33 Ways to Be Happy With Your Life Right Now

33 Ways to Be Happy With Your Life Right Now
33 Ways to Be Happy With Your Life Right Now

Doesn’t that picture just make you smile? And doesn’t smiling make you happy? When I’m happy, I’m more creative and what a great way to start writing.

I have had the most amazing few months. My world has changed. My energy levels have skyrocketed. Ah, how wonderful life is.

Don’t you love when that happens?

Is it magic? Because we know I love magic. But actually this time, no. This time we have science to back it up, and here’s a short list for happiness:

33 Ways to Be Happy With Your Life Right Now

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1. Eat Something Healthy Every Day

Notice, this didn’t say avoid something unhealthy! But by consuming good, nutrient-dense foods, you’ll feed your body and get that sense of being good to you.

2. Actually Move Around Daily

We’ve all seen the recent studies showing that sitting is the new smoking. And while so many of us have desk jobs, if we get up and move every hour, the negatives of those evaporate. Plus, the more you move, the more those “feel-good” hormones (endorphins) surge. A natural anti-depressant!

3. Flowers First Thing in the Morning

A behavioral study by researchers at Harvard U and Mass General Hospital found that participants felt least positive in the morning. But, they reported being happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing! How cool is that.

how to be happier

And who doesn’t love flowers?

4. Buy Something for Someone Else

We know that performing a kind act for another helps serotonin uptake, which works like a natural anti-depressant. But, so does buying something for someone else. A study in the Journal of Happiness found that when participants were asked to recall purchasing something for someone else, they felt significantly happier.

5. Count Your Blessings

Now, this we know! You simply can’t be in a state of gratitude and fear at the same time. We didn’t exactly need a study for this, but they do abound. The Emmons/McCullough study found that a conscious focus on one’s blessings resulted in a heightened wellbeing.

Count your blessings. You simply can’t be in a state of gratitude and fear at the same time. #happiness

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6. Good Relationships Keep us Happier and Healthier

Again, no surprise here! And I chuckle about studies for this, but Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, conducted one of the longest and most complete studies of adult life, and you guessed it—that’s what he found.

We know the converse is true as well. So choose your relationships wisely!

7. Surround Yourself with Bright Colors.

You’ve read the studies on color and mood, no? One reported in the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology showed that the happiest people picked light blue as their favorite. Their color-wheel chart is fascinating! Get something in a bright color you love and put it on your desk.

tips on how to be happy

8. Check Something off Your long To-Do List

We all know how procrastination can sabotage us and our goals, right? But does making progress really make us happy?

Now this is the really cool thing: Studies have found that successfully pursing those goals that matter to us, actually plays a huge role in our psychological wellbeing. When we make progress, we’re happier and more satisfied.

Who doesn’t want that?

When we make progress on #goals, we’re happier and more satisfied. Check something off your to do list. #happiness

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9. Go ahead and Complain but do it Effectively.

We’re usually against complaining, no? The damage done here is that when we get stuck in doing so, we keep the focus on what’s not working. In other words, on what we don’t want. And since what we focus on expands . . .

But when our complaints lead to actual change, it makes us happier.

So go on and complain—but then figure out the solution and do it.

10. Talk to at least one Friend a Day.

This is mandatory in my world. Even though I work from home, and writing, editing, and all that goes with that are solitary pursuits, I cherish my friends and make time every day to talk to at least one. Sometimes I do this under the guise of business (hi, Renee!). But that ruse just ends up with talking personal stuff at some point.


11. Have a Plan for Your Day.

We know that by planning your day, you get more done. It’s easy to get sidetracked, no? And I do it. Some. But by planning each day (mine are in segments), it keeps me on track. And when I’m on track, I check off tasks as I go. Which makes me happy. See #8 above!

12. Stop keeping up with the Joneses. Or for god’s sakes, the Kardashians.

A study by Andrew Clark and Claudia Senik at the Paris School of Economics concluded: "Man may well be a social animal, but constantly looking over one's shoulder seems to make the world a less happy, and more unequal, place."

As Dr. Daniel Crosby, a psychologist and behavioral finance expert who helps organizations understand the intersection of mind and markets, said: “Studies show that the most noticeable way in which money impacts happiness is negatively! We see that the very rich enjoy a slight bump in happiness given their comparative superiority, but the ‘have nots’ are made absolutely miserable as they look up at their better resourced counterparts.”

13. You are not too old to Follow that Dream.

Never, ever, ever! How many examples can we recount of people following, and realizing, their dreams later in life?

My very favorite story of this ilk is about, as you can imagine, an author. Norman Maclean spent most of his life working as a university professor. But his first love was writing. Once he retired, and in his early ‘70s, his first book was published—A River Runs Through It. My favorite book of all time. One day I want to grow up to be him . . .

You are not too hold to follow that #dream of yours.

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14. Say Something Kind just Because.

Just because it feels good. Because we know that studies have shown that when an act of kindness occurs, it raises the serotonin levels in both the giver and receiver. Even beyond that, it also raises the levels in anyone around witnessing said act. Wow! How cool is that?

15. Throw Something Away.

We’ve all see the stories and shows about hoarders. Can’t be me! We think. But sometimes when I look around . . .

Author of the book, Behind the Clutter: Truth. Love. Meaning. Purpose, said, "You hold onto things based on hope.” You hope to lose weight, catch up on reading, finish that abandoned project. But when you don't, it's hard not to feel like a jerk about it. "How much stuff do you really need to represent that thing?" Saruwatari said. "How many items do you need to hold onto before it starts controlling your life?"

June Saruwatari

16. Be Okay with Failure.

Because you’re going to fail, or you’re not trying. Learn from it. And learn from all the folks who’ve failed before you!

Remember, Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times . . .

Because you’re going to fail, or you’re not trying. Learn from it. And learn from all the folks who’ve failed before you!

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17. Take a Risk.

Or 4. John Tulloch and Deborah Lupton, professors in Cultural Studies and Cultural Policy at Australia's Charles Strut University, and authors of Risk and Everyday Life, examined how people respond to, experience and think about risk as part of their everyday lives.

They found that risk-taking is part of self-improvement and of personal growth as well. It gives us opportunities to escape the mundane. And, it brings excitement through self-actualization. They linked risk to “self-improvement, emotional engagement and control.”

18. Smiling Reduces Stress.

Funny thing about smiling—studies show that by doing so, your mood is actually lifted. So, you don’t have me telling you this, but scientists who study these things J

In the study, published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Kansas found that the act of smiling positively affects our happiness and physical health. And, it helps the heart to recover more quickly after stressful events.

What’s to lose?

19. The Happy Secret to Better Work.

Shawn Achor, the CEO of Good Think, Inc., researches and teaches about positive psychology. He maintains that happiness inspires us in all areas of our lives, and that it’s a choice. His Ted talk is absolutely amazing!

In a nutshell, Achor found that happiness makes us more productive. “If we can change the lens through which your brain sees the world, we can not only change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”


[ted id=1344]​

His studies found: “Ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. If we change it . . . we can change the way that we can affect reality.”

Okay, I’m in!

20. Let Go of Your Control Issues.

If you have them, this can be a real toughie. But we know what Control is about, no? When your life feels out of control, when you fear the unpredictable, the ambiguous. In other words, when you fear losing control, you work at controlling your environment (and often, that of those around you).

This is exhausting. And the older you get, the more untenable the situation becomes, as you just don’t have the energy to control every bit of minutia in life.

Often, the underlying conditions are such that they have to be dug out with therapy. But so many mindfulness practices can take you a long way to releasing them as well.

21. So what if You aren't Perfect.

This relates to the above. Perfectionism is about Control. And what an energy zapper that all is!

22. Stop Talking to Negative People.

We all know the new meme about you being the average of the 5 people closest to you, or, with whom you spend the most time. Some folks have debunked this, but the law of averages (and common sense) do prove that out, at least somewhat. And if you’re striving, on the path to your goals and dreams, the last thing you need is to be dragged down by another’s “issues.”

I actually counsel my editorial clients not to mention to those around them that they’re writing a book. Saves untold heartache.

Of course, you can’t just ditch your friends and family! One of my favorite avenues for dealing with the naysayers is from Abraham, who says that if you don’t give energy to something, it can’t affect you.

So, smile, nod, and talk about something positive.

23. Being Busy isn't a Badge of Honor.

You know that old saying, “If you want to get something done, ask the busiest person in the room”? That can certainly be true. But a truer question would be, “Is that busy person actually effective and happy?” Because as Shawn Achor pointed out in # 19, the happiest people are the most creative, productive, and successful. Wouldn’t you rather be that?

Ways to be happy | relaxing

24. Money Actually Doesn't Buy Happiness.

It doesn’t? Dang! Because wouldn’t that be cool?

I can vouch for true that being poor is difficult. I can still remember those days, although vaguely now. Doing what you love and starving for it can be quite the challenge.

But studies reveal that just being rich doesn’t make you happy either. I loved the Cornell study that showed experiential endeavors–such as a walk in the woods—bring more happiness than material purchases. For one simple reason: People talk more about their experiences than they do their possessions. And, they derive more value from doing so.

25. Learn from the Past and Don't Let it Rule You.

Yep, it happened. And yep, you wished you’da done something differently. But the more you stay stuck in regret, well, the more regret grows.

I’ve always loved Nietzsche’s two-pronged solution to this:

If you choose wrong, forget it. Accept it and love it.

From now on, live with constant awareness of your mortality. And choose differently.

26. It Is Okay to Say No.

Women especially can have a tough time not agreeing to take on any task in the Universe—whether for ourselves, or others. But learning to say no is one of the most empowering things on Earth. Not, “No, I can’t because . . .” But just, “No.” It shows you care about yourself and what you’re doing. And, that whatever you say yes to, you’ll do with all of your heart.

27. The Power of Nature.

We know all the wonderful things that being in nature does for us, right? How it slows down the heartrate and mind. How it causes feelings of connection. How it cleanses the soul.

And not that we need a study for this, but of course they’re being done!

Zelenski and Nisbet’s study of Happiness and Feeling Connected, The distinct Role of Nature Relatedness found that:

“Nature relatedness remained a significant distinct predictor of many happiness indicators, even after controlling for other connections. Results support the notion that nature relatedness could be a path to human happiness and environmental sustainability.”

See, that walk in the woods being calming wasn’t all just in your head!

Ways to be happy again

28. Try Something New.

Not only for fun and to get out of a rut, but challenging the brain by learning a new skill actually leads to changes in the brain.

Dr. Kathryn Papp, neuropsychologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School said, "It may create new connections between brain cells by changing the balance of available neurotransmitters and changing how connections are made."

29. Get Enough Sleep.

Although cognitive scientists can’t exactly explain why you need sleep, Namni Goel, Ph.D., a biological psychologist and sleep expert at the U of Pennsylvania, says that plenty of research exists showing how a lack of it cripples your mind.

That’s pretty much good enough for me. Not to mention my own brain fog when sleep deprived.

30. Ask for Help /Outsource.

I don’t know about you, but this one was tough for me. Kinda went back to that perfectionist thing, and I had to pry my fingers apart in order to let others assume responsibilities of my business.

But you know how when you start becoming successful, there are actually more tasks that need doing? And many of those are technical ones, about which I’m virtually clueless. Furthermore, about which even if I studied and studied, I wouldn’t do nearly as well as those folks who already are proficient in them, and like what they do!

I decided a while back that if I were to break a leg, I wouldn’t try to set it myself, but rather, go to a good orthopedist. You know, the professionals who have the training and ability and get paid to do it.

Once that correlation became apparent about business, it was easy to outsource many things.

31. Be Realistic about how long Something Takes.

We all get screwed up about time, no? At least I truly used to. I can still get caught in that today if I’m not careful.

But I loved this from Tony Robbins:

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year - and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!”

32. Make a list of Happiness Moments in Your Life.

Because that’s what life is, no? It’s those moments in time we remember. The rich ones, the fertile and profound ones. The ones that give our lives meaning.

And if we’re not careful, we can sure forget them . . .

Aren’t your most meaningful moments worth remembering? And I’ve found that if I don’t write them down, don’t document them, I can forget. Sure, something may jar my memory, but why count on that?

By listing those, keeping track of them, it’s easy to look back for a smile in the midst of a harried day.

As Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass: “Happiness is not another place, but this place . . . not for another hour, but this hour . . .”

33. Love. Just Love.

The highest vibration on this Earth, and the strongest, is unconditional love. It is what makes life worth living, the power that moves mountains.

We often think about this in terms of a significant other, or of parenting, but that’s putting constraints on the most powerful force of our world. To truly feel this love transcends all relationships and things.

As the poet Pablo Neruda said, "I love you without knowing how or when or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride."

Okay, so what are some of your happiness actions?

This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. These are really simply but critical reminders to keep things in perspective. Definitely keys to help remain content.

  2. I love this list! I do try to move every day. I attempt to exercise during my lunch hour a few times each week. Sleep is hard to come by dealing with an infant, but I still work hard at it!

    1. I can’t imagine trying to get sleep with a new baby! Sending you rest 🙂

  3. These are great reminders. The control thing is hard for me to let go of 🙂

  4. Mary – I had to agree with every one of these! On a goofy note with the flowers – I once read that even artificial flowers can do the trick to raise our mood – as long as they haven’t been sitting around so much to be part of the landscape and are then somehow overlooked by our brains. I do wish that public restrooms would have flowers in the restroom – I’d be willing to bet people would treat the facilities with more respect – and maybe even wash their hands more! Wouldn’t that be a great behavioral study for some grad student?

    1. I love that idea, Joan! Then maybe we all wouldn’t be afraid to go in them. Lol. And yep–a great grad-student study!

  5. These are so beautiful, Susan! Lovely. I’m going to put some flowers near my bed so I can look at them first thing in the morning!

    1. What a great idea, Reba–putting flowers by the bed. Wouldn’t that just be the loveliest thing to wake up to?

  6. It is exciting to read this and realize that I am doing a lot of these things. Right now on my desk, I have a brightly colored photograph that I purchased. It makes me so darn happy. I talk with friends pretty much daily. This is great info right here. Thank you.

    1. Love the bright photograph, Renee! That’s really cool idea. And I’m the beneficiary of some of your calls–thank you!

    1. Glad you found it inspiring, Chelley. I loved your post about working out for moms!

  7. I got out of bed this morning ridiculously early, feeling kind of grumpy because I thought I needed more sleep. Then I looked out the window and saw the beautiful pinks of the sun rising over the trees. The stunning picture lured me outside where my garden is bursting with spring flowers and I immediately felt energised and full of joy and gratititude. There’s no doubt for me that nature and flowers are joy givers. I think your list is wonderful and I really love that you said to eat something healthy without suggesting we deprive ourselves.

    1. I love that, Tamuria! Gazing out at a beautiful sunrise first thing. Ahhhhh. Then going into your beautiful garden. It incorporates so many of the things that make us happy.

  8. I live this! I am happy when I look at flowers too. It’s one of my favorite things to do. When I am on vacation, I like to go to botanical gardens. It really cheers me up. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. There’s just something about beautiful flowers, isn’t there. Sabrina. I can’t possibly feel anything but joy while seeing them!

  9. Am not much for lists, think they are overrated…but I do agree on for ex. talking to a friend every day, go for a walk, to say no…, to try something new…and many other of the points here. 🙂

    1. It’s about choosing the ones that work for you, isn’t it, Katarina. And you do ones I love as well.

  10. What, Only 33 ways to get & stay happy.? I could comment on them all as I have experienced them in my 77 years of life. The thing is I didn’t know that any of them actually made a difference in my 20’s 30’s or even 40’s. I thought happiness was due to circumstances, events outside my control. Glad I wizened up.

    1. Isn’t that pretty common, Roz. In our younger years, we thought happiness came from outside of ourselves. And isn’t it SO freeing when we find it’s OUR choice.
      Laughing–this is just the short list 🙂

  11. Susan,
    I loved this article because it had the best tips on how to be happy and letting go of your control issues is one of the best , It was a wonderful article that touched me and I loved the way you incorporated the words that flowed.

    1. Isn’t letting go of Control just a marvelous thing, Lori! Ahhh, all the energy!

  12. Number eight and eleven are something that I need to do more in my daily life. I’m sure it will help me. Thanks!

    1. Every little bit helps, Brianna. Even adding one to your day!

  13. I love so many of these. I actually buy flowers every week.. they are the manager special at the grocery store.. I love doing things for others… and organizing. 😉

    1. I do too, Kristen! The manager’s special is usually quite affordable, and ah, how I love those flowers.
      You’re organizational skills always inspire me 🙂

  14. So many great tips here! But saying no and accepting imperfection are big ones for me. Thank you for the tips!

    1. For me too, Jennifer. Seems I had to learn them all the hard way. Lol.

  15. Susan, What a truly inspiring post! Passed this along to a good friend. I printed it out because it really it really has some wise words of wisdom for teaching us about contentment, joy and true happiness.

    1. Love that, Kathy. And we’re all learning, every day, no?

  16. This is the kind of list I like to read! That baby made me smile immediately, and all the points you made gave me something to think about!

    1. Every time I look at that baby I just laugh, Mariana. I mean, how can anyone be sad while perusing that adorable face!

  17. Hi Susan,

    Well, I do not have to tell you HOW MUCH I LOVED this post! Thank you so much for sharing all of these things that we MUST do to have a happier life…..everything you have listed are all right on point, especially being grateful. I have a gratitude journal and I write in it daily. I have been doing so for a year now and I have to tell you my mood and my entire mental state is so much calmer and more at peace since starting this wonderful activity 🙂 Getting enough sleep and exercising are 2 more that stand out to me as well!

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! So many ways to just be happy with your life. No excuse for being unhappy, we just need to look around us 🙂

    1. I love my gratitude journal too, Joan! Doesn’t it just make a world of difference! And I’m with you–what a wonderful world! All we need do is appreciate it.

  18. Great list! All this stuff will raise your vibration and make you happier.

    1. All of it does raise your vibration, doesn’t it, Kimberly! And since everything is energy . . . 🙂

  19. I love this list! so many great ideas. We always have fresh flowers in our home and I do love seeing them in the morning

    1. I’m big on the flowers too, Alene! And when I don’t have fresh cut ones in the house, I just go out to the garden. Ahhh!

  20. Why is it that, on the rare times when I write a longer comment, my comment disappears? LOL

    Since life happens in this precise moment rather than in the future, it does not make sense to spend your time and energy on what may happen in the future because you miss out on what’s great about now.I love how Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

    1. I don’t know, Rachel! We were just talking about that. It’s happened to me too on others’ posts. Maybe the browser times out?
      And so true–life is in the moment. That’s where it is, and all that it is.
      I love the Lincoln quote too!

  21. I am really bad about getting enough sleep. I agree with moving around, even if I’m sick, I find that I feel better by getting up and moving around. If I stay in bed or sit all day, I feel crappy.

    1. Sometimes getting enough sleep can be a challenge, Megan. I know that one well!

  22. What a great list! I especially love #5 – count your blessings. I think thankfulness is my biggest key to happiness.

  23. Loved all of your suggestions, but had to really smile when I got to #32. I was just thinking yesterday of all happiness moments. I noticed how much it had an effect on my mental well-being. Thanks for all the good thoughts, Susan.

    1. Aren’t the moments of our lives just precious, Joyce. And how they make us smile!

  24. I love all these. If I had to pick one favorite, I would say that being busy is not a badge of honor. We’ve been enculturated to believe it and it’s just not so. It’s not about being busy, but what we’re busy about. Make it count!

    1. So true, Jackie. I still sometimes get caught up in “busyness.” Then I sit back, breathe, and refocus on what is actually important!

  25. Powerful recommendations, all of them, but I think the greatest of these is #33–Love. Thank you for sharing.

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