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While everybody has their own unique version of what true happiness entails, many of us struggle to attain a more satisfying life.

However, with a few changes to your daily habits, you can help to transform your life to become a happier, more fulfilled version of yourself.

You may not have considered this, but habits matter. Anybody who has tried to break the cycle of a counterproductive habit (for example, smoking, drinking to excess, or overeating) will understand how well-ingrained habits become within the psyche.

The good news is that positive habits are equally as ingrained – so why not start putting the work in to implement good habits in your daily routine instead? In this article, we’re going to focus on some habits (for each day, week, month, and year) to help kick-start you on your quest for happiness. However, you should try to remember that everybody’s vision of a happy life is different, and your path to happiness can vary depending on your vision and worldview.

It’s also worth remembering that not all good habits fit your lifestyle. If that’s the case, don’t worry too much. With some time, practice and soul searching, you’ll be able to understand what positive habits work as part of your lifestyle – and crucially, which ones don’t.

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Daily habits to implement for increased happiness

These simple daily habits could help you to achieve greater happiness in everyday life. Why not try implementing one or more of them and see if you feel more content throughout the day? With these small changes, you could be working towards a more stable, enjoyable life.

Smile more often

Smiling is often a result of being happy (for example, if we see something that makes us feel good), but did you know that smiling can also contribute to happiness? When we smile, the brain releases dopamine, a chemical that can boost our mood. Research suggests that there is a connection between happiness and smiling, known as the “facial feedback hypothesis,” which suggests that facial expressions can influence our emotions. While it’s not a guarantee, it may be worth trying to smile more frequently, especially when feeling down, or starting each day with a smile in a mirror to help boost confidence.

Get regular exercise

Exercise can be beneficial not just purely for physical health, but also for your mental well-being. It has been proven to help lessen stress, anxiety, and depression, while also increasing self-esteem and overall happiness. It’s important to remember that even the tiniest amounts of physical exertion can create a positive change, so there’s no need to push yourself too hard or overdo it.

Instead, try incorporating simple exercise habits into your routine, such as taking a walk around your local area, trying a beginner’s yoga class, or starting the day with some gentle stretches. You can also consider rediscovering activities that you once enjoyed or trying new ones that you’ve always wanted to try, such as bowling, golfing, soccer, or dancing

Get enough sleep

Most adults need around seven hours of good quality sleep per night to feel rested and function properly. If you find yourself feeling tired during the day or struggling to stay alert, it may be a sign that you need more sleep.

Adequate sleep is important for brain function, and mental health, and it can also reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses, such as depression, heart disease, or diabetes. Here are some tips to enable you to improve your sleep routine:

  • Keep a record of the amount of sleep you get every evening, and make notes on how relaxed or rested you feel as a result.
  • Try to go to bed at a similar time each evening, and rise at a similar time too.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, not too warm, and dark enough to facilitate sleep.
  • Purchase comfortable bedding
  • Limit daytime naps to a total of twenty minutes if necessary
  • Consider speaking with a sleep professional or physician if you have ongoing sleep problems

Eat well, feel happy

We all understand the importance of eating healthily to ensure the body gets the vital nutrients it needs. However, it is important to understand that the food you eat can not only impact your physical condition – it could also impact your mental well-being. For instance:

  • Carbohydrates are known to release a chemical called serotonin. This hormone helps us to feel good, as it regulates mood. Just try to restrict simple carbs to a bare minimum. Energy surges associated with carbs are short, which can lead to an energy crash. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and beans can provide sufficient feel-good chemicals while preventing an energy crash.
  • Foods that are high in protein, such as legumes, poultry, dairy, and lean meat can boost energy and concentration by releasing chemicals like dopamine. These neurotransmitters help to improve mood and cognitive function.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in certain types of fish, have anti-inflammatory properties. If you do not regularly eat fish, it may be useful to speak with a healthcare provider about taking supplements to get your omega-3s.
  • Eating highly processed or fatty deep-fried foods can lead to feelings of sadness and low mood. It’s important to pay attention to your diet and try to include nourishing, wholesome foods in your meals and snacks to support your overall well-being.
  • One way to improve your mood through your diet is to focus on making one mindful food choice each day. For example, instead of a sugary breakfast pastry, you could try having Greek yogurt with fruit. The protein in the yogurt will help to sustain your energy levels and prevent a mid-morning slump.
  • You can also try adding in a new healthy food each week to gradually improve your overall diet and support your mood.

Introduce gratitude into your daily regime

Practicing gratitude has been shown to have numerous benefits for your mood and overall well-being. A recent study found expressing gratitude can significantly increase feelings of happiness, well-being, and hope.

One way to start incorporating gratitude into your daily routine is to take a few moments each morning to think about one thing you are grateful for. This could be something small or something more significant, but taking the time to focus on the positives in life can have an overall beneficial impact on your mood.

You can also try looking for small, pleasant moments throughout the day and taking a moment to appreciate them. With time and practice, you may find that you become more aware of all the positive things happening around you.

Give compliments

Research has shown that something as simple as performing a small act of kindness can have a positive impact on your mood and well-being. One simple and effective way to spread kindness is to give sincere compliments to others. A genuine compliment can make someone’s day and also improve your own mood. When giving a compliment, make sure to look the person in the eye and smile to show that you are being sincere.

However, if you feel like complimenting someone on their appearance, be sure to do so respectfully. Be wary of overstepping any boundaries, and try to be honest and meaningful.

Take a deep breath

When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, taking slow, deep breaths can be a simple and effective way to calm your mind and body. Research has shown that certain breathing exercises are useful when it comes to reducing stress and improving overall well-being. To try this technique, you can follow these tips:

  • Close your eyes and try to visualize a good memory or a peaceful place.
  • Inhale slowly through the nose, counting to 5 in your head.
  • Exhale slowly through the nose or mouth, also counting to 5 in your head.
  • Repeat each step of the process for several breaths until you begin to notice yourself feeling calmer.

If you have difficulty with this technique, you can try using a counting app or setting a timer for yourself to help regulate your breathing. When performed correctly, deep breathing exercises are a simple and effective way to bring some relaxation and calm into your day.

Accept unhappy moments for what they are

Remember that it’s natural to have ups and downs in life, and it’s okay to feel unhappy or sad at times. Instead of trying to pretend that you’re happy when you’re not, it can be helpful to acknowledge and allow yourself to feel those negative emotions for a moment. This can help you to process and move through them more effectively.

Once you’ve given yourself a chance to experience those feelings, you can try to shift your focus and take steps to care for yourself. This might involve practicing deep breathing, walking, or talking to someone about your feelings. Remember that it’s normal to have a range of emotions, and it’s important to allow yourself to feel and express them in a healthy manner.

Keep a mindfulness journal

Keeping a journal can be a helpful way to externalize those difficult internal thoughts, process your emotions, and make future plans. You don’t have to be a skilled writer or produce lengthy entries to benefit from journaling either. In fact, journaling can be as simple as making some notes before bed, or whenever you feel the need to express yourself.

If you’re concerned about privacy, you can always destroy or shred your journal entries when you’re finished or use a password-protected document on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The act of writing and expressing yourself is what’s important, as opposed to how and where you write things down. After a while, you may find that journaling helps you unlock your authentic feelings.

Confront stress with confidence

It’s only natural to experience stress from time to time, and it’s not always possible to avoid certain triggers or stressors. It’s important to remember that stress is a normal part of life and can sometimes even be beneficial.

If you’re facing a stressor that you can’t avoid, try to remind yourself that all people experience stress and that you are strong enough to handle it. Instead of allowing stress to overwhelm you, try to take steps to address the source of stress. This could involve having a difficult conversation or making effort to effect a change, but confronting the issue can help you to feel more in control and less stressed. It’s also important to practice self-care and find healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, relaxation techniques, or talking to a trusted friend or family member.

Stop comparing yourself to other people

We all make comparisons, whether it’s on social media, in public, or at your place of work. In fact, it’s common to compare ourselves to others, but doing so can lead to lower self-esteem, anxiety, discontent, and depression. To improve your well-being, it can be helpful to work on letting go of comparisons and focusing on protecting your own happiness and peace.

There are several strategies you can try to help shift your focus inward and away from comparisons, such as practicing some of the mindfulness techniques highlighted above. You may also find it helpful to talk to a therapist for support and perspective. With practice, it’s possible to break the habit of comparing yourself to others and cultivate a greater sense of self-acceptance and inner peace.

Weekly habits for a happier you

Implementing some or all of these weekly habits could help you to become a happier person. You don’t have to try making all these changes at once, however. Instead, we recommend gradually introducing positive habits over time. This way, you won’t feel too overwhelmed, which can lead to the abandonment of any good progress you’ve currently made. Instead, implement each of these as and when you feel comfortable:

Make plans to see friends

Having social relationships is important for human happiness, and research suggests that socialization can have a positive impact on overall well-being. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, it can be helpful to reach out to friends and family and make plans to connect. Even if you don’t have a large social circle, having meaningful relationships with one or two people can be beneficial.

If you’re looking to make new friends, you might consider getting involved in a local volunteer group or taking a class to meet like-minded people in your area. Pets can also offer companionship and have been shown to have positive effects on well-being. If you’re unable to have a pet, you could consider volunteering at a local animal shelter as a way to connect with both humans and animals at the same time.

Declutter your home

Having a tidy living space can help with mindfulness. Decluttering can seem like a daunting task, but breaking it down into smaller chunks of time can make it more manageable. By setting aside just half an hour per week to tidy up a specific area of your home, you can make a big impact on the overall clutter and organization of your living space.

Try setting a timer for twenty minutes and using that time to tidy up a specific area, such as your drawer or closet. Be sure to put things in their correct designated space and get rid of any clutter that is no longer serving you. It can also be useful to keep a box for items that you can give away to make the process easier. Use the final ten minutes to do a quick walkthrough of your living area and put away any stray items that you come across. You can repeat this process each week or anytime you feel like your space needs de-cluttering.

Spend less time on your phone

It’s time to unplug from the Matrix. No, seriously, there’s good reason to: excessive phone use has been linked to changes in the brain and negative impacts on mood, especially in adolescents and young adults.

To help mitigate these effects, it can be helpful to take breaks from electronic devices and unplug for at least an hour once a week. During this time, you can do activities that allow your mind to relax and wander, such as reading, meditating, taking a walk, or simply being alone.

If it feels overwhelming to unplug for an entire hour at first, you can try starting with shorter periods of time several times a week and gradually increasing the duration as you feel more comfortable. Taking breaks from electronic devices can help to improve your overall well-being and reduce the negative effects of excessive screen time.

Plan your week more effectively

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about how to prioritize your tasks and responsibilities, one strategy that can be helpful is to sit down at the end or beginning of the week and make a basic plan for what you would like to achieve. This can involve marking out time in blocks for specific tasks and activities, such as doing laundry, going shopping for groceries, or simply tackling work projects.

Having a plan in place can help to calm your mind and give you a sense of direction and control. You don’t need a dedicated app or planning book to do this – a simple note attached to your wall or a piece of paper in your wallet can work just as well. Even if you don’t end up following your plan exactly, the act of creating it can be beneficial in helping you to feel more organized and focused.

Spend more time in nature

Spending time in green spaces, such as parks, gardens, or even your own backyard, can have several health benefits.

One study found that spending at least half an hour per week in outdoor areas can help to alleviate high blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing mental health conditions like depression. Incorporating outdoor exercise into your time in green spaces can provide additional benefits, as the study also found that those who spent time outdoors will increasingly undertake more frequent exercise.

So, if you want to improve your physical and mental well-being, consider finding some time each week to spend in a green space and enjoy the benefits of nature and fresh air.

Consider meditating

Meditation is a practice that involves bringing your attention to the present moment and cultivating a sense of calm and clarity. There are lots of types of meditation, and you may find that certain methods work better for you than others. Some forms of meditation involve movements, such as walking meditation or yoga, while other methods involve focusing on a specific object or image, or repeating a mantra or affirmation. There are also some forms that involve a spiritual component, such as prayer or chanting.

Meditation needn’t be complex – it can be as straightforward as being at one with your thoughts for a short period. Deep breathing (which we referenced earlier) serves as a type of meditation.

Monthly habits for increased happiness

While the aforementioned daily and weekly habits are easy to slot into everyday life, you could also benefit from implementing some of the following once a month. With a little bit of practice, you may begin to see an improvement in your overall happiness:

Treat yourself – and you alone

It’s normal to want to spend time with other people, but it’s also important to enjoy your own company. If you don’t have someone to go out with, there’s no reason why you can’t go out on your own.

Consider going to your favorite restaurant, seeing a movie, or taking a trip that you’ve always wanted to go on. Even if you’re generally a social person, spending some intentional time alone can help you to reconnect with activities that bring you joy and happiness. Don’t be afraid to embrace solo activities and enjoy your own company.

Give something back

If you’ve found that providing compliments helps to improve your mood, you might consider making a habit each month of giving something to your community on a bigger scale. This could involve volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping out at an education center, or finding other ways to help out in your community.

Giving back to others can provide a sense of purpose and connection, and can be a rewarding way to contribute to the well-being of others. Plus, the positive effects of helping others can ripple out and improve the well-being of those around you, creating a virtuous cycle of kindness and generosity.

Annual habits

Once a year, it can be important to take stock of the important things in life. Try implementing the following habits annually to help you plan for a happier year:

Take some time to reflect on life

It can be beneficial to take a step back and reflect on your life periodically; the new year is a common time to do so. However, you can do this at any time throughout the year.

Put some time aside to check in with yourself and think about how you’re doing, what you’ve been achieving, and whether you’re feeling any better than you did this time last year. It’s important to be kind to yourself as you do this, and to remember that you’ve made it through another year – that’s something to be cheerful about.

If your happiness and general mood haven’t improved in the previous 12 months, it may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional to explore any underlying factors that could be impacting your mood.

Let go of grudges

Forgiving others and letting go of grudges can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that this process is ultimately about taking care of yourself. Holding onto resentment or negative feelings towards others can weigh heavily on your mental and emotional well-being.

If you find that you’re harboring ill will or resentment towards someone, it may be helpful to try to address the issue in some way. This could involve contacting the person in an attempt to resolve the issue, or simply ending that particular relationship and moving on.

If contacting the person isn’t an option, you might try expressing your feelings in a journal or letter that you don’t send. This can be a helpful way to externalize your thoughts onto paper and can provide a sense of closure. If you prefer, you might even want to destroy the letter after writing your feelings down. The most important thing is to find a way to let go of negative feelings and move forward with a more positive outlook.

Conclusion

We all have our own idea of happiness, and what works for some won’t work for others. However, by utilizing some of the techniques above, you could help to relieve stress and increase your overall satisfaction with life – so why not start today?