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10 Practical Ways to Live a Happier Life Today

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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  • 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.

    • Very good tip, thanks for adding it! :)

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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

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

  • Geraldine

    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

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

  • 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.

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

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

    Thank you!

  • 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.

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

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

  • 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.

  • TheHappyOne

    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.

    • 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.

  • 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!’

  • 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.

    • 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.

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