Being happy is a goal that we all want to reach, but we have different ideas about how to achieve it. It's easy to think of happiness as a result, but learning to feel good despite the circumstances is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Indeed, sometimes the circumstances may not be the most favorable to feel good, however, there are certain actions that we can put into practice to improve our attitude towards life.

In this article, you will find 10 small actions that help you to be happier and feel good every day. Start remodeling your interior and exterior today!

"I like being happy, it's just more fun to live like this"

Once I was given a greeting card that had the following phrase:

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you pay attention to other things, it will come and perch on your shoulder”

After reading it, I had many questions, and maybe you have the same:

Why do we have to wait for happiness to knock on our door? How do we know it's already there? What if he never shows up?

In fact, do you know what percentage of people are really happy?

Not one of those people who say: “ oh, I feel good (only on the outside)”…

No, I am referring to people who feel that their lives are full and meaningful.

Only 17%!

In other words, 1 in 5 people feels completely happy.

The obvious question is: how can I become one of those happy people?

It is much easier than you think and here you discover how.

Many actions depend only on you and that you can do TODAY to improve your attitude and satisfaction in life.

In fact, that is the key.

We do not have to live trying to "hunt" happiness, nor do I think it is useful to think of it as a well-deserved destination after a hard walk.

I am convinced that the more you focus on "you have to be happy" the less you are (because you realize that something is missing).

For this reason, I encourage you to focus all your attention on the simple pleasure of performing these small actions and try to turn them into daily habits.

In this way, your satisfaction with life will be present on the grand scale of days.

But, before I tell you what these little actions are about, it is important to explain the true definition of happiness.

What is happiness?

Happiness is a complex and difficult word to define, especially since the path to happiness is different for each of us.

I am not a psychologist and therefore I took on the task of investigating the subject in depth.

Some of the factors that affect happiness may indeed be beyond our control (such as genetics or certain circumstances). But there are always actions we can take from this moment on to amplify our good feelings.

The psychologist, an expert in happiness, Mónica López, comments in an interview that I did the following to her: happiness consists of making small decisions day by day, which translate into actions to live happier.

Being happy is feeling good, functioning well, and doing good

According to the expert, acting in a way that is consistent with our personal values ​​and goals allows us to take these small actions regarding our happiness and, in this way, have a combination of more positive than negative emotions.

How to learn to feel happier with the psychologist Mónica López

How to learn to feel happier with the psychologist Mónica López

What can I do to decide to be happy?

Happy people realize that happiness becomes a habit. They are not victims of circumstances. Nor do they pursue that "happiness" in any person or material good.

Some days you may indeed feel better than others (perhaps the weather affects you or a particular date) but if in the total count of days per year you decide to feel good and happy, you are on the right track.

Happiness is an everyday decision...

Although it sounds impossible, you can take control to smile more times a day and be more satisfied with life.

These small actions are divided into two parts:

Small actions that improve our perception and relationship with the outside world

Small actions that come from within us and improve our attitude towards life

Try to work any (or all) of these actions into your routine. This ensures that you feel better and are happier inside and out!

Actions to be happy from the outside in

1.- Get in touch with nature

Do you remember that nostalgic day when you went out for a walk?… surely you felt better after doing it.

It is proven that living near green spaces or having contact with nature is associated with better mental health.

Simply because the connection with other living beings has a positive impact on your sense of well-being1

The stimulation is so strong that just looking at some images of nature can stimulate parts of the brain that are associated with happiness. two

In addition, spending time outdoors exposes us to sunlight, which helps us better absorb vitamin D. It has been seen that low levels of this vitamin (hormone) are related to greater depression3.

Go for more walks and don't forget to use sunscreen!

What you can do today:

Get off the subway two stops earlier or park further away so you can spend more time outdoors.

Organize a field trip or a picnic in the park on the weekend and live with nature, you will notice the difference right away.

2.- Take care of your body by exercising

If you think that exercising is only about building your muscles, you are wrong.

The habit of exercise has been proven to promote long-term happiness 4

In addition, physical activity has multiple benefits for your health in general and for your mental health. These are just a few wonders that exercise does for you:

No one is very happy when they get sick. That's why exercise helps our bodies produce disease-fighting antibodies and proteins. 5

Releases certain chemicals, called “ endorphins”, that improve your mood and promote feelings of euphoria

Fight depression and  stress 6

What you can do today:

If you're not in the habit of exercising, start small: follow the 5 easy steps in this article.

It is valid to combine the 2 strategies: nature + exercise, walk in the park for a few minutes!

If you already exercise, try a new sport, a yoga class, Zumba, or some martial art, you will see that your attitude improves.

3.- Do something nice for someone

Doing something for others is a powerful way to increase our own happiness and also leave a grain of sand in the mood of others.

This does not mean just giving money to someone who is asking for it on the street. Giving something to others can be as simple as a single kind word (a good morning before ordering a coffee, a thank you to the bus driver).

It can also be a simple courtesy like picking up the neighbor's mail or giving up a seat on the subway.

Scientific studies show that helping others increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves mood, and reduces stress. 7

It has been proven that giving away a little of your free time to volunteer, also increases your perception of well-being 8

What you can do today:

Resolve to do one small good deed every day to help someone

If you have the possibility and a little time, participate in a volunteer program. It can be in a kennel, an orphanage, planting trees, etc. There are thousands of institutions that need your help.

4.- Learn or try something new

When was the last time you learned something new? …

If you remember your childhood, you know that as a child you learn every day, it may not be something significant and important. But there is always something to discover.

Sadly this is lost over time (and it should not be).

Learning affects our well-being in many positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us keep our minds curious. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our confidence.

The best part is that learning something new and being happy is a two-way street: learning something improves your perception of well-being, and this perception helps you learn more things 9

Learning a new skill, even a small one, such as a first-aid technique or a word in another language, improves your intellectual capacity and your daily motivation.

Learning also means discovering or trying new things. They don't have to be very big and ambitious things (although they could be), the goal is to reinvent your routine by making room for new things.

What you can do today (some ideas):

Take a different route to work

Read a different newspaper or a new book

Visit a store you don't know (even if you don't buy anything)

Be a tourist in your own city

Try food from another country or cook a new recipe

Play a game you didn't know (even that popular  mobile app counts)

5.- Talk more and cultivate relationships

Setting aside more time for the people you care about and increasing your social connections creates a sense of satisfaction and well-being.

For some reason when we get into “routine” mode call it: work, school, children, obligations, or homework… we forget to do those things that make us happy. Like those deep talks with your lifelong friends.

Our relationships with other people are key to our happiness.

Social connection is part of a healthy lifestyle. Because these close relationships with friends and family provide love, and purpose, and increase our feelings of self-worth.

Talking with the people around us (listening and being heard) leads to a greater sense of well-being, stronger relationships, and a better experience with our environment.

Studies show that people with strong relationships are happier, healthier and even live longer. Plus meaningful conversations make you happier.10

If you have people you trust close to you, like your family or friends, don't just talk about the weather or the score of the last football game, instead try to have a deep conversation and develop a space where you can talk about your opinions, thoughts, and emotions.

Nothing compares to talking to someone in person, but if this gets complicated, we currently have many ways to communicate within reach and most of these means are free!

So there are no excuses not to say: « Hello, how are you? » to that special person.

What you can do today:

Greet your neighbors with a smile

Dare to meet new people

Phone your parents and grandparents

Visit your family (even if it's not Christmas)

Make an effort and book an afternoon with your friends

Now you know how to be happier and feel better with your surroundings, but you also need to build habits that allow you to improve the perception in reverse.

Actions to be happy from the inside out

6.- Sleep better

We know that sleep helps the body recover from the day and repair itself. It also helps us eat better and be more productive.

But, it turns out, it's also important to our happiness.

When we are tired, we react worse to any situation and we become much more sensitive to negative emotions.

We see everything in a more pessimistic way and only gray memories appear in our minds.

This happens because negative stimuli are processed in a part of the brain called the amygdala. While positive or neutral memories are processed by another area called the hippocampus.

Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, but they do recall negative ones. eleven

In one experiment, sleep-deprived participants tried to memorize a list of words. They could remember 80% of the words with a negative connotation, such as "cancer" or "disease". But they could only remember less than 30% of words with a positive or neutral connotation, such as "sun" "smile" or "tree"12

Also, when you don't get enough sleep, your levels of a hormone called cortisol rise. Known for its relationship with stress.13.

How long and how deep you sleep will affect your mood when you wake up, which can make a big difference to your day.

What you can do today:

Make an effort to go to bed an hour earlier than usual

Read this article with the steps to create a ritual that will help you sleep better and wake up in a good mood starting tonight.

7.- Propose and plan your goals

It has been scientifically proven that feeling good about the future is important for our happiness14

Choosing stretch goals is a compass that gives you direction. They also bring a sense of achievement and satisfaction when we achieve them.

We all need goals to motivate us and they should be challenging enough to get us excited, but at the same time, your goals should be achievable.

If we try to plan something far from our reality at this moment, we will only feel anxiety and unnecessary stress, also if we do not achieve it in the planned time, we will feel a kind of defeat that does not contribute to strengthening our self-esteem. 15.

When we think about the future we are all guessing to some extent, so it is important to keep our feet on the ground. An overly optimistic outlook can be unhelpful and even counterproductive.

Having unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, a sense of failure, and a more pessimistic view of the future. But if we take a realistic but at the same time optimistic view of the results, the probability of success will increase.

However, planning and having more realistic and achievable goals can contribute to happiness in several ways. Scientific research shows that the simple act of planning  these goals generates a feeling of positivity in the day to day, for example planning a vacation in the future16

In another study, simply thinking about an upcoming rewarding experience (like watching a movie you like, or an evening with friends) was shown to raise your endorphin levels by 27% and reduce your stress levels. Endorphins are substances in your brain responsible for the feeling of euphoria and joy.17

Therefore, having attainable goals and planning realistically is a way to be happy in the present tense. Goals can be long-term, short-term, or even day-to-day.

For example:

A long-term goal might be to become a doctor or win a competition.

A short-term goal might be to throw a party or join a soccer game on the weekend.

Instead, a very short-term goal might be to cook something different or meet up with an old friend this afternoon.

What you can do today (some ideas):

Write your long-term goals, how do you see yourself in a few years?

Plan a trip for the future (even if you don't have a specific date yet)

Look for the next releases of some movies and schedule a trip to the cinema

Plan your next weekend in advance, what would you like to do?

Invest your money in experiences and not in material things, as it has been seen that it contributes more to your happiness in the short and long term18

8.- Appreciate the little things

This is a seemingly simple strategy, but I have personally found that it can make a big improvement in your daily sense of happiness.

Perhaps we let ourselves be carried away by the circumstances of the moment, or perhaps we yearn for more and more things and we demand of heaven and of life to have them as soon as possible.

Something like:

-“When I have a house with a pool I will be happy” or -“When I manage to finish my degree and have a better job, I will be fully satisfied”

And then… you have the house and the job and you are still not happy.

Stopping and looking at everything we already have and being grateful for it is one of the best ways to value our present and feel more satisfied with who we are and what we have.

In one experiment, participants wrote down each day what made them feel grateful. Their moods improved in the first few days of this simple practice. The results suggest that a mindful approach to giving thanks can have emotional and interpersonal benefits.

In another study, it was shown that being grateful or not being grateful directly affects your perception of happiness. Participants who wrote thank you letters decreased depressive symptoms. 19

What you can do today:

Before going to sleep think or write 3 things for which you are grateful. They can be very important things like your family, friends, or a baby on the way, but they can also be quite common things like eating your favorite ice cream, your bed, the coins in your piggy bank, or the simple fact of having air in your lungs.

9.- Remember something and smile

Have you ever laughed just to remember something funny?

This happens because our thoughts define our mood at the moment. In such a way a pleasant image or memory triggers a positive feeling.

Once the smiling muscles contract, a positive feedback loop begins that reinforces our feeling of joy.

That's why it's important to smile every day. Even during those situations where we can't do anything (but they affect us).

You will think that it is difficult and even useless, but you are wrong…

Smiling can make us feel better, but this effect is more effective when we support it with positive thoughts.

a new studio20 suggests that a fake smile can make your mood worse. The effects of a false smile and a smile as a result of pleasant memories or a better perception of the current situation were examined.

Participants who smiled as a result of cultivating deep positive thoughts (such as a tropical vacation or your child's festival) tended to improve their mood dramatically.

In a nutshell: our brain feels good and tells us to smile, we smile and tell our brain that it feels good, and so on.

What you can do today:

Think of something nice, remember a joke or some funny situation that stimulates your smile.

Think about the best situation of the day or the previous days, what made you feel good?

Listen to music to feel good. Research shows that listening to music with the goal and desire to be happier can actually lead to greater happiness than simply listening to music for the sake of listening twenty-one

10.- Learn to control your thoughts

Learning to control your thoughts is a skill to improve your inner happiness. An effective way to train this superpower is by meditating.

Meditation is often thought of as an important habit for improving focus and lowering stress, but it turns out it's also helpful for improving your happiness:

New research in neuroscience has discovered that those who meditate regularly literally change their brain structure 22

In one study, the brain X-rays of 16 people were examined before and after an eight-week course in meditation and mindfulness. The parts of the brains associated with compassion, self-awareness, and happiness grew, and the parts associated with stress shrank.

But don't worry, you don't have to become a monk and lock yourself in a temple to achieve it.

You can start meditating simply by relaxing (and doing nothing in the meantime). It is a way to give your mind a break.

Sometimes the simple fact of overthinking what we have to do generates a negative feeling in advance. Therefore, relaxing your mind for a few minutes a day is an excellent strategy to calm anxiety and avoid negative feelings during the day.

Meditating takes practice, but it is a very powerful activity. It literally clears your mind and puts you at ease, it has been proven to be an effective way to be happy and feel better.

Taking a few minutes to meditate is actually an investment in life. I have been practicing for a few months and have noticed incredible results. And you can experience them too.

what you can do today

Take a few minutes to close your eyes, relax and take a deep breath.

If you want to learn to meditate and feel better, just click here to sign up for the next free course

Important note: If you have a serious depression problem, please consult a psychologist to evaluate you closely. Don't let it go!

And what do you do to feel better and lift your spirits?