101 Ways to Get Happier
You don't need anything fancy. There are lots of simple things you can do to get happier right away and from your own home or neighborhood. Here are 101 ideas to start today.
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You're here because you want to know what actually makes you happy. Maybe you've read some articles on happiness or some quotes on positive thinking. But what else can you do to get happier? The truth is, there are so many simple things you can do to get happier. Here are 101 ideas to get your started.
Here Are 101 Things You Can Do to Get Happier
1. Focus on the happiness skills you personally need to build
We're all different when it comes to the skills we most need to build to get happier. So take this well-being quiz to see which happiness skills you need to build most and get some resources for building those specific skills.
2. Give and be generous
Being generous, kind, and altruistic has been shown to be a good predictor of happiness. Indeed, when we focus on the happiness of others we just can't help but get happier. So learn to be more generous. It helps both you and others.
Get happier by giving back everyday:
3. Strengthen your positive memory
By memorizing positive words you can strengthen your positive memory. This can help make positive memories more accessible and easy to recall, enabling you to have more positive emotions. And positive emotions are big part of happiness.
4. Start a happiness program
Make a commitment to your happiness with a happiness program. If you start our happiness program it'll cover many of the strategies we talk about here in more detail.
5. Eat fruits and vegetables
Healthful eating not only improves your physical health, it can improve your emotional health. So focus on eating more fruits and veggies and avoid processed junk food and sugar.
6. Try loving-kindness meditation
Loving kindness meditation has been shown to increase happiness in research studies. So try out a loving-kindness meditation and see if it helps you too.
7. Reappraise your situation so it doesn't seem as bad
Cognitive reappraisal is a strategy that can be used to help reduce your negative emotions. You use it by thinking about how the situation could be worse or how your negative emotions are not so bad after all.
8. Reappraise your situation as more positive
Positive reappraisal is a specific type of reappraisal that focuses on increasing your positive emotions or focuses on the positive aspects of an otherwise difficult situation. Try building your positive reappraisal skills to get happier.
9. Find the benefits in your life
When you aim to find the benefits in every situation you generate positive emotions out of thin air. So give benefit finding a try.
10. Have new experiences
When we get out of our comfort zone and try new things, we often generate neuro-chemicals in our brains that can lead to greater enjoyment and happiness. So try something new every now and then.
11. Practice gratitude on social media
When we let people know how grateful we are for them online—their personality, their kindness, or whatever else—we help make these relationships stronger. As a result we get happier.
Get happier with gratitude
12. Stay present and prevent your mind from wandering
When our minds are constantly elsewhere, we miss out on all the great things in front of us and we hurt our happiness. So practice being present to get a bit happier.
13. Eat mindfully
When we take the time to be present while eating, we not only digest better, we enjoy our food and the experience of eating more. So give mindful eating a try to get a little well-being boost.
14. Don't ruminate on the past
When we ruminate on the past—or chronically think about it—we get stuck in our heads instead of appreciating and experiencing the now. So see if you can break the ruminative cycle and start letting things go a bit more.
15. Find the beauty in the imperfect
When we accept things as they are and maybe even revel in their imperfection, we stop getting so upset when things don't go our way. So give it a try: accept that mole on your face, your crooked teeth, or whatever else bothers you and see if you can find the beauty in the imperfection.
16. Figure out who you really are
These days, so many of us feel lost. So take some time to really find yourself and figure out who you really are to get happier.
17. Be more authentic
Once we know who we are, we benefit from being authentically who we are. This enables us to move about life feeling unencumbered by others' expectations or rules. We are us, unapologetically, and we are happier as a result.
18. Stand up for yourself
When we let others walk all over us we can't help but feel bad. That's why standing up for ourselves is a good strategy for increasing happiness, especially if we are they type of person who goes along with whatever others want or we have a hard time saying no.
19. Imagine happiness
It turns out that when we imagine things, our brains experience those things as if they were real. So if you want a little positivity boost, just practice imagining a future (or present) filled with happiness.
20. Write down 3 good things every day
Sometimes we get bogged down with all the negative stuff. But if we just note, think about, or write down 3 good things each day, we can start to remind ourselves that indeed there are good things in our lives too.
21. Identify your values
How do we expect to live a life that helps us get happier when we don't know and live by our values? By getting clear on our values and living them we suddenly start to feel better about all of our actions. What an impact that has on our happiness!
22. Prioritize doing things that make you feel good
Sometimes we get bogged down by all the things we have to do that we don't make enough time for the things we want to do—the things that make us feel good and get happier. So prioritize a few things each week that you like to do, even if they are tiny things.
23. Be kind
When we are kind both online and offline we have an easier time feeling good about ourselves and have an easier time being happy.
When we hold onto grudges it only hurts us. So see if you can forgive those that have hurt you and move on.
25. Spend time with animals
Research has shown that spending time with animals can be good for our well-being. So if you're feeling down play with some puppies or kitties, or take a dog for a walk.
26. Breathe deeply
When we're stressed we often breathe shallowly but this only makes us more stressed. So take a few minutes to breath deeply and release tension in the body.
27. Take moments to pause and reflect
When we stop running from one thing to the next and just take a few short moments to pause and self-reflect we can get a better handle on the actual circumstances of our lives. Then we'll be able to take action to correct the things that are really bugging us.
28. Take care of your gut
Perhaps this one seems odd. But it tuns out that our gut produces the majority of the serotonin in our bodies—and serotonin is a key neuro-chemical involved in depression, anxiety, and contentment. So make sure you treat your gut well to get happier.
29. Don't consume so much caffiene
We often rely on caffeine when we're exhausted. But caffeine produces extra neuro-chemicals that cause stress. So we may be doing more harm than good when we turn to caffeine for comfort.
30. Be more self-aware
If we don't understand ourselves and why we do things, we can end up in a lot of situations that make us unhappy. So spend some time paying attention to yourself to increase self-awareness. When something goes wrong, ask yourself, "what role did my thoughts, emotions, or behaviors have in creating this situation. Then make some changes to get happier.
31. Use affirmations
Affirmations help you communicate to yourself the direction that you want to go in. So use affirmations when you want to be your own cheerleader.
Here's a video to help you try affirmations
32. Get in the garden
Did you know that gardening is good for well-being? Yup! Getting some sun, fresh air, and soil on the skin can be good for both your health and happiness.
33. Exercise, but not too much
Exercise is key for helping balance hormones and break negative thought cycles. But be careful not to over-exercise, as too much exercise can cause the body stress.
34. Spend time with people
Personal relationships just may be the most important thing for our health and happiness. So if you're not feeling happy, try to spend more time with people you enjoy being around.
35. Do even the boring stuff with people
It turns out we enjoy doing just about everything more when we do it with others. So see if you can find someone you like to do things with, even the boring stuff.
36. Don't let your smartphone interrupt your socializing
These days our smartphones come with us everywhere. But when our smartphones interrupt our conversations it can be harmful for our relationships. So be sure to turn your phone off or keep it on silent when you're with others.
37. Learn to manage your Fear of Missing Out (FoMO)
So much is no happening online that we can sometimes feel like we're missing out. The feeling, or fear or missing out can keep us from being in the present moment. So it's key to take intentional breaks from technology and effortfully engage in the present moment.
38. Use your technology in ways that are good for happiness
We hear a lot about how bad technology is for our mental health. But did you know that there are some ways that tech can help us get happier? Check out these strategies for using tech more more happiness.
39. Make a difference in the world
When we are making a difference in the world or in other people's lives, we feel a greater sense of purpose. And often purpose is key to helping us get happier.
40. Be nice to yourself
Self-compassion is so important to our happiness. In fact, poor self-worth is one thing that tends to make us quite unhappy. So see if you can't be a bit kinder to yourself.
41. Savor the moment
Savoring is a great and easy strategy for making positive emotions be stronger and last longer. You do it by mentally holding onto these emotions for as long as you can.
42. Stop putting yourself down
You have enough people out there to put you down without you doing it to yourself. So see if you can question yourself when you put yourself down and stand up for yourself.
43. Celebrate your accomplishments
We have small wins all the time. Yesterday I celebrated growing my first cucumbers and making cupcakes. Just see if you can find small things you did and celebrate them.
44. Love someone, even if you're not in love
Love is not restricted to romantic relationships. So see if you can strengthen your relationships and generate love for the people in your life.
45. Build happiness with a buddy
We are happier doing everything with others. And we often have more success reaching goals when we have a buddy to hold us accountable. So get a buddy and get happier quicker.
46. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness helps us uncover and accept some of the deeper garbage we carry around in our minds. So practice some mindfulness to start breaking it up and moving forward.
How to get happier by being mindful
47. Accept the past, move on
When we accept and let go we have more space to let new and pleasant opportunities into our lives.
48. Get some emotional clarity
Sometimes we are not clear on what we feel so we don't know how to take the right actions. By getting more emotional clarity, we can more easily start to address and resolve the negative emotions that bother us.
49. Build a growth mindset
When we build a growth mindset we have an easier time reaching all of our goals, including our goal to get happier. So build your growth mindset to increase your happiness.
50. Ask yourself, "is it ambiguous?"
So many of us think the people in our lives are doing things because of reasons X, Y, or Z—they hate us, think we're stupid, or don't care about us. But we have no proof. We just assume based on our own thoughts. So next time you start having negative emotions as a result of your thoughts about others thoughts, ask yourself, "is it ambiguous?" Do you really know why they are acting that way? If not, ask them or let it go.
51. Stop expecting the worst
When we are always catastrophizing—or thinking the worst will happen—we get stuck in our head. And guess what, the worst rarely happens. Imagine what we could have done with all that time we spent worrying.
52. Read some self-improvement books
We can always benefit from diving in deep on the self-improvement strategies that feel most important to us. So get some self-improvement books.
53. Read Outsmart your Smartphone
Speaking of great self-help books, check out my book, Outsmart Your Smartphone. I help you build happiness in the digital age.
54. Develop yourself
When we keep growing and developing ourselves, we build the skills that help us get and stay happy in the longer-term.
55. Think positive
There are all sorts of strategies we can use to think more positive. And when we do, we start to change our perspective and see the world in a brighter way.
Get happier with this positive thinking meditation
56. Create a happiness plan
By creating a plan for our happiness we're more likely to do what it takes to actually increase our happiness. So create your happiness plan to get started and stay on track with your happiness.
57. Detox your dirty genes
It turns out there are some key genes that can hurt both our mental and physical health. So check out these strategies for cleaning up your dirty genes.
58. Do a digital detox
Speaking of detox. Most of us could use a digital detox—a break from all our tech toys and distractions. A digital detox can really clear our heads and prepare us for increasing our happiness.
59. Undo the negative effects of social media
Social media can have negative effects on our well-being. So use these strategies to start undoing these negative effects and building a healthier relationship with social media.
60. Develop a more positive attitude
When we develop a more positive attitude we not only feel better about most situations, we make the people around us feel better too. As a result we also strengthen our personal relationships.
61. Use Netflix to boost well-being
Did you know that you can practice some emotion regulation skills while binging on Netflix. Yup, when watching an emotional scene you can practice decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive emotions to help you build this skill to use in real life.
62. Make meaning from hardship
Bad things happen, and they suck. But we can help cope with them better by searching for meaning in these situations.
63. Form a healthier relationship with your phone
Most of us are glued to our phones 24-7, which is not good for our happiness. So be sure to develop a healthier relationship with your phone.
64. Use social media to cultivate resilience
If we choose to keep using social media, we actually can use it in ways that increase our resilience. Check out these strategies for boosting resilience on social media.
65. Overcome your fear of failure
Failure is scary. But when we overcome our fear of failure we attempt to do things that can bring us a lot more happiness.
66. Decrease your stress
There are some great strategies to relieve stress that involve diet, exercise, sleep, and mental health. Learn more about stress relief strategies here.
Here's one of my favorite things to listen to when I need to de-stress
67. Talk to strangers
It turns out that casual conversations with strangers can boost our sense of community and happiness. So aim to chat with your cashier, barista, or Lyft driver. Those short chats can have small but meaningful impacts on your happiness.
68. Consider quitting Facebook
Facebook can have negative effects on our happiness. So if you are unable to have a healthy relationship with Facebook, consider quitting.
69. Take a break from romantic comedies
Did you know that romantic comedies can give us false expectations for what healthy relationships are actually like? It's true. So perhaps if you're a romantic comedy addict, take a little break.
70. Build a purpose-driven business
Many of us work in jobs that make us miserable. That's why starting a purpose-driven business can increase our happiness. We not only are doing something we enjoy, but we're making an impact in ways that matter to us.
71. Get some sleep
Most of us don't sleep enough. Aim to get as much sleep as you need to not feel tired. For some this can be 6 or 7 hours, but for others it could be 9 or 10. The goal is to listen to your body and sleep enough so that your body can do what it needs to do while you rest.
72. Experience awe
When we look at vast landscapes or see massive social movements we experience the sense of awe. This sense of awe is linked to well-being. So do something that evokes awe. And aim to practice mindful awe by being present and immersed in the experience of awe.
73. Look at your situation from an outsiders' perspective
When we look at our own situation from another person's point of view, we can often get a new perspective that helps us feel less bad about our current situation. So try taking an outsider's perspective.
74. Look at now from some point in the future
When we attempt to think about what's happening now as if we were living in the future, it can help us realize that we wont always feel badly about this. So try to remove yourself and think about now from a time in the future.
Research shows that even the act of smiling helps us feel a little better. So just try every once and a while to make a smile and try to feel that smile throughout your whole body.
Laughter has powerful effects on our happiness and well-being. So make yourself laugh. Watch a funny video, ask people to tell you jokes, or just force laughter until you feel so silly that you're laughing for real.
77. Take baby steps
As you work toward getting happier, take small steps. Try one of these strategies at a time. See what works for you and go as slow as you need to.
78. Minimize drug and alcohol use
We often use drugs and alcohol to numb negative emotions or amplify positive emotions. But the effects are short lasting and we are left with those emotions and fewer skills for changing our emotions without substances. So see if you can cut back on drugs and alcohol to get happier.
79. Take a break from retail therapy
Shopping has a similar effect on us as drinking and drug use. We feel better in the short-term but the underlying negative emotions remain. Then we have to deal with them later when they are often harder to access and resolve.
80. Strive for work-life balance
When we work 24-7 we don't have time for the people and other activities that give us joy. So one key to happiness is ensuring we have some work-life balance.
How happiness leads to success and not the other way around
81. Take a mental health day every now and then
We all need breaks. And when we need them usually falls before we get sick (we get sick when we've already pushed ourselves too hard). So take a day off every now and then if you can.
82. Hold hands and hug (when it's safe)
We know that touch has powerful effects on our well-being. So hold hands, hug, and caress those who you know well and have permission from, and when it's safe (while Covid is a threat).
83. Put sticky note reminders up
Put sticky notes up reminding you to do and think of some of the positive things we talked about here. These notes will remind you about your goal to get happier and help you stay on track.
84. Watch less TV
TV doesn't do much good for our well-being, and it is often filled with ads or unrealistic story lines that give us false expectations and poor self-worth. So take a break from TV sometimes.
85. Get your heart rate up
Moving around is generally good for our mental and physical health. So get up from your desk and go for a brisk walk every now and then.
86. Write gratitude notes
When we share short but simple notes of gratitude we let those people in our lives know that they matter to us. As a result we improve these relationships and boost our happiness.
87. Walk through a grove of trees
The research shows that forest bathing—or walking through some trees—is good for our health and well-being. So try taking a short walk in the forest or find other ways for plants to boost your well-being.
88. Set personal development goals
We tend to be happier when we are striving for something we care about than when we achieve that same thing. So set some personal development goals and enjoy the process or working on yourself.
89. Figure out what you like, want, and love
When we know ourselves, our likes, and wants, we can more effectively create a life that provides those. So get clear with yourself on what you like, want, and love.
90. Forgive yourself
Now that you understand many things that generate happiness you’re moving in the right direction. But what about those past mistakes? You know, those things you’re not so proud of? Almost everyone has said something hurtful, forgotten an important event, or betrayed someone they love.
We have to remember that our mistakes do not define us. They do not make us good people or bad people. If we learn and grow from them, then they make us better people. To develop positive self-worth, you must keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself, and give yourself credit for trying not to make the same mistakes again.
91. Set boundaries
Are you exhausted, demotivated, and in desperate need of a break? By learning how to establish better boundaries you control what does and does not come into your life and your space. So work on setting better boundaries if you're feeling pressure from others.
92. Work on overcoming loneliness
The great irony is that as we become increasingly "connected"—on social media, video calling, and messaging—we simultaneously feel increasingly lonely. So we need to work harder to do things that decrease loneliness.
93. Buy experiences instead of products
Research shows that spending money on experiences increases happiness more than buying products. Of course, some things fall into both categories. Books, music playing systems, etc... are products that create experiences. Just be sure that you get true happiness for what you bought.
94. Make a vision board
A vision board is a board with pictures and words of where you want to go, what your vision is. It can help you gain clarity on your goals and potentially help you achieve them easier.
95. Read some more articles on how to get happier
This website has lots of articles that can help you with all the aspects of happiness. Check articles out here.
96. Get creative
Research has found that creativity leads to happiness and happiness leads to creativity. So get creative and start an upward spiral of happiness.
97. Boost your self confidence
When we are not confident we don't tend to feel very good about ourselves. So working on boosting our self-confidence can be good for our happiness.
98. Test yourself to see if you have the COMT gene
The COMT gene has a crucial role in mental health and happiness. One version of the COMT gene is called the warrior and the other is called the worrier. So test yourself to see if you have the worrier COMT gene so that you can start eating and taking supplements to help optimize the function of this gene.
99. Build resilience
When we develop the skills that lead to resilience, we can better cope with the inevitable challenges that arise in all of our lives. So boost resilience and protect yourself from the negative effects of hard times.
100. Get plastic our of your life
Plastic increases the amount of estrogen in your body, which can lead to all sorts of mood issues. So use this guide to buy products free of plastic.
101. Don't judge yourself for not doing everything on this list
Phew! That was a lot of things to do get happier. But you should know that you don't need to do them all. And don't judge yourself if your don't. If you do just a few you should see a small boost in happiness. But, if you'd like to try them all, over the course of maybe a year, that would be a good challenge and would likely do wonders for you happiness.
Here's a few more ways to get happier that didn't make the list
When you are stressed, take mini-breaks with yourself.
Use positive words when you talk and write.
Do things that you enjoy.
Find new things to enjoy.
Find the delight in the stupid little stuff.
Celebrate your "flaws".
Make new friends.
Pay attention to other people's emotions.
Make your own decisions.
Find a coach to guide you.
Capitalize on opportunities.
Figure out what makes you feel crappy and change it.
Track you emotions to see what they are.
Stop trying to hide your feelings.
Stop avoiding stuff that's hard.
Stop thinking the world is black and white.
Stop distracting yourself from your feelings.
Still want more? Check out these videos on how to get happier
How to get happier
8 more tricks to get happier
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.