10 Practical Ways to Live a Happier Life Today

by Henrik Edberg

A happier life today
Image by notsogoodphotography (license).

.“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Abraham Lincoln

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Living a happier life often seems to be about living your big dreams and putting in a lot of work over a long time.

I agree that it is one part. But another part of happiness is here in small ways today.

So in this article I’ll share ten small tweaks I like making to find more happiness in my daily life. I hope you’ll find something here that you can use today to make your life better too.

  1. Be kind in small ways. Let someone in into your lane while driving your car. Hold up the door or hold the elevator for a stranger. Not just because that you tend to get back what you give in some form. But for yourself too, these little things add up and make you feel better about yourself.
  2. Be appreciative of other people. Replace the habit of spotting the things that annoy you about people with one where you make small or big positive observations about them. It could be their great sense of style when it comes to shoes, how they always make you laugh when you need it or simply that they are always on time. Be sure to tell them that.
  3. Cut back on the time you spend with most negative person in your life. And spend more time with the most positive person(s).
  4. Cut out or cut down on the most negative media influence in your life. It could be the news on TV, the newspaper, some magazine or type of music, type of books or blogs or websites. Replace that time and find new energy and inspiration from one or more positive sources like inspiring movies and books. Or uplifting music and people.
  5. Be 5 or 10 minutes early. This will make travel time a time of relaxation and renewal rather than a time of stress and negativity added to your day. Plus, you’ll be on time.
  6. Do what is not “you”. Try a new dish for lunch. Read a book or watch a movie that is not in your usual genre. Learn a little about a topic that is not something you are usually into. This is a great and fun way to find new perspectives in life, to grow and to expand your comfort zone just a little on a daily or weekly basis. Cultivating this habit also makes it easier to get out of your comfort zone when larger and “scarier” opportunities present themselves.
  7. Let go of one thing from your past. Clinging on to an old conflict, argument or that you were wronged by someone can consume a lot of time, energy and space in your life. It can also be oddly comforting since you are so used to it. But life happens right now, day by day. And as Jan Glidewell once said:
    “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”
    So to stop hurting yourself you have to accept that what is in your mind is in the past now. By accepting that it is in the past but also in there inside of you as a memory you can start to decrease the hold this memory has over you. By accepting that is there and that you need to let go to live your life fully now that memory will lose much of its power. And you can let go.
  8. Take the smarter and higher road. Don’t be someone the people can walk all over, set boundaries and say no when needed. But recognize that unnecessary conflicts just waste your time and energy. And that some people are so addicted to the drama and conflicts that you will never win or reach an understanding between the two of you. There are more fun and good things to spend time on in your life. So try to reach an understanding. But if it doesn’t work then remove yourself from getting drawn into their conflicts and make the day better for both you and possibly them.
  9. Be kind to yourself. The next time you make a mistake or fail don’t treat yourself like a jerk of a boss would. Instead, be kind, see what you can learn from what happened, gently nudge yourself in the right direction again and keep going.
  10. Appreciate yourself. It’s OK and something that a lot of people don’t do enough. Spend 5 minutes tonight with thinking about or writing down in journal the things you can appreciate about yourself and how far you have come. Do this enough times – try 30 days – to change  how you view yourself on a more permanent level.

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{ 44 comments }

Agatha Tefora May 31, 2011 at 9:33 pm

You might also want to volunteer in a community project or something that will help others. In doing this, you will also feel a different happiness.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Very good tip, thanks for adding it! :)

Karen June 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi Henrik,

You’ve made some great points in this post. A little of any of these suggestions will transform every day. I agree with Agatha. I have found that contribution is hugely beneficial to my happiness. Giving and reaching out is very healthy, and just makes you feel sunnier on the inside.

David June 1, 2011 at 12:38 am

And what would be number 11? How about taking action today: taking a small step forward on a project or goal you are working towards. Rather than worry about other tasks which tend to get in the way, step back + ask yourself what action is most important today.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Excellent suggestion, that can definitely make life better today.

Justin | Mazzastick June 1, 2011 at 5:20 am

Hi Henrik,
# 6. really resonates with me. So many of us get “caught-up” in our daily lives that we don’t even think of trying something outside of the box.

Self-appreciation is another area that many of us don’t even consider doing. Look into a mirror and say,”I am awesome” or whatever. It’s up to us to keep ourselves positive.

Ken Wert June 1, 2011 at 8:48 am

Excellent post! I especially appreciate your thoughts on letting go of one thing from the past. It’s critical and simple — just one!

It is so fundamentally important to personal happiness to forgive those who have wronged us. Our resentment won’t likely affect them at all. But we can suffer tremendously for it.

It is the slap that keeps on giving. If we were legitimately, even if only figuratively, slapped by someone in the past, the anger and knotted up insides over the grudge we hold will continue to slap us over and over in the form of twisted insides, ulcers, dark, hateful feelings and the like.

Good stuff!

Keep up the great work you do here at the Positivity Blog!

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Love how you explain the slap that keeps on giving, very good and memorable expression. Thank you for sharing that, Ken!

Kate June 1, 2011 at 9:19 am

It was a very inspirational post . We all need to learn how to be happy because it is truly a state of mind. Some people are happy without having any solid reason , they have simply allowed themselves to be happy ! I am trying to do the same however I know its not as easy as it sounds.
Are You Able to Control Your Emotions? -The test finds out how well you control your emotions
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/selfreg/selfreg_instructions.asp

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Thanks! I agree, giving yourself the permission to be happy isn’t an easy thing at all.

Geraldine June 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Excellent list and I agree with Justin above, number 6 stood out for me, I am guilty of too much routine too. Thanks for this and for your wonderful blog.

http://www.myreallifereviews.com
http://www.takeahappybreak.com

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Thank you kindly. Hope the post will help you to do a bit more of the things that aren’t “you” :)

Sarah June 2, 2011 at 12:58 am

I love Helen Keller quotes. She was so brilliant….and let her remind us: hardships in life make you stronger, not having one thing makes what you have so much more valuable, and no challenge can defeat you unless you let it!

#7 I like a lot :) That’s going to my my main focus today.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I love them too, she had some really good ones. Good luck with letting go! :)

Taz @ Climb the Rainbow June 2, 2011 at 5:44 am

Note to self – implement #5 immediately, if not sooner.

Thank you!

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

You’re welcome, glad to be of help!

Paul Rock June 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I liked All the Quotes, specially Helen Keller.
Also if whatever we have even if its very less we should try to be happy in that.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Yep, accepting what is right now can certainly help to bring more happiness into our lives too.

Mike @ F.i.T. June 2, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Good stuff – all of these things are important to living happier and living a better, more meaningful life!

Lauren @ MRS June 3, 2011 at 3:28 am

Great tips! I like to incorporate doing more kind things in my everday activities. I’m cynical and high strung by nature, and I honestly would like to break through from that.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thanks, best of luck with breaking through!

TheHappyOne June 3, 2011 at 9:03 am

Hi Everyone,

#7 and #8 are my fav as I have been following these for a few years now. I was never those kinds to assert myself and so initially it was quite difficut and agonizing to follow these rules but destiny put me through such circumstances that I started following this path and gradually when the lightened emotional baggage energised me and I joined a new course other than my routine life, I was completely assured that I WAS RIGHT. (Though it was possible with God’s Grace and Blessings….)
But Henrik your last one is the BIG ONE. We tend to appreciate others easily except OURself. There is an unease in the whole exercise as we tend to fear the element of overconfidence if we do so, a la superiority complex…any answers for this.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I think it is reasonably easy to stay balanced most of the time by remembering that even though I may be awesome in various ways I also have a lot to learn and many areas where I can grow in ways I probably can’t even imagine right now.

John Sherry June 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

Super simple, super doable, and super powerful Henrik. I zeroed in instantly on #4 and the sensationlaistly negative media which has become a hailstorm of 24 hr channels pumping out tripe and fear. The only news worth watching is how many people out there are in love, following a dream,working hard to provide, sharing and caring, and loving life. WE are the best news there could ever be and the headline is: ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Life Rocks!’

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Thank you, John!

Jaky Astik June 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

The simplest way to happiness is do something good for someone. When you do that..you feel good, you feel like appreciating yourself and before you know, you are happy.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Very good thought, thank you Jaky! :)

Steven June 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I like Point 4 a lot – I try to be really mindful of how culture and the media affects my personal development. And sometimes the really positive stuff can be just as detrimental as the really negative stuff, because those really sappy, romantic soap operas can sometimes give us unrealistic expectations about how we are supposed to live our lives.

It’s really important to at least PAY ATTENTION to how movies, TV, and music change the way we view the world.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Very good point, Steven. Being conscious about how entertainment can warp your sense of how the world works and what to expect helps me too to stay grounded, be happier and to get the better results in real life.

Aisha Quinece June 5, 2011 at 6:12 am

I love #1. Being kind in small and big ways is so important. Thanks for sharing.

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm

You’re very welcome. :)

Diane Shepard June 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

This article is great, thank you for sharing it. Much appreciated! :D Living a happier life should be everyones goal, if everyone was happy with life and themselves the world would be a different place!

Diane

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Thank you for the kinds words. I appreciate the support.

Jesse June 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I have really enjoyed this post and blog. I just found it today and it is just what I needed. I have trouble letting go of the past and I believe it is starting to affect me and my life more than I realize. I have been dating a girl for over a year and I really love her but6 I have trouble letting go of my past and also I think constantly about her past and who she has been with, I have told her about this but I still have these negative thoughts each an everyday. How can I learn to stop this potentially devestating behavior??? Thanks

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

It can take time to let go, perhaps the tips in this article can help you:

http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2009/04/01/let-go/

Jayne Kopp June 8, 2011 at 7:32 am

Hi Henrik – all of your suggestions are great however letting go of the past is big for me, and avoiding negativity. I live with a challenge from the past, that keeps on coming back, and niggling me. That is one of the reasons I started my blog to be honest as it’s helped me learn from it and share it. There are so many people who battle this way. Once you learn to let go, and remind yourself, life becomes so much easier.

thanks so much.

Jayne

Darius June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

No. 6 reminds me on one of the Seinfeld episodes when George did everything exactly opposite of what he would usually do and it worked great. Well, same results are over here.
I gave it a try as something to move out from comfort zone (one of previous post) and it really opened some new opportunities for me. But i still need some practice on procrastination (nobody is perfect)

Jussi June 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thanks Henrik! Today I start with number 1 – let’s see what happens!

Astrojunkie June 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm

#9 is crucial
The most important relationship you can have is the one with SELF…not to mention the wisdom you gain by learning from your “mistakes”

This is coming from a once enlightened buddhist. I strayed from my path but am now making conscientious choices to continue my mission…starting with this awesome blog
Hello light bringers :)

Praj June 14, 2011 at 5:12 am

hey Henrik,
Great post! Really small things in life sure add up to many big joys of life…but we as human beings count so less on them and keep on looking forward to big number games…
thnx for sharing such wonderful thoughts…keep writing…we all need a bit of positive dose each day :))

Lisa @ Just here. Just now. June 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Lovely list, thanks! I just discovered your site, looks like there are some great things here. How is it that I nod along with all these tips, like of course I know them to be true, but I never get tired of being reminded?? Peace,
Lisa

SallyBeam|SelfHelpFriend June 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Hello Henrik,

Thanks for sharing ways to live happier life.
1 of my tip is happy everytime in restroom ^^..

SallyBeam | SelfHelpFriend

Basant Chana June 29, 2011 at 5:36 am

You forgot one VERY important thing. Smile whenever you get the chance! A simple smile actually makes the BIGGEST DIFFERENCE!!

Try it RIGHT now, and you will notice that you will instantaneously feel a bit happier!! A simple smile is all it takes to gain some happiness (:

Social Natural June 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm

It’s funny how the smallest these things are can really make you a happier person. Thanks for sharing Henrik!

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