How to Make Yourself Happy (32 Habits + Expert Insights)

I used to think happiness was all about big moments—like promotions, weddings, or vacations. But I’ve come to realize that true happiness often springs from the little things we do regularly. It’s about our everyday actions and attitudes.

But what are these actions? How can we weave more happiness into every day, even when times are tough? Follow along as I share some personal insights and simple tips that have transformed my own pursuit of happiness.

Could these tips possibly change your life too? Let’s find out together.

Practice Daily Gratitude

Gratitude is more than just saying “thank you.” It’s about recognizing the good in our lives and appreciating the small wins.

Here’s what this looks like: every morning or evening, take a moment to list three things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as a sunny day, a delicious meal, or a supportive friend.

This habit can significantly uplift your mood. Why? Because focusing on the positives can shift how you perceive your day-to-day life, making you feel more fulfilled and, frankly, happier.

My personal favorite way to practice this is by keeping a gratitude journal by my bedside. It’s a small action with a big impact on how I view the world.

"Most happy individuals have a relentless 'attitude of gratitude' approach to life even when life is not perfect. Being grateful when life is good, is relatively easy, but actively choosing to be grateful in the midst of adversity is a big key to happiness."

— Dr. Elia Gourgouris | President, The Happiness Center | Contributing Expert, Mindcurrent | Author, 7 Paths to Lasting Happiness

Spend Time in Nature

There’s something about nature that just makes us feel good. I mean, whether it’s the fresh air, the greenery, or the peacefulness, it all contributes to our happiness. Studies suggest that spending time outdoors can reduce stress, enhance creativity, and improve your mood.

So, make it a point to:

  • Take a walk in a nearby park.
  • Plan a weekend hike.
  • Simply sit in your garden.

These activities are not only good for your physical health but are incredibly rejuvenating mentally as well. I think it’s the perfect way to clear your mind and reconnect with yourself.

Connect with Friends and Family

Building and maintaining strong relationships with friends and family plays a crucial role in your happiness. Spending quality time with loved ones provides emotional support, encourages positive feelings, and creates wonderful memories.

Plan regular get-togethers, whether it’s a dinner, a casual hangout, or even a video call if you’re far apart. Sharing experiences and being present with those who matter to you can create a sense of belonging and increase your joy.

In times of stress or sadness, having close connections can also provide comfort and a sense of security.

Engage in Regular Physical Activity

Physical activity is like a natural happiness booster. It’s not just about getting fit; it’s about feeling good from the inside out.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which are known to help you feel happier and more relaxed.

Here’s how you can make exercise a fun part of your life:

  • Find a physical activity you actually enjoy. It could be dancing, swimming, or playing a team sport.
  • Set realistic goals that motivate you, not ones that feel like a chore.
  • Partner up with a friend for workouts to keep the motivation flowing.

I think the key is consistency. Even a quick 10-minute walk counts. So, get moving and watch your mood lift with each step!

Embrace a Hobby You Love

Hobbies provide an escape from daily stress and give you a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s painting, reading, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, dedicating time to a hobby helps you focus on something positive and fulfilling.

It also offers a wonderful way to continue learning and growing. Setting aside even a little time each week for your passion can help you feel more excited and happy about life.

Limit Social Media Usage

Spending too much time on social media can sometimes make you feel stressed or unhappy. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your life to others or feeling overwhelmed by negative news.

By limiting your social media use, you can reduce these negative feelings. For instance, set specific times for checking your accounts rather than constantly scrolling.

Use this extra time to engage in activities that make you happy, such as spending time with loved ones or enjoying a hobby. A balanced approach to social media can help you feel more present and content in your daily life.

Prioritize Sleep

Good sleep is non-negotiable when it comes to feeling happy and energized. It’s amazing what a full night’s sleep can do for your mood and outlook on life.

Here are a few pointers to help you make sleep a top priority:

  • Establish a soothing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Keep your bedroom environment conducive to sleep; think cool, dark, and quiet.

I’ve found that not only do I feel happier, but I’m also more productive and less irritable after a good night’s sleep. It truly does wonders!

Volunteer for a Cause You Care About

Helping others can be one of the most rewarding ways to make yourself happy. Volunteering for a cause you care about allows you to make a positive impact while also meeting new people and learning new skills.

Whether it’s helping at a local food bank, tutoring students, or participating in community clean-ups, giving your time and effort can create a sense of purpose and joy.

Volunteering not only benefits those you help but also boosts your own happiness and satisfaction.

"Doing volunteer work, helping other people out, and bringing joy to others can be the quickest way to uplift your own spirits. One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people."

Allen Klein | Author | Professional Speaker | World’s only Jollytologist® | Speaker | TED Presenter

Listen to Your Favorite Music

Music has a special ability to alter our mood, energize us, or even help us relax. Music stimulates emotional and even physical responses within our bodies, essentially tuning our mood almost instantaneously.

For a quick mood lift, I personally enjoy putting on “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins.

It’s hard not to feel a boost of energy and a smile spreading across your face with the upbeat rhythm and energetic vibe of this song.

Whether it’s this classic track or another personal favorite, make a habit of turning to music when you need a happiness boost. Let the melodies play and watch your mood change in rhythm!

Laugh Every Day

Laughter truly is the best medicine! It reduces stress, strengthens your immune system, and floods your body with those feel-good chemicals.

Try incorporating more laughter into your daily life with these ideas:

  • Watch a funny movie or a stand-up comedy special.
  • Spend time with friends who make you laugh.
  • Engage in fun activities that spark joy and giggles, like playing a light-hearted board game.

I mean, there’s nothing quite like a good laugh to lift your spirits. My personal favorite is catching reruns of classic comedies that never fail to make me chuckle!

Allocate Time for Meditation or Mindfulness

Setting aside time for meditation or mindfulness can have a profound impact on your well-being. These practices help you stay present and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

You can start with just a few minutes a day, focusing on your breath or using a guided meditation app. Over time, regular meditation can help you feel calmer and more centered.

Making this a daily habit can enhance your overall happiness and give you a clearer perspective on life’s challenges.

Keep a Journal

Personally, I like to think of my journal as a trusted friend, always ready to listen without judgment. It’s a safe space where I can clear my mind and often end up discovering solutions to my worries along the way.

Here are some ways to make the most out of journaling:

  • Write regularly, but don’t worry about making it a daily chore. Even a few times a week can be beneficial.
  • Use your journal to set goals, record what you’re grateful for, or simply to unload your thoughts.

This practice helps you understand yourself better and can be very therapeutic. By keeping a journal, you can track your progress and recognize the positive changes in your life, contributing to a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment.

"Write encouraging, happy thoughts. If you can create them yourself, terrific! If you can’t create them, it is just as effective to use the pleasing thoughts of other people. Put the list in your pocket and every time you reach in and feel it, take it out and read the thoughts. 

Reading them is the same as momentarily thinking them. If you want, schedule this appointment a few times each day on your smartphone: 'Read the list.' When your reminder chimes, you’ll know what to do."

— Sam Beasley | Certified Addiction Counselor, Your Life Is Your Prayer | President, Prevention Education Program, Inc. | Author, Your Life is Your Prayer

Create Small, Manageable Goals

Setting small, manageable goals can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Rather than overwhelming yourself with big tasks, break them down into smaller steps that are easier to tackle.

For instance, if you want to read more, start by setting a goal to read for 10 minutes each day. Achieving these small goals can boost your confidence and motivate you to keep going.

It helps you feel more in control and happier with your progress, making your larger goals feel more attainable.

Learn Something New

Engaging your mind by learning something new can be very fulfilling and bring joy into your life. It could be anything from picking up a new hobby, like cooking or knitting, to taking an online course in an area of interest.

Continuous learning keeps your mind sharp and makes you feel more competent. It also gives you a fun and productive way to spend your time.

Every new skill or piece of knowledge you gain can bring a sense of achievement and happiness.

Declutter Your Living Space

Having a clean and organized living space can greatly affect your happiness. Clutter can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed, so taking time to tidy up and organize your home can create a more peaceful environment.

Here are a few tips to tackle decluttering:

  • Start small, perhaps with a single drawer or shelf.
  • Make a habit of assessing what items you truly need and use. The rest can be donated or recycled, making room for positive energy to flow.

I’ve noticed that after a decluttering session, not only does my space look better, but I also feel lighter and more at peace. It’s as if removing the physical clutter helps declutter my mind as well.

Treat Yourself Regularly

Indulging in a little self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential for your happiness. Treating yourself to simple pleasures can provide a great boost to your mood and overall well-being.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Plan a ‘me-day’ filled with activities you love, like a spa day at home or a movie marathon with your favorite snacks.
  • Buy something small that brings you joy, whether it’s a book, a piece of artwork, or your favorite coffee.

These little acts of self-care remind you that you deserve to take time for your own well-being.

Be Kind to Others

Simple acts like holding the door open, complimenting someone, or helping a neighbor can create positive interactions and build stronger connections.

When you spread kindness, it often comes back to you, creating a cycle of positivity. Acts of kindness make you feel good about yourself and contribute to a happier community.

Whether big or small, your kind gestures can make someone else’s day better, and in turn, improve your own happiness.

Nurture a Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset can transform the way you approach challenges and setbacks. Instead of seeing failures as obstacles, view them as opportunities to learn and grow. This mindset encourages continuous improvement and resilience.

For example, if you face a difficult task, focus on the skills you can develop rather than the potential for failure.

By nurturing this perspective, you foster a more positive and proactive approach to life, which can enhance your happiness and personal development.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

It’s incredibly important to acknowledge when you might need a bit of extra support to manage your happiness and mental health.

Seeking help from a mental health professional is a proactive step towards understanding and improving your emotional well-being.

Here’s a straightforward way to think about it:

  • Consulting a professional doesn’t mean you’re failing; it means you’re taking charge of your happiness.
  • Professional guidance can provide new tools and perspectives that could be crucial in overcoming personal challenges.

Remember, it’s perfectly okay to seek help. I’ve seen firsthand how it can turn lives around by offering new hope and pathways to happiness.

Eat a Balanced Diet

What you eat can play a big role in how you feel. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can improve your mood and energy levels.

Eating well supports your physical health and can also make a positive impact on your mental health.

For example, regular meals and healthy snacks can stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing mood swings and fatigue. By paying attention to your diet, you can feel more energetic and happier throughout the day.

Take Breaks When Needed

Continuous work without breaks can lead to burnout and stress. Short breaks during your day, such as a quick walk or a few minutes of stretching, can refresh your mind and body.

These breaks can improve your focus and make you feel more energized. Recognizing when you need to step back can help you manage stress better and maintain a more positive outlook on life.

Visualize a Positive Future

Imagining a bright future can be a powerful motivator and a significant happiness booster. Visualization helps you set goals and maintain hope even during tough times.

To practice this effectively:

  • Spend a few minutes each day closing your eyes and picturing where you want to be in life—imagine how it feels, what you’re doing, and who’s with you.
  • Use visualization as a tool to inspire action towards your goals.

For me, this step isn’t just about dreaming—it’s about creating a clear roadmap for my aspirations. It acts as a strong reminder that the future holds endless possibilities.

Be Forgiving

Forgiveness, whether it’s towards others or yourself, can significantly lighten your emotional load. Holding onto grudges or guilt takes a lot of energy and can interfere with your happiness.

Here’s how you can start practicing more forgiveness:

  • Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, and most people don’t intend to cause harm.
  • Decide actively to let go of resentments, even if it feels difficult at first.

I’ve found that forgiving isn’t just about the other person—it’s about setting yourself free. It allows you to move forward without the weight of past hurts hindering you.

"Happy people have the ability to forgive themselves and others relatively quickly. In many ways, forgiveness equals personal freedom from the baggage of hurts and resentments. Even more importantly, the consistency of self-forgiveness brings increased happiness."

— Dr. Elia Gourgouris | President, The Happiness Center | Contributing Expert, Mindcurrent | Author, 7 Paths to Lasting Happiness

Love and Accept Yourself as You Are

Loving and accepting yourself as you are is fundamental to finding happiness. Self-acceptance means recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and being okay with them.

It’s important to treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer a friend. Celebrate your achievements and don’t be too hard on yourself for mistakes.

When you love and accept yourself, you build a strong foundation for happiness and well-being.

Know Your Purpose in Life

Knowing your purpose in life gives you a sense of direction and fulfillment. It helps you understand what truly matters to you and guides your decisions and actions.

Take time to reflect on your passions and values. Think about what activities make you feel most alive and engaged. Finding your purpose might be through your career, hobbies, or relationships.

When you live with purpose, you feel more motivated and happy because you’re working towards something meaningful.

Happy people know their purpose in life and as a result have passion, the fuel which supports their vision. They are lovers of learning throughout their lives."

— Dr. Elia Gourgouris | President, The Happiness Center | Contributing Expert, Mindcurrent | Author, 7 Paths to Lasting Happiness

Be with Positive People

The company you keep can dramatically affect your outlook and mood. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who lift you up and encourage you to be your best self.

Here’s why this is important:

  • Positive relationships can increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
  • They can influence your behavior positively and motivate you to achieve more.

Having friends who are optimistic makes a world of difference to me — their energy is contagious, and it helps me stay motivated even through tough times.

"If one believes that human beings are thoroughly social creatures, that one's very sense of self and what we experience as reality is formed in one's relationship with one's environment (and that by 'environment' I mean, initially other people), then being secure in that environment is a foundation for how we feel about ourselves, others and the world."

Mark B. Borg, Jr., Ph.D. | Clinical & Community Psychologist and Psychoanalyst

Show Appreciation

Showing appreciation can enhance your relationships and boost your happiness. Take time to express gratitude to those around you, whether it’s through a thank-you note, a compliment, or a kind gesture.

Let people know that you value them and their contributions. This practice not only makes others feel good but also fosters a positive environment.

When you focus on appreciation, you create stronger bonds and a sense of connection, which are key to feeling happy.

Celebrate the Journey

Taking time to celebrate your achievements and progress, no matter how small, can boost your happiness. Reflecting on what you have accomplished helps you appreciate the effort you’ve put in and recognize personal growth.

It can be as simple as treating yourself to a nice meal after finishing a project or sharing your success with friends.

Personally, I make it a point to give myself a pat on the back and acknowledge every win, even the smallest ones. This simple act of self-recognition helps to build my confidence and keeps me grounded in positivity.

Dance as Silly as You Can

Dancing is a fantastic way to shed stress and infuse a little light-hearted fun into your day. It’s not about perfect moves or keeping rhythm—it’s about letting go and just moving to the music in whatever way feels right at the moment.

This act alone can trigger the release of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that make us feel happier instantaneously.

I personally love cranking up 2000s pop and club songs to get my groove on. There’s something about the upbeat and catchy tunes from that era that makes it impossible not to move and feel a boost of joy.

So, push the furniture aside, turn up your favorite tunes, and dance as if no one is watching. It’s a joyful escape that can lift your spirits instantly!

Be Kind to Yourself

When you make mistakes or face challenges, it’s important to be gentle and forgiving with yourself.

Self-kindness involves speaking to yourself in a positive way, taking care of your physical and emotional needs, and allowing yourself to rest when needed.

By being kind to yourself, you build resilience and a healthy self-image, which contributes to your overall well-being and happiness.

Know and Embrace Your Personality Type

Understanding and embracing your personality type can greatly enhance your self-awareness and happiness. By knowing your strengths and tendencies, you can make choices that align better with your natural inclinations, leading to greater fulfillment.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Take personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Enneagram to gain insights about your traits.
  • Reflect on how your personality impacts your reactions and relationships.

I find that embracing my personality type helps me understand my own behaviors better and makes it easier to communicate my needs to others.

Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

Often, we are our own biggest critics, and this can be a significant barrier to happiness. Learning to silence your inner critic and to stop doubting your capabilities is essential.

Here’s a way to combat this:

  • Challenge negative thoughts with positive truths about yourself.
  • Celebrate your efforts, not just your outcomes.

I’ve noticed that every time I choose to be supportive of myself, rather than critical, my confidence and happiness see a real boost. It’s about changing the internal dialogue from a critic to a cheerleader.


More Insights From the Experts

Happy people choose to love and accept their imperfect selves by gifting that same patience, kindness, and understanding they likely already give to others.”

— Dr. Elia Gourgouris | President, The Happiness Center | Contributing Expert, Mindcurrent | Author, 7 Paths to Lasting Happiness


“Counteract any negativity you may be experiencing with happier thoughts. You can yourself to stay uplifted with inspiring quotations. When I’m happy I feel like crying, but when I’m sad I don’t feel like laughing. I think it’s better to be happy. Then you get two feelings for the price of one.”

Allen Klein | Author | Professional Speaker | World’s only Jollytologist® | Speaker | TED Presenter


“Making yourself happy requires that there is a ‘good fit’ between our environment and ourselves.

And, as adults, this environment includes the people who we are close to (friends, family, lovers, co-workers, partners), our educational and occupational endeavors, as well as the goals we set, how we strive to reach them, and what kind of resources, help, and support we find and utilize along the way.”

Mark B. Borg, Jr., Ph.D. | Clinical & Community Psychologist and Psychoanalyst


There is something in the counseling world called the Miracle Question, which stems from solution-focused therapy. If you were to wake up tomorrow and the world was perfect for you, what would be different?

How to make yourself happy… well if there were a one size fits all for that, this would be a way to easy, but how can you work towards that world where you wake up and everything is closer to perfect for you. Look at where you are, look at where you’re wanting to be and celebrate the journey

Kevon Owen, LPC | Clinical Psychotherapist


Here are three tips I suggest to make yourself happy:

  • Grieve the fairy-tale of what you think happiness should be.
  • Before a person can pursue an intentional life, they must first grieve their unintentional life.
  • Practice in the art of spin.

— Karissa Sovdi | Registered Clinical Counselor, Singled Out


“I try very hard to eliminate negative thoughts from my mind as soon as they arise. If you believe you are happy, you most likely will be. Try to avoid black and white negative thinking completely. If you practice this exercise, you will learn to automatically correct yourself when negative thoughts cross your mind.”

— Michael J. Brown, R.Ph., BCPS, BCPP | Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Sunshine Nutraceuticals


“C.S. Lewis said, ‘Don’t think less of yourself as a person, but think of yourself less, focusing more on the betterment of yourself for the sake of those around you, rather than for your own ego.

It seems that self-esteem is closely related to happiness. So it would seem that if we were more kind to ourselves, we’d feel higher self-worth and contentment.”

— Adina Mahalli | Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Relationship Expert, Maple Holistics


“I believe the only way to make yourself happy is by becoming your true self. Most of us live in a world that expects us to fulfill certain roles.

We are supposed to be a loving mother, a great lover, and a fierce businesswoman. We work so hard on satisfying all the tasks and expectations thrown at us that we oftentimes lose the sense for what it is that we want.

Becoming aware of this dissonance is the first step in becoming our true self. Once we are aware of what’s going on, we are able to change it. Finding out who we truly are or who we want to be is a journey.

A journey that can be fun, scary and that definitely takes some time, patience, and the willingness to dig deep into our soul. But if we’re willing to invest the time it takes, we are able to become truly happy.”

— Jennifer Fidder, M.A. | Mindset Coach & Personal Trainer, Jennifer Alice Training & Coaching LLC


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to manage expectations when pursuing happiness?

Managing expectations is important because unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and frustration.

By setting realistic and achievable goals, you create a more balanced and attainable approach to happiness.

Adjusting your expectations allows you to appreciate progress and small victories, leading to a more sustained sense of contentment.

Is it necessary to have large social networks to be happy?

Not necessarily. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to relationships.

Having a few close, supportive relationships can be more beneficial for your happiness than having a large number of superficial connections.

Can adopting a pet boost happiness?

Yes, adopting a pet can boost happiness through companionship, unconditional love, and increased opportunities for socialization and physical activity.

Pets can also provide comfort, relieve stress, and instill a sense of responsibility and routine in your life.


Final Thoughts

The journey to happiness is personal and different for everyone. I’ve covered many paths you might take to find your own kind of happy.

I use some of these ideas myself and they make a big difference. Just start slow, choose what feels right for you, and notice the changes.

Why not try one or two suggestions tomorrow? Each positive step can help you feel better and move you closer to a happier life. Remember, you have the ability to shape your own happiness. Let’s keep moving forward, together.

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Jahrine is a seeker of knowledge and personal growth. When not exploring the worlds of self-help books and spirituality, she enjoys reading dark fiction and spending time with her beloved dogs. With diverse interests, including career development, travel, and poetry, Jahrine is constantly expanding her horizons and seeking new experiences.