If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, something to help you feel a little bit happier, then this post is for you.
I’ve put together a list of 12 things you can do, that don’t take much time or effort, to feel happier, and you can get going on most of them straight away.
1. Start your day with a hug
Make a habit of having a hug with your partner, your child, or your cat first thing in the morning and you’ll get a lovely little happiness hit to get your day off to a joyful start.
Hugging people we love (and stroking our pets) causes a release of that wonderful happiness hormone serotonin, as well as dopamine and oxytocin.
It doesn’t take long either, research has shown that hugging for just 6 seconds is long enough for significant amounts of serotonin and oxytocin to be released.
2. Move your body
We all know that exercise is good for us. It keeps us both physically and mentally well, and really can make us feel happier thanks to the endorphins that are released when we work out.
It can still be hard to get motivated to do it though, even when we know all the amazing benefits of exercising.
The key is finding ways to move our bodies that feel fun to us. Whether that’s dancing around the kitchen to 90s tunes, or chasing after the kids in a game of stuck in the mud in the park.
Find things you enjoy that get your heart pumping and enjoy the happiness benefits that come with it.
3. Practice gratitude
Every day take 5 minutes to write down 3 things you’re thankful for.
You can do this in the morning as you drink your coffee, or last thing at night before you turn off the light and go to sleep.
A study carried out at the University of California in 2003 found that people who regularly wrote gratitude journals reported feeling more positive about their lives in general, more optimistic about the week ahead, and happier all round.
4. Do something kind for someone else
A really lovely way to get a happiness boost is to do something nice for someone else.
Look for ways you can include random acts of kindness into your day, from smiling at people you pass on your walk to buying a bunch of flowers for your partner.
It might sound strange to laugh to make yourself feel happier (rather than laughing because you’re already happy), but studies have found that smiling and laughing, even when they’re fake and forced to start with, can give us a happiness boost.
So try spending a few minutes doing the silliest, most over-the-top fake laugh you can muster and see how it makes you feel. Or try a laughter-yoga session on your lunch break to give you a boost for the afternoon.
My favourite way to bring on the giggles though is to watch something funny, like bloopers from my favourite TV programmes. The old Friends bloopers still make me crack up every time I see them, especially the one where Ross plays the bagpipes.
6. Try something new
Mixing up your routine is an easy and fun way to add more happiness to your day.
Try a new cereal for breakfast, walk a different route home from the school run, start learning a new skill, or give yoga a try instead of going for a run. When we do the same things day in day out we can really start to feel stuck in a rut, which isn’t the most cheerful place to be.
Giving something new a try and doing things differently can help build new neural pathways, bust us out of that rut and give us a great boost of happiness.
7. Embrace your inner child
Think back to the things you used to love doing when you were younger, and make time to start doing them again now.
It might be drawing or making things with your hands, skipping in the garden, or slowing down, lying on the ground and looking for shapes in the clouds.
Whatever it means to you, find time to just play once in a while, you’ll feel much happier for it!
8. Spend some time in nature
There are so many benefits to spending time outside, and a boost in happiness is one of them.
So try and spend a bit of time outside every day. Go for a walk in the park on your lunch break, or take your child out to the woods and see what natural treasures you can find. Even if you just spend a few minutes barefoot in the grass in your garden you’ll get the benefits of ‘earthing‘.
9. Listen to music
A really quick way to inject some joy into your day is to play some music that makes you feel good.
Pick a song that would get you up on the dancefloor at a wedding, or one that brings back memories of amazing nights out with your friends, and play it nice and loud.
10. Buy yourself some flowers
Studies have shown that having flowers in our homes can help us feel happier, less stressed, and more productive.
So treat yourself to a bunch of your favourite flowers and put them somewhere in your home where you’ll see them regularly throughout the day.
11. Savour something you love
When you need to take a break, make it a real break.
Stop what you’re doing and give your total focus to something you love. Whether it’s a particularly good cup of coffee, your favourite chocolate bar, or an episode of your favourite TV programme. Whatever it is you enjoy, give it your full attention and really savour it.
12. Wear something that makes you feel good
Whether it’s a particular outfit that always makes you feel confident, a special piece of jewellery, or even a perfume or body lotion that makes you feel good, put it on now for a boost of happiness.
Stop saving these things for a special occasion. If they make you feel good then wear them as often as you can!