28 Truths About Happiness You Must Face To Improve Your Life

How to make the choice to be happy every day.

Last updated on Jun 11, 2024

Woman living a happy life, smiling Tais Bernabé | Canva

Do you often wonder how to be happy? It’s both amazing and sad the number of people who spend the majority of their days feeling depressed, anxious, and generally unhappy. And yet, the majority of them can feel differently; they just simply don't know how happiness can be a part of their everyday lives. I know this is the case because I used to be one of them. I used to struggle with unhappiness, anxiety, and depression on a nearly daily basis. However, I’ve discovered some tips for a happy life that work for me. I’m sure at least some of them will be familiar to you, but I’ll ask that instead of just thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I know that,” ask, “How can I do more of that?” Allow yourself to experiment. Who knows? You might find something that can help you experience more happiness, and maybe even joy.


Here are 28 truths about happiness you must have to improve your life:

1. Smile

As simple as smiling is, when you smile, a whole host of chemical reactions begins happening in your brain. Some of these reactions release neuropeptides which help you release stress. Then, other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins get into action. Serotonin is an anti-depressant, and endorphins act as a mild pain reliever. Isn’t it wonderful that something so simple can have such a quick and positive impact on how you feel? (And there’s evidence that smiling can boost your immune system and possibly prolong your life!)


28 Tips For Living A Happy Life Every Single Glorious Day Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

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2. Get a theme song

I love having a theme song. It helps me to refocus on what’s important to me because as the saying goes, “What you focus on expands.” I usually pick a theme song that helps me to achieve my current goals. Right now, it’s Accentuate the Positive, an oldie-but-goodie. Sometimes, I’ll even make up a little ditty to help me keep my thoughts going in the right direction.


3. Practice gratitude

This is probably one of those life tips you’ve heard before. Yet, it bears repeating. When you feel gratitude for what you have — your life, and your abilities — it’s so much easier to feel good. You’re present with what is, instead of lamenting what isn’t.

4. Spend time outside

Being out in nature is good for you in general, but it has been shown to increase happiness. Sunlight tends to elevate mood. And when you’re outside, likely, you’re also getting a little exercise, which can also lead to happiness.

5. Spend time alone

According to Forbes, even extroverts benefit from being alone. Studies show that the ability to tolerate solitude is linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, improved stress management, and less depression.

6. Spend time in the company of those you love (and who love you)

It turns out that being with family and friends can help you find healthier ways to cope with stress, may lengthen your life, and improve your psychological well-being.


7. Eat well

Years ago when I was struggling with divorce, I developed anorexia. For a while, I was trapped in a vicious cycle of feeling stressed and not eating, which made me feel more stressed and depressed. Many of my friends and family have a different story when it comes to stress. They tend to eat. Unfortunately, what they eat isn’t necessarily healthy for them, so they wind up feeling more stressed and depressed, too. When you eat well, you feel good. The old saying, “You are what you eat,” is true.

8. Get into motion

Sitting for too long may make you antsy, which leads to stress, anxiety, and depression. And science even says moving makes you feel good! Some activities that might be fun for you to experiment with are learning dance moves, skipping, running, lifting weights, riding a bike, skiing, walking your dog, playing with your cat, gardening, building a snowman, and swimming.

9. Do what you love

When you take on tasks, projects, hobbies, and work that you love, it’s easy to lose yourself in what you’re doing. Some people call this getting into a flow state. And there’s plenty of research to show the benefits of being in the flow which, unsurprisingly, include lowering stress and improving mood.

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10. Look at problems as projects

Pause for a minute and imagine that you’re facing a problem. When you focus on the problem, it’s easy to start seeing all the ways it's a problem. Before you know it, the problem seems to expand in scope and seem insurmountable. Now, imagine the same issue you categorized as a problem before as a "project." A project is something you intuitively know can be achieved because you can break it down into do-able steps.

11. Build resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back, move through "projects," and regain your equilibrium quickly. It’s a vital skill to develop when you want to live a happy life.

12. Make a difference daily

The happiest people all seem to instinctively make a difference — not always in big ways, but in meaningful ways to someone or something they value. And the difference they make doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else.

13. Love yourself

Of all the tips for living a happy life, this is probably the most basic. Self-love means that you accept and appreciate who you are and care for yourself in ways that support your mind, body, and spirit.


14. Respect yourself

Closely related to self-love is self-respect. Self-respect is knowing that you are worthy of being treated well by yourself and others, and not allowing yourself to be treated disrespectfully. It also means that you value your thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

15. Continue learning

Learning is about interacting with the world and being fascinated by it. That’s not something you have to go to school for. It can be as simple as regularly learning more about your loved ones’ lives or exploring nature in your backyard. It can also be as rigorous as earning a degree. At the root of all learning that leads to happiness is curiosity. When you allow yourself to become curious about something, you naturally live in the moment — this is a sure way to find happiness.

16. Breathe deeply

Shallow, rapid breathing causes a stress response. Your muscles tense, and your brain has a difficult time focusing on anything other than looking for the threat. And that’s not a recipe for happiness. When you can focus on breathing deeply, your body relaxes. It’s from this relaxed state you can appreciate the joy and wonder of breathing.

17. Sleep soundly

You require sleep to function at your best. Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep daily. When you don't get the sleep you need, there are a whole host of nasty side effects on your health. None of these side effects contribute to a happy life. Yet, when you get the sleep you need, you function at your best, so you can enjoy doing things that bring you happiness.

@thepsychdoctormd TRY THIS 👇🏽 I know this looks like im acting, but im NOT. It is honestly incredible that this works as quickly as it does. And maybe i dont get fully into a deep sleep but tricking my brain into shutting up enough that my body gets heavy and slow usually takes me a long time. I feel like finding this “hack” gives me a little reboot option. Im still in disbelief. I feel like I’ve unlocked a superpower and it couldnt have been discovered at a better time. Save this, share this, use this when you need.If you tried it with me, did you feel anything??#drsasha #adhd #insomnia ♬ Find Your Inner Self-Meditation - Red Blue Studio

18. Strike a (power) pose

In 2010, researchers discovered that posing in high-powered ways for as little as one minute promotes a sense of powerfulness, increased tolerance for risk, and a decrease in stress. In other words, you feel good about yourself! A simple way to power pose is to stand like your favorite superhero with your feet a little more than hip’s width apart, your hands on your hips, your chest proudly out and your chin held high.

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19. Laugh

Yup, laughter is the best medicine — at least, when it comes to finding happiness. The long-term benefits of laughter include making you feel happier.


20. Give compliments daily

This tip for happiness is all about spreading joy. When you sincerely compliment someone or even yourself, you let them know you appreciate them for who they are. When you see the sincere pleasure of a smile spread across the face of the person you just complimented, you’re sure to feel happy, too.

21. Take regular action toward your dreams

Dreams are wonderful things. They inspire and motivate you to become more. And when you prioritize your aspirations and take regular action toward them, you tap into the hope and joy inherent in realizing your dreams.

22. Forgive yourself and others

It’s hard to experience genuine happiness if you’re constantly berating yourself for a past transgression or still tied to a past transgression of someone else. Forgiveness isn’t about condoning the transgression; it’s about not letting it control you. Let the past be in the past. See the present for what it is, and allow the future to be full of promise.

23. Unplug regularly

Our lives seem to revolve around technology and screens. The nearly constant use of screens keeps your mind and body “on.” Being on all the time is exhausting. Taking a break — even a brief one — allows you to experience the present moment, to check in with yourself, to stretch, to rest your eyes, and to remember how good it feels to recharge.


24. Look for silver linings

When you develop the ability to find the silver lining in a situation, no matter what the situation, you’ll have a superpower that will allow you to be happier and share your glass-half-full perspective with others.

25. Communicate kindly

William John Bennett said it best: “A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.” Fortunately, it’s not just a nice quote. It’s also true. Acts of kindness can reduce anxiety, depression, and associated symptoms of stress. It’s also shown that it increases happiness in yourself and those who witness and experience your kindness.

26. Dress appropriately

When you know you look good, you feel good, and you’re more confident. Which is code for you to feel happy!


27. Limit negative influences

It’s very difficult to feel happy when you’re surrounded by negativity. It’s like the negativity oozes into every facet of your life when you spend too much time focusing on it. One of the ways you may consider starting to limit the negative influences in your life is by turning off the nightly news.

28. Practice serenity

A serenity practice means getting clear about what is and isn’t in your control. With this clarity, you can let go of what’s not in your control and take responsibility for changing the things you must. And when you feel more in control of your life, you naturally feel happier. Do these regularly, and they'll inspire you to look for happiness every day.

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Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.