How to Feel Happier: 8 Helpful Habits for Life

Feb 4, 2024

How To Be Happy. . .

The pursuit of happiness is something we all share, but it often eludes us in the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Why? Because we’re so preoccupied dealing with everything that’s thrown at us and don’t stop to question what we’re doing or why we’re doing it.

Instead, we become brainwashed by society and end up blindly doing what everyone else is doing.

But does it REALLY make you happy?

I doubt it, or you wouldn’t be here reading this post. . .

So, let’s put the brakes on life for a moment and have a look at 8 tips to help you reduce stress and become a healthier and happier version of yourself. 

Woman on the beach smiling

1. Limit High-Addiction Happiness

Dopamine Dilemma

Happiness is a wonderful feeling — but not all sources are created equal.

In our ultra-hectic, tech-driven world, the constant pursuit of quick dopamine hits, whether from social media, gaming, or other instant gratifications, can lead to highly addictive behaviors.

This relentless cycle of seeking immediate rewards often traps us in a pleasure-driven loop.

We might think these rewards make us feel happier, but the truth is they’re just temporary and chasing them over and over again affects our well-being in the long run.

That’s why it’s a good idea to steer clear of the quick dopamine fixes that can lead to a happiness disaster.

It’s not just about obvious drugs either. Anything that gives you a dopamine hit, like money, shopping, gaming, or excessive phone use, can create an endless cycle of wanting more.

Understanding the role of dopamine in your happiness can be the first step to breaking free from these traps.

If you want to know more about the nature of addiction, and dopamine in particular, I strongly recommend reading the book Dopamine Nation, by Dr. Anna Lembke.

You can pick it up at her website https://www.annalembke.com.

2. Manage Your Stress Levels: Practice Meditation and Mindfulness

Serenity Now

Research consistently shows the benefits of meditation on stress reduction and increased happiness

Serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness, and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the neurotransmitter of calmness, both rise in response to meditation.

It’s not just a treatment for anxiety and insomnia; it’s a preventive medicine. 

Consider integrating meditation or mindfulness practices into your daily routine for a positive impact on your mental well-being.

3. Minimize Your Stuff and Choices

Less is More

Never in human history have we had so much STUFF!

I mean, it’s everywhere. Gadgets, clothes, food, the Internet of (mainly useless) Things. . . the list is almost infinite. 

But does all that choice make us happier?

Nope. It does the opposite

Too much choice can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. It can even lead to parts of the brain shutting down due to choice overload and something called ‘ego-depletion’.

From physical possessions to the overwhelming array of options in the modern world, decluttering your life can help you be happier as you’ll feel less overloaded and more in control.

My advice is to take some simple steps to simplify your environment by reducing excess choices.

You’ll be surprised what peace you can find in minimalism. Remember, less clutter means more mental space.

To get you started, here are three things to think about:

1. Clothing Purge

  • Go through your wardrobe and identify clothing items that you haven’t worn in the past year or that no longer fit your style. Donate or sell them. Simple.
  • Keep only the clothes that you genuinely enjoy wearing and that serve a purpose in your daily life. This not only frees up physical space but also simplifies your morning routine.
  • It might be a hard set of choices, so take a moment to hold each garment and ask yourself whether it still really resonates with you. Use your instinct and listen to your heart — but don’t do it for more than 3 seconds! If it takes you that long to decide, then bin it. 
  • Don’t bin your work clothes, obviously. . . 😉

2. Digital Detox

  • Decluttering isn’t limited to physical spaces. It’s also crucial for your digital life.
  • Review your digital devices, such as your computer, smartphone, and tablet.
  • Delete unnecessary files, organize your folders, and uninstall apps you no longer use.
  • Clear out your email inbox by unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t read and archiving or deleting old emails. 
  • This will not only declutter your digital space but also improve your digital well-being.

3. Streamlining Decor

  • Evaluate the decorative items in your home.
  • Keep the ones that hold sentimental value or bring you joy, and consider parting with those that have become clutter.
  • A minimalist approach to home decor can create a more serene living environment.
  • Consider open spaces, and let go of items that contribute to visual noise without adding significant value to your living space.

Remember, the key to successful decluttering is to be intentional about what you choose to keep in your life.

Regularly reassess your belongings and spaces to maintain a clutter-free and more organized lifestyle.

Man lying in a pile of garbage

4. Work Toward Building a Better Self: Surround Yourself with Positivity

Garbage In, Garbage Out

My next tip is to be mindful of the inputs around you. Whether it’s people, environments, TV programs, or the content you consume, surround yourself with positive things in your life.

They say that the five people you surround yourself with massively impact your mood, psychology and, ultimately, your happiness.

So, do yourself a favor: Try to avoid the negative noise-makers and hang around with positive people instead.

We’re not just talking about people who you know personally, either; we’re talking about people like Influencers you might follow on social media.

Ask yourself:

Does this influencer/person/clip inspire positivity or negativity in their content?

  • Reflect on the overall tone and messaging of the posts.
  • Consider whether their content uplifts and inspires or contributes to negative emotions and perspectives.

How does following this influencer/person/clip make me feel after engaging with their content?

  • Assess your emotional response after consuming the posts. How do you feel?
  • If you at all feel drained, stressed, or anxious, it might be worth reevaluating whether their content aligns with your goal of fostering a positive and happier mindset. 

Does the influencer’s/person’s/clip’s content encourage personal growth and well-being, or does it perpetuate a negative mindset?

  • Evaluate whether the content contributes to your personal development and well-being.
  • Consider if their messages align with your values and aspirations, or if they perpetuate a mindset that hinders your journey towards happiness.

Remember, being mindful of the content you consume online is crucial for your mental well-being and building a better self

Try to be mindful of your surfing habits in general and be honest about what is positive and what is not. Then make a set of choices about what you will look at in future and what you won’t.

In a world where everything is at your fingertips, choosing the uplifting over the negative in every situation you can is tricky.

But if you really do want to improve yourself, then remember this simple equation: Garbage In = Garbage Out.

Imagine it like this: 

Think of your mind as a garden. If you plant positive thoughts and nurture them, you’ll harvest a beautiful mental landscape. But if you sow negativity and let it grow, you’ll end up with a garden full of weeds.

Garbage in = Garbage out. What you cultivate in your mind shapes the quality of your reality.

Talk and Share the Positives

Words have a huge amount of power. That’s why what we choose to say and share with others plays a pivotal role in making us happy. 

When we mindfully select our vocabulary and expressions, we contribute not only to our personal well-being but also to the well-being of others.

So, as you connect with people, whether it’s catching up with friends for coffee or engaging in daily conversations, be mindful of the potential impact of your words.

If you find yourself caught in the creeping crossfire of negativity, choose the path of neutrality or redirect toward more positive topics.

5. Find a New Exercise and/or Hobby to Add to Your Daily Routine

Move for a Better Mood

Are you already someone who enjoys exercise? If so, why not shake things up a bit and try something new?

And if you’re exercise-averse, well. . . try something new, too!

Physical activity not only benefits your body but also has a profound impact on your mood

Whether it’s a full workout or a simple 15-minute morning walk, incorporating exercise into your routine can release feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin.

There are lots of moderate low-to-moderate-intensity exercises you can try, for example brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.

All of these forms of regular exercise that can elevate your heart rate and help reap the benefits of a healthful workout.

Each of these will not only contribute to physical well-being but also act as a natural and effective way to lift your spirits and distract your mind from negativity.

The key is to choose an exercise you enjoy and think is manageable. Experts say that 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise will do the trick.

Easy.

Find  a New Hobby

As well as exercising, you could also think about introducing a new hobby (as long as it’s a healthy and ethical one!) into your life.

Hobbies such as gardening, model making, birdwatching, drawing, painting or singing are all excellent examples of things you can do that replace, for example, sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, getting lost in your phone or playing video games. 

Making healthy choices unlocks one of the major doors to a more joyful and fulfilling long-term journey.

6. Practice Appreciating Small Happiness

Happiness Journaling

In the ebb and flow of daily life, we often focus on the negatives. It’s natural.

But not helpful.

A great way to capture the positives and engage with them at a deeper level rather than letting them whizz by is by practicing gratitude via a happiness journal.

It’s super-easy to do. Just take a few minutes each day to write down three things you’re thankful for.

Use the time to acknowledge the positive aspects of your life and reflect on how fortunate you are.

Even if you consider yourself the most unfortunate person alive (which I’m pretty sure is not the case), there will be at least something that you can be grateful for, if you look hard enough. 

I recommend that you make your writing in the happiness journal, and the quiet reflection that accompanies it, the last thing you do before you go to bed.

You could even write it in bed.

Why is this important? Because it’s a positive way to finish the day and helps create a positive mood before you sleep.

Alongside the happiness journal, you can practice being grateful for three things when you wake up in the morning, right before you open your eyes and get up. 

They may well be the same three things you wrote in your journal last night; that’s fine. 

The morning is a good time to silently say your three thankful affirmations, as it is one of two points in the day where your subconscious is most receptive (the other is the night time, before you fall asleep). 

Man holding back a raging bull

7. Stop Wasting Energy on the Uncontrollable

Focus on the Present

As the saying goes, “Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.”

Attempting to control the uncontrollable is exhausting and futile.

Instead of channeling your mental energy into a past that’s unchangeable or into a future that hasn’t yet happened, it’s much more sensible, helpful and healthy to focus on the present moment.

The present moment is the only moment you have. And it’s the only moment that shapes your reality and your future.

Today, not yesterday or tomorrow, is where your power lies, and it’s where your happiness can truly flourish.

Focus on that.

8. Build Your Resilience

Mastering the art of bouncing back from life’s curveballs is what resilience is all about.

It’s the ability to learn from setbacks, adapt to change, and face future adversity head-on.

It’s what helps you not just weather the storms and hardships of life, but also move forward, making progress even in the face of the most difficult challenges.

Rather than seeing difficulties as unbeatable obstacles, resilient people see them as chances for growth and transformation. 

I’ve heard some people talk about the idea of framing difficult situations as ‘lessons from another mother’. 

It’s an interesting way to think of it, as it takes focus away from the negativity of the issue and frames it in a positive way, as a potential learning experience. 

8 Secrets to a Happy Life. . . Today!

So, you’ve just about finished the post and have probably nodded along at most pints, thinking, “Yep, sounds, good. I could do that.” 

But WILL you?

When?

That’s now your challenge.

Happiness isn’t a procrastination-friendly pursuit — it thrives in the present, so don’t wait for the perfect moment to start acting on these tips

Don’t leave them for tomorrow; take action and start implementing them TODAY

That might mean you simply make a list of when you’re going to do your clothes purge. . .

It might mean you google a few sports activities you can do in your area. . .

It might mean you find a book that you could turn into your happiness journal and commit to starting it tonight. . .

Whatever it is you choose to do, at least you’ll be doing something.

And that’s better than doing nothing.

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