Discover 10 simple things you can do to make yourself happier. From getting outside to reading a good book, these activities will bring joy to your life.
I have been studying “happiness science” for almost a decade now. I wrote one of my first posts way back in July 2014 – The Gratitude Key: More Thankfulness Is More Happiness.
Over the years, I picked up a few things. And this is a personal list of my easiest happiness boosters.
Happiness is not just a momentary positive emotion; it is also how you feel about your life when you look back at your years lived.
The first is called hedonia, and the second is called eudaimonia. Humans need both types of happiness to be completely happy.
In today’s fast-paced world, as we focus on buying stuff to make ourselves happier, we often forget that simple things can bring us lasting joy.
These little things create moments that lift our minds and spirits, making us more vivacious, productive, and fulfilled.
So, take a look at these ten effortless “positive interventions” – a term positive psychologists use for activities that raise our happiness levels.
10 Simple Things That Make Me Happy
I do one of these simple things when I need a little pick-me-up:
1. Spending time in nature
One of my favorite simple happy things to do is to spend time in nature. This is writing myself a “green prescription”.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can lead to several mental and physical health benefits. It reduces stress levels and boosts mood (Bratman et al., 2015), improves focus and creativity (Stenfors et al., 2019), and enhances immune function (Graham Rook, 2013).
This study found that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is linked with good health and well-being (White & Alcock, 2019).
This study found that a simulated walk through a pine forest significantly improved happiness (Brancato & Van Hedger, 2022).
Getting out to soak up the natural surroundings doesn’t need days-long expeditions or hours-long hikes.
Even sitting underneath a tree in a local park or taking a stroll through a nearby forest can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being.
So, the next time you feel tired or stuck in a rut, take a break and go into a green park. This simple activity can make a big difference to your overall happiness and well-being.
2. Listening to music
Of course, every music lover knows this. Listening to your favorite music is one of the simplest things that can boost your happiness.
Music has been a meaningful part of human life for ages, playing a key role in our development and evolution.
Enjoyable music has been shown to strongly activate brain regions related to reward, emotion, and cognition.
It is now believed that music can not only boost our mental and physical health, but can also help treat addiction (Blum & Chen, 2010).
Studies have shown that listening to music releases dopamine. It is a feel-good chemical in our brain that’s associated with pleasure and reward.
Whether I need a mental escape or want to reminisce about old times, music has a powerful effect on my emotions.
I have many mood-based playlists that give me effortless ways to lift my spirits, motivate me, or help me unwind.
So, when I’m feeling low or stressed out, I plug in my headphones or play up my speakers and let the music work its magic.
With so many genres and artists to choose from, there’s something out there for my taste and mood.
Music is my simplest go-to source of joy and inspiration.
3. Playing with cute animals
Playing with cute animals can be one simple thing that makes me happy.
Whether cuddling your pet at home or visiting a local animal shelter, the joy animals bring is hard to match.
Interacting with animals can offer many easy benefits. It can reduce stress, decrease feelings of loneliness, and increase feelings of happiness.
Human-animal interaction (HAI) is a widely used method of reducing psychological distress.
- Animals can make people feel better and help improve mental health (Rabbitt et al., 2014).
- Animals can even make traditional treatments seem less negative (Bardill & Hutchinson, 1997).
- They can also make therapists seem more likable and encourage people to take treatments (Holcomb & Meacham, 1989; Schneider & Harley, 2006).
- They can help people cope with problems in healthier ways, like distracting them, helping them rethink situations, remembering happy times, and accepting negative feelings (Kruger et al., 2004).
Playing with pets or volunteering at an animal shelter can also give your life a sense of purpose.
It fulfills me as I seem to make a positive impact in the lives of these furry friends.
Whenever I’m feeling down, I spend a little time with a lovable dog and soak up the simple joy they can bring to my day.
4. Enjoying a cup of coffee
This could be tea for you; for me, it’s coffee.
Coffee, a popular drink with over 800 compounds, is joy, taste, and stimulation. There’s something soothing and comforting about coffee that can instantly lift my mood.
Recent research shows that coffee, mainly through caffeine’s interaction with adenosine receptors, might actually have health benefits. Studies suggest it could help prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes and liver disease.
A 2014 study found that drinking 3–5 cups of coffee per day was linked to a lower risk of heart disease. But drinking 6 or more cups did not increase or decrease the risk of heart issues.
The act of brewing and sipping on a cup of hot coffee can be a therapeutic experience.
Whether it’s a steaming cup of green coffee, a flavored cup of French vanilla or English Butterscotch coffee, or a spicy cup of South Indian coffee.
Not only does it improve my mood and reduce stress, but it also offers health benefits like antioxidants and improved digestion.
The best part is, there are many varieties available, so I can explore different flavors and blends to find the cup that brings me joy.
Whenever I need a simple pick-me-up or a moment of relaxation, I roast, grind, and brew myself a cup of coffee and take a moment to enjoy it.
It has become one of the simple morning things that makes me happy.
5. Making a handmade gift
Making handmade gifts is a heartfelt way to show someone I care about them without making things expensive or complicated.
Being in a positive mood goes hand in hand with creative thinking (Matthijs Baas, 2008).
A 2017 study found that people felt happier and more fulfilled on days when they engaged in small acts of creativity, suggesting that creative activities in everyday life can increase our overall well-being.
“Doing creative things today predicts improvements in well-being tomorrow.” — Tamlin Conner in Greater Good Magazine
From a handwritten note to a personalized name-engraved pen, creating something tailored to the recipient’s personality is special.
It could be a pencil drawing, writing a limerick, or creating an origami piece for you.
The process can be therapeutic and relaxing, providing a much-needed break from daily stressors.
I love the challenge of coming up with unique creative ideas and then making my vision come to life.
Handmade gifts also create a bond between the giver and the recipient, showing that their presence in my life is valued.
It’s a fine way to say “thank you” or “I care about you” in a tangible and meaningful way.
When I see the recipient’s reaction, it fills me with pride and joy. Because, of course, gratitude is more important than you think.
So, making handmade gifts is a way to express myself, connect with others, boost my happiness, and spread positivity.
So next time you want to bring a smile to someone’s face, consider making them a handmade gift.
It might become one of the simple things that make both of you happy for a long, long time.
6. Exercising regularly
Exercising regularly is one of the simplest things that makes me happy.
At first, exercising may seem daunting, but once I get into a routine, I feel a burst of energy and mental clarity.
Exercise releases four “feel good” chemicals in the body that boosts my mood and reduces anxiety and depression.
By moving my body, I’m also helping to improve my overall health, which is a key factor in finding lasting happiness.
Lifting weights, yoga, stretching, or jogging, all impact my physical and mental wellness positively.
It is one of the simple things that makes me happy today and for many tomorrows to come.
7. Getting a good night’s sleep
When you find yourself jittery or irritable, one possible reason is inadequate sleep.
A good night’s sleep is vital for maintaining overall happiness and well-being.
Sleep ensures that we can function optimally throughout the day, both physically and mentally.
In fact, quality sleep is a non-negotiable for cognitive functions such as memory, learning, and problem-solving.
When we sleep, our bodies work to repair and restore themselves, letting us wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
During sleep, our brains process and consolidate information from the day, which helps us remember things more effectively and make better decisions.
A well-rested mind is more capable of handling stress and managing emotions, contributing to a happier and more balanced mental state.
- This study found that children with a high risk of smartphone addiction are more likely to have poor sleep quality and shorter sleep durations.
- Girls and older children were particularly affected due to their greater use of smartphones.
- The study authors suggested that improving parent-child relationships could reduce children’s smartphone use and prevent addiction-related issues.
Sleep also maintains a healthy immune system and regulates hormones responsible for appetite and metabolism.
Getting enough sleep can help prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
A good night’s rest is essential for muscle recovery and tissue repair, particularly for those who engage in regular exercise or physical activities.
Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can lead to irritability, mood swings, and decreased productivity. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
So, I get myself proper sleep to improve my happiness and overall quality of life.
8. Going for a walk
It is slightly different from regular exercise. Walking for fun doesn’t need you to dress up in exercise gear.
Brisk walking promotes cardiovascular health, reduces anxiety, aids weight loss, improves cholesterol, controls hypertension, and slows osteoporosis, making it an effective and accessible exercise for most adults.
You can simply get from the place you are sitting and go for a little walk. It will boost your mood and increase your overall happiness.
What it does is reset the brain cells in your memory area, and this gives a reboot to your thinking.
It requires nothing more than a willingness to step outside and explore your office, neighborhood, or local park.
Walking can help reduce stress, improve my mental clarity, and even lower my risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Taking a leisurely stroll around my surroundings can also give me time to take in the beauty of nature, enjoy fresh air, and catch up on some much-needed alone time.
Going for an impromptu walk is something that I can easily incorporate into my daily routine, and I do it too.
You could also try walking meditation.
9. Connecting with friends and family
Connecting with my friends and family is one of the ten simple things that make me happy.
In this age of technology where we are often too occupied with social media and work, it’s crucial to maintain relationships with those who are important to us.
Taking the time to reach out and connect with loved ones can reduce stress, lift my spirits, and provide a sense of belonging.
You can easily make these connections through simple phone calls, text messages, or even email.
However, it’s also important to make time for face-to-face interactions, such as inviting a friend over for coffee or scheduling a family gathering.
Your social connections are the most important simple things that can boost your happiness.
The magic lies in having a good conversation. Engaging in a deep, meaningful conversation with someone you care about, and who cares about you, can be enriching and rewarding.
Spending time with loved ones, whether it’s a family member, friend, or significant other, spending time with people you care about will always bring a joyful smile to your face and your heart.
So, maintain your friendships – it will go a long way in creating meaningful and fulfilling moments that you may savor even in your old age.
Here are some findings from the 80-year long-running Harvard Grant Study:
- Relationships matter: Strong relationships are the strongest predictors of life satisfaction, physical health, longevity, and financial success.
- Warm relationships lead to financial success: High scores in “warm relationships” correlate with higher earnings, even more than cognitive intelligence.
- Continuously nurture relationships: Pay attention to relationships and actively maintain them to reap the benefits of strong bonds.
Go, make that human connection.
10. More simple things that make me happy
Reading a good book: Getting lost in a good book is one of life’s simple pleasures.
Watching a funny movie or TV show: Laughter truly is the best medicine, and watching a comedy is a surefire way to put a smile on my face.
Learning something new: Whether it’s a new language, skill, or hobby, learning something new always brings a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
I feel that we should take a moment to appreciate the little things in our everyday life to bring us that micro-boost of joy.
Take some time to check out the 25 Science-Backed Tips For A Happy Day and plan yourself a happy day, one day at a time.
Remember, happiness is not always found in grand gestures or material possessions, but mostly in the small, everyday moments that warm our hearts and make us smile.
Slow down, enjoy the present, and find joy in the simple things.
Those simple things above make me happy without much effort. If you notice, these are things that you may often overlook or take for granted, but science proves they can brighten your day and make you happier.
Pick up one of these 10 simple things and make yourself happier.
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Author Bio: Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy, an experienced medical doctor and psychology writer focusing on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and Stoic philosophy. His expertise and empathetic approach have helped many mental abuse survivors find happiness and well-being in their lives.
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