Most blogs on happiness give tips like “Surround yourself with positive people” and “Be yourself” – those are great and all, but also so-very predictable, not to mention pretty vague. Throughout my past few years of moving to multiple cities, traveling, dropping out of college, working crappy jobs, working great jobs, and all around just doin’ me, I’ve gathered some of, what I think, are the best tips, lifehacks, and tweaks to make you a happier person.
Change your passwords to a positive message
You type your password in ten times a day, which then becomes a subtle mantra you have to repeat to yourself every time. Instead of something meaningless like Password1 (don’t ever do that, by the way), this is your chance to make your passwords count! Use them as a reminders to reach goals, to memorize certain words in a foreign language, or simply to remind you to be happy.
Wake up early, for something you actually want to do
Seriously it sounds so basic and cliché to say this, but wake up earlier. Waking up early for work or school is different, but waking up early for a Zumba class will make you feel alive. Wake up early to grab coffee with a friend before work. Wake up early to go for a walk. Wake up early to write. But I’m with you on this one, that waking up early to just go to work is most likely not going to happen.
Write down one thing a day that you laughed at
I did this back in high school, and have slowly stopped doing it because my life got more “hectic” and I became more of an “adult.” Yeah, whatever, that’s what we all tell ourselves to act like we can’t do things that we used to. I recently picked up this habit and it’s amazing to see how much more I remember, not to mention how much better I feel that even on days when I feel like nothing happened, something actually did happen.
Maybe it was a joke at the office water cooler, or a prank you played on someone, or an embarrassing double-chin selfie on Snapchat. That doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that your life will feel like less of a blur. It’s nice to have something like an agenda or journal because having physical proof is sometimes necessary to remind our amnesia-ridden selves that we are happy people who aren’t just letting life pass us by.
[Me giving the Stank Eye]
Should you go out with your friends on a Friday night because you want to have a social life? Yes. Do you really want to? No. And there’s your answer. You may deal with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) at first, and guess what, you are missing out on socialization, but if you had gone out with your friends, you’d be missing out on quality alone time that could be used for whatever you want (probably relaxation). You will always be missing out on something.
Look at it this way: the more you say “no,” the more time you have to spend on doing things you want.
If stuck in a situation where people need an immediate answer and you’re not sure, always say “no.” You’ll disappoint people if you say you’ll be somewhere and don’t show up, but if you say you won’t show up and then decide to go, people will be happy to see you.
Talk to strangers
Going against everything your parents told you while growing up (like we tend to do a lot on our site), we think it’s great to talk to strangers. Ask them where they like to eat. Ask them what they do in life. Ask for their opinion.
I was waiting for a public bus in Los Angeles, when a middle-aged woman approached me and asked how long I had been waiting. That one question turned into a 40-minute bus ride where we chatted about her sons in college and how she thinks they’re too far away (they were in Pasadena for god’s sakes). We chatted about where I should go and what I should do while exploring her neighborhood for the first time. Of course, this woman was very open and friendly and while not everyone will be such a Chatty Cathy, it doesn’t hurt to get some new energy in your life and a fresh outlook on anything you’re wondering about.
Friends and family are great, but sometimes it’s nice to have a spontaneous conversation with a stranger to shine a new light onto a topic you may have thought you had all figured out.
Look up. Damn! What is going on around you? Is there something you now notice that you had never noticed before?
What you’re doing when looking up is forcing yourself to take a pause and reflect. Most times, when we’re not thinking of looking up, we’re stressed, worried, or anxious. Our mind is somewhere else and we’re in zombie mode.
Snap out of it. Look up. The Earth is huge and your problems are only relative to how big you think your world is.
If arriving at work ten minutes late is the end of the world for you, then it will be the end of the world for you, but when you put it into perspective, arriving late to work is seriously not a big deal. There are seven billion people on the planet and we all worry, cry, stress out, deal with heartbreak, etc. and you being ten minutes late for work isn’t going to change much.
The weather isn’t “bad”
Yeah it might rain. That’s what umbrellas are for. Yeah we might get a bit wet from the rain, but it’ll dry; it’s water. When we check the weather forecast before we go to bed or right when we wake up and see it’s going to storm all day, that shouldn’t automatically register as “ugh” in our minds, but it does. It should if something we were looking forward to do will now be affected, but most times, it’s just a normal day in our schedules and the simple idea of a storm already affects us.
Weather, itself, isn’t something that is “bad” or “good.” It’s just weather. It all comes down to not letting things out your control affect your mood.
Pick up 10 things
Cleaning becomes ten times easier (and more fun) when you tell yourself you’ll just pick up ten things. That could mean, you move your envelopes from the counter to the cupboard, or you put your shoes by the door. Ten things.
Your apartment will be cleaner, you’ll feel more productive, and when you feel like your life is in order, you’re generally happier.
Don’t plan your weekends
If you’re in school or at a full-time, or even part-time job, your schedule is already set for you the entire week. Why do you want to then plan your only two days off and commit yourself to something you may not want to do when the weekend is actually here? Then, you’re stuck with having to cancel friends and being that flaky friend.
Is it because if we don’t plan things, we think our weekends will go to waste? That’s probably what most people think, but I think just the opposite. I think what’s wasteful to our life is constant planning and less spur-of-the-moment fun. Leave some time to let life happen.
Invest in things that matter
Say you’re shopping in a store and see a nice toothbrush for $5. You’re probably like, “whoa, no way, absolutely not! I can buy that for $1.” But then you keep walking and eventually purchase a tee-shirt for $20.
Look at it this way: you’re willing to pay $20 teeshirt that you wear once a week, but you’re not willing to pay $5 for a toothbrush that you use every day. The tee-shirt will make you look good one day a week, whereas having clean, white teeth will make you look good seven days a week. And if you’ve never experienced the difference between a $1 toothbrush and a $5 toothbrush, today is the day you enlighten yourself!
Invest in products that make sense. These can be books, luxury products, organic teas – anything that will bring you happiness every day instead of one-timers here and there.