A life filled with joy is the one thing everyone wishes for. There are countless ways to reach for what you want, but when it comes to happiness, little things make all the difference. You have no idea how the simple joys of life can skyrocket your mood levels. But since you are here, you will find these 13 ways easy to practice, easy to apply in your own life and actionable in order to enjoy your life more.
By using these methods, short moments of bliss will compound over time in huge amounts of happiness. The smallest changes recommended in this article, practiced as a way of life, will make you stand out from the overworked, overbooked, and somehow bored crowd that seems to fill every street and every room nowadays. Focus on what matters and everything else will just fall into place.
Make sure you take the time to read all 13 tips and tricks to seize the moments. Even if you only take what resonates with you – based on your personality and bigger life purposes – you can still highly improve your life starting today.
1. Say Yes and Say No
Both are equally important.
First, saying ”yes” more often can expose you to tremendous new experiences. You can think big – like finally taking that trip, or more local – like going to an improv show. Both are equally effective in transporting yourself to new states of mind.
The other side of the always saying ”yes” coin tells a different story. You know what I’m talking about. The one that Jim Carrey got himself into in the movie ”Yes Man”. While at first saying ”yes” transformed his life in this wonderful adventure, by the end of the film, he couldn’t take it anymore. It was too much.
This is when ”no” comes to stage. In order to be able to say ”yes” to the things you want, you must also be comfortable saying ”no” to anything and everything else. Here I include: that informal get together, that wedding, that deadline no one asked if you can make it, that shopping list and so on. You know better than I do what I am talking about and I bet you can already think of a few examples.
Need help in saying no? Leo Babauta has this advice: The Gentle Art of Saying No
2. Take Care of Yourself
There is a reason why we are instructed to put our oxygen masks first in case of an emergency. If we don’t, we can’t function. If we’re not able to function, we cannot help others. During a normal week, helping others can translate to doing your job or going on with your day.
This tip goes even further. Think about it. When you take care of yourself, you feel good. You feel good about yourself and about the day ahead. You feel like you can take on any challenge that might come your way.
Try to look like you care about yourself.
The quote above is from a 90s TV show. Just start there. Clean yourself up, put fresh clothing on, comb your hair and that’s it. You are ready to face the world.
Do this every day and you’ll be ready for anything at anytime.
Try to recall a day when you didn’t shower, didn’t change clothes and your big plan was to stay in, watch TV and indulge in some junk food. The only problem was that you needed something from the store, so you left the house looking like a mess, secretly hoping you won’t bump into anyone you know. But you did.
What happened then? You tried to hide behind the shelves. When that failed, you felt uncomfortable even making eye contact and you tried to shorten the conversation as much as possible, so you could return back to the cave as fast as possible.
Now imagine the exact same interaction with you looking nice and smelling like someone who cares about themselves. Much better, right?
3. Make a Bucket List
You’ve seen the movie (the Bucket List, if it wasn’t clear!) You know what happens. Two elderly, facing death, decide to cooperate on one last special adventure.
Now tell me: Why is it that only when we’re in front of something terrible do we realize how finite our life is?
Why, when making plans, are we always thinking ”some day”?
Why is the future always better for our most desires and the present is only good for our day-to-day tasks and responsibilities? You know: mopping the floor, grocery shopping, doing laundry.
If you never wrote a Bucket List, don’t freak out. It doesn’t have to be filled only with life changing dangerous experiences or expensive stuff. Start small instead.
Make a Summer Bucket List: wine in the park, that free outdoor concert. Write a Winter Bucket List: go on a sleigh ride, build a snowman.
The idea behind this tip is to write it down. Read it every day and seize the opportunity when an item can be checked off the list. At the end, you’ll find yourself smiling every time you do it. And that’s how you turn your mundane day-to-day life to something that’s exciting and outgoing.
4. Find a Form of Exercising That You Enjoy
One of the best ways to seize the moment and to enjoy your life more? Exercise!
Now, I’m sure you’ve already read this tip before, probably a gazillion times. But you have to know that it’s simply true. I’ve met so many people who have turned their life around by finding a form of exercising they enjoy. I’m a pretty good example myself as well!
Finding a form of exercising that I like (running) has transformed my life. It has helped me cope with stress, anxiety and boredom more often than I can remember. It is both an outlet and a source of fulfillment for me, and I can’t imagine my life without it.
And I’m not even that good of a runner! I’d call myself a passionate hobbyist. I don’t really care about racing and being the fastest, because I’m obviously not able to compete on that level. I mean, I have a friend who runs 15K in under an hour and I still find it hard to believe that such speeds are possible. I run purely because it allows me to do one of the following:
- Feel good about myself
- Challenge my body
- To blow off steam when stressed
- To burn calories (I would probably be obese if I didn’t run, considering the amount of food I consume)
So whenever I have a busy day at work, I go for a run afterwards and feel great.
Feeling bored? I go for a run and feel energized again! Feeling energized and want to feel good about myself? I go for a run!
Simply put, running always has a positive effect on my happiness. That’s why exercising is ALWAYS featured in guides on how to be happy!
5. Go off Your Usual Path
There is nothing more simple than this.
Think about changing your route to work and back home from time to time. Think about trying that food on the menu you don’t even know what it is. Think about getting that new soda flavor. Think about listening to people you usually dodge.
Everyone has a story to tell and most have mind-blowing ones to share. You can learn something new from every person you meet and every single new experience you try. Be prepared that sometimes the lessons come in the form of a ”no-no” example.
6. Spend Time Outside
You heard this one before. I know.
But let’s try another exercise. Think about your life from the last months. I will share with you mine, so I won’t make any assumptions. I mostly work from home. Sometimes I have meetings with others, usually at their office. My parents live in an apartment, so are my friends. I shop at the mall, because I find everything I need in one place. During the summer, the days are so hot where I live that I can not stand the heat, so I avoid it. During the winter, the city is mostly grey than white, and unbelievably cold.
What do you think these items have in common? The fact that my normal days are spent mostly inside. Even if I go to the theatre or to concerts, most are organized under a roof.
All of us who live in the city are lacking sun exposure, some fresh air and the peace that comes with it. Just make sure your days include some down time in the sun.
If you say it can’t be done because of your busy schedule, try walking more from one building to the other. Or just going outside while taking those short breaks from work.
Little moments like these count and they add up in the long run. Don’t overlook them and don’t underestimate their power.
7. Whatever You Do, Don’t Plan Every Minute
Yes, I understand. We all have so much to do. We’re always feeling like we’re running a marathon, sometimes like we’re in the army. But we are not. And we don’t have to be.
Let life happen a little bit.
If you are reading this, chances are that you have at least some control over your schedule. Don’t book every minute with activities. Leave time for leisure, for spontaneity. Your brain will thank you for this. Your energy levels too. And even your moods.
This way, you also make room for the unexpected. For being able to say ”yes” to that impromptu invitation to see a street performance, to enjoy a picnic or simply a walk in the park or a coffee date.
8. Ditch the Digital
Hear me out. I’m not saying to go completely off-grid. I do benefit from the advantages technology has to offer too. But I keep it under control.
The studies are clear on this. The World Happiness Report that comes out every year backs it up. People spend more time online than interacting in person with each other, which has unprecedented negative side effects on our happiness levels
The logic is simple. If you want to keep your happiness level up or to give it a boost, all you have to do is go old-school. Pay someone a visit. Read a magazine. Instead of watching a movie at home, look for an art exhibition. Possibilities are endless once you focus on the little things.
9. Ditch the Map, the Clock and the Reviews
Just go. Aziz Ansari did a stand-up where he pointed out to the fact that recently we all feel complied to make the best possible decision every time. Even if it’s all about buying a toothbrush.
I know this applies to you too. When leaving for a vacation, I bet you already had an itinerary planned for every day of your stay. Right? If not, my apologies. But if that’s you all the time, I will make a bold recommendation.
Ditch the map of the city. Don’t read the reviews for the restaurant, just sit down at a table and order. Don’t look at your watch, do what you feel like, be it 2 in the morning or afternoon.
10. Learn Something New Continuously
Don’t get comfortable in your ways. ”You don’t know where the rabbit is jumping from” is a saying in my country, referring to the fact that we don’t know where or when the next opportunity will show itself.
If you always wanted to cook better, but don’t have the time, the energy, or the skill to organize yourself to do so, look for a cooking class. You don’t know where the rabbit is jumping from and maybe you’ll meet someone who will change your life.
Don’t wait for others to do things. I know we all wish to do things with our friends, but sometimes they don’t share the same interests. Don’t let that stop you. And remember, there’s no better time like the present, no perfect time in the future.
You’ll thank yourself and you’ll have some good stories to tell next time you chat with someone new in one of your adventures.
11. Reward Yourself
This is for you and for you only.
Reward yourself for every little thing you do the way you want. You had a good work day when everything you planned was done? Buy yourself an ice cream.
Rewards have double powers. First, the more obvious one – you give yourself a moment, be it in the form of an ice cream, a new pair of shoes you had your eyes on, or movie tickets.
The second power of a reward is that it acts as a motivation.
Everything on this list is connected. You try something new, you meet someone new. You don’t wait, you make it happen. You challenge yourself, you reward yourself.
The correlation between volunteering and happiness is undisputable. The World Happiness Report says that even just giving time to others increases one’s whole well-being. Prosocial behaviour, like volunteering, is a double edged sword.
First, it makes you feel better which will make you act in the same positive way in the future; and second, it spreads happiness to someone else.
You can volunteer to do thousands of activities, but remember, we’re talking about the smallest possible actions you can take to boost your joy. Think about holding the door, giving flowers, paying compliments, smiling, returning a lost item. These small things all do wonders when trying to spread other people’s happiness, and paradoxically, this also increases our own happiness.
Now, this sounds a bit counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Yes and no. The same principle from using the oxygen mask first applies.
There are countless studies that state the same thing. Without getting enough sleep, we are more prone to errors, we fail to retrieve memories or to finish a basic task, even thoughts. The amount one needs differs from one person to another.
I need an average of 8+ hours. I stopped trying to change and feeling guilty about it, I just work my life around the fact that I sleep more than most. Otherwise, I don’t function at full capacity and it keeps me from enjoying the hours when I’m awake.
Why do that?
The Bottom Line
Being happy is a state of mind that can easily be influenced by the smallest actions we take every day. Make a commitment to yourself, cover the basics, set some principles – easy to follow, and breathe. What you need to remember is that you have to make your life work for you. As long as you know what you value, you’ll know what to do to seize the day and enjoy life more.
More About Happiness
Featured photo credit: Donald Giannatti via unsplash.com