It’s a given that the average person wants to be happy. Where it can get complicated, though, is how to make that happen. After all, don’t happiness and well-being look different to different people?
It’s certainly true that happiness is subjective, but there are also universal elements. There are certain changes you can make and habits you can develop that, according to research, will boost your overall happiness -- no matter who you are.
Here are 10 daily life changes you can make to boost your happiness.
1. Drinking plenty of water.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to build a happier life is to drink plenty of water. People who drink a glass of water as soon as they wake up, then drink one every other hour throughout the day, have been shown to have higher levels of energy and more positive emotions than people who don’t drink as much water.
Meditating isn’t just for spiritual people -- research has shown that regularly practicing meditation increases daily experiences of positive emotions. This, in turn, increases general life satisfaction and decreases depressive symptoms.
A significant reason why meditation helps so much is that it forces the person to release negative thoughts, stay present in the moment and control his or her breathing. This lowers anxiety and stress, which makes people much happier.
Getting started with regular meditation is easy; there are plenty of meditation apps you can download to your smartphone or other digital device that will guide you.
3. Getting a full night’s sleep.
Our mothers have told us this one since birth, and now there’s research to back it up: getting a full night’s sleep really does improve your overall life satisfaction. In fact, over 90 percent of people who consider themselves “perfectly happy” average at least seven hours and six minutes of shut-eye a night. People who consider themselves “mostly happy” get just a little bit less: seven hours a night.
Exercising regularly doesn’t just improve your physical well-being; it improves your mental well-being as well. Taking just three 20-minute walks a week can have a dramatic effect. Over 70 percent of people who did so felt happier than people who took antidepressants but didn’t exercise.
Whether it’s going for a run in the morning or joining a spin class after work, adding more movement in your life will do wonders for your happiness.
Taking the time to learn something new every day can also contribute to overall happiness. Researchers have found that making an effort to learn new things boosts feelings of happiness and self-esteem in the majority of adults.
Consider taking classes in something you find interesting, like marketing or a foreign language. Along with the emotional benefits these will provide, there’s certainly nothing wrong with building up your knowledge base. Being an expert in something never hurts!
Successfully teaching someone something new has been shown to boost self-confidence and happiness in about 63 percent of adults. Anyone who has been involved in teaching will recognize this -- it’s hard to beat the happiness associated with seeing someone understand a new concept with your guidance.
Consider tutoring someone who’s struggling with a concept you’re a master of, or even volunteering at a children’s shelter or school, to boost your happiness by helping others.
7. Using positive words.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that using at least three positive phrases per day showing gratitude builds happiness and satisfaction in over two-thirds of adults.
Consider expressing your thoughts in positive ways to others. You will make them feel good and boost your wellbeing.
8. Developing hobbies.
A recent study found that respondents who valued their hobbies more than their jobs reported higher levels of happiness than those who did not.
This suggests that if you spend a little less energy on making money and more on building hobbies that you enjoy, you’ll have a more positive outlook on life in general.
9. Being selfless.
Studies have also shown that, on average, 78 percent of people who spend time helping others -- specifically, spending money on others -- actually promote their own happiness.
It seems counterintuitive, but the research reports that this may be due to the fact that recipients of the spending show gratitude. Givers also experience feelings of altruism, which contribute to happiness. Basically, when you’re helping others, you feel good about yourself.
10. Unplugging from social media.
Finally, signing off from your social media pages can make you happier than being glued to the screen. In a recent study, 45 percent of people who were not able to access their social networks or email felt worried or uncomfortable, but placing these digital platforms on the back burner generally boosted feelings of calm and happiness in the long term.
By taking time away from social media every day, you can avoid comparing yourself to others and lower social anxiety about communicating face to face, which will help you feel happier.
There’s no single magic trick to becoming a happy person. However, by adopting a few of the daily habits listed above, you can be well on your way to a happier life.