The gravity of the matter means nothing to those at peace.
It’s inevitable to feel busy, overwhelmed, or downright miserable sometimes.
I’ve gone from feeling insanely stressed, working in a job I hated and with massive student loan debt, to a career I love, with a side business that has helped me repay $100k in debt. More on that here:
Needless to say, I’m familiar with ups and downs!
One thing I know for sure is that even during the hard times, there are things you can do to improve your mood and be happier.
Instead of barely getting through your day, hoping for it to go by fast, try these 15 hacks that can increase your happiness.
1. Spend money on experiences – not things
People who spend money on experiences instead of things are happier according to this study.
It may be tempting to want the latest gadget, newest outfit, or updated home décor – but if you prioritize your discretionary spending on experiences instead of things, you’ll be happier.
2. Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude means expressing thanks for the things you have in your life. You can do this for every little small thing – it doesn’t have to be big.
You can be thankful for your health, your cup of coffee this morning, and the fact that you have a job. The possibilities are endless.
When you focus on what you are thankful for, you increase your happiness because you switch your mindset from being negative and scarcity thinking to being positive and abundance thinking.
There are many ways to practice gratitude. To make it a daily habit, I use the Five Minute Journal, where I write down three things I’m thankful for every day.
Meditation can increase your happiness because it will help you feel more centered, more in control, and more focused on what’s important to you.
Schedule meditation into your day for at least 5 minutes. This can make you feel happier almost instantly.
4. Exercise at least 3x per week
Exercising a few times a week can be a great way to increase your happiness. It is one of the best ways for you to boost your energy and your mood almost instantly.
In The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor cites a study that found regular exercise kept people from falling back into depression more than medication. And there are more studies you can find around the web with a quick search. The bottom line is that exercising increases your happiness.
Whether it’s going for a quick jog, attending a local exercise class, or something else entirely, find time in your day to exercise.
This one is so hard for me! I’m focused on working full time and blogging part time, so it feels like I never have time to work out. But hands down my happiest weeks are when I work out.
That’s why I know that I have to make time for it – I’m better at my job, my blog, and in my relationships because I feel better inside. Crazy how just exercising can do this!
5. Re-work your morning and evening routines
Your morning and evening routines are two places during the day that you can use to increase your happiness.
The key is to intentionally decide how you want to spend this time. I recommend breaking up the time you have into the key areas of your life that make you happy.
For example, in the morning you could exercise, practice gratitude (I use the Five Minute Journal for this), and get organized for the day before it even starts.
In the evenings you could spend time working on a side hustle you have (I work on my blog at night), make dinner, spend time with your partner, and prepare for the next day (I use my Productivity Planner for this).
The more intentional you are about your morning and evening routines, the more opportunity you have to control your day and feel good about it.
I feel really good (and happier) when I am productive and accomplish whatever it is I wanted for that day, and most often these things happen during my morning and evening routines.
6. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the easiest ways for you to boost your happiness right away.
With enough good, quality sleep, you feel more energized and happier.
Figure out what time you need to wake up in the morning and work backwards from there to make sure you’re in bed at a certain time that gives you eight hours of sleep.
7. Focus on the big picture and long term goals
Sometimes, we can get lost in the weeds of the daily grind and lose sight of why it is we’re doing what we’re doing.
Whether it’s while we’re in school working toward a degree or doing mundane tasks at our job, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in the thick of it.
If you’re feeling stuck doing small things that you don’t like, take a moment and write down your long-term goals. Is what you’re doing today in line with moving you toward those goals? If so, think about how what you’re doing (even if it’s challenging) is going to pay off down the road. Reframing your day this way will help you feel in control of the situation and remembering why you’re doing what it is you’re doing. This will boost your energy and make you happier.
I use my Goal Setting Action Plan to create my long-term goals. This keeps me focusing on what I want most in life and how I can create my dream life. If you haven’t set your own long-term goals yet, download the guide and get started. Once you know what fulfills you and makes you happy, you’ll be able to focus on these things and increase your happiness while you’re pursuing those goals just by knowing you have them.
8. Commit to practicing happiness with a good attitude
Saying something like “I am going to make an effort to be happy today, even with the challenges that come my way” can make a huge difference in your happiness. Happiness is an “inside job” and only you can ensure you’re happy. Deciding to be happy is the first step. If you can do that, and then adjust your attitude in line with being happy and positive, you are going to make it so much more likely that you actually are happy throughout the day.
9. Have a go-to podcast that inspires you and shifts your mindset
Start listening to personal development podcasts during time that you’re not doing anything else with. I listen to podcasts while I’m getting ready in the morning and during my commute to and from work.
Find a podcast that really boosts your mood and have it in your back pocket fro when you’re feeling down. Happiness is often about your frame of reference. You can shift your thinking after hearing encouraging words.
Personally, I know that if I’m in a funk the fastest and most effective way for me to get out of it is to listen to a podcast episode. This gets me out of my own head, remembering my “why”, and feeling grateful and focused. Here’s a list of my top 6 favorite podcast episodes!
As cliché as it sounds, forcing a smile on your face can actually boost your happiness almost instantly. Your facial expressions (and posture for that matter) have an effect on your happiness. It’s best if you smile and try to think positively though – smiling and thinking “this is really stupid” is not as effective (no shocker here). 🙂
If you act happy, you’re more likely to be happy. So, start by practicing smiling the rest of the day so that you are emanating joy. I bet you’ll be feeling better than you are now in just a few hours.
11. Spend time with friends or family
Make plans with someone you love at least once a week. Relationships increase your happiness. The relationships that mean the most to you can instantly make you happier.
No matter how unhappy you’re feeling, being around someone who you love and care about will boost your happiness. Talking things out with a friend is a great way to gain perspective and get an energy boost.
12. Help someone
Helping someone can increase your happiness. We feel better when we give.
If you give your time by volunteering, or help a coworker with a problem she’s having outside of work, you’ll feel happier yourself.
It’s hard to make time for other people when you have so much going on in your own life. But if the goal is to increase your happiness, spend two hours every week helping someone. This is an excellent way to increase your happiness today and for the rest of your life.
13. Get outside
One way to instantly boost your mood is to get outside. The fresh air will increase your happiness, particularly if you work inside all the time.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says that getting as little as 20 minutes outside improves your mood.
Even if it’s just for a walk – do something that gets you outside.
During the warmer months in Ohio, I go for a two mile walk during my lunch break. I always feel better afterwards.
14. Schedule time for fun
Scheduling time in your day is one of the easiest and fastest ways for you to increase your happiness.
If you are a professional or have a stressful job, you know what it feels like to have the feeling of all the pressure of the world on you. This makes it so hard to be happy.
Schedule time in your day – even just 30 minutes – to have fun. This time can be spent doing anything that’s fun for you. The only rule is no work and no stress.
You’ll be amazed at how relaxing and intentionally planning fun can increase your happiness.
15. Sign up for a happiness challenge
Sign up for a happiness challenge to help you design a life around what makes you happy from within.
I created a 5 Day Happiness Challenge that you can get started with right now. You can sign up below, and I’ll send you one activity to do every day to increase your happiness for 5 days.
A Final Note!
Even though life feels overwhelming sometimes, there are things you can do to increase your happiness.
Start with the steps above and improve your happiness a little bit each day.
The key is to think how can I be a little bit happier today than I was yesterday? Then, do the same exercise tomorrow. Over time, you’ll be happier.
Here are my favorite books on happiness! They’re awesome.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin