everyday success

Home > Everyday Life > Journey of Life > Life to the Fullest 

15 Ways to Grow Happiness

Here are easy one-a-day ideas for growing a sense of well-being.

We’re each in charge.  We’re in command of our own life and our own happiness.  That’s nice, we think.  But, what does that really mean?  Instead, just tell me what I have to do to be happy.  My plate is loaded.  If I’m in charge, what do I need to do?    

Many of us don’t exactly know what to do to grow our sense of well-being.

The art of happiness is including activities that make you happy in your daily life.  Just as important, things that make you happy need not be extravagant.  Often, the things that increase our sense of well-being are very simple.

Our lives are loaded with things we must do.  Work, family commitments, commuting, school, social commitments, volunteer activity, child rearing, homemaking, house cleaning.  How do we fit our happiness into an otherwise busy day?

To begin, shape the things you must-do in ways that make you happy.  Before you think that’s a lot of quackery, let’s think of how we might do it.  Many fill their commute time with music or reading – both are happiness inducing activities.  To up the experience, you might change what you listen to or read to something you want to learn.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy your job though you enjoy your co-workers.  Make your lunch or break time with your co-workers satisfying.  Savoring those good sensations will energize you for your working time.  Or, during your breaks and lunch, take an energizing walk.

For moms who shuttle their children to and from their many activities, load the CD player with music you enjoy.  Or, play an audio book – your library has a great collection of audio books.  Use your time in ways that satisfy you.  On the other hand, be aware; don’t become so engrossed that you miss a pick-up or make a driving error.  At each pick-up or drop-off, your happy glow will be ready for each child – because you’ll have been doing something for yourself.

Let’s get to it.  What can you do that is found to increase happiness? 

The basics

Positive psychologists study what makes life good.  Their research shows these techniques as basic to daily well-being.  Exercise, sleep and good nutrition head the list.  Without these, our well-being is in jeopardy.

It’s not necessary or advisable to make a practice of every one of the ideas beyond exercise, sleep and nutrition.  Instead, this list will give you ideas for the daily practices that are right for you.

Exercise, sleep and good nutrition.  These are basic and necessary for everyone’s well-being. 

Three good things.  Count your blessings.  How was your day?  According to your personal preference, one of these is a positive exercise at the end of your day.  Many people enjoy this practice right before turning out the lights at night.  It’s found to induce good rest. 

What is it?  At a time in your day, each day, name three good things that happened during the day.  Or, count your blessings of the day.  Or, enumerate the good and not-so-good aspects of the day.  You may choose to write your daily review in a notebook you keep handy.  That way, you can look back over time.

Researchers have found that the daily practice of counting three good things or your blessings has a lasting positive impact on individual happiness and sense of well-being.

Gratitude journal.  Here you’ll make daily journal entries, noting all the aspects of your day that make you grateful.  Some days, your list will be long; other days may be more difficult.  If you are confronted by a tough day, look around you.  Is there a tree or flower for which you can be grateful.  What about a tasty cup of coffee?

Your gratitude list may include the smallest, simplest parts to a day.  Those who write daily in their gratitude journal are found to experience long-term positive sense of well-being.  Gratitude is a basic happiness building block.

Random acts of kindness.  Quite literally, this refers to extending a kindness to another for no particular reason.  There are many examples.  When in their car, waiting in line to pay a toll or to pick up cleaning, some people pay for the person behind them as well.  Over recent holidays, some people have paid for all the lay-away items at a store.

But it’s not just about money.  Stopping by with a freshly baked pie or lending a hand to someone who appears to be struggling can be a random act of kindness.  It may be something you do for a co-worker or a classmate.  You may know the person but you may remain anonymous.  Naturally, don’t put yourself in harm’s way.

How do random acts of kindness contribute to your state of happiness?  Again, research tells the story.  Doing something for another person, sparks a positive internal response.  Both the mental process needed to think of the idea and making the actual kindness happen engenders a positive sense of well-being.

Smile!  Smiles activate an inner calm.  When you smile in the presence of others, you are offering a warm greeting that tends to draw people in.  At the least, your smile will not send them away. 

Think about smiling for yourself.  When you smile just for yourself, you change your inner dialog.  You warm yourself.  When you need a moment to refresh during your day, stop and smile – smile just for yourself.  You don’t need to see your smile, you’ll feel it.  And, of course, smile at yourself as you pass by a mirror or your reflection in a window.

Beyond the Basics

What makes you happy may not be the same as your dearest friend.  This list includes only a few of the practices known to be the source of well-being and happiness.  That doesn’t mean each entry is necessary.  Our purpose is to provide enough ideas to spark your ideas.  You are your own personal expert.  You’ll recognize what works for you in your life.

Gratitude letter.  Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has special meaning in your life.  Then, deliver the letter to that person, sharing why you are grateful for them.  As said earlier, gratitude is basic to a sense of well-being.

Gift of your time.  Give of yourself for others.  You may choose to visit a sick friend or an aging aunt.  You may decide to help a friend build a deck or your nephew with his algebra.  

Volunteer.  Offer your services for an organization or cause that is meaningful for you.

Laugh, tell a joke or a story.  Laughter cleanses us.  With laughter, we can be freed, if just for a moment, from all-consuming concerns.

Spend time with friends or people you cherish.  People in our lives matter greatly.  Our relationships are core to our well-being.  Nurturing and sustaining our relationships grows happiness.

Be a good teammate.  Whether in sports, in board and card games or as a co-worker, many of us are nurtured by our interactions with others.  Find ways to expand your ability as a team member.

Learn something new.  Engagement is another principle of happiness and well-being.  Plus, our brains are energized by new information. 

Master a skill or area of knowledge.  Another core principle to well-being is mastery.  Whether your area is piano playing, carpentry or navigation, mastery of something that engages you and feels meaningful is powerful.

Create your own happiness activity list 

Each one of us decides what daily actions will grow our happiness and which of our daily actions reduces our happiness and sense of well-being. 

As you experiment with the different practices known to bring about well-being, decide which work best for you in your life.  It’s likely you’ll discover that you enjoy a mix of happiness experiences.  Some may be pure playful fun while others have deep meaning or you are mentally engaged.