There are some essential components to happiness that spiritual sages have expressed, science has researched, and personal experience has emphasized. This list is a kind of creative assortment of the various moving parts of happy living. There’s surely no shortage of ways to be happy; I hope you rediscover a favorite here.
“Happiness requires that we give up a worldly orientation—not worldly things, but a worldly attachment to things. We have to surrender all outcomes. We have to live here but appreciate the joke.” – Marianne Williamson
Happiness isn’t such a mystery, though it sure feels like it sometimes. That’s likely so because we live in a great paradox, and we’re part of a larger mystery at play: We learn how to unlearn; we respond to reality while reality responds to us; we can engage in worldly “things” without identifying with those things, actions, and outcomes.
We don’t need to understand everything, but it’s nice to know what might be helpful when we’re in a time of need. This is where ancient wisdom and the gifts of modern research can be of great service. On the ever-evolving path of being a human, there are certain practices worth dabbling in.
Some of these “happiness practices” are derived from a growing body of scientific research, while others play with spiritual wisdom that has weathered the ages.
Above all, please note that this list is not all-inclusive; there are a LOT of ways to be happy, and many ideas here to play with as you please, but I hope they also inspire you to activate your own personal practices.
The possibilities are endless, indeed (and so is the imagination).
Figure out what works for you, and offer whichever practices speak to you a little space to settle in and expand. Many (if not most) of these ideas require consistency of the heart and the willingness to explore, really, the subtleties of the process; then again, a miracle (transformation) can be instantaneous—there’s the enigma, again.
Try to leave a little wiggle room.
For your convenience and reading pleasure, I’ve linked some of the practices below to other helpful posts on that particular topic.
Enjoy this “happy do” list, which is in no particular order…
101 Accessible Ways to Be Happy in Any Season of Your Life
1. Know what happiness means to you; be able to define it in a simple statement.
2. Honor your capacity for healing, especially in times of pain.
3. Instead of the limited belief that love is only a shared experience of romance, consider the wider potential and purpose of positive connection.
4. Savor the experiences that you’d like to last a little bit longer.
5. Incorporate frequent moments of mindfulness, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and transitional pauses into your workday.
6. Proactively surround yourself with a network of people who support your dreams, vibrate with positive energy, inspire and motivate you without judgment, and care about what you care about.
7. Distance yourself from negativity (mentally and/or physically if possible); if you can’t change or leave a toxic environment, play with various methods of rising above the toxicity.
8. Before you begin an activity or project that requires your best, write a thank-you note to some higher power, and place it in your “universe box” for assistance.
9. Volunteer your time, energy, money, or other available resources to a cause that’s meaningful to your heart.
10. Practice giving without expecting anything in return, identifying any underlying motives and internal resistance before serving.Happiness is not a one-time act, but a conscious relationship one keeps. Click To Tweet
11. Say, “Thank you” for what you have now, and for what has yet to be.
12. Practice the REACH method for forgiving others who have hurt you.
13. Forgive yourself for your mistakes; contemplate how all things contribute to a full human experience.
14. After each task, close your eyes and repeat the mantra, “release,” until you feel your body and mind release tension. Before you open your eyes, set an intention for your next task, and for how you want to be. You are clean and free from the previous activity, and the energy is available for something new.
15. Know, deeply, that you are enough, you are whole at your core while you’re evolving as a human being, and you are worthy just by being alive.
16. Strive joyfully: give yourself credit, praise good work, celebrate victories, take joy in the moment, engage with what you’re doing, and stay curious.
17. Maintain your willingness for a change of heart, mind, and perspective.
18. Say, “I love you” often, and with sincerity.
20. Prioritize stress-relief.“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” — Annie Dillard Click To Tweet
23. Life can be tough; do not banish, avoid, or ignore the darkness, but mindfully make the darkness conscious.
24. Strengthen your trust in the process of life (honoring what you know and what you don’t know).
25. Practice listening to and trusting your intuitive “voice.”
26. Practice courageous presence, honoring what you’re experiencing, even sitting with your discomfort.
27. Surrender what you cannot control and ask for the guidance of a “higher” energy that suits you.
28. Pray for what is of the highest good for all.
29. Write a forgiveness letter to someone who you’re having a hard time forgiving (you don’t need to send it).
30. Write a forgiveness letter to the frustration, exhaustion, anger, painful event, or other uncomfortable experience.
31. Ask yourself every morning, “What might happen today that could trip me up? How am I going to bring my best self to that?”
32. Play with the vision that everything is either an act of love or a call for love.When we see harmful behavior as a call for love, we can see past our own rage to our shared pain. Click To Tweet
33. Prioritize smart (enough, quality, rejuvenating) sleep.
35. Declare, daily, that you are capable of cultivating a happy perspective without the world around you first giving you a reason to make this declaration.
36. Partake in a random act of kindness (it lifts everyone up).
37. Before you walk into a situation, a conversation or a room, use self-talk to affirm your intention of bringing into the situation the qualities you’d like to experience.
38. Go outside for a walk in nature, or some other form of moderately-challenging movement.
39. Visualize your deepest desires coming into fruition; visualize you next steps as if you’re already taking them; really get into the feeling of the manifestation of what you’d like to experience in life.
40. Raise the necessity of what’s important to you (you are motivated to devote yourself to your values, desires, and truths; you feel called to do something, and you find it necessary to do your best).
41. Sustain a meditation practice (there are infinite options available to you, no matter your level of experience).
42. Rather than reaching for an impossibly joyous thought (when you’re feeling depressed or hopeless, for example), reach for the next available higher thought, something that feels slightly better.
43. Clear the clutter that no longer serves a purpose (including your sense of freedom).
45. Read inspiring quotes in the morning to uplift your spirit; set your foundation before something else does.
46. Ask for help when you’re up against a wall, cannot see your way through the struggle, and feel depleted from all the hard work you’ve done yourself. There is support.
47. Always be deepening your connection to the present moment.
48. Setbacks happen; prioritize your comebacks and set an example through your continued devotion to the journey without getting crushed by perceived imperfections, “missed” opportunities, and all the potholes along the way.“All your power is in your awareness of that power.” – Rhonda Byrne Click To Tweet
49. Find something to smile about, or smile for no reason at all. Even a subtle smile, without conviction, can lead to a shift.
50. Repeat mantras for healthier relationships to pave the way toward a new outlook.
52. Incorporate joyful movement into your daily routine, and stay open to new pathways for physical expression.
54. Use journaling prompts to promote peace of mind.
55. Know what your signature strengths are and try to use them daily, or at least consistently.
56. Value authenticity over originality; instead of trying to be better than others or reinventing the wheel, concentrate on being the most natural, focused, and genuine version of you.
57. Before you react to some discomfort or displeasure, pause and allow there to space between the stimulus and your response.
58. Incorporate patience right into your daily schedule to help you find meaning and calm in otherwise mundane or frustrating situations.
59. Make something for someone else.
60. Contemplate all the ways a self-care practice might improve your life and the lives of others.
61. Soak up about 15 minutes of sunshine each day, preferably in the early morning hours.All the things we keep searching for 'out there' are waiting for us to see them, right here. Click To Tweet
62. Affirm that “I have enough time to do the things I really want to do.”
63. Show yourself a little more love on a consistent basis; show up with conscious compassion, and make this a lifelong practice.
64. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How can I help you today?”
65. Seek the hidden lesson/blessing in every challenge; what can you learn; how can you expand; who can you help better?
66. Since we’re always affirming something, become acutely aware of your self-talk and the way you relate to yourself, others, and the world.
67. Base your successes on your internal landscape, rather than on the acquisition of material goods or the temporary power you might gain over others.
68. Concentrate on these three pillars: mastery over your internal landscape, or with a skill; a sense of intimacy or connection with at least one other person; and freedom in the way you live your life.
69. Imagine what you would say to someone you love who is going through a similar situation.
70. Start writing in a gratitude journal on a consistent basis (that can be daily, weekly, or monthly); read the pages of your gratitude journal when you need a lift.
71. Host a “gratitude night” for someone who has supported you in some way (or many ways); if possible, be with them in person to deliver your thanks and any gifts of appreciation.Gratitude turns today's pains into tomorrow's joys. Click To Tweet
72. Enjoy the journey (you are the destination).
73. Develop a morning and evening routine.
75. Do something every day to follow your dreams.
76. See suffering as an avenue for deeper connection and the expression of compassion.
77. Embrace the unknown with open arms rather than a closed heart. When you feel your heart closing to something that’s displeasing, uncomfortable, or downright painful, step back with awareness and recognize your power to just witness things as they are, without needing to see the whole path, figure everything out, or do it all by yourself.
78. Listen to a soothing guided meditation, especially when you think you “have no time.”
79. Focus on one task at a time; one moment at a time; one breath at a time.
80. Listen to music that relaxes you.
81. Seek the treasure in the ruin and keep hope alive that gems are hidden within each experience, whatever the label we apply to it.
82. Rather than seeking status in material items, pay more attention to the qualities you’re able to cultivate, to your massive capacity for creation of something that once was only a thought. You were born a creative being; your worth is not “out there,” but inherently within you at all times.Things are expressions of our creativity, not symbols of our worth. Click To Tweet
83. Contemplate the idea that we’re all under the same sky; we are spinning on a ball of life in the middle of a vast ocean of expansiveness. We might be able to see a thousand or more stars in the sky, but there are hundreds of billions in our galaxy alone. And we are here, together. What a miracle.
85. Listen to the subtle whispers of your body, so that it doesn’t have to roar to get you to pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you. This takes awareness, compassion, and care.
86. Learn how to set boundaries that you can stick to.
87. Explore the mindfulness practice of letting things be without identifying with them.
88. Contemplate, deeply, all the abundance that’s available to you.
89. Write a gratitude letter to someone who you’ve not properly thanked.
91. Give up complaining for a day (or at least for the morning, or a few breaths).
92. Practice positive mirror work: Offer your reflection a compassionate gaze or nod of encouragement, or say something like “I love you. I forgive you. All will be well.”Positive, sustainable change begins at home, with yourself. Click To Tweet
93. Write down your thoughts, feelings, desires, struggles, gratitude, and acts of kindness you’ve either given, received, or witnessed.
94. Practice saying “no” to what doesn’t feel like a “YES!”
95. Acknowledge the temporary nature of negative events.
96. Recognize and dispute negative thoughts.
97. Affirm that you are NOT the negative thoughts that happen to occur.
98. Engage in flow activities (they captivate all of your attention, challenge your skills, give you a sense that time has stopped, and offer a deep sense of fulfillment upon completion).
100. Each time you feel like you can’t take it anymore, ask yourself what you can give.
101. Engage in something larger than yourself; (re)discover meaning in a “bigger” plan (whether that means association with a community initiative, religion, volunteering, a spiritual path, etc.).
What practices, thought patterns, activities, and preferences help you sustain deep-hearted happiness?
Please share your favorite ways to be happy, daily practices that amplify your capacity for happiness, and any helpful stories with me in the comments.
Be the one who lifts with love; share this list with a friend who might appreciate a new practice, or a new perspective.
Stay in communication with the ever-present currency of joy, and choosing happiness will become more natural, and less esoteric; joy will be the energy that keeps you going, and happiness will look like a thousand little shifts in perception, a kind of devotion that can always be returned to.