~Being happier~ is a complicated thing and much easier said than done, but there are things you can do and tweaks you can make to improve how you feel day to day.
Of course, everyone brings their own set of experiences to the table and some people might be living with mental illnesses or dealing with tough circumstances or situations right now that make things more complicated. But hopefully you might be able to find a few pieces of advice here that can help life feel a little easier.
1. Realize that happiness doesn't mean having everything you want and being problem-free all the time.
2. Start or end your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life.
We tend to focus on negative thoughts a lot more than positive ones, so you need to give yourself a moment to check in with your happier thoughts and realities. This could take the form of a gratitude journal, if you want, but just reflecting for a bit works too.
3. Commit to a work-life balance already!
Leave on time, don't check your email past a certain point at night, and in general, don't think about your work responsibilities at home, and vice versa. Doing your best in each place — aka not feeling guilty about what you're not doing — will keep you sane and feeling good about your output.
4. Pick up a hobby that has no purpose but to be enjoyable.
5. Share a meal with people you care about.
Nothing like sharing good food with good people for some good vibes.
6. Get rid of old things that you can't use right now or that make your heart hurt.
If you have stuff in your closet or in your home that make you feel worse when you see them — like clothes that you plan on fitting into again "one day" or mementos of an old relationship — TOSS THEM. You don't need that shit bringing you down.
7. Share what you're going through with loved ones.
8. Smile more. Seriously.
Research shows that genuine smiling can actually make you less stressed. So smile at your barista, accept compliments, watch a Disney movie — whatever gets you grinning.
9. Try tracking your moods and habits to find the little things that make you feel better and worse.
10. Give a name to your negative thoughts and then call them out on their bullshit.
11. Look for chances to walk or bike instead of driving or taking public transit if you're physically able.
According to Happiness Hacks by Alex Palmer, commuters who walked or biked to work report higher satisfaction than metro/subway and bus riders. So get that fresh air and exercise if you can!
12. Make keeping up with your friendships a priority.
When you get really busy with school or work or family or other responsibilities, you probably find yourself considering hanging out with your friends a luxury that you can cut first to make room for everything else. But spending time with your friends is hugely important for your mental health. Don't put friends on the back burner.
13. Lean toward buying experiences instead of buying things.
14. Develop a morning routine that will set the mood for the whole day.
It'll look different for everyone, but find a routine that will center you and put you in a good mood before you have to face the day. Think: Exercising, meditating, writing out your to-do list, stretching, thinking about the things you're grateful for, even just taking time to actually eat breakfast, have your coffee, and listen to your favorite podcast.
These ways to make your mornings infinitely better might be a great place to start. Oh, and make your bed, because it will work miracles on your life.
15. And while you're at it, develop a before-bed routine, too.
Pick up your room. Wash your face. Make some tea. Unplug and read. Do one of these before-bed activities that don't involve watching Netflix. Anything that you can do to unwind and put a positive cap on the day can help your headspace A LOT.
16. Do something for someone else to shift your focus outward and put things in perspective.
You can volunteer your time, your skills, your resources — whatever you're comfortable with!
17. Call someone who makes you feel better on the phone more often.
Maybe for you, that means calling your parents to check in and get an instant pep talk or maybe it's your best friend from college. Or maybe it's just a friend down the street you don't see enough because of your busy schedule. It doesn't even have to be a long phone call — just say hi when you have a free five minutes so your day is a little brighter.
18. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb at night.
There is nothing going on between midnight and 7 a.m. that can't wait 'til you wake up, I promise. You'll sleep better and your mind will thank you — because lack of sleep can seriously magnify feelings of unhappiness or depression and anxiety.
19. Throwback to some of your favorite things from childhood.
20. Take proper breaks from work, studying, etc. during your day.
"Avoid filling your breaks with more work (even if it's different from the work you are paid to do)," Palmer writes in Happiness Hacks. "Use your respite to fully recover and get your energy back for when you return to the desk."
21. Invest in a massage every once and awhile.
I bet you $10 you're holding a lot of tension somewhere right now and you deserve to get it worked out. It doesn't even have to be a full-on ~spa~ experience — you can probably find a nice, reasonably-priced hole in the wall with a bit of research.
22. Be liberal with the mute, block, and unfriend button.
23. Stop trying so hard to make everyone else happy at your expense.
Being an accommodating, nice person = good. Worrying about people liking you and not stepping on any toes at the expense of your own happiness and desires = not good. You can't please everyone — embrace that that's 100% OK.
24. Save kind, ego-boosting, or comforting words so you can look back over them when you need them.
Screenshot texts from friends or positive emails from your boss. Keep them in a folder that you can read through again and again.
25. Build a "make life a little easier" toolkit.
26. If you're feeling sad or depressed, try to get ready for the day even if you plan on staying inside.
Sometimes it's really hard to get outside, let alone out of bed. But if you're feeling sub-human, try to at least practice some basic hygiene and put on a fresh pair of clothes. Take your toothbrush and face wash into the shower with you, brush your hair, take your time. Be kind to yourself.
27. Be social, even if it means just showing up and being a little boring.
Sometimes, socializing is hard even when you know being around people will make you feel better. So just show up. Get together with a group of friends who you love and who love you, and just exist with them. Listen in on conversations. Bask in the energy.
28. Decorate your space so you actually like being there.
29. Hang out with positive people who build you up.
Not people who are cranky, pessimistic, or mean all the time.
30. If you need to cry, cry.
Speaking from personal experience, the longer you go without letting your emotions out, the more they build up and hang over you. So let it out, even if you need to induce a cry with a a tear-jerking movie or a sad song.
31. Don't rely on yourself to be happy and feel better.