The complete guide to boosting happiness in your life, according to science.
People often ask me: “What can I do to boost my happiness?”
I tell them that there are tons of things you can do, but then I can only recall a handful of practices in the moment. So I decided to create this complete guide for how to be happy, according to science.
If you use these 23 practices consistently, you are very likely to increase your personal happiness:
1. Find out what to do first.
How are you supposed to build the right happiness skills if you don’t know which ones you are struggling with in the first place? This is why it’s helpful to take a quiz to explore your happiness strengths and weaknesses. Get a better understanding of what these skills are all about, and learn how to improve upon your weaknesses and build your “happiness strengths.”
2. Give yourself a confidence boost.
Why would you bother increasing your happiness if you didn’t think you could be successful at it?You wouldn’t.
That’s why it’s so important to build your self-efficacy — to prove to yourself that you can increase your happiness. The best way to do this is by starting with easier skills — skills like gratitude or prioritizing spending time doing fun things. Get a quick win, and you’ll be more confident that you really can change your life.
3. Fuel your progress by learning how to feel better about yourself.
You wouldn’t practice math to get better at cooking. And you wouldn’t learn another language to lose weight. To be happier, you’ll likely make more progress by focusing on the skills that are most closely linked to happiness.
In my research, the skill that usually turns out to be most closely linked to happiness is: positive self-views. Learning how to feel better about yourself — for example, by imagining your best possible self, noting your positive qualities, or identifying your strengths — can go a long way to increasing your happiness.
4. Create balance and overcome burnout.
How are you supposed to have the energy to be happier if you’re exhausted and miserable from work? It will be really hard. Building new skills, skills that will help you be happier, will take time and energy. So it’s helpful first to create better work-life balance.
5. Build a growth mindset for happiness.
A growth mindset refers to the belief that we can change ourselves. When we build a growth mindset for happiness, we believe we can change our happiness. This is super important, because if we don’t believe we can increase our happiness, we won’t even bother to try.
6. Make positive memories.
Every region in our brains can be strengthened through practice. If our brains are really good at remembering negative things that happen, it can be useful to strengthen the regions of the brain responsible for remembering positive things.
7. Find those silver linings.
Everything we experience can be a bummer if we choose to see it that way. But when you search for the benefits or silver linings in your life, you may be surprised to discover a lot of good. Keep practicing to increase the positive and decrease the negative to cultivate happiness. Also, this skill has been linked to a better ability to cope with stress and be more resilient.
8. Take breaks from social media.
By choosing to take breaks from Facebook — or changing the way we use social media — we can boost our happiness.
9. Spend smarter for more happiness.
How we choose to spend our money impacts what we can do and how we live in ways that impact how happy we are. When we choose a less fancy house or car — things that don’t bring us much happiness — we have more money to spend on adventures or on gifts for friends: things that actually do make us happier.
10. Communicate kindly.
When we are kind to others, we feel better about ourselves. We can do nice things for others, be empathetic, or we can just treat each other with respect, communicating kindly rather than assuming the worst.
11. End your negative patterns of thinking.
Let’s face it: Sometimes we are what’s making us miserable. We just can’t stop thinking about how so-and-so wronged us, or how our life didn’t turn out as we hoped. Negative thought processes — like worrying, ruminating, self-judgment, and fearing rejection — just keep us miserable and unable to move forward. When you find yourself thinking negatively, pause and refocus your thoughts. In time, your brain will be able to do this more easily on its own.