11 simple ways to be happier in life, according to psychology

Changing the way you think might seem impossible sometimes, especially during times of distress.

And while some of the things on this list are simpler than others, I truly believe that happiness is a system – a combination and a practice!

So start small, and take your time to incorporate more of these strategies into your routine as you get more comfortable.

The point is for you to still feel like you – not a conglomerate of coping mechanisms – but just feel better.

Here are 11 simple ways to be happier in life, according to psychology

1) Practice mindfulness

No, not to bypass your problems by ignoring them.

But to gain more nuanced and expansive perspectives that allow you to approach those problems!

Personally, I’ve found mindfulness really helpful because it allowed me to identify certain harmful patterns and behaviors that were directly linked to certain triggers.

So get to know the lines between mental resilience and toxic positivity, because the former will help you better deal with uncertainty.

The key points of meditation is to increase awareness by being the observer of your thoughts without burdening them with judgment – as well as enjoying a little you-time.

You could also take the time to journal out your thoughts to get them out of your system, and not allow them to shape your attitude.

In that same journal, you can also practice gratitude daily as well!

2) Practice gratitude daily

Inner peace isn’t the lack of chaos, it’s having the capacity to hold space for both.

And I don’t know about you, but knowing that I am capable of having positive experiences by remembering them helps me look at negativity with a little more grace.

There is so much power in noticing the good, because it has a domino-like effect where your mind will be trained to notice more and more positivity as you practice it.

Along with a social element where people who express gratitude to one another are more likely to feel appreciated, and therefore more connected.

Notice all the internal qualities that you admire within yourself and others to cultivate healthy relationships, and watch yourself bloom over time.

3) Learn to regulate your emotions

There is a skill I learned through dialectical behavior therapy, called ABC PLEASE.

To be concise, it’s where you accumulate positive experiences – both long-term and short-term. 

It involves having a list of values and priorities to create goals that fit you, then taking small steps to achieve them.

It also builds mental resilience by encouraging the act of building mastery and taking care of your physical health.

Having access to a therapist certainly helps, but you can also use an emotional wheel to better understand certain emotions.

Once you are feeling more at one with your experiences, that’s when you’ll be able to make better decisions and be more assertive.

4) Engage in humanitarian acts

One often overlooked path to happiness is engaging in humanitarian acts.

Altruism has been linked to increased happiness and overall life satisfaction. It creates a sense of understanding because it recognizes what we all have in common: humanity.

By extending a helping hand to others, you not only make a positive impact on their lives but also foster a sense of fulfillment within yourself.

And volunteering has been shown to reduce stress which helps you to combat other mental health conditions by providing a sense of purpose because of the social connection it provides.

Just like gratitude, these acts of kindness can create a ripple effect of positivity – think of it as you creating physical reminders of the goodness in the world through others.

5) Take things less personally

people who are genuinely happy in life think 11 simple ways to be happier in life, according to psychology

Learning to take things less personally is a key component in emotional resilience.

Often, the actions and words of others are a reflection of their own experiences and emotions – rather than judgments of your worth.

Your upbringing, self-esteem, anxiety and even the mood you’re in can affect how you perceive another person.

What personally helps me is practicing empathy and trying to understand the perspectives and motivations of those around you.

As well as recognizing when you are ruminating over past conversations by dissecting them to smithereens.

When in doubt, ask for clarification and give yourself the credit for your strengths. 

I find that’s the only way I can connect with others genuinely without feeling like I’m always giving out benefits of the doubt like it’s Christmas.

6) Embrace a growth mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset is a powerful tool for personal development and happiness.

It’s the opposite of a “fixed mindset” which is when you believe that your capacity to learn new concepts is limited.

When you embrace challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles, you’ll be able to view failures as lessons, and setbacks as a fork in the road instead of a wrench.

Life becomes less about you trying to prove yourself and more about your personal growth.

I know it’s not always as easy as saying positive affirmations, but the point is to reframe certain endings as transitions. 

I personally believe this is important because it teaches you to know when to fold your cards. Instead of holding on until you lose yourself in the process.

So if you don’t do it for positivity’s sake, do it for yourself.

7) Nurture a sense of purpose

That’s another buzzword – isn’t it?

Purpose is just another word for a sense of identity. A sense of direction that isn’t dictated by external factors like what job you have or what people think of you.

Identifying your passions, values, and long-term goals to create a roadmap for your life can help you find meaning in your everyday life.

In many ways, that allows you to channel your energies towards growth rather than getting busy proving your worth to people who aren’t interested in understanding you.

There’s even some evidence that people who feel a purpose in their life experience less cognitive challenges because they are more likely to make healthier life choices

As for me, I’ve found that approaching life from my soul rather than my ego has decreased my stress levels significantly.

8) Limit social media consumption

While social media provides us with a platform for connection, excessive use of it can have detrimental effects on mental well-being.

Endless scrolling through curated and often idealized versions of others’ lives can lead you to comparison, envy and a sense of inadequacy.

Yes, it’s our responsibility to not feel triggered by other people’s happiness. But I also believe it’s a part of our responsibilities to identify unnecessary triggers.

Set boundaries on your social media consumption to prevent it from negatively impacting your mood and self-esteem.

Allocate designated times for checking it, and prioritize face-to-face interactions to build more authentic connections.

And remember to show yourself some compassion – those apps are literally designed to keep you on them.

9) Spend time in nature

There are therapeutic benefits of spending time in nature.

It can have a calming effect on the mind and body, reducing stress and promoting overall well-being.

You might even find that you sleep better when you’ve been outside regularly as the light exposure can help regulate your circadian rhythm.

Even taking 2 hours a week to go outside (that’s around 17 minutes a day) can help you loads. 

So take regular breaks from your busy life and immerse yourself in the natural surroundings to remind yourself that time is a social construct.

10) Prioritize adequate sleep

sleep anytime 11 simple ways to be happier in life, according to psychology

I have no idea how I used to pull all-nighters in high school.

As I get older, having quality sleep has become one of my biggest priorities in life. Because the truth is that it affects your mood, immune system, cognitive function and general well-being.

Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect how a small percentage of your genes work, which influences inflammation, immunity and how you respond to stress.

Try to establish a consistent sleep routine, aiming for 7-9 interrupted sleep each night. But it’s not just about the amount of sleep you get, but the quality of it.

So think of it as a practice where you reduce stress on other areas of your life so you can rest well at night.

And consider talking to your doctor if you chronically feel sleep deprived.

11) Seek professional support if needed

Recognizing when to seek professional support is a crucial aspect of maintaining mental health and happiness.

If persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or stress are affecting your daily life, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

The mind is complicated and it can be difficult to be alone in your head trying to figure it all out. Take it from me, it’s not possible to figure it all out on your own.

Therapy provides a safe space to explore underlying issues, develop coping strategies, and gain valuable insights.

For me, it’s how I was able to have new emotional experiences that gave me the ability to hold space for more than just “good” or “bad” feelings.

You’ll find that you’re able to resolve conflict within yourself and those with others as well.

A happy life is a stress-free life

And if you’re a normal human like me, stress-free really means, stress-that-is-being-regularly-managed-not-eliminated.

So don’t worry too much about being perfectly happy – the stress isn’t worth it.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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