50 Actionable Ways to Be Happier

Is there such a thing as permanent bliss?  When are we happy and why?  How can we extend this state and generate more of it in our life?

Often seeing so much unnecessary suffering around me, I have taken the pledge to “create more happiness in the world around me”.  To honor this pledge I have put together this list of 50 Actionable Ways to Be Happier, based on the 10 Keys to Happier Living, set forth by the Action for Happiness non-profit group. I have provided 5 tips for each of the 10 Keys.

Please feel free to share this list, add to it and make it your own.  Happiness is a habit that we have to practice on a daily basis.  Life is full of uncertainty, fear, and struggle, but we can cultivate a practice that brings out the true joy living inside us at all times.

These practices will make us more resilient and allow us to bounce back with more ease and grace from life’s challenges.

1.) Giving – Do Things for Others

  1. Give sincere compliments often.  You can easily lift someone’s spirits by complimenting their work, attitude, style, or anything else you genuinely find remarkable.  Not only will it help them but it will help you be seen as a person who is uplifting and nice to have around.
  2. Say thank you to the grocery cashier, stranger on the street, smile at lorry driver waiting at the lights, or anyone else who crosses your path.
  3. Write a letter to your mare, local police department, or fire department thanking them for the service they provide each day.
  4. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  5. Carry a Homeless Care Bag in your car and hand it out when you see someone in need.

 2.) Relating – Connect with Others

  1. Say “I love you” to someone you love.
  2. Give someone a hug.
  3. Tell your co-worker how much you appreciate the work she does.  Be specific.
  4. Practice mindful listening with your friends.
  5. Have device-free lunch and dinner time with co-workers and family.  Each person agrees to turn off their devices and have a meal connecting with only the people at the table.

3.) Exercise – Take Care of your Body

  1. Take a walk and smile at everyone you pass.
  2. Do 20 Jumping Jacks.  This easy, do-anywhere exercise is sure to give you a quick energy boost and get the blood flowing.  It also helps get creative juices flowing, so it’s a great break to take during work or when feeling stuck on a project.
  3. Do a headstand.  Headstands are a great way to flush fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
  4. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  5. Go for a bike ride, walk or hike with a friend.  Getting outside in nature has a restorative effect on the psyche.  Research shows, that just 15 minutes of walking in a park or forest increased feelings of vitality and relaxation.

4.) Awareness: Live Life Mindfull

  1. Smell the flowers and while you’re there count the number of petals they have.  Really notice the beauty nature provides us.
  2. Watch the sunrise or sunset.  Remember that no matter how difficult things get, the sun will rise again tomorrow.
  3. Light a candle or fire and watch how mesmerizing the flames can be.
  4. Eat an orange mindfully (or raisin, piece of chocolate, anything you have on hand).
  5. Marvel at the all tasks your body performs automatically without you having to tell it anything.  Breathing, feeling, digesting, thinking, yawning, blinking, sweating, shivering….how many can you come up with?

5.) Trying Out: Keep Learning New Things

  1. Ask more questions.  Keeping your mind open to the marvels of the world is fuel for your imagination.
  2. Visit a museum or historical site in your city.
  3. Try a new sport, yoga class, or activity in your area.  Studies have shown that learning a new sport increases the volume of gray matter in parts of the brain responsible for motor movement.
  4. Learn to draw, play an instrument, cook a new meal, or learn a language.  Learning helps build self-confidence and feeds creativity.
  5. Teach what you already know.  Teaching others forces you to take a new perspective and often leads to deeper understanding.

6.) Direction: Have Goals to Look Forward to

  1. Plan a trip.  Having a vacation on the horizon builds the excitement of anticipation.
  2. Create a Weekly Ritual.  Rituals provide stability and comfort while also connecting you to the present moment.  If your ritual includes others, such as family movie night, it becomes a great way to connect and nurture relationships.
  3. Sign up for an event that you have to train for, like a mud run or a triathlon  –  bonus points for doing it with a group.  The sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a goal after months of training is one of the greatest happiness boosters I know of.  It builds confidence in all areas of life.
  4. Break down larger goals into small, attainable actions that move you towards your goal.  Have a weekly check in to make sure you are on track.
  5. Find a mentor, coach, or teacher who can help guide you and hold you accountable.

7.) Resilience: Find Ways to Bounce Back

  1. Listen to your favorite happy song at full blast and sing it loud!
  2. Meditate.  This is a great way to build strength of mind, heart, and spirit.  If you’re new to meditation start with just one minute of focusing on your breath coming in and out.  When you get distracted (and you will), just begin again. For guided meditations, hop on the YouTube, Mindspace or Calm apps.
  3. Smile.  Studies have shown, that the body can trick the brain into thinking it’s happy by flexing the zygomatic major muscle, which is the smiling muscle.  So when you’re feeling blue, turn up the corners of your mouth and your brain will get the signal to be happy.
  4. Be curious.  Rather than judging setbacks or disappointments as bad or failures, approach them with curiosity, like a scientist.  Figure out how you could improve for next time.  Use everything as a learning experience and you will always be moving forward.
  5. Lean into the pain.  This may seem counterintuitive, but a lot of our struggle comes from the resistance we use to avoid being uncomfortable.  Often times, once we open up to the pain, sadness, fear, etc., we release the power it has over us and see it as the temporary state it truly is.

8.) Emotions – Look for What is Good

  1. Keep a daily gratitude journal.  Each day write 3–5 things that happened that you are grateful for.
  2. Make a Gratitude Board.  This can be a chalkboard, white board, bulletin board, any type of board, that you can write or post things you are grateful for.  Keep it somewhere that you see often so it serves as a reminder of how much you have to be happy about.
  3. Make a practice of sharing the best of moment of your day with family or friends at dinner each night.  Knowing that you have to come up with something good that happened each night will train your brain to look for the good things in your day.
  4. Know what makes you happy and do more of it.  Does dancing put you in a good mood?  Then make a point to dance a little each day.
  5. Visit the Soul Pancake website.  They create inspiring, heartwarming, uplifting, and humorous content guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

9.) Acceptance: Be Comfortable With Who You Are

  1. Practice loving-kindness meditation.  This type of meditation cultivates the awareness that happiness is accessible to us at all times.
  2. Notice what your self-talk is like.  Are you constantly criticizing and judging yourself? If so, try talking to yourself the way you would talk to a friend or loved one.
  3. Have an open mind.  The more accepting you are of yourself, the less you care what others think.  This allows you to open your mind and broaden your horizons.
  4. Challenge yourself.  Step outside your comfort zone once in awhile and you will begin to grow exponentially.  This can be as big or small as you like.  I like to say each day I will do at least one thing a little more, or a little better.
  5. Nurture yourself.  Get a massage, go to a spa, take a warm bath.

10.) Meaning: Be Part of Something Bigger

  1. Volunteer.  Whether your thing is teaching underprivileged kids, visiting the elderly, or helping clean up the environment, there are numerous ways to volunteer your time and feel part of a community.
  2. Visit the planetarium.  It’s amazing what learning about the solar system does for putting things in perspective.  Even gazing at the night sky can have inspire feelings of deep connection.
  3. Join a community group.  Whether it is social activism or a recreational sport team, getting together with people in your community will make you feel a deeper connection to the world around you.
  4. Adopt a pet.  There are an abundance of domestic animals that need loving homes.  Having another living thing that is dependent on you brings deeper meaning to your life.
  5. Plant a garden.  Tending to a plant, especially one that you will eat, creates an appreciation for the nourishment the soil can provide and a deeper respect for Mother Earth.
And there you have it, my 50 tips for cultivating a happy life.  I hope they provide some inspiration and motivation to discover your own best ways to live a happier and more meaningful life.  Suggested use: choose one of the 10 keys, and each week try a few ideas from that key.  Slowly make your way through each of the 10 keys and see what works best.

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