10 proven habits for a happier life

Improve your well being and find joy every day

Monday 12 December 2022

Happiness is a feeling that we all strive for, but it can be elusive at times. If you're feeling down or just want to increase your overall sense of well-being, there are steps you can take to feel happier. Here are 10 science-backed ways to feel happier.

Exercise regularly

Woman doing a stretch on a mat outside

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. In fact, one study found that just 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three times per week was enough to improve symptoms of depression.

This is bcause our bodies release endorphins when we engage in regular physical activity,, which are chemicals that can improve our mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

There are many ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, and the best one for you will depend on your goals and preferences. Some ideas might include going for a walk or run, joining a gym or fitness class, or engaging in a sport or activity that you enjoy. It is important to find an activity that is sustainable and fits with your lifestyle, so that you can make it a regular part of your routine.

Get enough sleep

Woman sleeping with her dog

When we get enough sleep, we can feel more rested, alert, and focused, which can help us to better navigate the challenges and demands of daily life. In addition, getting enough sleep has been linked to improved mood, memory, and overall well-being.

There are several factors to consider when it comes to getting enough sleep. First, it is important to establish a regular sleep schedule, and aim to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. This can help to regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

It is also important to create a comfortable and conducive sleep environment, which may include a comfortable bed, a cool and dark room, and limiting exposure to screens and other sources of light before bedtime.

By prioritizing sleep and making it a priority, we can feel more rested, alert, and focused, and be better equipped to handle the challenges and demands of daily life.

Practice gratitude

Man standing on a rock looking into the sunset

Practicing gratitude involves focusing on the things in your life that you're thankful for, no matter how small. It's easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and dwelling on things that aren't going well, but taking the time to focus on the things you appreciate can have a big impact on your overall well-being.

One way to practice gratitude is to write down three things you're grateful for each day. It can be helpful to do this before bed as a way to reflect on the positive aspects of your day.

You can also share your gratitude with a friend or family member, which can help strengthen your relationships and promote positive emotions.

Don't forget that practicing gratitude is a skill that takes time and effort to develop. It can be helpful to start small and gradually build up your gratitude practice. With time and dedication, you'll be well on your way to feeling happier and more fulfilled.

Spend time with loved ones

Grandfather playing football with two grandchildren

When we spend time with people we care about, we can feel a sense of connection and belonging, and this can improve our overall well-being and happiness. Spending time with loved ones can also provide a sense of support and companionship, which can be especially important during difficult times.

There are many ways to spend time with loved ones, and the best one for you will depend on your relationships and your shared interests. Some ideas might include having regular meals or outings together, engaging in shared hobbies or activities, or simply spending quality time talking and connecting.

It is also important to consider the balance between spending time with loved ones and maintaining healthy boundaries. It is okay to need some time alone or to pursue your own interests, and finding a balance can help to ensure that your relationships are supportive and fulfilling.

Volunteer or give back to your community

Volunteers handing out meals at a food bank

Volunteering or giving back to your community is a habit that can contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life. When we engage in activities that benefit others, we can feel a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. In addition, volunteering or giving back can also help us to feel connected to others and to our community, which can improve our sense of well-being and happiness.

There are many ways to volunteer or give back to your community. You could volunteer your time at a local organization, such as a food bank, animal shelter, or community center. You could also consider donating money or resources to a cause that is important to you.

Other than the personal benefits of volunteering, these actions can also have a positive effect on the community. By giving our time, money, or resources to support others, we can help to make our communities stronger and more vibrant. This, in turn, can create a more fulfilling environment for all of us to live in.

Practice mindfulness

Woman meditating on her yoga mat

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment, without judgment, and paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a non-reactive way. When we practice mindfulness, we can gain a greater sense of clarity and perspective, which can help us to better navigate the challenges and stresses of daily life.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness, such as through meditation, yoga, or simply taking a few moments each day to focus on our breath and pay attention to our surroundings. By setting aside time to be mindful, we can cultivate a greater sense of calm and well-being, and reduce stress and negative emotions.

As a bonus, mindfulness can also improve our relationships with others. By being more present and attentive in our interactions, we can communicate more effectively and build deeper connections with those around us.

Set achievable goals

Dart board with a dart close to bullseye

When we set goals for ourselves, we can feel a sense of purpose and direction, and working towards these goals can give us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. By setting achievable goals, we can also boost our confidence and self-esteem, as we can see progress and success in our efforts.

There are several key factors to consider when setting achievable goals. First, it is important to make sure that your goals are specific and well-defined. This will help you to have a clear understanding of what you are working towards and how you can measure your progress.

Next, it is important to make sure that your goals are realistic and achievable, given your current resources and circumstances. Finally, it is helpful to break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps, and to track your progress along the way.

Overall, setting achievable goals is a habit that can help us to focus our efforts and energy, and lead a happier and more fulfilling life. By setting and working towards goals that are meaningful and important to us, we can feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and make progress towards the things that matter most to us.

Get out in nature

Family going on a walk outdoors in nature

Spending time in nature is a habit that can contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life. Being in nature has been shown to have a variety of benefits for our physical and mental well-being. For example, spending time in nature has been linked to reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, and increased feelings of happiness and well-being.

There are many ways to get out in nature and enjoy its benefits. You could take a walk in a local park, go for a hike in the woods, spend time at the beach, or simply spend some time in your own backyard. The key is to find activities that you enjoy and that allow you to fully engage with the natural world around you.

Learn a new skill

Man painting an unglazed ceramic pot blue

Learning a new skill is a habit that can contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life. When we learn something new, we can feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, and this can boost our confidence and self-esteem. It can also be a great way to keep our minds active and engaged, which can help to prevent boredom and keep us mentally sharp.

The best way to learn a new skill depends on your interests and goals. Some ideas might include taking a class, signing up for an online course, or finding a tutor or mentor to guide you. You could also consider joining a club or group that is focused on a particular skill or activity, as this can be a great way to meet like-minded people and learn from others.

Seek professional help

Man sitting at a therapist appointment

Sometimes, we all face challenges or struggles that can be difficult to navigate on our own. In these cases, seeking professional help can be a valuable resource for finding support and guidance.

There are a lot of different professionals who can help with a wide range of issues, such as mental health professionals, financial advisors, or career coaches. By seeking out the expertise and support of a professional, you can gain valuable insights and strategies for dealing with your challenges, and find ways to move forward in a positive direction.

It can also be a powerful way to take care of ourselves and prioritize our well-being. By recognizing that we need help and seeking it out, we can show ourselves compassion and self-care, and take an active role in improving our own lives.