10 Ways To Make Yourself Happier In 30 Seconds Or Less

All it takes is a few tiny changes.

Last updated on Dec 14, 2023

happy woman feeling free Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

Of all of the definitions of happiness, my favorite is from psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar, who defines happiness as “the overall experience of pleasure and meaning.”

Neither “pleasure” nor “meaning” alone quite describe happiness. You need meaning to give you a sense of purpose in life, and you need pleasure to give you a sense of joy or well-being in the present moment.

If you want to be happier, there are techniques to do so. Once you do, you’ll discover that you’ll not only be more joyful in that moment, you'll also increase your ability to be happier in the future.


Here are 10 ways to make yourself happier in 30 seconds or less.

1. Take one deep breath.

Just one deep breath can turn down your “fight-or-flight” instinct and activate your “rest-and-restore” mode. Got 15 seconds more? Take another deep breath. You’ll feel even more content.

Taking a few deep breaths, even if it's for less than a minute, slows your heartrate, lowers blood pressure, and manages symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not only is deep breathing beneficial for happiness, but for your health as well.

Photo: Natali Smirnova / Pexels


RELATED: 10 Ways Smart Women Choose To Be Really, Truly, Simply Happy

2. Find something in your day that triggers a feeling of gratitude.

You had a good breakfast, you have a job, or you enjoyed reading the newspaper this morning. Whatever small but impactful thing happened, absorb that feeling of gratitude for a few moments.

Lingering on a positive experience helps embed it in your brain. And when you do this every single day, it becomes the norm.

3. Take time to appreciate something that didn’t happen during your day.

No one in your family got sick, you didn’t have car trouble, and you didn't fight with anyone. Think of possibly negative situations that didn't throw your day off course, and express gratitude and thanks.


Always remember to keep things in perspective. Because even if it feels like you're having a not-so-great day, there are things you can be thankful for.

4. Smile.

Many people think of happiness as something that comes from the inside out, or from your mind to your behavior. But happiness can also come from the outside in, or from your actions to your mind.

The deliberate decision to smile, for example, actually activates happiness-inducing chemicals. That means that not only can you make other people around you smile just by looking at them while beaming, but you change your inner mindset as well.

Photo: Mwabonje Ringa / Pexels


RELATED: Harvard Found The Secret To Happiness And It's Honestly So Simple

5. Slap a label on your negative feelings.

Angry. Helpless. Sad. Anxious. Just labeling your emotions can ease your suffering. Attaching a label shifts activity from the emotional part of your brain to the thinking part, making you hurt less and feel more in control.

6. Sit up straight.

Poor posture can actually cause negative emotional states. Studies show that people who slouch experience more bad moods, lower self-esteem, and poorer confidence than those with upright posture. Sitting up straight can cause positive emotional states — a sense of confidence, assertiveness, and a happier mood.

Good posture also helps your physical well-being and prevents many types of neck, shoulder, and back problems. So to lift your mood, pull your body upward. You’ll feel happier.




7. Notice the small pleasures in life and appreciate them.

Author and Psychology Today blogger Rick Hanson writes about the health and happiness benefits of “taking in the good” in his groundbreaking book, "Hardwiring Happiness." He recommends appreciating the little things, noting, "Most opportunities for a good experience arrive with little fanfare. You finished an email, the telephone works, you have a friend.”

For the best results, bring pleasant objects, thoughts, and people to the foreground of your awareness. Linger for five seconds or more on a good experience to allow it to sink into you. Your happiness level will steadily increase.

8. Appreciate yourself.

Think of one thing you’ve already accomplished or handled well today, or focus on a good quality you’ve demonstrated — a start to a project, a phone call, or even an honest talk with a colleague that ended well.


Drawing your attention to your strengths will lift your spirits. It instills confidence in you, and that confidence, in turn, begets happiness.

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

RELATED: 12 'Bucket List' Experiences That Will Finally Give Your Life Real Meaning

9. Find positive meaning in negative events.

If you experience a setback, can you find a rapid way to turn it into lemonade? Start by thinking about the setback as a challenge rather than a failure. That should take five seconds or less.


In the remaining 25 seconds, begin to think about how to move forward. How can you use this event and turn it into something positive?

10. Use a desktop photo to remind you of the purposes and pleasures of your life.

A photo of your family, your travels, or a favorite saying can be restorative and promote moments of happiness. Taking a “micro-break” and enjoying a photo of a natural scene can promote good health by lowering stress and blood pressure, as well as happiness.

To keep from getting used to a particular photo, periodically change it up.

Why practice happiness habits? The benefits may seem obvious; after all, feeling happy feels good!


But the value of happiness habits goes even deeper. In "Hardwiring Happiness," Hanson points out that negativity is hardwired into our brains. We are predisposed to pay more attention to bad things than good things.

This negativity bias has helped us survive by making us aware of possible threats, problems, and stressors in our environment. However, if we are ruled only by our negativity, we miss opportunities for pleasure, joy, good relationships, and humor.



Happiness activities help balance out the negativity bias so that we see and experience the positive aspects of life.


Experiencing and absorbing moments of happiness has long-term brain benefits. Happy experiences and thoughts can actually grow new neural circuits in your brain. These neural structures provide you with inner strengths such as resilience, gratitude, enthusiasm, and happiness.

So try these small steps. You’ll find not only that your Happiness Quotient rises with every micro-moment of happiness, but also that making yourself happy becomes easier as you practice.

RELATED: 4 Dangerous Things People Mistakenly Think Will Make Them Happy

Meg Selig is a counselor, writer, blogger, and author of "Silver Sparks: Thoughts on Growing Older, Wiser, and Happier" and "Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success." She's a frequent contributor to Psychology today, where she writes about health, happiness, mindful living, and confidence.