25 Ways to Improve Your Life

Sunflowers represented happiness for painter Vincent van Gogh
Sunflowers represented happiness for painter Vincent van Gogh | Source

Finding happiness and improving your outlook on life can be hard, but the steps you take to do so do not always have to be of enormous magnitude. Small changes and minimal daily practice can have a significant impact on how you feel. This article provides 25 suggestions on ways to improve your level of happiness and augment your life. Each suggestion has an action item that you can implement today.

Exercise

Regular exercise is essential to maintain a good mood and optimal health. The World Health Organization recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily. Exercise can also help reduce anxiety and depression through the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters. The Mayo clinic also notes that increased body temperature can have a calming effect and reduce immune system chemicals.

Action Item: Walk 30 minutes today.

Smile

The simple act of making a smile can improve your mood. There are several studies that have shown that subjects making a smile reported increased happy feelings. A smile is something simple to do and a simple practice that can change your day.

Action Item: Smile at the next 10 people you see.

Read

Reading to improve knowledge and brain activity can help improve focus and general attention, but reading for enjoyment can help with improving happiness. Select something that is truly interesting and enjoyable to you. Reading should not feel like a chore. Research has shown that interest is far more important than readability.

Action Item: Read a short story or blog that is of an interesting topic to you.

Help Others

Helping others often leads to an improved feeling of satisfaction. Whether donating money or time, or even helping your neighbor with a project, helping others can make you happier. Research has shown that people who demonstrate altruism generally have improved mental health and decreased stress. Also, a deeper feeling of purpose and meaning may come with helping others.

Action Item: Volunteer 1 day this month at your local food shelter.

Appreciate Nature

The world is unbelievable. There is much to see and many mysteries, but we often take the Earths natural beauty for granted. A way to really feel centered and improve your pleasure is to appreciate something in nature and reflect upon its existence and creation.

Action Item: Find something in nature that's intriguing and spend 5 minutes reflecting on its meaning.

Play

Have fun! Life is too short to be taken so seriously. Sure there are times when deadlines are quickly approaching, but once completed it is important to enjoy yourself. Getting out and playing allows us to do something we enjoy, reduce our level of stress, and appreciate life.

Action Item: Put 1 fun thing on your calendar this month (i.e. play a sport, video games, movie)

Meditate

Meditation can take on many forms. It can certainly be deep thought where you feel projected to another universe and can take years of practice to achieve such enlightenment. However, a more practical mediation may just be reflecting on your day before bed. Mediation can improve happiness, satisfaction, optimism, and influence change. With simple practice, ones can feel that they achieve more clarity in life.

Action Item: Before bed, reflect on the best part of your day and why it was great.

Eat

Eating can definitely lead to increased happiness, but not in the way you think. Junk food spikes your blood sugar and you may have instant gratification, but the crash comes later and you can begin to feel low. However, eating healthy foods such as fruits & vegetables, foods with omega-3 oils, and nuts, can lead to more long term happiness.

Action Item: Eat a healthy lunch today such as a salad with lots of veggies and nuts.

Relax

Stress can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, and anger. Each of these can clearly put a damper on our mood and level of happiness. Finding ways to relax is an important part of staying healthy, both mentally and physically. Not everyone relaxes the same way: some read a book while others may go running. It is important you find ways to relax and practice them daily.

Action Item: Spend 30 minutes doing a relaxing activity TODAY!

Sleep

There is a close link between sleep and mood. If you don't get enough sleep, feelings of stress, anxiety, and irritability can increase. Depression can result from chronic poor sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital to your health and well-being. People are so busy today and often try to squeeze by on only a few hours. Eight hours is about average, but it is important to find an amount of sleep that leaves you feeling rested.

Action Item: Shut off the TV early tonight and try to relax before going to bed. Try going to sleep 1 hour earlier.

Tell Someone You Love Them

Expressing love and having meaningful relationships is a great way to improve your mood. Telling people you love them helps you and they feel happier. You will also feel happier when maintaining meaningful relationships and feel wanted and loved by others.

Action Item: Tell someone you love them.

Set Goals

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and unproductive when there are a lot of things happening in your life. Prioritize and set specific goals to feel more productive and get things done.

Action Item: Plan your next month including projects and fun.

Write

Writing in a journal or diary is a great way to express your feelings and organize your thoughts. If you feel you are bottling things up, try expressing those feelings on paper. You don't have to share it, just write it down and you will feel better.

Action Item: Write down the action item from this list that you completed today.

Set a Good Example

Acting as a positive role model is a great way to feel positive about your actions. Whether it is a young person, a peer, or even a parent, setting a good example helps others act in a positive way. When you see good behavior modeled after your example, you will feel accomplished and as though you make a positive impact on the world.

Action Item: Set a good example by initiating chores this weekend.

Forgive

Holding a grudge can make feelings of resentment and frustration linger. Upon forgiving someone, you are likely to feel relief and can get on with life and start to feel happier.

Action Item: Squash an argument today; forgive and forget.

Source

Give Someone a Hug

It is important to express love with touch, such as a hug or kiss. Physical contact with others helps improve your feelings of happiness.

Action Item: Give someone a hug lasting 10 seconds.

Change

Doing the same thing over and over can get boring and give you a feeling of stagnancy. Seeking change is healthy and helps keep you interested and happy. Some ways to change are through self improvement or by doing something new. Change can be uncomfortable, but seeking a new undertaking can open you up to several new experiences and have you feeling thrilled.

Action Item: Try a new restaurant or go try a new activity this weekend.

Have Sex

This one is probably self explanatory, but having sex can improve your mood. Semen contains mood altering chemicals that if absorbed, may have a positive effect on mood. Sex does not have to involve penetration in order to make you feel happy. The intimacy can boost your mood and make you feel closer to another person, not to mention it feels really good.

Action Item: Explore sex safely with your partner.

Listen to Music

Listening to or creating music has been correlated to improved happiness. It is difficult to find a direct link between the two, but research has shown a physiological response to different types of music. Happy music tends to increase breathing rate, which is a sign of happiness. Music can serve many purposes: escape, inspiration, motivation, and clarity to name a few.

Action item: Spend 30 minutes listening to your favorite music today.

Reduce Your Commute

Let's face it, nobody really loves spending hours commuting. The alternative of sleeping in and working only 10 minutes away sounds much better. Even if you use your commuting time productively, it can still be frustrating. Some research has shown that stress hormones increase as a result of traffic and people often report commuting as one of the most unpleasant activities of their day.

Action Item: Move, change jobs, or take public transportation and read or meditate.

Overcome

Overcoming an obstacle is never easy, but when you take steps to do so, your completion will lead to feelings of accomplishment and joy. The obstacle can take the form of anything such as jealousy, finances, or bullying. When you make a game plan and take the steps to overcome the adversity, you will feel adroit and relieved.

Action Item: Write down ways to overcome a current life challenge and act on it.

Be Optimistic

Another way to improve your feelings of well-being is to thinks positively and be optimistic. This can be very challenging, especially in today's climate. However, research has shown that those who envision their ideal future (perfect job, house, family, etc.) and record the information in a journal often reported higher feelings of contentment.

Action Item: Spend 5 minutes envisioning your ideal future and write it down.

Be Grateful

A study has shown that those who write a letter of gratitude often experience lasting happiness for weeks or even months. The letters did not even have to be delivered. It is important to acknowledge things you are grateful for. A small daily reflection on what you are grateful for may help shape a positive outlook on life and contribute to lasting happiness.

Action item: Call a family member and tell them one thing you are grateful for.

Purchase Experiences

Research has shown that people who buy an experience instead of a material item are generally happier. Those who purchase material goods likely get caught in a pattern of always having to buy, but those who buy an experience have stories to tell and a unique experience to reflect on.

Action Item: Do something new this weekend (i.e. skydive, cooking lessons)

Have In-Depth Conversations

A study from University of Arizona has found that people engaging in deep conversations are generally happier than those who engage in small talk. More meaningful discussions were common among those individuals who rated their happiness and life satisfaction as high.

Action Item: Talk to a friend today about something meaningful

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Comments 63 comments

punacoast profile image

punacoast 5 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

Great start of my day from reading your insightful and inspiring hub. Be grateful and optimistic are definitely on top of my list. Thank you Matt!


brittanytodd profile image

brittanytodd 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

All great things to do! Great hub; very inspiring. Voted up.


nenytridiana profile image

nenytridiana 5 years ago from Probolinggo - Jawa Timur - Indonesia

This is very interesting, and my favourites of them are have sex, meditation and loving someone. I will keep the 25 of them in my mind and bookmark it in my heart! Great hub. Thank you mattstark!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa

I'm so glad I read this. It has prompted me to push back from the computer and take my dog for a long walk, where I will enjoy nature and smile at everyone I pass. : )


barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 5 years ago from Queensland Australia

Useful tips!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

I think I shall make a point of doing ALL OF THESE THINGS! I feel like if one is feeling down in the dumps, one could just turn this article into a checklist and make a point of hitting each and every item by the end of the month, if not once, than multiple times... or as many times as possible!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

very structured and well written; and above all interesting:) great ways to improve your life and feel more happy. thanks mattstark.


R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago

Your hub feels encouraging; I experienced most of your positive activities in my sons growth and continue to do so, but when I write, I have a tendency to write in a negative way describing my up bringing years or explaining discontent of where our country is heading. I was dyslexic and did not realize it until my twin sons were experiencing it in high school. They both still have some dyslexic problems but appear to be living a succesful life style. I love to read both fiction and nonfiction about science (discover magazine), medical (Gerome Groopman (nonfiction), Robin Cook & Kathy Reichs (fiction), as well as 3or4 other periodicals, etc.

Ronnie


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

Matt - These are all terrific suggestions and I love how you spelled out an action item for each one of them. I know I certainly can benefit by putting many of these things into practice. I have let myself get too overwhelmed with life in the last few years, but all of these baby steps to improving life seem so manageable. Thanks for the inspiration.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

What a great hub! Loved the sidebars and the special tip you left on the one about safe sex. Great list.


sankari.nayagam profile image

sankari.nayagam 5 years ago

that was an amazing hub! all the informations really useful. the hub is well-written and beautified


alphagirl profile image

alphagirl 5 years ago from USA

Wow. I like the one about Tell someone you love them. It feels so good inside and out.

You smile all day just knowing someone tells you that. Great hub!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Excellent content that inspires one to take a good look at the positive things in life. A regular "how to be happy" checklist! Very well done.

Cheers~

K9


A.CreativeThinker 5 years ago

Great hub, very motivating and inspirational. Thanks for sharing. Take Care :)

Regards,

A.CreativeThinker


Diana Mendes profile image

Diana Mendes 4 years ago

Nice hub! Excellent tips. Thanks for sharing.


Diana Mendes profile image

Diana Mendes 4 years ago

Nice hub! Excellent tips. Thanks for sharing.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 4 years ago from India

What a wonderfully proactive list! Love the action items - they make things seem so much more achievable! :)


just a woman 4 years ago

Great hub, very teaching. Please see my blog too http://nareanthony.blogspot.com/


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Congratulations on Hub of the Day. These are great action items, and do seem like they will improve my life.


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

Congratulations Matt Stark. I will bookmark this so that I may have a check-list handy to find out what is going wrong, when I feel blue.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Congrats on Hub Of The Day! A well deserved honor in which many will benefit. Useful and interesting!


registerdomains profile image

registerdomains 4 years ago from India

Good hub. Optimistic. Congrats.


chamilj profile image

chamilj 4 years ago from Sri Lanka

Very useful for better life. Thanks and voted up!


The Frog Princess profile image

The Frog Princess 4 years ago from Florence area of the Great Pee Dee of South Carolina

Congrats on Hub of the Day and I might add excellent writing.

Voted up etc.


rob_allen profile image

rob_allen 4 years ago from MNL, PH

Well written hub and great advice. I think I have something to share! BTW, I agree on the Sex part! Hmmm, on the Commute thing, I am thinking of moving out of my parents' house since it always takes me 2 hours going to work by commuting. Thank you for sharing it :)


softhard profile image

softhard 4 years ago from Kathmandu

I cannot stay without thanking you for such a great hub. really really usefully hub and i agree on all the points. Liked the way of putting action plan for each point.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

This is a great hub - well presented with practical advice, it deserves to be HOTD - congratulations!


kelleyward 4 years ago

Great hub. Congrats!!


Ubaid Khalid profile image

Ubaid Khalid 4 years ago from Islamabad, Pakistan

Simple, nice but effective tips.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

Congratulations on Hub of the Day! I enjoyed this hub before, and it is a good one to re-read.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Wonderful and inspiring hub! Wouldn't the world by such a better place if everyone practiced just a few of these ideas! I thank God every night for what I have. I love to walk in the country and appreciate nature. I am a hugger. My husband had to get used to that...:) I try to smile at everyone I see, it makes some of them smile back and hopefully betters their mood. This is an awesome hub and I hope everyone reads it! Voted up, awesome and sharing! Have a wonderful day! :) :) :)


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

Contrats on Hub of the Day. It was well deserved. This was well written and well designed for easy reading with a blueprint that could be followed by anyone. As a few other hubbers have mentioned, placing an action item after each tip was an excellent idea.


im28beyond profile image

im28beyond 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Mark. I'm not surprised why you were chosen as the hub of the day. everything you said was simple but straightforward. glad you shared it.


MP50 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this Hub with us.:-D


jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 4 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

A well deserved hub of the day. We can always learn more about improving our life. Its always a work in progress. Meditation and spirituality are very effective in building ourselves from the insde out. Great hub. And I completely agree that experiences contribute to lasting memories more than material possessions. Even for those who are well off. People remember the hard work and experience of moving up more than the corvette they purchased. Great hub. Voted up.


AnnaCia profile image

AnnaCia 4 years ago

Congratulations on your hub. Very interesting. Very effective way of pointing out different aspects in order to reach a goal. Thank you


Moon Willow Lake profile image

Moon Willow Lake 4 years ago

Thank-you for a very inspiring read. I am glad I learned a couple of things, and I really like how you put the action items along with it all. My personal favorites are about the meaningful conversations, hugs, and the one about writing. I know how much those help me out when I practice them. Peace!


thepathtohealthy profile image

thepathtohealthy 4 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

Great hub I very much enjoyed it!


rosika profile image

rosika 4 years ago

very useful points, especially the action plans that you suggested are just so encouraging and so motivating to live this short life to its full and forget about too much unneeded worries! Thankyou for sharing!


creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 4 years ago from Maine

Everyone in the world would benefit from reading this hub. Excellent advice for all of us to improve our physical, mental and spiritual health. Thank you so very much! This hub will help many people going through stressful situations!


Rusticliving profile image

Rusticliving 4 years ago from California

Fabulous Hub Matt. Very insightful, informative and motivational. What a perfect way to express our lives everyday by following a few simple guidelines. Although I may follow most of them, you have mentioned a few that I need to include. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on Hub of the Day!


celebritie profile image

celebritie 4 years ago

I like it when there is a new year because it really allows for improvement. Great tips.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

A great check list for daily life for all of us! Well done and congratulations!


JamesPoppell profile image

JamesPoppell 4 years ago

Excellent hub and great advice. I like the action items you included. I am definitely bookmarking this hub for future reference. Vote up and extremely useful.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Congratulations on earning the Hub of the Day accolade. I love the way you arranged this article and the photos you used to illustrate it.

Your recommendations are sound and based on research and I like how you wrote action steps for each one.

Voted up across the board except for funny.


Rastamermaid profile image

Rastamermaid 4 years ago from Universe

Congrats on Hub of the Day!

Very well deserved,this hub is awesome!

Thanks for sharing!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

I notice that at least one-fourth of these tips involve doing something good for someone else. "Make someone happy, make one certain someone happy, and you'll be happy, too." That's a great line from an old song, and still true. Thanks for thinking of others, and writing this fine Hub.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

I love the concept of purchasing experiences, I had never seen it that way but it is totally true; I actually do it all the time. I am also happy to say I am practicing almost all of your recommendations (except for meditating and maybe helping others a little more outside the Hubpages community).

Nice Hub, voted up!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Great tips. And I think the action items are brilliant because it gives you a way to get started right away. No excuses. Great job on the article.


raakachi profile image

raakachi 4 years ago from Madurai / Tamilnadu / India

Really you teach a wonderful lesson that how to set right our lives, since we have been given the power of sixth sense to think. Very nice.Voted as beautiful.


voyce 4 years ago

Great post!


MoiraCrochets profile image

MoiraCrochets 4 years ago from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

This is a beautiful hub. You deserve to be Hub of the Day. Every once in a while, we need reminders such as these to keep us on track.


Worldofwow1992 profile image

Worldofwow1992 4 years ago from Michigan

Terrific hub! These would definitly bring health and happyness when practiced. My favorite is overcome. I always feel terrific when I overcome obstacles in my path. Thanks!


snlee profile image

snlee 4 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

Gardening can also be considered as helpful too!


Nordy profile image

Nordy 4 years ago from Canada

Great hub, I look forward to reading more from you.


Sunny 4 years ago

These are great life improvements! Thanks for sharing.


snlee profile image

snlee 4 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

Going overseas for occasional vacation holiday to relax and rejuvenate will also helpful....Morever holiday destinations in Asian countries need not be expensive as their currency exchange rate is comparatively much lower. And also good escape from cold winters in tropical countries.


urmilashukla23 profile image

urmilashukla23 4 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

Great hub! There are so many ways to improve life. We have to follow them. Very inspirational, voted up. Bookmarked!


Mmargie1966 profile image

Mmargie1966 4 years ago from Gainesville, GA

What a well written and useful hub! Kudos!! I voted up and useful!


tragsdale86 profile image

tragsdale86 4 years ago

Very helpful. Now if we could all do that everyday, we would all be happy. It's hard though.


STEVEW13 profile image

STEVEW13 4 years ago from Norwich, England

Awesome hub Matt, really enjoyed the read, voted up!


Little Grandmommy profile image

Little Grandmommy 3 years ago from Small Town Tennessee

Very good suggestions. Well written hub! Thumbs up!


twilanelson profile image

twilanelson 3 years ago from Carmichael, California

Thank you for a nicely written Hub organized perfectly with awesome activities for enhancing the quality of our lives and happiness.

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