17 Simple Happiness Hacks

Simple things you can do right now to be happier in this moment no matter what is happening in your life.

17 Simple Happiness Hacks

17 Ideas to Make Today and Everyday Happier

17 Simple Happiness Hacks

Take a deep breath, slow down and get happier.


Even if we are generally happy or even wildly happy, who doesn’t want a little more happiness in their life?  Right?

Ready to get happier?  Try one or all 17 of these happiness hacks.  Make your day and your world a little happier.

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1. Practice LOVE

swan heart love
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Knowing you are loved feels amazing, but loving feels even better.  Focus your priorities on creating deep loving connections.

It’s not the number of friends you have or being in a committed relationship, it’s about fostering deep connections with other people.  It’s about the quality of the relationships you build.  So when you have to decide on spending another night working or going to dinner with your husband or best friend – choose dinner.

Deep connected love comes in all shapes and forms.  Practice sending love to the less fortunate.  When you feel frustrated by the homeless man looking for a handout to buy booze, drugs, fill-in the blank – stop and send love.  When your boss is unbearable – send love.

A groundbreaking study that spanned 75 years, conducted by Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study has tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two males populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study).

The bottom line? According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

So the best predictor of overall happiness and fulfillment is basically, love.

Specifically, the study concludes that having a strong relationship with someone you can rely on helps your nervous system relax, helps your brain stay healthier longer, and reduces both emotional as well as physical pain.



smile it really works
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By far the easiest of these tips and it can be used anytime, it works almost instantaneously and works when you are alone or with others.

Try it now, just smile for 20 seconds, maybe think something happy – like fluffy puppies – and you’ll start to feel better.  When you smile your mind understands that things are good.

Smiling is also a really nice gesture when you encounter people throughout the day.  Instead of hurrying past everyone you meet head down, eyes plastered to your phone, try walking head up, a smile on and making eye contact with people you pass.  Most people will smile back, they’ll be happier, you’ll be happier – a truly virtuous circle.


3. Love Yourself

love yourself
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Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you won’t be available for others and it doesn’t mean you are selfish.

I once worked with a woman who used to say “Take care of yourself first thing in the morning, so you can be available for others.

Learn to “love” yourself so you can love others.  When your inner critic “says” something negative, remember to stop and correct your inner critic.  When you hear “I’m not good enough”, think, or better yet say out loud, “I am good enough” and show proof.  Remind yourself of times when you have been better than “good enough”.

  • Eat healthy “good-for-you” food
  • Take a walk
  • Workout or exercise
  • Treat your body well
  • Book a spa day
  • Get a facial
  • Read something inspirational


4. Be Kind

Be kind soldier military uniform american accepting a flower from a child
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Kindness is an act that benefits the receiver and the giver with equal shares of happiness.

Don’t judge.  You just never know what is going on in another person’s life, and you may never how your small act of kindness touched a heart.

Just think back to a time someone was kind to you.  How did It make you feel? Now think of a time you were kind.  How did the recipient respond?  How did your act of kindness make you feel?  Now you have a pretty good idea how a little kindness brightens everyone’s day.


5. Breathe

Stop and breathe
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When you start to feel unhappy, stop and take a deep breath.  On your next breath, when you inhale positivity, exhale negativity.  You will almost immediately begin to feel happier and lighter.

This technique is great for meetings and other places when you really don’t have any “private” space for happiness hacking.


6. Learn Some Yoga

Warrior 1 yoga pose
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Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness while moving your body.  Learn to do Warrior 1, Warrior 2 and Warrior 3.  You can do these almost anywhere and they are the poses of power and happiness.  Finishing your practice with Shavasana and positive breathing also has the power to bring more happiness into your life.


7. Be Grateful

I am grateful
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More gratitude = more happiness.

Be thankful for the simple things in life.  Take stock of all the “good” that surrounds you.  No matter your current circumstance there is always a reason to be grateful.

  • Practice saying “thank you”.
  • Try making a list of the thing you are grateful for or keeping a gratitude journal.
  • When you notice a feeling of gratitude, say it out loud.
  • When negative thoughts come up – find the positive
  • Find the blessing in the difficulty
  • Tell someone you why you are grateful for their presence in your life
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” —Charles Dickens


8. Spend More Time Around People

spend time around other people
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Whether we realize it or not isolation is one of the biggest contributing factors in unhappiness and depression.  Back in the day, we had to leave our homes to get groceries, buy necessities, and seek entertainment.  Now we can satisfy almost all those needs with our iPhone, an Amazon Prime account, Netflix, and Twitter/Instagram.  And as more and more people work in the “gig” economy, have virtual jobs or have retired from their careers, we encounter fewer people in our daily lives.

Go to the grocery store, walk your neighborhood and get to know the neighbors, go out to the movies, buy concert tickets.  And when you are out, engage in “small talk” shopkeepers and neighbors.  Soon you’ll feel less isolated + you’ll know your neighbor’s dogs name.

“Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
— Robert Waldinger


9. Get Physical – Do More Physical Activity

Get some physical activity
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In a recent study, exercise was shown to be the most effective treatment for long-term relief from depression.  Physical activity is good for your body and your mind, so what’s not to love?  Most experts recommend 30 minutes 3-5 times a week.

  • Start small.  Try taking a walk around the block or if your neighborhood isn’t interesting or the weather isn’t conducive to outside walking head to a mall or other indoor attraction.  In many communities there are tracks or trails that other walkers use, find out where they are and walk with the crowd.  You get the added benefit of having other people around even if you never say a word to them – just smile.
  • Join a charity walk or ride training team – This is an awesome option since you’ll be doing something good for yourself, and someone else (see happiness hack # 10) and you’ll be out with other people (happiness hack #8)
  • Join a gym – Yes, gyms can seem like scary places but once you get there and take an orientation session or 2 you’ll notice most people are just like you.  Start with cardio machines like the treadmill or elliptical.  Try for 20 minutes of light cardio exercise. Then maybe try a weight machine or 2 for another 10 and you’ve covered your 30 minutes.  You can get gym memberships as low as $10 a week so no more excuses about how expensive it is, skip 2 lattes a month and you’ve got this covered.
  • Dance – Pop in your headphones and dance til you drop.


10. Volunteer

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Find a cause that means something to you and volunteer.  The more you give the more happiness you will receive.  You’ll meet people that feel passionately about the same things you do + you’ll make new friends and you’ll have people who depend on your talents.


11. Get Better Sleep & Sleep More

get better sleep
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Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your emotions and can lead to feelings of unhappiness.  So practice good sleep hygiene and try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

  • Make your room very dark
  • Turn off electronics 1 hour before bedtime
  • Leave your cell phone and tablet in another room
  • Buy an alarm clock that wakes you gradually with light for a more natural way to wake up
  • Create a sleep ritual – brush your teeth, wash your face, and meditate.
  • Try a sound machine with white, pink or green noise or nature sounds


12. Take a Social Media Holiday

take a social media holiday
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FOMO – or the “fear of missing out”.  Social media and the constant stream of selfies and Instagram photos of the “best-ever” fill in the blank have left many vulnerable to self-comparison and isolation that leads to a sense of emptiness.  Social media is great for keeping in touch with far-flung friends but nothing compares to face-to-face conversation.

Trust me…stop comparing your life to anyone else’s and you’ll become happier.

So turn off your phone and go grab a cocktail with your best pal and resist the urge to post the amazing cocktail to Instagram.

  • Recruit friends to participate in “no phone” outings
  • Go kayaking, hiking, anywhere your cell phone won’t work
  • Put your phone down 1 hour before bedtime
  • Don’t bring your phone to the bedroom
  • Try cell phone free vacation destinations

All things in moderation.  Cell phones and social media are great, just moderate your use and you’ll start to feel happier.


13. Spend More Time with Family, Friends

spend time with friends
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“I wish I had spent more time working”, said no one ever.  When people look back on their lives they typically wish they had spent more time with their spouse, their kids, their parents or their friends.  They wish they had hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

So the next time you are thinking about working late into the evening instead of going on a date with your someone special, or hanging out with your best friend, or going to the kids little league game – choose your someone special, your best bud, your kids.

As noted in #1 the only thing that brings real lasting joy is the closeness of our relationships with others.


14. Spend Time Outdoors and with Nature

spend time outdoors
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I don’t mean rushing from your house to the car.  I mean head to a lake, head to a beach, find a nature path or a park and just be outside.

  • If you are stuck in an office all day, bring your lunch to work and find a spot outside to eat.
  • Take a walk
  • Find a close by state or national park and spend a day or a weekend just being outdoors.
  • Take a bike ride
  • Sit in your backyard, on your front porch or balcony.  When was the last time you really used your outdoor space?
  • Plant an herb garden and care for it daily


15. Meditate

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Meditation helps you to improve your attention span, sharpen your focus and clarity, it promotes calmness, and, it increases your happiness.

Additionally, studies have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

All of those benefits mean a happier you.

Meditation takes practice, so start with small goals, try a minute or 2… working up to your desired meditation goal.

How to meditate: Easy meditation for beginners
  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes… and breathe naturally
  3. Don’t try to control your breathing just continue to breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how your body rises and falls with each inhalation and exhalation.
  5. Continue breathing and noticing the movement of your body.  Notice how your chest and belly expand and contract, observe your shoulders and rib cage.
  6. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling it.  If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.


16. Spend money on experience, not things

Buy experiences and memories not things
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The Beattle’s song famously says “Money can’t buy me love”.  And we know that money isn’t the measure of long-term joy and happiness (1st happiness hack).  But if you’re going to splurge, spend money on experiences instead of things or expensive toys.

People that spend on experiences like travel tend to be happier with the expenditure for a lifetime.  Experiences create memories and have a lasting impact on our perception of the world.  Buying a new luxury car may be nice but it doesn’t expand your understanding of the world or yourself.

Experience pay dividends before (anticipation), during (doing) and after (memories), the expenditure.

  • TRy something new
  • Learn to play the banjo or ukelele
  • Travel to your family’s home country or countries
  • Travel to learn to cook
  • Learn to kayak, ice skate
  • Try an Escape Room
  • Go to a spa with friends (or alone)

Experiences can bring happiness in the moment and the memories can be recalled for a happiness boost whenever you need it.


17. Practice Your Faith or Spiritual Beliefs

practice your faith or spiritual beliefs
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Everyone believes in something.  And honoring and practicing that “something” is a happiness factor.

If you aren’t spiritual or religious that’s okay.  If you believe in nothing else believe in love (#1 happiness hack).  Practice love as your religion and you’ll be happier than most.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

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