Let's face it. Being happy is an effort. For some, it comes more easily, but each and every one of us must work at it. And while achieving "ultimate happiness" sounds a bit overwhelming, take comfort knowing there are little things you can do every single day to increase your happiness levels overall.
You don't have to travel the world, get a dream job, or make a ton of money to make tiny positive changes in your day-to-day. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and some deep breathing. Check out these 12 simple things you can try every day to improve your happiness. And hey, you might be doing some of them already and not even realize it.
1. Celebrate someone else's accomplishments.
Cheering someone on was the first step in our 31 day happiness challenge. You don't need the cake, candles, balloons, and streamers. Simply rooting someone on or giving them a heartfelt congratulatory hug will do the trick. When you make them happy, you'll be happy, too.
2. Practice mindful meditation.
3. Express gratitude.
Some studies suggest that simply expressing gratitude can improve your overall well-being — when you express gratitude, it can make you feel as good as the person you're expressing it to. So, say "Thank you" for all of the small things in your life: your bed, your lunch, your clean drinking water, your health, etc.
4. Turn that frown upside down.
Not only has smiling been shown to reduce stress, but smiles are contagious and can have a positive effect on those around you.
5. Get moving.
We know that exercise is good for our bodies, but it also good for our minds. When we get our heart rates up and our blood pumping, mood-boosting endorphins get released. The good news is you don't have to sign up for a gym membership to get the benefits of exercise. Do simple things like take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk to work if you can.
6. Connect with someone.
Love is closely linked with happiness. No matter how busy you think you are, make time to connect with those around you. A quick call or text is good, but there's nothing like seeing your friends and family face-to-face.
7. Be more forgiving.
Sometimes it is hard to do, but studies have shown that forgiving someone can improve your mood. Furthermore, it can lower your blood pressure and decrease stress and fear levels. Think beyond forgiving people for their actions. You can also try to be more forgiving to society, strangers, and your surroundings.
8. Play with a pet.
Having furry and scaly friends actually has many health benefits. They don't just get us moving, they also help to relieve stress. Kick start things by taking your pooch out for a walk or snuggling up with your cat.
9. Find something to laugh about.
The saying about how laughter is one of the best medicines is true. Happify reports that laughter can lower your blood pressure and even boost your body's immunity. So, start cracking a few jokes with friends or watch those funny viral animal videos.
10. Don't get hung up about social media.
In our tech-addicted world, it is easy to get focused on how many followers you have, what people are liking, and all of the comments on your photos. Remember that none of that defines your relationships or who you are. Don't give anonymous trolls out there power over your life. In a report about quitting social media, The Guardian found that the majority of people who left it felt happier.
11. Let some light in.
It is harder to do in the dark days of winter, but enjoy the sun shine as much as you can. This MyBreast.org infographic shows that sunlight increases your vitamin D synthesis and boosts your mood. It's time to go roll up those blinds.
12. Don't take yourself so seriously.
Stop for a moment and try to put everything into perspective. You're a human and there is no such thing as being perfect. Cut yourself some slack and remember that if you mess up, it is not the end of the world. One study pointed out that realistic optimists are happier and more successful.
Our Simply Happy content is fueled by Simply Happy, a Chicken Soup for the Soul book filled with tips and tricks for embracing the happiness in your life.
Cover image via Pressmaster I Shutterstock