Life in Balance: 20 Daily Happiness Boosters

20 Daily Practices that Promote Happiness and Engagement with Life

Authored by Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS – Dr. Mom®

Professional Speaker on Topics such as Positive Parenting, Work Life Balance, Breastfeeding Promotion and Support, Personal Growth, and Family Spirituality

work life balance and personal growthRemember that it takes repetitions of 21-30 days to establish a new habit.

  1. Express Gratitude—Gratitude focuses on what is working in your life. It is the opposite of complaining. Get in touch with the feeling of gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal, writing more thank-you letters, and looking for the seed of something positive in every situation.
  2. Stop Complaining, Blaming, Gossiping— Complaining is the common habit of dwelling on what is wrong or missing, and it has the effect of diminishing both complainers and hearers. Critical thoughts release a cascade of stress chemicals that increase anxiety and irritability. Practice observing your thoughts and choosing not to voice negative messages. We create the life we want when we express our desires in the positive, instead of dwelling on what is wrong.
  3. Perform Acts of Kindness—Kindness is a natural response to gratitude. Positive feelings increase for the one who performs the kindness and the recipient of the good deed, as well as for observing bystanders. Both financial and non-financial acts of kindness increase happiness.
  4. Exercise Regularly—Physical activity enhances our sense of accomplishment and well-being, raises our self-esteem, improves our thinking, and increases our health. Even a 30-minute brisk walk daily (or three 10-minute walks) can raise your level of happiness.
  5. Get 8 Hours of Sleep Each Night—Chronic sleep deprivation adversely affects performance, mood, health and wellbeing. Raise your energy level and improve your attitude by going to bed earlier and taking guilt-free naps. “Sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care.” (Shakespeare, Macbeth).
  6. Experience Human Touch—Touch improves the immune system and aids in healing. Give at least two hugs daily; hold a baby; hug a child; hold hands; get a massage. If you can’t hug another person, hug yourself. Touch can reassure, relax and comfort. Human touch has a powerful effect on behavior and moods, reducing depression, anxiety, stress and physical pain.
  7. Smile More Often— People smile when they are happier, and they feel happier when they smile. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a spontaneous and a forced smile. When you smile, others smile back, making both of you happier.
  8. Set and Reach Goals—Goals raise our self-esteem and self-confidence, and keep us more engaged with life. Choose both long-term and short-term goals, pleasurable and meaningful goals, and goals involving growth, connection, and contribution.
  9. Practice Your Spiritual or Religious Beliefs—Survey data show that religious people are moderately happier than nonreligious people. If spirituality is important to you, make time for daily prayer, devotions, or meditation; weekly worship, small group meetings/Bible studies; or enjoying spiritual music.
  10. Nurture Your Relationships—These include your primary family relationships, as well as extended family, friends and colleagues, or even pet companions. The best relationships have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Being with others raises happiness, so make an effort to get out and socialize.
  11. Experience Moments of Flow—Regularly engage in those special activities that provide both peak experiences and performance. Flow occurs when we perform at our best and enjoy what we are doing.
  12. Schedule Some Simple Pleasures Each Day—Celebrate the small things that give you pleasure—enjoying a cup of coffee or tea; reading a good book; preparing a healthy meal; taking a leisurely bath; or savoring a piece of chocolate. Pause to focus on the warmth of the sun or the sweetness of an orange.
  13. Prime Your Environment—Our environment influences how we feel, think, act, and perform. Prime your environment with pictures of those you love, art that feeds your spirit, plants, reminders of your goals, inspirational quotes and affirmations. Reduce clutter and chaos in your environment.
  14. Donate and Volunteer on Behalf of a Meaningful Cause. Just as when we perform acts of kindness, whenever we focus on the needs of others, we reap benefits ourselves. Volunteering on behalf of others is associated with better health and greater life satisfaction. Get involved with a cause that is meaningful to you, and use your signature strengths to make a positive difference.
  15. Adopt a Humor Perspective—Laughter diffuses tension, relaxes your muscles, shrinks your problems, buoys your spirits, aids in healing and helps the immune system. Laugh at your own foibles, watch comedies, read the comics, and lighten up.
  16. Use Retail Therapy Wisely—Invest in enjoyable experiences over acquiring more material possessions. Happy experiences tend to be remembered even more positively over time, while the momentary joy associated with a new purchase quickly fades.
  17. Focus on What You Want in Life, Not on What You Don’t Want—Remember that your thoughts trigger your feelings. Positive thoughts are stronger than negative notions. State your desires in the positive, since positive feelings make it more likely that you will draw into your life what you want.
  18. Live in the Present Moment—Most of the stress we experience is based on something we interpret as bad that has already happened, or some disaster we anticipate in the future. Yet, the past is gone, and the future calamities we dread may never materialize. Happiness is found in savoring the present moment.
  19. Practice Mindfulness Meditation–Research suggests that mindfulness meditation may improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function. Calm your mind by focusing on your breathing, while observing intruding feelings and thoughts without judging them, for about 10 minutes twice a day.
  20. Simplify and De-Clutter Your Life—Too many possessions and commitments can create disharmony in our lives and increase our stress level. Taking things out of our life can bring us more happiness. Begin with small steps to downscale, slow your pace, and simplify your life.

Copyright © 2012 Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS