They tell you to grin and bear it. Fake it till you make it. But science has shown faking happiness can make your day worse.
Instead, try these simple, science-backed tips to help you get on the sunshine-filled path and have a brighter day.
1. Practice gratitude – Being thankful permeates into your emotions and can affect how you interact with people. A simple “thank you” here and there can help you appreciate the smaller things in life. Better yet, it’ll spread the happiness around. If you’re more of a private person, write down what you’re grateful for every day.
2. Support your gut health – Your gut and your brain are connected (beyond feeling butterflies). Optimizing your gut health may help but the next tip is key.
3. Ditch sugar – Sugar might temporarily make you feel better, but it’s short-lived. Guilt often sets in soon after eating it. Plus sugar also feeds “bad” bacteria in your gut which can affect your happiness.
4. Small wins – Trying to finish a large goal might have you feeling overwhelmed. Instead, break it down into smaller parts. Completing these smaller goals can lead to satisfaction and steer you away from procrastination.
5. Catch some shut eye – Often neglected from fear of missing out (whether a paycheck or some event), sleep is one of the most important areas to fix.
6. Say “ohm” – You don’t need to make meditation difficult (or even actually say “ohm”). As the author of The Happiness Advantage says, all you really need is 2 minutes a day of meditation.
7. Save money – Often a source of fear, low funds can decrease your ability to feel joy. Instead, earnestly work on saving money.
8. Save time – Dirty house getting you down? Grocery shopping too much of a hassle? Whatever the reason, spending money to save time can help reduce your stress. Just make sure you keep your budget in mind (tip #8). However, saving time by buying fast food is a bad idea.
9. Make your bed – When it seems like everything is out of control, control what you can. That can be something as simple as making your bed. While it may seem small, you’re also starting off your day with an achieved goal.
10. Listen to a sad song – A study involving people around the world found listening to sad songs can actually help you feel happy.
11. You have permission to eat chocolate – Two recent studies revealed a bar of chocolate (at least 70% cacao) can help put you in a good mood thanks to its antioxidants (flavonoids).
12. Get rid of clutter – People with clean homes are more apt to think positively about their home and themselves.
13. Buy experiences, not items – You’re more likely to have a higher feeling of well-being with an experiential purchase than a material object.
14. Eat like your mama told you – Surprised? You’re probably not. Scientists found eating more fruits and vegetables can result in higher eudaemonic well-being. Eudaemonic is a fancy word for something that produces happiness.
15. Get some sun – A meta-analysis of vitamin D studies found it can positively impact mood. Basking in the sun for about 15 minutes during solar noon can help you get your daily vitamin D.
16. Play with a dog – A study has shown that playing with a dog can increase your levels of oxytocin, an endorphin responsible for happiness.
17. Find a green space – As little as 15 minutes can have you feeling better—even if you’re in an urban area. Quality matters more than quantity, so even a small green space can do wonders.
18. Get vitamins B6, B9 and B12 – Vitamin B6 can help support mood and vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 can help support a feeling of well-being. The easiest way to get all 3 is to take a premium quality B complex like Active B-Complex.
20. Mow your lawn – In addition to keeping your HOA happy, a freshly mown lawn releases chemicals that can help improve your mood.
21. Smell the roses – Flowers provide a nice soothing pop of color at work or home. Though they have a wonderful smell, just looking at them can make your day a little brighter.
22. Grab a coloring book – Yes, there’s something pleasing and freeing about coloring.
23. Strike a yoga pose – Reconnect with your body in ways you never thought your body could bend. Seriously though, it’s a low impact way to get some exercise, sweat, gain some flexibility, maybe make a few friends, and it may help reduce stress.
24. Take a siesta – Remember how refreshing a nap was when you were a kid? Taking a nap every day can help a lot. Just keep them shorter than 20 minutes or about 90 minutes (because that’s about how long sleep cycles are) so you don’t wake up groggy.
25. Take some deep breaths – Sometimes a few deep breaths can save you from a really bad situation, or they can help you relax, refocus, and smile. The key, though, is to make sure you’re breathing properly. Put your hand on your belly and feel it expand and contract. It’s called diaphragmatic breathing and it can help reduce your cortisol levels. Plus, you’ll get far more oxygen than doing the usual chest breathing.
26. Wear yellow – Though it may be dreary and gray outside, yellow can go a long way in brightening your day. Red has also been associated with happiness.
27. Laugh – Funny memories, cats wearing ridiculous outfits, babies giggling, dogs getting alarmed about their owners’ magical abilities, or your favorite comedian… It doesn’t matter. Whatever makes you laugh can help put you in a better mood. It may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked.
28. Do something nice – It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary. Give a lucky penny to a child (make sure the parent is OK with it first), genuinely smile at someone having a bad day, put random notes of encouragement on cars, or another random act of kindness. It’s fine to be a little over the top. You’ll be surprised at how much someone else’s smile can perk you up.
29. Move closer to work – Commuting has been known to make people unhappy, so moving closer to work can cut down on the unhappiness, gas costs, and unproductive time. This is a more difficult avenue to happiness, but now that you’re aware of it, you may be able to circumvent your melancholy in other ways.
You have to make your happiness a priority. It might seem odd to schedule time for happiness, but sometimes it’s the only way we’ll ever take time for ourselves. It might be tricky and difficult with everything packed in a day, but the benefits are well worth it.
If you’re having a hard time sticking to it, try scheduling your happiness session first thing in the morning. You’ll get so excited for it you’ll find yourself waking up without hitting the snooze button. And it’s such a great day to start off your day.