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Small things you can do to feel happier in 30 seconds

Categories: Balancing Act, Your life


I am writing this on the plane, on my way back from a week-long business trip. I’m exhausted and it’s been a long week. I hate being away for this long and I also hate coming back feeling down and grumpy from all the travel/work stuff. My fam is psyched to see me and I’m dying to see them (and it’s movie night - no one should be grumpy on movie night!) So I’m determined to do something about this, to lift the business trip exhaustion fog and feel happier — and do it in a very short amount of time I have before I see my crew.

I’ve been studying happiness for a few years now, reading every book and article and study I can find. I am really interested in what we know about our own happiness (not a lot, according to one of my favorite happiness experts, Daniel Gilbert) and what we can do to feel happier (if you read one book about it, read Flourish). Time to put all this reading to work: Here are some quick small things you can do to feel happier, right now:

  • Think of something good about your day today. It can be the smallest tiniest thing. Or it can be big. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s mine: I got a kale, broccoli, apple and celery juice at the airport and it was great. Also, it was a lot healthier than what I’ve been eating this week, so I feel like I’m changing directions for the better.
  • Smile. I am serious. I don’t care how grumpy you are, just try it. When you smile, your body sends a signal to your brain that you’re happy (because usually when you’re happy you smile). Your brain then releases a signal that you’re happy. Body over mind. (This is also called facial feedback, but that term makes me cringe.)
  • Send someone you care about a nice email, text, FB message or call them. Doing something good for someone else is one of the best way to feel happiness. Our lives are insanely busy and this means that sometimes all you can do is remind a person you care about that they are awesome.

Seriously, don’t just read these three things, DO them!

Do you have favorite ways to feel happier when you’re down? Share in the comments!

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5 comments so far...

  • Smiling is priceless and so inexpensive. It is a shame we don’t do it more often. Thanks for sharing.

    Frugal Baby  |  January 31st, 2012 at 9:41 am

  • I’ve been trying to be more present with my kids - put off my email for an hour so I can help them turn their bunk beds into a fishing boat. I’ve already seen a change and it gives us all something to look forward to.

    Rebecca  |  February 1st, 2012 at 9:02 pm

  • Yes, I find smiles are the grestest outfit we can wear all the time. It even makes other people feel happier. Nowaday, people are so stressed out about how they ’should’ live by so many “rules” from the soceity. At the end, we all have one life to live and it should be determined by ourselvese, not others. Happiness is in your mind and everyone can have it regardless of what you have.

    Lilian  |  February 3rd, 2012 at 4:01 pm

  • Love your blog site! This particular post reminded me of some of the small things that I can do each day to make my life a little happier. I love it. Good stuff. Thank you dor sharing!

    Nicole Roberts  |  March 2nd, 2012 at 4:12 pm

  • Perspective is such an amazing thing. What you focus on is truly going to affect your mood. I definitely use the first tip constantly. Whenever I am feeling a bit too grumpy I remind myself of all the great things in my life. Another thing I do is give myself some slack. I think a lot of us are way too hard on ourselves and if we just allow ourselves to make mistakes I think we would be a lot happier.

    Megan Jones  |  March 29th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

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