You probably have a pretty good idea of what gives you deep, lasting happiness and contentment. But sometimes what it takes to reach that deep happiness doesn’t make you feel…all that happy. What if you’d just like to give your mood a little boost—what can you do to feel happier right now? Here are seven simple things you can do to feel happier right now:
Make a List. List your dreams, your goals (but not your chores), your top-ten favorite movies, the books you’d take to a desert island, the five happiest moments you can remember, or the next three places you want to visit. (As I was preparing this piece, Gretchen Rubin put up this post, strictly about making lists!) Gretchen writes, “Making lists of this sort is a terrific exercise to stimulate the imagination, heighten powers of observation, and stoke appreciation of the everyday details of life.”
Go outside. A dose of natural light might be just the ticket to make you feel happier. If you can be near trees or water, that’s even better. Connecting with nature is a better pick-me-up than a cup of coffee, according to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. So step away from that computer screen and take a walk in the park.
Reframe “failures.” When you’re striving for an ambitious goal, you’ll probably face some setbacks, and yes, even some failures. One way to feel happier about this is to reframe your “failure,” according to happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener in The World Book of Happiness. “Sometimes your most treasured goals run up against serious obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are outside circumstances and sometimes they are related to how we have framed the goal in the first place. When this happens we tend to react with frustration and disappointment. But by learning to think flexibly about our goals and to adjust them in the face of failure, we can end up feeling happier.” Thomas Edison is probably the best known proponent of this theory—he is often quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Go for the flow. According to social psychologist David G. Myers, “Happy people often are in the zone called ‘flow’, absorbed in tasks that challenge but don’t overwhelm them” (The World Book of Happiness). Take up a hobby that offers the chance for flow—gardening, sketching, crafting, baking—whatever appeals to you. You’ll find more happiness when involved in one of these activities than if you spent the same amount of time watching TV, for example.
Complete a nagging task. You know, that errand you’ve been putting off, the phone call you need to make or the household chore that you hate but you have to do. If you’re like me, unfinished business nags at the back of your mind, draining some of the happiness out of your day. Gretchen Rubin writes about this here, and about how to get yourself to do those tasks you don’t want to do here.
Listen to upbeat music. Researchers at the
found that participants’ feelings of happiness increased when they listened to upbeat music and focused on lifting their moods. Other studies have found that music not only affects mood, but changes how you perceive the world. Create a playlist with your favorite songs for times when you need a mood boost. (And for extra happiness, sing along!) University of Missouri
Choose to be happy. Commit to enjoying the next 24 hours no matter what. It’s amazing what a simple commitment to being happy can do for you.
How do you lift your mood?