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How to Be Happy: 9 Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Happiness is a choice and not the consequence of an event or having someone fulfill that need for you. Living a happier life is within your reach but it takes some effort on your behalf! Mahatma Gandhi wisely said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Everything about that quote points to you taking responsibility for your own happy life.

One of the best ways to live a happier life is to install daily habits that cultivate a sense of satisfaction and contentment. Integrating healthy habits into your daily life brings balance, harmony, and joy which are all conducive to your overall happiness and well-being.

What is Happiness?

Before I share my daily habits that’ll help you find happiness as often as you want to, let’s talk about what it actually means to be happy. The Oxford Dictionary puts it quite simply – “Happiness – A state of being happy.” Okay, let’s dig a bit deeper here, shall we?

Most people seek some form of happiness with this state of being varying from one person to the next. A happy day for me consists of sitting quietly with a cup of coffee while I watch Bronze Mannikins devour seeds off the bird feeder lovingly made by my brother.

For another person, happiness means taking a ship cruise or booking an adventure holiday.

Happiness is an emotional state comprised of feelings such as contentment, fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction. It can also be defined as something that entails positive feelings or emotions. When someone tells you they’re happy, they could be talking about their life in general or the present moment. It’s often used to describe someone’s overall view of their life when all is going well.

Two defining factors determine happiness and these are emotional stability or balance and life satisfaction. If all your life areas (work, health, relationships, spiritual connection, personal development, and finances) are in balance, you can safely say you’re satisfied, content, or happy with life!

The famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, quoted, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” I couldn’t agree with him more!

9 Daily Habits for a Happier Life

1. Fake It Until You Make It

This one works for me when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed! As soon as I recognize that I am in a grumpy mood, I smile. Yes, smiling makes it nigh impossible to think negative thoughts – try it for yourself. Other physiological ways of creating positive emotions include standing up straight, putting your shoulders back, and pushing your chest out.

Faking it until you make it isn’t always that easy especially when life is sending you lemons but if you’re serious about having happy days, you need to practice pasting a smile on your face. Smiling releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine which instantly uplifts your mood. Your brain doesn’t know if that smile is real or not – all it knows it must be happy!

Make smiling a daily habit and watch how other people respond to you by giving you a smile back. That alone will get you into a happy mood!

2. Hack the Happiness Chemicals

Dopamine is one happiness chemical that can be triggered by smiling, eating food, achieving a goal, completing a task, or performing self-care activities. Endorphin is another happiness chemical that clicks in as soon as you start exercising, listening to music, watching a movie, or laughing.

Oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone, releases feelings of joy and contentment when you socialize, touch someone, pet animals, or help others. Hacking into the serotonin chemical releases happy feelings through sun exposure, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and being in nature.

Make it a daily habit to trigger all four happiness chemicals through one of the abovementioned acts for each one and watch your life transform into one big happy moment!

3. Get a Good Night’s Rest

I can vouch for this one big time! If I don’t get a good night’s rest, I can write off any chances of feeling happy unless I get into the “fake it until you make it” mode as quickly as possible. Getting enough sleep has the following benefits:

  • Healthy brain function

  • Emotional stability

  • Reduced risk of chronic illnesses

  • Overall well-being

When you’re healthy, physically and mentally, you have a better chance of living a happier life. Make it a daily habit to get into a bedtime routine that supports getting a good night’s rest. This includes journaling before going to sleep, going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, and investing in a good bed and linen.

4. Practice Gratitude

Gratefulness gives your mind and mood an instant lift! Acknowledging what is going right in your life allows you to feel content, fulfilled, and joyful. And, when things aren’t going so well, practicing gratitude will help you identify what is still good despite whatever challenges you’re facing in the present moment.

Looking for the good in every situation is key to maintaining a level of happiness. Practice gratitude by being aware of everything that is happening throughout your day. It could be something as simple as a stranger giving you a smile while you’re stuck in rush hour traffic or watching the sunset at the end of the day.

Make it a daily habit to identify five things you’re grateful for every day. Some people like to do this first thing in the morning while I choose to practice gratitude at the end of the day just before I go to sleep. Do what works for you so you stick to this essential habit for happiness!

5. Stop the Comparison Game

I bet my partner is raising his eyebrows as he reads this one! “Stop comparing” is his standard retort when bemoaning my (in-)abilities to grow my business, being part of the crowd, or struggling with my introversion. Comparing yourself with everyone else around you is a surefire way of chasing away any chances of being happy.

Social media, signing up for yoga classes, or attending work meetings are all avenues that could lead to you playing the comparison game if you lack confidence or self-esteem. The list is endless – your sister-in-law is bright, your BFF is the social butterfly, and your neighbor is better looking than you.

Install a daily habit that includes a mantra that encourages you to go inwards and acknowledge your own unique and beautiful qualities. Here are some excellent affirmations you can adopt:

  • I AM beautiful inside and out

  • I AM enough

  • I AM attracting positive experiences in my life

  • I AM confident in my abilities

Doing this "I AM" meditation every day is a wonderful daily habit for increasing your happiness zone.

I love what Osho Zen Tarot says about comparison – “The way to find out who you are is not by comparing yourself with others, but by looking to see whether you are fulfilling your own potential in the best way you know how.”

6. Practice Self-Love

I’ve written a few articles on self-love and why it’s essential for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Get it right and you’ve got the perfect recipe for leading a happier life no matter what’s happening at the moment. Practicing self-love on a daily basis will bring you emotional balance and life satisfaction in more ways than one.

Make it a daily habit to do the following self-care activities:

  • Journal

  • Walk in nature

  • Connect with a Higher Power

  • Have fun

Reading self-love books will empower you to embrace yourself and all your inner qualities so that they shine through while bringing you happiness on a whole new level.

7. Accept and Let Go

Meeting life on life’s terms means practicing acceptance and letting go of what you’re powerless over. This is an intrinsic part of the famous AA 12-step recovery program and while it seems like a cop-out to say that you are powerless over something, the exact opposite is true.

Accepting that you can’t control other people and situations that aren’t yours to start with gives you more freedom to just BE. I’ve been working through the 12-step recovery program as a non-addict and accepting that I AM powerless over the behavior of others has helped me to find emotional stability.

A quick tip! The 12-step recovery program works for both addicts and non-addicts who want to live a content and happy life full of hope and inner peace. Making it a daily habit to pray to my Higher Power and ask for the strength and wisdom to accept life on life’s terms certainly allows me to be happier.

8. Cultivate Human Connection

Human connection releases a host of happiness chemicals and makes you feel a sense of belonging which is vital for feeling happier too. Connecting with another human being helps to manage negative emotions such as depression and anxiety especially if it’s with someone who makes you feel good.

In the pursuit of happiness, your journey should include companionship. And, it doesn’t only have to be the "human kind." Connecting with your pets is known to bring out feelings of love, vulnerability, and happiness. I make it a daily habit to play a ball game with our rescue dog – for those few minutes, my happiness and well-being skyrocket (and so does his!)

Make it a daily habit to connect with someone you love or care for, be it through a WhatsApp message, a Zoom call, or an in-person meeting for coffee and cake. If you don’t feel like reaching out to a human being on a particular day, connect with your pet instead!

9. Make a List of 50 Things That Make You Happy

One of the first exercises my clients have to do when they start a life coaching program with me is to make a list of 50 things that make them happy. Initially, they balk at the idea of trying to find the things that make them happy! But as they work on their list, they’re astounded by how simple it actually is to have a happier life.

My list includes some of the following:

  • Having a cappuccino with cream

  • Early morning walks

  • Watching movies with my partner

  • Wearing pretty dresses

  • Chatting with my daughter on FaceTime or Skype

I ask my clients to make it a daily habit to pick one activity from their list and do it during the day. This way they can guarantee at least a moment of happiness every day!

Final Thoughts

There are many other ways you can ensure you experience happiness on a daily basis. Taking a day of rest, watching funny YouTube clips, or spending time on your favorite hobby are some other ideas. But, cultivating daily habits that guarantee you a happier life most days or moments of the year is highly recommended if you want emotional balance and life satisfaction.

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