Happiness extends lifespan. Many studies show that people with a positive disposition live longer and are healthier (R,R,R,R).
Happiness releases substances like endorphins, brain growth factors, serotonin and many more, which all have positive effects on your health.
Also, by avoiding stress and negative thoughts, you lower your levels of unhealthy substances, like the stress hormone cortisol or adrenaline.
Being happy is something that can be learned.
We collected for you no less than 33 tips to improve your happiness!
1. Be grateful
Gratitude is a powerful positive feeling. Plan a fixed moment every day (just before you go to sleep, for example) to think of three things to be grateful for. Or even better: write down these three things. These can be small or simple things, like a nice conversation, a delicious breakfast you had, or the sight of beautiful clouds in the sky for which you are grateful.
2. Accept you cannot control everything
We have the urge to want to control everything, yet we know that is impossible. Try to let go of things more often. Accept that it’s impossible to control everything, and find joy in knowing that you may live longer for letting go!
3. Do not compare yourself to others
Research shows that people who compare themselves to others are often unhappier. No matter how beautiful, rich, or successful you are, there will always be people who are even more beautiful, rich or successful. It’s a never ending game! So stop comparing yourself with others who are better off. If you are happy with what you have, you already have everything.
4. Avoid negative people
Surround yourself with happy, cheerful, optimistic people. Happiness is contagious.
5. Say ‘no’ more often
The more things you put on your plate, the more stressed and unhappy you feel. Try to understand why you say ‘yes’ so often: is it to please people? Is it because you have too little self-confidence? Is it because you are a perfectionist? Don’t be afraid to say no more often: if you do so, you will often get more respect and people will be more careful with your time.
6. Put things into perspective
Don’t take things too seriously. Including yourself.
Meditation increases happiness. Take a meditation course, online or in real-life, use meditation apps on your smartphone, or search for free meditation sessions on YouTube. A famous meditation teacher is Tara Brach, and on her website you can find many great, free meditations (not sponsored).
Do a good deed every day: give someone a little gift, treat someone, compliment your colleague, help someone, or become a volunteer. Giving makes us happy. We believe that the more you give in life, the more you get.
9. Have a purpose
People need goals to be happy. Become better at sports, learn a new language, create a beautiful garden, set up a company, become an expert in Mesopotamian art history, be a good parent. Have a reason to get out of bed every day. What is your goal? Imagine the question: “What if I had a billion dollars, what would I do with my life?”. Then start with a small step to integrate that purpose into your life.
10. Learn to think positively
We are hardwired to think negatively. Our brain defaults to thinking the worst, given this is a survival mechanism: better to worry too much about things, than too little and getting eaten or demoted on the social ladder.
How to deal with this never ending flood of negative thoughts?
Learn to quickly recognize your own negative thoughts. Then, as soon as you become aware of one, immediately replace it with a positive thought. Think “I am great!”, “I am loved!”, “I am valuable!”, “I am very good at what I do!”.
If you keep repeating this enough, you will reprogram or “brainwash” your brain so that you will actually believe it. Whether it’s true or not does not matter! You have to repeat this to yourself at least three times a day fifteen times each, so that you really reprogram these positive thoughts into your brain and eventually, into reality.
11. Collect experiences instead of stuff
Scientific studies show that material things do not make us happy in the long run. Experiences do. If you buy something material, you get a quick rush of endorphins and your happiness peaks for a short while, all which quickly subsides. And then you get used to your material possession. Experiences, on the other hand, you can enjoy your whole life. So instead of a new piece of furniture or car, treat yourself to a journey that you will remember, and fondly look back at, for the rest of your life.
12. Be aware of the status trap
Do not fall into a very big evolutionary trap which gets so many people entangled: the idea that status and possessions will make us feel happy and fulfilled. That’s not really the case. Rich people are as happy (or unhappy) as middle-class folks. Lottery winners are just as happy or unhappy two years after winning as they were before winning the lottery.
Our brain has been programmed to make us believe that more status, success and stuff will ultimately make us happier. So, we keep on striving for more and more, until we realize, mostly at the end of our life, what it’s all really about: love, friendship, compassion, giving, sharing, beauty, or contributing to society, to name a few.
13. Less social media: that means less Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Stop feeding your ego. Stop browsing on social media where everyone is apparently continuously happy and on vacation. That gives us the feeling that our own life is much less interesting. Everyone has setbacks, problems, fears, insecurities and secrets, but almost nobody shares that on Facebook or Instagram.
14. Smile and laugh as often as possible
It’s funny, but research shows that when you smile, even when you are not happy, your brain will still automatically make you feel happier. It is a feedback system: even if you do not feel happy, smiling will make you more cheerful, nonetheless.
15. Avoid multitasking
Trying to do too many tasks at once creates stress or makes you feel inadequate. It makes us unhappy. Pick one goal, project or task at a time and put your heart into it.
16. Be playful
Never really grow up. Stay playful, curious, open-minded. Question the status quo.
17. Travel more
Traveling makes you happy. But you already knew that.
18. Don’t hold grudges
Anger is a poison which first and foremost poisons yourself. Do not hold grudges. Move on. Learn to forgive. Know that there will always be jealous, dumb, bad or ignorant people. This is beyond your control.
19. Move that body!
Studies show that regular exercise reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, and increases feelings of happiness and motivation. Physical activity releases many substances that have positive effects on the brain.
20. Always see the bright side, especially of negative things
Every event, no matter how bad, also has its positive sides. If something bad happens, consider it as a learning moment, for example. Even when being confronted with a terrible event, like the death of a loved one, there are still positives to be found. For example, this experience brought you together with your family, or made you get to know yourself (or others) better, or made you appreciate and enjoy life more. Approach every negative event or challenge as a way to grow or get something positive out of it.
21. Be yourself
Do not try to be perfect, try to be authentic.
22. Talk less
And listen more.
23. Live in the moment
The here and now is the only thing we really have. Try to appreciate the moment itself more. Enjoy the light that falls through the window, the softness of the chair you sit in, the buzz or the silence that surrounds you. Observe without judgment. Put your ever-running, worrying thoughts on a break for a moment, and immerse yourself in the moment itself, observing and appreciating your surroundings.
24. Take care of your sleep
Not having enough sleep really messes up your mood. Regular lack of sleep eats away at your feelings of happiness. We collected dozens of great sleep tips here.
25. Live close to your workplace
Ok, that’s easier said than done. But studies show that living far away from work (and spending a lot of time in your car commuting) is not good for your happiness. If you can not live closer to your work, try to use public transport such as the train, so that you can do something else during the ride and enjoy the trip. You can also try to get a job, or re-educate yourself, so you can work more from home.
26. Connect more with nature
Being outdoors lifts the soul. Go hiking, travel, eat more outdoors, ride a bike, go swimming… Find a place in nature where you can regularly go to recharge your batteries. We need to breathe in more fresh air and gaze upon distant horizons or be surrounded by dense green. Observe and enjoy the beauty of nature.
27. Be lazy once in a while
It is allowed! Give your brain some rest once in a while. Get some me-time, and do not feel guilty about it. No one can work or be busy non-stop without burning out!
28. Reduce stress
There are all kinds of ways to reduce stress, like meditation, relaxation apps, relaxation devices, massages, calming herbal teas. Did someone say chamomile tea?
29. Live minimally
The bigger your house, the more expensive your car, the more stuff and loans you have, only leads to having to do more work, having more stress and less freedom.
Live “light”. Do not live in an apartment or house that is too big, but live in the world.
The fewer possessions, the fewer obligations, the freer and happier you will be. Do not fall into the status trap (see earlier), trying to impress people, while sacrificing your precious time and freedom.
30. Eat healthily
A brain that is deficient in vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and other micronutrients does not work well, and is more susceptible to negative and depressive thoughts. We created a healthy longevity diet here. Also, we wrote an article about all the important vitamins and minerals everyone needs.
31. Stop following the news
Most news is negative. Negative news attracts more attention than positive news, and thus yields more clicks or money. You will never see a reporter on TV saying: “I now report live from a city where there is no war!”. This continuous flood of bad news is not bad for your mood, but also warps our view of the world: it gives the impression that everything is bad, and is getting worse. According to scientific research this is simply not true: the world has never been so wealthy, healthy and safe. Over the last ten thousand years, slavery, burning witches, torture, human sacrifices, refusing women to vote, the number of murders, infectious diseases or child mortality have all substantially declined.
So go on a low-information diet. Do not follow the media all day. 98 percent of news does not matter in 5 years from now. And if something really important happens, you will immediately hear from people around you. Also, reading a good book about a subject will make you far better informed than reading news items about the issue. A low-media diet can be psychologically very healthy.
32. Read more
Non-fiction books make your world bigger with knowledge and insights. Fiction books make your world richer with experiences.
We collected the best books about longevity and health here.
Disconnect at least one day per month (ideally one day per week) from the world: no smartphone, internet or television. Read, meditate, think, cook, visit friends or family. You will be surprised how long a day lasts without the internet!
Share this page with everyone who you want to be happy!