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25 Ways to Improve Your Life

Updated on December 5, 2011
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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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