12 simple ways to become a happier person in life, according to psychology

We all want to be happier in life, at least I know I do. 

But how?

Psychology has many answers for us that are doable and practical. They can be put into practice quite easily and will make a large impact. 

Let’s take a look at these simple ways to become a more fulfilled and happy person.

1) Improve your sleep habits

Sleep is incredibly important for both mental and physical health. 

Those who sleep well are happier and healthier people. 

It’s just that simple. 

If there is one habit to adopt today that will lead you to feeling noticeably happier and more energized it’s to sleep sufficiently and restfully every night. 

“Sleeping helps to repair and restore our brains, not just our bodies,” notes the UK Mental Health Foundation.

“During sleep we can process information, consolidate memories, and undergo a number of maintenance processes that help us to function during the daytime.”

2) Deal with stress more effectively

Stress is the silent killer, eating away at our physical and emotional health in a thousand ways. 

Granted, many stresses in life can’t be eliminated, such as work burdens and family obligations. 

But to the extent that you can do so, try dealing with stress in productive ways:

Maybe that means working out, doing some painting on weekends or learning to state your needs more openly with your partner. 

Whatever way you can reduce and handle your stress more effectively will have a net positive on your happiness level.  

3) Volunteer and serve the community

Volunteering and service to the community has a noticeable impact on happiness. 

It makes people feel more fulfilled when they freely choose to give of their time and energy and aid others. 

This needs to be a choice, of course, and looking after yourself needs to remain a priority. 

But if you have free time, consider volunteering. Psychological research shows that it makes most people happier. 

As Elizabeth Hopper explains:

“In a study published this year in the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers examined data from nearly 70,000 research participants in the United Kingdom, who received surveys about their volunteering habits and their mental health, including their distress and functioning in everyday life, every two years from 1996 to 2014. 

“Compared to people who didn’t volunteer, people who had volunteered in the past year were more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health as better.”

4) Build inner resilience and toughness

There’s one guarantee in life: change and surprises. 

Life is going to hit all of us with some hard blows and things we didn’t expect, and the best thing we can do is learn from it and become resilient

We are stronger than we know:

Building that inner knowledge that you can and will survive what’s happening is an incredible boon. You’ll feel the fire in you even when everyone else is giving up and be much happier because of it. 

5) Stay physically and mentally active

Being active in your body and mind are both important for your overall level of happiness

This means exercise, consuming thought-provoking content and leading an overall busy life. 

Take breaks, of course, but keep your body and mind engaged. The results will be excellent. 

There is a “strong relationship between subjective well-being and physical activity,” observes this 2021 study from the Institute of Psychology at the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw, Poland.

“Active people showed higher levels of happiness and self-esteem compared to beginners and inactive people and a higher level of life satisfaction than inactive people.”

6) Take social media breaks and digital detoxes

Social media has a lot of useful and fun things on it. But it can become overwhelming after a while.

Not to mention that it hurts our eyesight to spend all day watching Tik Tok or Instagram reels. 

Take frequent breaks. To whatever extent possible, also do mini digital detoxes. 

Try relaxing for a bit outside without your phone; be radical! 

7) Learn to savor the present moment

overcome an unhappy childhood traits 12 simple ways to become a happier person in life, according to psychology

The present moment is a special time. 

In fact, it’s the present moment right now!

And it keeps happening over and over, becoming the past and being looked forward to as the future. 

When we learn to focus on what is rather than on what has been or what might be, we become much more empowered and fulfilled. 

It’s a simple and powerful truth. 

“Living in the present moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future,” writes Courtney Ackerman, M.A.

“It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.”

8) Get used to saying no and having limits

Everybody needs to be able to say no. It’s not easy for many of us. 

But it sometimes needs to be done. 

When you have limits and put yourself first when necessary, two things happen:

  • Your respect and self-love grow
  • Your ability to actually help and be there for others actually increases, because it’s voluntary and more focused instead of obligated or forced.

This is a win-win if you ask me. Practice saying no on small things and work your way up. 

9) Practice gratitude and thankfulness

Be thankful as much as possible. It can’t hurt. And even if there are big things in your life which are not enjoyable or useful to you, being thankful for the positives will leave you with a more can-do attitude. 

You’ll find that you start seeing more solutions around and stop thinking of the problems as so insurmountable. 

You can’t win ‘em all: that’s true. 

But by being grateful and thankful whenever possible, you start to notice all the times you have gotten what you want and how many times you have been blessed. 

10) Be kind to yourself and tell your own story

Don’t let anybody else write your story or tell you who you are:

No left wing or right wing political agenda, no familial narrative, no role or roles that you play.

Decide for yourself. 

Carve out your identity from the clay of your life experiences, and love yourself first before hoping or wanting anybody else to do so. 

You are worth it. 

“You need to acknowledge that you are worthy enough for self-compassion before you can be more compassionate to yourself,” advises licensed psychotherapist Erin Bircher.

11) Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want

Far too many of us get stuck in a pattern of avoidance:

We fear falling back into old mistakes or being around the same old crowd who influenced us in the wrong direction. 

We dread being alone, or more toxic relationships. We shout and curse about jobs that exploit us or misuse our talents. 

But instead of this, it’s much more helpful to focus on what we do want instead of what we want to avoid. 

As Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, B.A. writes:

“Martin Seligman’s research and findings on positive psychology aimed to shift the focus of psychology from problems to solutions.”

This ties into the final point… 

12) Set proactive and actionable goals for the future

Future goals are an absolute must. But they need to be concrete. 

Many folks make the mistake of having future goals that are overly generic or vague.

“Find out what to do in life,” is an honorable goal. But it’s hard to break that down into specifics about exactly what to put on your calendar for the coming week. 

Focus on actionable goals that encompass real solutions to challenges you face. Then put them into action. 

Chowdhury again:

“Goals direct our actions and open us to a host of new possibilities. They help us stick to the relevant activities and get rid of what is irrelevant for goal-satisfaction.”

Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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