What does it mean to be happy, really? It’s an age-old question—and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Happiness is deeply personal, and everyone’s journey is different— it’s really all about figuring out what you need to find your bliss. And, to be clear upfront, getting that dream job, finding love, or winning the lottery isn’t the answer to happiness. While those things might bring temporary happiness, evidence suggests that finding joy is deeper than just getting what you want in a given moment. Happiness comes from within, not from what happens to us.
“There are many factors that contribute to happiness,” explains Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness. “Happiness really is more internal than external, so it’s how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world around you. It’s how you think, how you behave on a daily basis that influences happiness the most.”
To Find True Happiness Within Yourself, You Need to Make the Effort
Ready to reach for joy? Get started today, and take your happiness to new levels in just two weeks! We’ve split this article into two parts to keep it short and sweet, here’s part 1 Are you ready to give it a try?
Day 8: Let Healthy Food Inspire Happiness
Did you know that it’s possible to eat your way to happiness? Healthy foods that nourish your brain and body can have a true impact on mood and there are specific foods you can look to for boosting happiness and well-being. So what exactly is healthy eating anyway? Healthy eating can be understood as having a diet “balanced in all food groups, focusing on nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy,” explains Jessica Levinson, culinary nutrition and communications dietitian based in Westchester, New York. “A healthy diet also leaves room for some foods that may not be as nutrient-rich, but are enjoyed on occasion.”
Levinson explains that eating healthy foods helps keep blood sugar levels stable, which helps maintain energy and focus throughout the day. “Certain foods also have an effect on neurotransmitters in the brain, which affect mood,” Levinson notes. For example, a study in the journal Nutrients discusses the effect oranges, bananas, and tomatoes have on dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in the coordination of body movements, motivation, and reward.
Day 9: Add a few Minutes of Movement
You may have heard of the term “runner’s high,” and you probably know that exercise is extremely good for you. But did you know that exercise really can make you happier? Studies show a positive relationship between physical activity and happiness, noting that as little as ten minutes of exercise per week can result in greater happiness. If running or hitting the gym isn’t quite your thing, don’t worry, any type of exercise will do. Try moving more in any way that speaks to you: stretching, walking, a simple yoga session, or even a dance party around your bedroom. These are all simple and fun activities that will be beneficial for your health and happiness, too.
“With yoga, you can calm your mind and find joy by moving your body and controlling your breath,” says Nicole Glor, fitness instructor. There are so many yoga poses that are beginner-friendly to get you started. Dancing also has mood-boosting benefits! Even if you don’t quite have the rhythm, you can still reap the rewards by dancing around your bedroom while you get ready for your day, or grab a friend and join a dancing class. And if yoga and dance don’t quite pique your interest either, an activity as simple as walking can bring you joy and reduce stress.
Day 10: Search for Meaning
Sometimes it can feel like you are just going through the motions; doing what’s necessary for the day-to-day and not truly savoring your life. Realizing what provides meaning to you personally is a necessary component of feeding your happiness. “Meaning and purpose are critical to happiness, and what gives a person meaning is going to differ by the individual,” Lyubomirsky explains. Finding the most authentic version of yourself who learns, grows, and reaches for joy will ultimately provide a life that feels worth living.
So how can you find this sense of meaning or purpose? Dr. Bristow recommends reflecting on times in your life that were especially happy and considering the things that contributed to that sense of happiness. Think: “What was I doing, who was I around, what was I thinking, what might have changed and led me to a sort of stalemate?” Trying out new hobbies can be useful in finding meaning and happiness, too. The possibilities are endless and entirely up to you, but these ideas can help get you started:
✔️ Get crafty: Calming activities like knitting, sewing, and painting can be especially soothing for the mind. Creating something with your hands also lends a sense of motivation and pride.
✔️ Find your inner chef: Cooking can be a fun and useful hobby. As you learn your way around the kitchen you’ll discover the power to try new flavors and techniques, and enjoy the fruits of your labor, too. Look toward healthy cookbooks for inspiration or try some of our favorite nutritious dinner recipes.
✔️ Start snapping: Photography is often thought of as a skill for professionals, but thanks to smartphones, most of us have almost constant access to great cameras. Taking photos can expose you to new interests too, like bird-watching, nature walks or working with others.
Day 11: Be One With Nature
Making time for being outdoors can boost your happiness big time, and it’s a really simple strategy to implement every day. “The vast majority of evidence points in one direction: We can be happier, healthier, and smarter if we weave more nature into our lives,” says leading naturalist Richard Louv, the author of The Nature Principle. Many studies support this theory, reporting that when people connect with nature, they tend to have a greater sense of well-being, happiness, and even higher levels of personal growth.
So how can you spend more time outdoors?
- Take your lunch break outside
- Walk in the park or find a nearby trail
- Visit a botanical garden if trails and parks are inaccessible
- Join a community garden
- Try walking barefoot to really connect with nature
Day 12: Start a Morning Routine
Waking up in the morning is usually difficult for most people, but waking up on the right side of the bed really is key to having a day full of happiness and positivity. One way to get a leg up on the day, every day, is by starting a morning routine. Whether or not you consider yourself a morning person, crafting a morning routine offers so many benefits for the mood.
“Routines, in general, are very calming for the brain as our brains thrive on patterns,” says Judy Ho, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist in Manhattan Beach, CA. Creating a morning routine helps create a sense of stability, calmness, clarity, and confidence which sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. Some great tips for your morning routine could include: waking up earlier, indulging in a skincare routine, setting intentions, meditation, spending time outdoors, and more. Simply being mindful and present in your usual activities can help you feel grounded and positive throughout the day.
Day 13: Dive into Meditation
Meditation is often endorsed as a happiness tool, and for good reason. The idea of sitting still and clearing your mind might not make you jump for joy, but research shows that mindfulness activities such as meditation can improve your mood and health, and “doing so as a regular activity helps people feel less reactive to stress and helps them feel more in tune with emotions,” says Dr. Bristow. One study reveals that people who have meditated long-term show changes in areas of the brain concerned with stress and anxiety, while another shows meditation to have positive effects on depression.
There are so many ways to start meditating, you might just have to find the style that suits you. Even just a few minutes of meditation can be powerful in boosting the mood. Mindfulness meditation is arguably the most common, and it involves quieting the mind, focusing on feelings, and stopping distractions. Loving-kindness meditation is another useful way to meditate which asks you to breathe deeply and send loving thoughts out into the world or to specific people by reciting mantras like “may you receive happiness and good health,” or anything else that really speaks to you.
Day 14: Make Your Space Happy
Our living spaces are great representations of who we are, and how we design those spaces affects our mood, productivity, and outlook on life. To truly make a happy home—and a happy you, consider things like colors and patterns to start. Our living spaces are great representations of who we are, and how we design those spaces affects our mood, productivity, and outlook on life. To truly make a happy home—and a happy you, consider things like colors and patterns to start.
Brighter, or lighter colors also offer a sense of calm, while more saturated, or pure colors are energizing. “You will be happier if whatever color you’ve got aligns with the activity you have in mind,” Augustin adds. Patterns can have a similar effect. “In your home generally in order to be in a relaxed, positive state, you don’t want to be overloaded visually,” says Augustin. Try sticking to one or two patterns per room, and if the patterns share similar colors, even better.
Simple mood-boosting tips for your home:
✔️ Let the light in: Open up your drapes so as much natural light as possible flows into your home. “Natural light is like magic for us in terms of boosting our mood,” Augustin says.
✔️ Add some greenery: green, leafy plants will boost your mood and help you refresh mentally. If you’re bad with plants, don’t worry. Fake plants will give the same sort of psychological boost as real plants.
✔️ Clear out the clutter: We can feel tense when there is too much happening visually. But you don’t have to feel like you have to get rid of the things you love; try storing things like photos and knick-knacks and rotating them around your home periodically.