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36 Ideas for How to Live a Happy Life

If you’ve ever wondered how to live a happy life, you might be surprised that it’s easier than you think. Uncovering the secret of a happy life doesn’t have to be difficult or take us 30 years.

Living a happy life does not mean there will never be a hard day, but it does mean that you understand your life has meaning and purpose.

A happy life is one in which you feel connected to yourself and are achieving and experiencing the things you desire.

A happy woman surrounded by confetti.

How to Be Happy in Life

Happiness is often a choice we make to live in the moment and notice the details of our lives that we are grateful for. A happy life is a conscious life – in which we recognize and choose our happiness.

Happiness is not something that needs to be ‘found’ and it’s not something outside of your reach. We each have the capability and capacity to be happy.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

William Morris

If you want to increase and expand the happiness in your life, here are 36 ways you can focus your mind and increase happiness.

  1. Get creative – try painting or pottery or writing poetry. Do something that is creative and fun that’s different from what you normally do.
  2. Spend time with good people – make an effort to see people you love or catch up with them on the phone. Spending time with people you love and that make you feel great is so important.
  3. Be honest about the people you should spend less time with – the flip side of spending time with people you love is understanding the people you need to spend less time with. Check in with yourself and see if there are people that drain your energy or make you feel bad about yourself – and find ways to spend less time around them.
  4. Meditate or practice mindfulness meditation and mindfulness help us live in the present moment. They are essential practices for finding peace in your life.
  5. Don’t deny your desires – be honest with yourself about what you want. Unless it hurts another person, it’s not wrong to want things. Work towards not denying those feelings or thinking you can’t have the things you want.
  6. Love what you love – geek out over what you enjoy, even if other people think it’s strange. Love board games or making sculptures out of driftwood? Great! Celebrate the things you love that make you unique.
  7. Ask someone to mentor you – ask a non-family member that you trust to mentor you. Spend some time with them at least once a month and get their feedback on questions you have or dilemmas.
  8. Be generous – even when you’re broke, it feels good to give a little. You don’t have to be so generous that it puts you in a bad financial situation, but anytime you can give your time or your money to a great cause, you will feel great.
  9. Walk outside – spend time outdoors whenever possible, especially near water or in the woods. Both feel incredibly calming.
  10. Stop to look at flowers – notice the beauty of nature and what catches your eye. Delight in the beauty around you.
  11. Enjoy food – so often we make ourselves feel bad about enjoying food. We definitely want to eat things that make our bodies feel good, but it’s also wonderful to savor delicious food. Eat the chocolate cake with every ounce of joy and happiness you can. If this is a struggle for you – read Women Food and God by Geneen Roth (it’s life-changing)
  12. Be yourself – whenever you can, be fully yourself. You can feel it when you’re hiding who you are. If you’re in a situation where it’s unsafe to be yourself, that’s different, but try as much as you can to be totally who you are in every situation.
  13. Understand what the ego is and how to let it go – understanding that we each have an egoic mind within us is incredibly powerful. Read an Eckhart Tolle book or watch one of his talks on ego and mindful living.
  14. Read great books – read books that inspire and motivate you. Check out our article on books that will improve your life.
  15. Learn about everything you’re interested in – follow your passions and learn more about them. Dig into things that spark your curiosity. Take online classes or attend lectures. Keep learning.
  16. Find work that you find meaningful – money is a reality of life and most of us will need to work to live. Be conscious of what work you enjoy and try to incorporate it into your life. If you are miserable at your job, make a list of jobs you would love and then create a plan for how you can get into one of them.
  17. Understand your fears and anxieties – you cannot move past fear and anxiety by just stuffing them down. You need to confront (when you are ready) the things that make you scared. Acknowledge the fear and then ask yourself if you need to keep holding onto it. Let it go if it’s time.
  18. Be kind to other people – anytime you can, choose kindness. The next time your road rage flares up, picture sending love to all the drivers in the cars around you. Take a deep breath, and even if people are unreasonable, choose kindness.
  19. Practice gratitude – you can make a daily list of things you’re grateful for or just call things out throughout the day that you notice.
  20. Take little naps – let your body rest when it needs to. Allow yourself to slow down and if you need a nap, take it.
  21. Delete your social media – if you can’t totally delete it, at least take a break from social media.
  22. Allow yourself to feel your feelings – Disavowing or ignoring your feelings will only make them grow. Feel your feelings when you need to and then let them go.
  23. Let go of resentment – Holding onto anger only hurts you. Spend time forgiving people and move on from resentment.
  24. Forgive yourself – sometimes the person we are most upset with is ourselves. Be kind to yourself as well. Forgive what you need to and stop beating yourself up.
  25. Write real letters – write in your journal, send letters to friends – put pen to paper.
  26. Find something to like about each season – if you live somewhere that gets freezing cold in the winter or boiling hot in the summer it can be tempting to complain about the weather. Find a reason to love something about even an overcast day. In winter, you could think I love how cozy I get to be in my house, etc.
  27. Do something with your hands – get your hands dirty. Create something or do a DIY project. It will make you feel accomplished.
  28. Try something new – learn something new each day. Get outside your comfort zone and try a new thing.
  29. Practice some affirmations – positive affirmations can boost your mood and your confidence.
  30. Allow yourself to relax – If you’re always working or feeling like you need to be busy to justify your worthiness, allow yourself to slow down and ask yourself why you feel this way.
  31. Find things that make you laugh – watch SNL on Youtube, read funny books, or go out with friends who make you laugh. Enjoy yourself.
  32. Don’t look at your phone as soon as you wake up – give yourself some quiet time in the morning before you jump into all the emails (they can wait).
  33. Practice being a good listener – build your friendships and relationships by really listening to what people are saying.
  34. Wear clothes you love – don’t keep clothes you don’t like. Even if you only have two outfits you love, wear them every day.
  35. Let go of things that don’t serve you – whatever you feel is holding you back, find a way to let it go. This one is one of the hardest to do, but most important.
  36. Learn to let go of what others think of you – possibly the most valuable thing to do to be happy is to stop worrying about what other people think of you. It takes time to do, but you need to learn to love yourself, more than other people’s opinions.

Some of these might be easier or harder for you. Each of them has something to teach you about yourself. Look through the list and choose 3 to 5 things you can do today.

Slowly try to incorporate more into your life, working up to the ones that are hardest for you. Getting momentum by doing the easier ones will get you motivated for the bigger changes.


Happiness can be found in the mundane. It’s up to us to notice and celebrate the things that bring us happiness. Adding more of those things to our lives and focusing on living in the present moment are the keys to a happy life.

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