Five Simple (and Effective) Ways to Be Happier

In today’s post I’ll be sharing with you five simple and effective ways to increase your happiness. Our fast-paced world often has us feeling unhappy and overwhelmed, so let’s take a closer look at a fresh viewpoint (backed by science) to help us become happier. After all, who doesn’t want a little more happy in their life?

I had the pleasure of chatting with Neil Pasricha earlier this month after recently seeing him deliver a great talk. Neil is a Harvard MBA and author of The Happiness Equation, his latest book that hit shelves in 2016. Neil has a pretty cool story that I encourage you to check out on Youtube or at his site:

Neil shared with me five ways to kickstart our happiness, so let’s take a look. We know from research conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California that 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetic set point (do you see the glass half empty or half full?). Another 10% accounts for life circumstances or situations, leaving a full 40% of our happiness well within our control (and usually underdeveloped!).

Here are five things you can do right now to increase your happiness:

1. Take 3 walks per week – preferably outdoors in nature (and not at the mall) as this has a positive, calming effect.

2. Write in a journal once a day – this creates the 20 minute replay effect, whereby writing about one positive thing per day helps your brain “relive” the moment. Your brain can’t actually differentiate between reality (current moment) and what you are thinking of (in this case, about a past event), so writing and reliving positive moments doubles the happy effect.

3. Perform five random acts of kindness per week – nothing earth shattering here, we all know that being kind to others is part of the human condition and makes us feel better (think about how you feel after holding the door for the elderly lady at the grocery store).

4. Meditate – I have to admit, I struggle with this one. I’ve read about it and heard the benefits from others and I still can’t seem to cross that bridge. A tip that Neil provided for those of us who aren’t naturally drawn to this is the app Headspace. It’s a guided meditation for those of us who need a hand!

5. Five gratitudes a week – say out loud to your partner or family (or just to yourself) five things during the week that you are grateful for. Can be as simple as “all green lights on my commute to work” or “my loving partner.” It doesn’t take long to find five things in a week that make you happy.

Take action on at least one of the ideas above! These are all things you can take control of and begin to slowly build into your week. I’ve been using 2, 3, and 5 for a number of years now and it really has made a positive difference on how happy I am.

To your success,

  1. You’re right, we all want to be happier but we do need to own it and take charge. I’m going to start with journal entries because it demands time & thoughtfulness, my hope is by tackling this one first the rest will follow more easily 🙂 Thanks for the great outline and for the challenge!
    To our success!

    1. Look at you go! Keep me posted, Nat. One small step at a time adds up.

  2. I love this. I am grateful for my family.

    1. I am grateful to have YOU in my family.

    1. Thanks Layton! Nice to know the message reached the fine people of NZ!

  3. I agree with all of these suggestions! The app OMG meditate is great as well.
    Five gratitudes à week made me want to share a conversation I just had with my little girl. Going to bed last night I asked my 6 year old daughter what she liked so much about a particular classmate at her new school here in Ottawa. She quickly listed a bunch of things then asked if I would tell her 10 things I like about her. It went on to 10 things she liked about Mommy, Daddy and so on. We laughed, I cried lol, and we both felt happy going to sleep.

    1. Amazing Kerri! Thanks for sharing this perfect example. And the cool thing is, you taking the time to write this helps your brain replay it again, giving you another hit of the good stuff. Thanks, Ian

  4. Isn’t he a phenomenal speaker???
    I downloaded the calm app and have been doing meditation every night – wonderful way to clear the mind before bed.
    Mike and I also use flower technique: a rose, a thown and a seed – so something that went well that day, something not so much and one thing you’re looking forward to. You don’t dwell on the thorn obviously 🙂
    Anyway all this to say I love the techniques and find them incredibly helpful.

    1. Hi Christiane, Neil certainly is a great speaker! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Sounds like its working for you! Safe travels 🙂

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