19 Simple Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Smiling Woman

“Hug harder. Laugh louder. Smile bigger. Love longer.” ~Unknown

Did you ever have it all mixed up?

Happiness, I mean. I once thought that a university degree and good grades would make me happy. I thought that traveling the world would leave me feeling fulfilled. I thought that moving abroad and getting that top-notch job would make me satisfied and content.

They all did, but only for a while. They always came with an expiration date.

Finally, I had to stop and ask myself, “If I’m not able to be truly happy now, will I ever be?” If I couldn’t appreciate everything I already had in my life, would more really be the answer?


Then I thought, “If happiness is what I want, why not take a shortcut and go there directly?”

So, I did. I stopped putting it on hold. I stopped allowing external circumstances to dictate how I felt. And I stopped relying on illusionary destinations of promised happiness and bliss.

What I realized is that happiness doesn’t happen by chance–it happens by choice. It’s a skill that anyone can develop with the right habits.

19 Happiness Habits That Could Change Your Life

1. Appreciate more.

This morning I woke up feeling appreciative of my bed, my incredible friends, and my mom for being the rock in my life. Appreciation feeds happiness. It highlights and gives value to what matters in our life. And the more you appreciate, the more you’ll find things to be appreciative of.

When waking up and going to sleep, remind yourself of three things you currently appreciate in your life.

2. Energize yourself every morning.

Mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. A good morning routine leaves you feeling centered, energized, and ready to take on the world.

Meditate, do yoga, write a list of everything you love, watch inspirational YouTube videos, or listen to your favorite song before leaving the house. Simply, set yourself up for a great day!

3. Practice acceptance.

Things don’t always go as planned. I used to get frustrated when plans changed or when the bus arrived late. But resisting never changed anything; instead, it just sent me into a downward spiral. When I started accepting whatever happened, I relieved myself from unnecessary suffering.

Start practicing acceptance. Adjust to the new situation, without fueling it with negative emotions.

4. Live in the present.

This is where it all happens, the present moment. It’s the only place where you can experience happiness (or anything else for that matter). It’s the only place worth being. It might sound obvious, but realizing this was life changing for me. In the present I think better, feel better, and act better.

Whenever you enter a new place, use your five senses—sound, sight, touch, smell and taste—to find more nowness.

5. Listen attentively.

Listen with focus and compassion. Give people the gift of your full attention. This is a powerful source of happiness, as it creates strong bonds between people and places you in the now.

Whether it’s your colleague, partner, or a complete stranger on the street, decide to be more present in all your conversations.

6. Save money to invest in memories.

Material things might satisfy us short term, but experiences are what makes us happy long term. For the past year I’ve barely bought anything new. Instead, I’ve used that money to travel. Just thinking about the beach parties in the Caribbean, those sunny days in Central Park, and that festival in Ibiza puts a ridiculously big smile on my face.

Buy only things you need or fall head-over-heels in love with. Then, use that extra money for experiences that will make you go “Aaah,” “Ohhh,” and “Wow” when you think back of them.

7. Make new friends.

Many of us stop making friends after the age of twenty. Make new friends and you’ll grow as a person, be exposed to new experiences, and have a rich social life.

Have a friendly conversation with a stranger and maybe you make a new friend. Maybe it’s for five minutes, or maybe it’s for a lifetime.

8. Dream big.

Dreams are good; they propel us forward. They enliven our heart, awaken our mind, and give us reasons for living. Allow yourself to dream big and trust that it can become a reality for you.

Dedicate at least five minutes every day to be swept into your dream life. Make it as real as possible: visualize and create the feelings of being, doing and having all that you want.

9. Take steps toward your dream.

Now, does your present look like the future you’re dreaming of? If not, put more time and energy on what you want to see grow.

Take small steps every day to elevate you toward what you want. Tiny steps all add up.

10. Develop a mindset of abundance, not scarcity.

How we experience the world depends solely on our perception of it. When you live in lack, you protect and hoard. When you give away, you signal that you have more than enough for yourself.

Don’t feel like you get enough love? Give love to someone else. Don’t feel like you make enough money? Give money to someone else in need.

11. Take time to re-charge.

Even though we live in a society that fosters us to do more, be more, give more, and have more, we need time to re-charge. We need to fuel ourselves with energy. Take short breaks, and why not a power nap?

What doesn’t get planned usually doesn’t get done, so make sure to plan for downtime.

12. Make time to play.

Living isn’t a duty. You didn’t come here to fix something that’s broken or to complete a to-do list. You came for the fun of it, for the exhilaration and magic of being alive.

Set aside at least fifteen minutes every day for fun-time and make that time non-negotiable.

13. Be around happy people.

Attitudes are contagious. If someone’s smiling at you, you’ll probably smile. If someone is rude, then you’ll probably be rude back. Only hang out with people whose attitude you want to catch.

If happy people aren’t near, go online and watch videos with awesome-attitude people such as Marie Forleo, Tony Robbins and Regena Thomashauer (Mama Gena).

14. Move slowly.

Lao Tzu said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Faster doesn’t mean better. Busier doesn’t mean exceeding. Don’t rush through life.

Slow down. Put your heart and energy into what you’re doing and focus on that (and only that).

15. Actively soothe yourself.

What matters isn't what happens in our lives, but how we choose to deal with it. To make better decisions, we need to become our own lifeguard and sooth ourselves from negative thoughts.

When I feel bad I usually go running, meditate, or write a list of everything I love about my life. Practice different techniques until you find some that work for you.

16. Let go.

Letting go isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way new and better things can come along. When we let go of something, we come to a peace of mind. The struggle is over and new ideas and perspectives can begin to open up.

Practice letting go of what doesn’t serve you, such as complaining, comparing yourself to others, negativity, and mistakes from the past or worries about the future.

17. Forgive often.

Maybe someone was late, maybe someone was rude, or maybe someone forgot to call you back. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse behavior; it frees you from it. It releases resentment and other negative emotions tied to a person or a situation.

Make a habit of forgiving people, even for the smallest of things.

18. Attend to the real world.

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are constantly screaming for our attention to the world of social media. The digital world is supposed to be a complement to our real life, not the other way around.

So, take time to be present where you physically are (the Facebook status update can wait).

19. Care for yourself.

Our body, mind, and soul are connected. Make a change in one of them and you change the state of all three. Isn’t that nice to know?

Do something every day to improve your overall state of well-being, such as preparing a good meal, exercising, or watching a good movie. And know that caring for yourself is caring for the world.

Claim Your Happiness Once And For All

Not being in charge of your happiness is frustrating. Relying on external events and circumstances to be in a certain way in order to feel good is a recipe for misery. Because, when life doesn’t go as planned or things fall apart, so does our happiness.

Happiness isn’t about having all the pieces in place. It isn’t about having a problem-free life or reaching a certain goal or objective. Instead, it’s about being able to enjoy where you are, no matter what.

Don’t leave your happiness to chance. Choose to claim it. Live the life you deserve to live.

Woman enjoying coffee image via Shutterstock

About Maria Stenvinkel

Maria Stenvinkel is on a mission to help people get a career they truly love. Download her free worksheet Get a Clue to Your Calling With These 10 Powerful Questions.

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
  • Check out a great way how you can earn a lot of extra $ by finishing basic jobs online from home for few hrs /daily VISIT MY-DISQUS-PROFILE to find out more

  • LaTrice Dowe

    I’m the type of person who HATES being miserable, since it does love company. I can’t control what goes on in today’s society, and what people think of me. In order for me to stay happy, I’m going to change my attitude.

    I ended my twenty years of friendship with my ex-best friend almost one year ago, and I don’t regret it. His attitude SUCKED, to where I couldn’t find him good company. Friendships shouldn’t have to be worked on, despite the disagreements. He has proven to me that he doesn’t know how to be a friend, so it was time for me to go. Although I’m NOT expecting an apology (nor do I want one), I forgave him. We can’t be friends anymore, because he doesn’t respect me. I’ve made new friends, and will continue to cherish those friendships.

    Before I leave for school and work, I’ll listen to some music to create positive vibes.

    Thank you so much, Maria, for these awesome tips.

  • Hi LaTrice!

    You’re so right. We can’t control anything beyond ourselves (just realizing that is so liberating, because then we can let go). And sometimes we need to make difficult choices in order to create a better life for ourselves. Love that you’re taking charge of your happiness 🙂

  • Sara Loren

    I agree ! Even I’m one of those persons who never wanna be miserable and I never have been n not even now. But what if your heart is still not ready to leave the one you love the most despite knowing he might destroy your life…

  • Hi Sara,

    Thanks for your comment! Making choices when it comes to love isn’t always easy (it’s our heart we’re talking about here..). Trust yourself about what to do and when. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, so maybe try to see what that reason is. When my previous relationship ended, I learned that I had to start loving myself (and only from that place can I truly love someone else). And just as a last word, don’t EVER ever ever let anyone destroy your life. It’s your life and you deserve to live the best life you can live.

    I wish you all the best!
    Big hug, Maria

  • Sara Loren

    Thanks for the reply Maria ! And yes it surely is the difficult choice when it comes to love. I guess I’m not courageous enough to trust myself here or give myself a chance. I know I can’t go through it. But I’m happy for you and so many other girls who make choices and take steps. Maybe one day I’ll be able to move on… and gather all the love from people around me who truly loves me, my friends and my family. Anyway thanks again 🙂 Lub you for that! *Hugs*

  • Adelaide Nowist

    Some thoughts/observations 🙂

    I agree current culture has an obsession with finding happiness externally (materially), but it also has an obsession with being happy full stop. It’s in this need (the “I want”) to be anything other than we already are that sits in non-acceptance of self which causes much confliction, delusion, resistance, repression and suffering as it drives the need to further
    manipulate/control our emotions to find acceptance.

    It’s why seeking happiness through “experiences” is also like seeking it through materialism; they’re both being externally derived and sit in non-acceptance of what is… It’s not about the experience but the point of perception having it. You do not need to do anything other than you already are to fully appreciate this conscious/life/reality experience.

    Acceptance allows each state to flow through us without resistance, where we can consciously observe and explore the nature of each emotion without the need to react, attach or do anything. In consciously observing this from a neutral place, one is no longer governed by their emotions.

    Happiness happens both by chance and choice… to claim that it is merely choice is to imply that we are in total control of how we feel when in reality we’re not. Consciousness is intimately intertwined with the environment, all of which sets up the chemical nature of the mind and our emotional states. While our choices most definitely play a role in that, we are also at the mercy of our environments. Again the key lies not in trying to control what state we exist in, but more in acceptance for and how we address each state…
    P.s. I hope I’m not coming across too critical here Cheers 🙂

  • Hi,

    Thanks for your very well explained comment. I completely understand your point of view and I agree that it’s absolutely essential to reach a point of acceptance of where we are today, no matter our situation. But then I also believe that desires are what drives us forward. Desires are the fuel that causes us to evolve, and therefore something to appreciate (and not push aside as many of us have been taught to do). However, our happiness shouldn’t be tied to that which we want. We should be able to be happy in the absence of it, too. For me it’s about finding that balance of appreciating where we are, yet being excited about what is coming next (and trusting that what we want can be realized). I do however believe that happiness is a choice. We always have a choice about how to feel. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to choose what makes us happy and not get affected by our environment. But, I do believe that we are fully in control of our life experience. And no, you didn’t come across as too critical 😉 Thanks again for your comment and have a beautiful day!

  • Remove the word “not” from your sentence and it’s a perfect sentence: “I know I can go through it”.

    You can, I promise. Start by taking baby steps… What I do when I’m scared about something is to write down thoughts that I resonate with emotionally and that make me feel better about the subject. For example, “Everything is all right”, “I remember this time XX when I did what I was afraid of and everything worked out”, “I love the feeling of being at peace with myself”. Just writing things down start with “I love..” or “I like” usually helps. You don’t say you’re there yet, but you get the feeling of being there.

    Lots of love,

  • I want to show you a #great ways to get paid a little ~extra income by working straight-forward tasks over internet from your couch for few short hours /a day ~ Check >MY_(DISQUS )ACCOUNT to see more information

  • andreastill

    I see happiness now as a state of mind… And all the 19 tips here help to achieve that, definitely! I probably feel most miserable, when things don’t go the way I planned. So stepping back and letting them just be is useful to move into a more peaceful place. Enjoyed your article, Maria 🙂

  • Thanks Andrea! 🙂

  • Ann Davis

    Great points for living happily. I love #13-unhappy people suck the happiness and before long you’ll be as miserable as they are…I try to avoid them.

  • Ilka Emig

    Hi Maria!
    Nice post! I think no 13 is so absolutely very very important. A good morning routine is also priceless but the area I have to work on. I am not a morning person and school starts way too early 😉
    Thanks, Ilka

  • Thanks Ann! Yeah, me too 😉

  • Thanks Ilka! I can highly recommend having a good morning routine. It changed the unfolding of my days when I started doing that. And it doesn’t have to take that much time. Best of luck to you and have an awesome day! Maria

  • Allow @ me to show you a excellent ways to earn a lot of extra money by finishing basic tasks from your house for few short hours a day — See more info by visiting >MY___|DISQUS|___ID|

  • Allow me to show)you a suberb way to earn a lot of extra money by finishing basic tasks from your house for few short hours a day — See more info by visiting >MY____$DISQUS$____ID;}

  • Great post Maria! Thank you for these reminders 🙂

  • BRAVO! This post brought me to tears.

    I struggled for so long living with a negative mindset, and now that I’ve been free of it since May, my life has truly changed.

    The power of taking little steps to gain pure happiness is phenomenal.

  • Your comment literally made m laugh lol ! Btw I wrote! I wrote all the thoughts that captured my mind since so many days, and I get it published too! That’s how frustrated I was…! I felt much relieved.
    Thanks for your sincere advises 🙂

  • I’m so happy to hear that Sara!! I wish you an amazing day 🙂

  • Wow, Justine! That’s amazing to hear. I’m so happy to hear that your life has changed for the positive 🙂 Have a beautiful day! Maria

  • Thanks a lot Cylon! 🙂

  • Thanks a lot 🙂 I wish you an amazing and happy life 🙂

  • Mark Tong

    Great post Maria, particularly liked ‘save money to invest in memories’ and ‘slow down’.

  • Laura J Tong

    Such a fabulous upbeat and inspiring post Maria. Love all your points but #2 really shouts to me – getting up in time to watch the birds for a full half an hour over splendidly hot coffee, how could my day unfold as anything but happy after that 🙂

  • Aaron

    Great article, really enjoyed reading it 🙂 I can definitely relate to Number 6 and 7, last November I moved from Ireland to New Zealand, haven’t purchased anything new in the months that have passed however I have an amazing amount of memories and new friends too!

  • Here is how you can earn fifty five dollars every hour… After searching for a job that suits me for six months , I started working over this internet-website and today I could not be more satisfied . After 3 months doing this my income is around five-thousand $/monthly -Check internet website i mentioned by following link on MY___-__-________PROFILE__

  • There is a method how you can earn fifty five bucks an hour… After being unemployed for six months , I started freelancing over this website and now I am very satisfied. 3 months have passed since being on my new job and my income is around five-thousand $/per month -Check internet-company i mentioned by following link on MY__-_______-PAGE___

  • Hi Maria, fantastic post. I believe it will help a lot people understand that happiness can be achieved with simple steps…and that huge adventures aren’t always necessary (like traveling the world or jumping into a marriage).

    The area that plagues me the most is #17: Forgiveness.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m a very forgiving person…99.9% of the time. I get mad or upset, then I cool off and talk it out, and then I get over it. Simple.

    But the most difficult ones for me to forgive are the betrayers. People I loved and trusted deeply, but hurt me even deeper.

    It’s weird. I say that I “forgave them” because I don’t expect anything from them (the betrayers). I don’t expect an apology or an attempt to fix things. And I don’t want to be around them. So in most ways, and on most days, it appears I’ve happily moved on.

    But bring up their name or a similar situation and all the hard feelings and resentments reveal themselves as alive and well. And it’s not a desire for vengeance or anything like that. But the feelings are intense. And I don’t like it.

    Which always makes me wonder…did I truly forgive them?

    It sure doesn’t sound like it. And all the advice from the psychology and religious authorities I’ve reached out to is vague like “Let it go”, “Don’t hold on those those feelings”, etc. Not very helpful.

    I remember a story a pastor once told about the hatred he had for a criminal who had harmed his little sister. And it was pretty bad too. He spoke of how one day, he visited the prison, looked the guy in the eye, and forgave him right there on the spot. Of course this was followed by statements of feeling relieved, set free, etc.

    But surely he doesn’t like the guy. Surely he doesn’t think happy thoughts when he hears his name. Surely this forgiveness doesn’t involve inviting the dude over for family BBQs. You know?

    So I’m curious…what is your best description “true forgiveness”. Especially with regard to releasing the person from emotional debt, yet still harboring hard feelings.

    To me, it appears to be more about controlling your emotions rather than truly letting go. At least for the very painful and uber-emotional kinds of violations. (not talking about “little forgives” like forgiving someone who accidentally breaks your favorite thingy or someone who says something mean about you).

    Thanks again, Maria. I love it!

  • Thanks a lot Mark! 🙂

  • Thanks Laura! Haha yes… 🙂 Mornings can really be the “golden moments” as we say in Sweden 😉

  • Thanks Aaron! I’m so happy to hear that! I wish you all the best 🙂

  • Hi Blaine,

    Thanks a lot for your comment and your very kind words 🙂

    I can very much relate to what you’re saying and sometimes it’s difficult to know if we TRULY have forgiven someone. Even though we want to forgive and we technically have.. it can feel like a small, but deep piece of resentment still is buried somewhere inside of us.

    Also, we tend to think that once we have forgiven someone we have to leave it – that we can’t bring up that subject again (because we let it go already), which can make it even more difficult to actually move on. So, simply acknowledging that something still is bothering us is a great step forward.

    Coming back to your question – how do we truly forgive someone?

    I believe that everything eventually comes back to ourselves (people can trigger behavior or reactions, but what is being triggered is still within us). I believe that in order to truly forgive someone we need to dare looking within us and our “dark room”. A person or a situation caused us pain and without that pain being acknowledge, it will still stay within us until chose to see it.

    Otherwise it will stay within us, reminding us of what we still haven’t confronted. I believe all pain – physical and emotional – is information that needs to be seen. That it’s our very clever bodies telling us that something is being hidden or denied. Only when we look at it can it dissolve. Then its purpose have been served.

    I have been in two situations where I’ve been struggling with forgiveness for long periods of times. In both situations I tried to forgive the person and myself. But, it didn’t work completely. It kept coming up and reminding me that some pain still was active within me. Eventually I decided to go deep deep within. I decided not to stop until I had hit the pain-point. I decided to go within the darkest part of myself and ask those extremely difficult questions.

    I kept in mind that my mind is trying to protect me from feeling this pain – so I kept on digging until I hit points that triggered those difficult emotions. Once I was there, I stayed in those feelings (even though my mind kept telling me to get the h*ll out of there). Because that’s our normal reaction – if something is painful we turn away from it. But, the only way (what I believe) to truly get rid of pain and negative feelings is to stay with them. To look at them (without judgement) and acknowledge them. They just wants to be noticed, and only then will they disappear. Their purpose have been served.

    So, my advice is this: put aside 1 hour and go to a room where you can be alone. Light a candle (doesn’t hurt to make it a bit cozy;) and start to write on blank pieces of paper (or on the computer if you prefer). Write down EVERYTHING that comes up in regards to that subject. Ask yourself those very difficult questions (about love, worthiness, rejection etc.). Allow all feelings to come up and know that you’re turning this around in the process. Keep writing until you have nothing left to express. Then come back to your inner guidance and ask yourself if there’s anything else left. If you feel an inner peace and calm, you got everything out. Then be very proud of yourself for having the courage for doing this (because it isn’t easy). You went in deep inside and you made it out. Perhaps you only need to do this once (I’ve done it a few times for very deep stuff) or perhaps you need to do it a few times. Don’t judge, just accept where you are and know that you’re growing immensely from this. After these types of processes you’ll probably be very tired (I did it a few days ago and I went to bed at 9 and slept for like 10 hours).

    Hope that makes sense! It’s definitely not the “cookies and milk” way of reaching forgiveness, but this is the only way I’ve managed to truly forgive people for things that have caused me deep pain.

    Wish you all the best Blaine!


  • Maria – First of all, you have excellent communication skills. Your response to my comment is a perfect example of reflective empathetic listening. Thank you for listening.

    Second: I’ll be be honest. I wasn’t expecting to gain any resolve from your reply. And that’s not a reflection of you. Rather, it’s a reflection of my cynicism. I never get a useful answer about forgiveness. But I always ask when I get the chance.

    And I’m glad I asked…because I believe you nailed it. Can’t believe my eyes, but you did it!

    Your explanation of forgiveness is the most effective solution I’ve ever encountered. I truly believe you’ve pointed me in the direction I need to take in order to resolve my resentments…something that has been plaguing me for over a decade.


    The key factor? Confronting the pain and taking control of how it affects me, instead of hiding it and reacting to it.

    Thank you, Maria. Thank you for taking the time to listen. My mind is officially blown!

  • Quinn Eurich

    Great post Maria! I can certainly attest to the power of a morning routine – not only does it start your day off right, it’s a wonderful time to receive insights and inspiration!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Here is a technique how it is possible to earn $85 hr… After being without work for six months , I started making cash over this site and now I could not be more satisfied . After 3 months on my new job my income is around five-thousand dollars/a month -Check internet website Check out my profile for more info

  • Rachit Bhatt

    Really amazing post Maria.. I just have a question. How can one make a balance between being in the present and dreaming and planning for the future?

  • Wow, thanks Blaine! Your words really warmed my heart 🙂 Thanks again and I wish you all the best. Big hug.

  • Thank you so much Quinn! I totally agree with you. Mornings are the best (currently enjoying mine;). Cheers, Maria

  • Hi Rachit,

    Thanks for your comment! Good question. As I see, it’s about being happy and content with your day in general, while setting aside some time per day to dream of your ideal future.

    You can use affirmations and write things you want to happen, but write them as if they already have happened (E.g. “I love seeing money in overflow coming into my bank account”). You can also create a vision board of what you want (great way to engage yourself in your dream). Then you look at your affirmations a few times per day and your vision board when you wake up and go to sleep.

    By adding these “future” aspects into your daily life, you add more purpose to what you’re doing here and now, and you feel a clearer sense of direction. You realize that you, everyday are going in the direction you desire, which feels empowering. Also, you make feeling good unconditional. You can feel happy in the absence of what you desire (which is key in utilizing the law of attraction).

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Here is a good way how U can earn ninty-five dollars /hr… After searching for a job that suits me for six-months , I started earning over this web-site and today I possibly could not be happier. 3 months have passed since being on my new job and my income is around 5000 dollars/month If this interests you: 1)navigate to the site link in description

  • There is an good idea how it’s possible to make $95 /hour… After being without work for 6 months , I started earning over this site and now I possibly can not be more satisfied. After 3 months doing this my income is around 5000 dollars-per month If this interests you: 1)navigate to the site link in description

  • Thanks Maria! These are all great tips! I’ll definitely have to keep more of these in mind. I do a few already, but others I need to start incorporating into my life. 🙂

  • Thank you so much Dacia! 🙂

  • Thanks Maria!

  • Wonderful message Maria. Especially point number 17. It’s hard to forgive sometimes…must learn to let go hatred and learn to forgive.

  • Thank you so much Guru! And you said it very well.

  • Marcelo NZ

    It is always very nice to read posts like this one Maria. Congratulations and thank you because reading it just gave me a little bit more of confidence and support as I am going through a rough time (I am unemployed at the moment).

  • Excellent advice and perfect way to start my day at 5am

  • Andrea Torres Aguilar

    I can not believe I found this post by chance, and it makes so much sense to me, I will print it and read it many times. Thanks a lot Maria.

  • Oh, I’m so happy you did Andrea!!


  • You’re welcome Tom! 🙂

  • Oh I’m so happy it did! Hope that things are good for you now 🙂

  • surendra rahangdale

    wow so great and useful !, u r really d one who can change my life, superb maria