Most of us desire to be happier. It’s a big part of what makes us human.
But are there practical changes we can make in our lives to improve our happiness?
I believe there are.
So, here are 14 simple changes that will help to make your life happier.
And importantly, they won’t cost you a penny.
Let’s get started
1. Every Day, Tell Someone You Love Them
Consumer culture leads us to desire products we are lead to believe will make us happier:
- The latest gadget
- That expensive pair of boots
But the most important things in our lives are the people we share them with.
And sometimes it can be easy to forget that.
After all, that latest gadget will be out of date in a year.
But our friends and family are always there for us. Even if we sometimes don’t see eye to eye.
So each day, tell someone important that you love them.
It could be a partner, a friend, or a family member.
Just let someone know how much they mean to you.
To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.
– David Viscott
2. Forgive Someone
We all have major things that happen to us that are difficult to get past.
And when someone else has caused us harm in any way, it can be easy to hold on to resentment. Sometimes for years.
But that resentment does nothing to undo the original pain that was caused.
So as hard as it may seen, the best way to move on is to forgive.
You will feel like a weight has been lifted. And of course, letting go of your resentments will help to increase your happiness .
When it comes to small things, try to forgive as quickly as possible. Don’t let minor grievances come between you and your friends/family.
As I have already pointed out: they are the most important thing in your life.
It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.
– Maya Angelou
3. Don’t Have Any Regrets
In life we make choices every single day:
Some choices are minor.
Some are major.
And as fallible people, sometimes we make the wrong choices.
But we cannot change the past.
Which means that dwelling on previous mistakes serves no purpose. What’s done is done.
Focus on the positives in your life:
Learn from your mistakes, but never regret.
They are all part of the journey that made you who you are and YOU control what happens next. Look to the road ahead and the opportunities it can bring.
Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.
– Henry A. Kissinger
4. Learn Something New Every Day
As human beings we have a natural desire, to learn, progress and better ourselves. We have evolved to be that way over millions of years.
Through learning, we expose ourselves to new ideas.
We stay curious and engaged and achieve a sense of accomplishment.
We are also lucky enough to live in an age where access to information is at our fingertips.
Which makes learning new things easy.
Here are two simple ideas.
Set Your Browser Home Page To Wikipedia Random
Did you know that Wikipedia has a special ‘random’ page? The page will bring up a random article each time you visit the link.
Try it out here.
Learn New Facts In Just A Few Minutes A Day With Memrise
Memrise is a wonderful free site, which helps to make learning fun. In just a few minutes a day you can learn anything from the Presidents of the United States, to counting to ten in Japanese.
So put your brain to work, to increase your happiness.
Learning never exhausts the mind.
– Leonardo da Vinci
5. Appreciate The Small Things
We spend so much time focusing on the big issues in our lives, that we often forget about the small things that make it wonderful:
That morning cup of coffee.
Fresh snow on a winter’s day.
The corny joke that made you smile.
So many amazing things happen in our lives every single day. We just have to stop for a minute to notice them.
Had A Hard Day? Here Is A Tip:
Cast your mind back and write a list of all the good things that also happened that day.
You can do it in 5 minutes before you go to sleep at night.
I promise, you’ll be surprised how long that list will be.
And you will go to sleep focused on the positives.
To get even more out of it, put those lists in a jar and don’t open it until New Years Eve.
Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.
– Liz Vassey
6. Do Something For Someone Else Each Day
You have heard the saying a million times:
It’s better to give than receive.
But that’s because it’s true.
There’s nothing greater in life than seeing someone else smile. Particularly if you are the reason they are smiling:
- Buy (or pick) some flowers for your girlfriend
- Offer to make a co-worker a cup of tea
- If a friend is going through a hard time, lend an ear
It doesn’t have to be someone you know:
If you can afford it, why not leave a tip for the waitress when you are grabbing your coffee?
Or if money is tight, just tell them they’ve made your day and ask them how theirs is going.
You’d be surprised how few people do that.
If you have the time:
Consider volunteering for some charity work.
They will be so grateful of the help and it is truly one of the most amazing things you can do.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
– Audrey Hepburn
7. But Also Do Something For Yourself
Spend a little time each day doing something that YOU enjoy:
- Watching your favourite TV show on Netflix
- Soaking in a hot bath
- Playing your guitar
- Listening to your favourite song
- Reading that great book you’ve been meaning to finish, but can never find the time
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time, I get that.
But just 5 or 10 minutes a day doing something you love will make a world of difference to your happiness.
8. Always Have Something To Look Forward To
Remember when you were a kid and you used to count down the days to Christmas?
How excited it made you feel when you thought about it – even in the middle of July!
It’s important in life to always have something to look forward to:
- A night out with friends
- Going to see your favourite band
- A long walk in the countryside
- Your next trip
Anything that gives raises your pulse and gives you a flutter of excitement when you think about it.
Trust me, it will help make the daily and weekly grind a little easier.
So big or small, always have something planned for the short to medium term.
9. Stop Worrying About Things You Can’t Control
This one is difficult.
But it’s true.
We all spend a lot of time worrying about things that are completely outwith our control.
Let me be clear: this does not mean burying your head in the sand.
If you are in debt, then while it is extremely difficult you do have options.
The first step would be to get some free advice from a debt charity.
But there are some things that we definitely can’t control:
- What other people think of us
- The economy / house prices etc
- The outcome of something we have already done
- The weather (“You can plan a pretty picnic but you cant predict the weather”)
Research tells us that:
- About 85% of the things we worry about never happen.
- If what we worry about does happen, 80% of us said we handled the outcome better than we thought we would.
- People who let go of worries instead of stressing over them are much healthier than those who don’t.
So as hard as it may sound, you will be happier if you can learn to stop worrying about things you can’t control or change.
Here is some good advice on ways to help you do that.
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.
10. Switch Off Your Phone One Night A Week
Technology is a wonderful thing.
Social media makes it easy for us to stay in touch with friends and family – no matter how far away they are.
But it can also drive us apart.
So, one night a week, try turning off your phone. And turn off the TV while you are at it.
If your phone needs to be on, then switch off your router and disable your internet.
Have a conversation with your loved ones. Play a game together.
It will help to strengthen relationships with those closest to you.
And you’ll be surprised how liberating it will feel.
11. Get Back In Touch With An Old Friend
Life is a journey.
And sometimes we lose touch with the people that helped us out along the way.
As we move school, change jobs, or relocate, we tend to keep a few close friends, but drift apart from others who were once important to us.
Being friends on Facebook and occasionally liking a photo doesn’t count.
Pick up the phone to an old friend, or even better arrange to meet up.
You’ll have a great time reminiscing about good times in your past.
And you may even find you pick up where you left off and reforge a lasting friendship.
Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.
12. Exercise More
We all know we should exercise more, so I won’t dwell on this.
But it is important that it is included.
Regular exercise is proven to:
- Release dopamine (a chemical that plays an important role in happiness)
- Relieve stress
- Give you more energy
- Boost your confidence
And, like many things on this list, exercise doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time.
In fact, many leading health experts now believe that less is more.
This research found that a high intensity regime (taking just 5 minutes a day), yielded results consistent with, if not better than, those of a more traditional program.
Here are 10 exercise routines that you will take you just 5 minutes a day to complete.
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
– Jim Rohn
13. Sleep More
A 2014 study found that 42% of Americans get less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours sleep per night.
The same study also found that more sleep correlated with a higher well-being (happiness) score:
Although, as you can see, after 8 hours per night perceived happiness began to decline.
Another notable study of 909 working women found that a poor night’s rest affected their happiness as much as tight deadlines.
Here are some other benefits of getting more sleep:
- Improved memory
- More creativity
- Less daytime fatigue and improved stamina
- Sharper attention
- May help with weight control
- Lower stress
- Decreased anxiety
We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
– William Shakespeare
14. Get Closer To Nature
It is a fact that spending time in nature increases happiness.
- A study of 10,000 participants, over a period of 10 years, found that those who lived in urban areas with more green space were happier than those with less.
- Another study found that 20 minutes a day outdoors in nature boosted vitality levels.
If you live in the country, getting close to nature will be easy.
But even if you live in a city, most will have great parks and green spaces.
And if you are lucky enough to have a garden, then spend more of your time outside – weather dependent of course.
The world is a beautiful place, so enjoy it.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
– Khalil Gibran
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