11 ways to trick your brain into feeling happy, according to psychology

Are you happy?

Do you like getting up each morning, or would you instead pull the blanket over your head and stay that way the whole day?

Look, I feel you.

Either way you feel, there are easy and proven ways you can trick yourself into feeling (even) more happy and content. 

These methods will make you feel emotionally and mentally strong, which, in turn, will help you face any setbacks you face much easier. 

So, let’s dive right in and make this day count! 

1) Spend time outdoors

Researchers have repeatedly highlighted that exposure to nature is linked to improved mood, reduced stress, and enhanced cognitive function. 

It effectively encourages peace and stimulates the release of neurotransmitters associated with happiness and well-being.

That’s why stepping outside is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your mental health. 

Unless you live in the Arctic and polar bears hunt you as soon as you step outside your home, there’s bound to be a park, meadow, lake, river, sea, or forest nearby.

So, step outside and soak up some sunshine! Fresh air and nature can do wonders for your mood, helping you feel more relaxed and rejuvenated.

2) Appreciate what you have

Take a moment to recognize and be thankful for the good stuff in your life – whether it’s your friends and family, a sunny day, or even just having a cozy bed. It’s a simple but powerful way to divert your focus from what you lack to what you’ve got.

And practice what I preach every day. I take a little notebook and write down five things I’m grateful for today or at that moment.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as appreciating that that mystery pain in my heel is finally gone or that it’s Saturday, and I can stay a bit longer in bed. 

Other times, I’m grateful that my four-year-old hasn’t been sick for a whole month, meaning my wife and I also managed to stay healthy. 

3) Get moving

Physical activity isn’t just good for your body. It’s great for your mind, too! It can improve your focus, boost your power levels, and help you sleep better at night.

And the best part is, you don’t have to run a marathon or spend hours at the gym to reap the benefits. 

Even just a short walk around the block or a quick dance session in your living room can do wonders for your mood and overall health.

So, next time you feel down or stressed out, remember to get moving! Your body and mind will thank you for it.

4) Get enough sleep

If you’re anywhere between 5 and 30 years old, you probably don’t appreciate sleep enough. The same goes if you don’t have kids yet. I know I haven’t. But now, it’s a different story. 

And from a psychological standpoint, getting enough sleep tricks your mind into feeling happy because it’s essential for regulating mood and emotional health.

When you’re well-rested, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by pressure, and you’re more able to keep a positive attitude.

Sleep is also like hitting the reset button on stress. It chills out your body’s stress response, so you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Make sure you’re getting those Z’s! Your brain needs time to rest and renew so you can wake up feeling revitalized and ready to tackle the day.

5) Connect with others

Being around friends and loved ones triggers the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone. 

It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from the simple act of being with people who matter to you.

Surrounding yourself with positive people also creates a ripple effect. Their good vibes can rub off on you, making you feel happier and more optimistic.

But also vice versa. 

So, spend time with the people who make you smile. Whether it’s grabbing a coffee with a friend or chatting on the phone with a loved one, connecting with others can and will lift your spirits.

6) Help others

special personality traits of people who genuinely enjoy helping others 11 ways to trick your brain into feeling happy, according to psychology

When you do something kind for others, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. 

It’s a natural high that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled. The best part is that you don’t have to volunteer for hours in a soup kitchen to get the most out of it. 

It could be as simple as holding the door open for someone or making someone else feel good about themselves.

Giving back gives your life purpose and meaning. It’s like adding a splash of color to your day, knowing that you’ve made a positive difference in someone else’s life.

7) Set achievable goals

When you set goals, you have a clear sense of where you’re headed and what you want to achieve. And that makes life a hell of a lot easier. 

Breaking big goals into smaller, bite-sized tasks makes them feel more manageable. You’re basically turning a daunting mountain into a series of manageable hills. 

Achieving one goal often leads to the next, too. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill, picking up momentum and picking up speed as it goes.

Because each step forward gives you a sense of progress and keeps you motivated to keep going.

Imagine it like adding bricks to your self-esteem wall, making it stronger and more resilient with each success.

8) Limit screen time

You knew this would be on the list, right?

And sure enough, putting the phone down allows you to be present in the moment, appreciating what’s happening around you without the constant distraction of screens.

When you put down the screen, you’re also reclaiming precious time. Time you can spend doing activities you love, pursuing hobbies, or simply enjoying the world around you.

So why not put down the phone, step away from the screen for a bit, and focus on real-life interactions instead? 

You will trick your brain into feeling happy as you pick up more meaningful things. 

9) Laugh and smile

This one’s obvious, right? So why aren’t you doing it more then? Watch a funny movie, share a joke with a friend, or just smile for no reason at all! 

Laughter and smiles are contagious and can instantly boost your mood.

When we laugh or smile, our bodies release endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. These chemicals help reduce feelings of anxiety and tension, promoting relaxation and a sense of happiness.

Research also suggests that laughter strengthens the immune system by increasing the production of immune cells and antibodies. 

This helps protect against illness and promote overall health.

10) Listen to music

Music has the outstanding ability to evoke emotions and memories. It’s like a time machine that transports you to different moments in your life, triggering feelings of nostalgia, joy, or even catharsis.

Put on your favorite song and let the music transport you to a happier place, lifting your spirits and making you feel more alive.

It really is that simple. 

I have a few songs that have a special meaning for me and that I listen to most days. Spotify and YouTube already know this, and I’m never more than two taps or buttons away from joy. 

11) Learn something new

Simply put, learning something new is like giving your brain a workout at the gym. It challenges your cognitive abilities, strengthens neural connections, and keeps your mind sharp and agile.

Plus, embracing new challenges promotes a growth mindset, where you see obstacles as opportunities for growth and improvement. 

You’re flexing your resilience muscle and developing a mindset of continuous learning and development.

Personally, mastering a new skill or understanding a complex concept fills me with a sense of achievement and pride.

So, if you want to trick your brain into feeling happy, challenge yourself to try something different, like learning a new hobby or deep-diving into a new topic. 

Keep your brain engaged and give yourself a sense of accomplishment.

Final thoughts 

If there’s one thing you should take away from this article, it’s that small actions can have a big impact on your mindset and on how happy you’ll feel. 

From connecting with others and practicing gratitude to learning something new, each of these activities has the power to lift your spirits, reduce stress, and improve your overall quality of life.

Now, the ball is in your court!

Picture of Adrian Volenik

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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