice weekly to up your happiness levels.
Make an Effort to Meet New People
Online friends are great and all, but when it comes to your happiness, nothing beats making new BFFs face to face—at least that’s what researchers found, in a 2013 study published in the journal PLoS One. Whether that means joining a club in your community or trying your hand at a sports league, you could make a lasting friendship that makes you all sorts of giddy.
Find Your Purpose
When you feel like you’re working toward a goal in life, you feel like you have purpose. And according to the Mayo Clinic, that’s one of the ways people find happiness. Figure out what excites you, what you love doing, and how you want people to remember you to figure out what your own purpose is, then use that to fuel yourself and be truly joyful.
Going on a walk around your neighborhood is one thing, but going hiking can take your happiness levels to a new high. A study published in Ecopsychology found that trekking through nature caused participants’ stress disappear, lowering their rates of depression and making them feel better than ever.
Grab Some Chocolate
Would anyone ever turn down a piece of chocolate? A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found it could be a major mood-booster. Eating a tiny bit every day might just up your happiness levels, but you have to do it the healthy way. (Sorry, folks.) Make sure what you’re snacking on is at least 70 percent cocoa or higher, or you won’t reap any benefits.
Plan a Real Vacation
And no, not one of those quick little three-day-weekend getaways. By actually using your time off and taking a real, quality vacation, you’ll feel much happier—in fact, a lot of that happiness comes before you even leave. A 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found anticipating the trip left the vacationers beaming with joy for up to eight weeks.
Watch a Funny Video
All those hilarious cat videos making their way around the internet are actually pretty beneficial after all. A study published in the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine found those who watched a couple of humorous videos for 20 minutes had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva than those who sat calmly and did nothing for 20 minutes, making them feel more at ease and happier overall.
Say Goodbye to Social Media
Social media has its pros, but it also has its cons. A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found the more platforms the participants used, the higher chances their chances were of having depression and anxiety symptoms. While checking in on a couple platforms shouldn’t be a too big of a problem, true happiness seems to come from staying a little more off the grid.
Be Active for 10 Minutes a Week
Only 10 minutes a week might not seem like a lot of time to work out, but that’s all a 2008 study in the Journal of Happiness Studies says you need to start getting a nice mood boost. And if you want to take it up a few notches, those who are “very active” are 52 percent more likely to be happy. Even if that means doing a quick stair exercise during your lunch break, all you need is a little movement to feel the effects.
Quit Your Job and Go Solo
Quitting your job and going off on your own can seem absolutely terrifying, but it has plenty of benefits for your wellbeing. A study published in the journal Work, Employment, and Society found out of all the different occupations out there, those who are self-employed are the happiest. And for ways to become your own boss, check out the 25 Highest Paid Work-From-Home Jobs.
Watch Some Old Home Movies
Sometimes a little blast from the past is all it takes to up your happiness levels. A 2013 study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found nostalgia can boost optimism, so dig out your old home movies and photo albums and prepare to be all smiles over the adorableness to come.
Use the Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas—which heat your body from the inside out—can help clear up your skin and get rid of pain. Another perk, though? A 2016 study published in JAMA Psychiatry found putting your body in those high temps can also work as an antidepressant, making you feel happy once you come out.
Grab Some Vanilla-Scented Candles
The next time you decide to stock up on candles, get plenty of the vanilla options. A study published in the journal Chemical Senses found those who sniffed the scent were happier and more relaxed. Basically, feel free to put one in every room and light them up on the regular.
Bake Up Your Favorite Dessert
Sometimes the one thing that makes everything better is dessert. If you’re feeling down and need a pick-me-up, head to the kitchen: researchers in a 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found doing a little cooking and baking made the participants feel less stressed, more enthusiastic, and happier overall. In other words: something only fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies can do so effectively.
Head to the Park
There’s nothing a quick trip to your local park can’t fix. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found grabbing a blanket and a good book and hanging out in the middle of all that green space will instantly make you feel happier. In fact, the more greenery you’re around, the better your mood will be. And if you don’t want to head to the park, not a problem: your backyard will do the same thing. And for more great ways to boost your mood into the stratosphere, check out these 20 Genius Tricks to Instantly Cheer Yourself Up.
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