44 Ways to Improve Your Health and Happiness
Do you want to improve your health and feel better? The human body and mind are fascinating, and the science behind improving your wellbeing is something I find extremely interesting. There are a lot of different tools, methods, and practices that can help you jumpstart your wellbeing into the direction you desire. Some of these work fast, and some of them take awhile, so be patient and persevere. It will pay off.
If you take one thing from this article, then let it be this: take action on the things that make you feel good. Our life on this small, blue planet is short, so make the most of it. Think about what you truly value and cherish. It’s easy to lose touch with what really matters, so stay alert and aware.
Hugs are amazing at relieving stress (and studies have proven this). I’m sure you’ve felt this yourself when hugging a partner or loved one. It feels like you relax, and stress melts away when you hug someone you care about.
2. Give a gift
It feels good to give, and I am not just talking about rampant consumerism. You can give experiences and many other things. It doesn’t have to be things that are of no value. Take your loved one and give them an experience instead of something materialistic.
Meditation has a profound impact on your brain and can help you release negative thoughts and become happier. Meditation might not be the easiest thing for most people, because of their chattering minds, but try it — and you’ll be surprised at the relaxation!
4. Be grateful
Think about the positive things in life. I’ve always found that being grateful has an amazing ability to pick me up whenever I’m feeling down. Even research studies (pdf) are realizing the powerful effects of counting your blessings and focusing on the positive.
Research studies have found that those who forgive are healthier and happier, compared to those who hold resentments. Forgiving can be hard, because you think that it somehow helps you to hold on to things, but what you are actually doing is reliving the painful moment over and over and causing emotional harm to yourself.
6. Spend time with your family
Sometimes, we are so inundated with work that we forget to spend time with our family, friends, or even our spouse. This is especially true if you run your own business and love what you do. Take time to relax and be with those who are close to you.
7. Share your feelings
Tell your loved ones that you love them. Thank them for being here with you. Telling people how much you appreciate them can have a snowball effect on everyone involved. It can be scary to share what you feel, but it’s the scary things in life that matter.
8. Walk in nature
Taking a walk in the park and basking in the sun can improve your mood, not only because it gets your body producing vitamin D, which is the sunshine vitamin, but also because there’s something about nature (we belong there).
9. Sit in nature
Sitting and looking at the birds and wildlife is soothing. Enjoying the moment and listening to the birds sing can remind you to not take the dramas in life so seriously and to instead just enjoy the ride.
11. Watch a movie
I love movies. Watching a comedy, thriller, mystery, or an inspirational drama always manages to get me to shift my perspective and provoke thought. Renting an old movie and grabbing a bag of popcorn — is there anything more awesome?
12. Spend time with your pet
There are many studies out there on how pets can reduce cardiovascular stress, such as by lowering your blood pressure, and helping you release stress. This not only applies to those that own dogs, but to cat owners, as well.
13. Make food you enjoy
You and I both know that there are certain foods that make you happy. I am not talking about gorging yourself on ice cream or anything like that. Preparing food and eating it consciously can be a form of meditation and may help you snap out of the common patterns we find ourselves in.
14. Let go of guilt
Guilt can come about in many different ways. You might feel guilty because you just ate a piece of chocolate cake, or it can be something else. Relax, don’t be so hard on yourself, and let yourself enjoy the simple things in life (in moderation of course).
15. Eat whole foods
Healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and so on are filled with fiber, nutrition, and things that scientists probably haven’t even discovered yet. Research proves this and shows that the healthier you eat, the happier you’ll be.
16. Eat fish
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce depression and all sorts of mental disorders. We believe this is because the EPA and DHA in fish help transport a chemical in your body called serotonin, which acts as a natural anti-depressant.
17. Drop unnecessary tasks
When you think about everything you have to do, it is easy to get overwhelmed and procrastinate. Simplify your life and drop the things you really don’t need to do. Stop saying yes to more than you can handle.
18. Find your passion
Finding your passion and discovering your purpose in life will bring fulfillment and happiness to your being. Doing what you love energizes and uplifts you like nothing else. Discover your life’s purpose and start taking action to making it come true.
Exercise is good for your brain. Studies have known this for years, but we still neglect exercise, because it tends to be boring. Find an exercise form you really like. You don’t have to jog if you don’t enjoy it.
20. Organize yourself
I don’t know about you, but I feel less stress when my workplace and home is uncluttered and clean. I’m not saying I’m great at cleaning up, just that it’s nice.
21. Give away stuff
Giving away old clothes is another act of kindness that will open your heart and improve your mood. Imagine how big of a difference just a few sweatshirts can have for someone in a country much poorer than yours.
Signing up as a volunteer might seem like a waste of time at first, but once you try it, I promise you that you will walk out of it with a new outlook on helping others.
23. Accept your situation
So often we think about how we could have changed things if we had only done this one thing in the past. What is, is. Let go of trying to control, and just relax into your current situation.
24. Write down goals that make you happy
Setting goals that make you unhappy until you reach them is a recipe for disaster. Instead, set goals that make you happy in the present moment.
25. Visualize what you want
When you visualize, make it feel like you’re there. You should try to smell, feel, hear and taste it. This will enhance the feeling and supercharge your cells with positive energy and catapult you toward your goals.
26. Simplify your finances
We all have a few magazine subscriptions or similar financial burdens that we don’t even think about. They just arrive and we pay the fee. Simplifying your finances and dramatically cutting down your expenses will allow you to save more, work less, and relax.
27. Write a journal
Journaling is something I resisted for a long time, but as I started writing my thoughts down, things started becoming clearer, and I could solve problems and make decisions much easier.
28. Take action
It’s easy to dream and have ideas, but the thing that separate those that love their life and are successful is they take massive action, all the time. What could you do today to get closer to your goals? Why aren’t you doing it?
29. Live in the now
Focus on your breath, on your body, and be aware of your thoughts. The present moment is all that we have. If you dwell in the past, you are doing it in the present moment. Breathe, accept, and relax.
30. Be positive
Clichés are everywhere and a general statement such as “be positive” can get on your nerves. But taking baby steps to just think one more positive thought or do one more positive thing each day can change your life.
31. Lose arguments
We all want to win arguments, but what would happen if you just started letting other people win them? There’s no need to prove your point. Just let someone else win and steer the conversation to a friendlier and happier topic.
32. Live frugally
Living frugally goes hand in hand with simplifying your finances, but it’s a bit more than that. It’s accepting that materialism isn’t that important. You can save a lot of money while still doing the things you love.
33. Be lazy
Sometimes it’s nice to just relax and allow yourself to be lazy. Once in a while, allow yourself to take some time for pure laziness, eating, and joy.
34. Be aware
About 5 years ago I discovered meditation, lucid dreaming, and all those mystical things that people think are airy-fairy. I thought so as well in the beginning, but it lead me to practicing mindfulness and awareness. It has had a dramatic impact on my life, it just might do the same for you.
35. Experience life
When you have bouts of energy and can’t stand to be lazy anymore, go outside and experience something. Drive a go-kart, go to a sauna, or take a short trip. Create experiences that are worth remembering.
36. Call up old friends you’ve been meaning to call
It’s easy to push up calling and connecting with old friends and loved ones. Do that now. Even though it can feel like something you’d rather not do, push past that and do it. You’ll feel better afterwards.
37. Choose to be happier
Choosing to be happier consciously has shown to have an effect on people all around the world. I could not find any scientific evidence, but I can tell from personal experience that when you truly want to be happy, you’ll find a way.
38. Be kind
Do something kind to someone. Just smiling at people when you’re outside is an act of kindness that uplifts the people you meet and in turn improves your mood and happiness.
39. Be social
We humans are social creatures, and although some of us prefer to be alone, we still need human touch and interaction. Without it, we go crazy and fall into depression.
Jon Haidt, a teacher and author, termed the concept “elevation” (pdf), which means doing things that cause warmth, and an elevation in feelings. It basically means helping others and doing kind acts.
41. Enjoy your life
Accept the way things are, and enjoy what you have. This goes hand in hand with forgiving and being grateful. Forgiving yourself is a big step that many people have to take during their lifetimes. It will feel like a huge weight is dropped off of your shoulders.
42. Release materialism
You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. “Live more, have less stuff” is truer now than ever before. More and more people are realizing this, and even psychologists now know what makes people happy.
Lack of sleep has a profound impact on your mood, so make sure you get enough sleep. I’ve found that whenever I can’t get my 8-9 hours of sleep, I’m easily irritated, don’t think as well, and am not my cheery old self.
44. Get a massage
Massages feel awesome, but did you know that they can increase your serotonin and dopamine levels? Serotonin and dopamine are two neurotransmitters that help reduce depression and lift your mood.
This is a guest post by Henri Junttila, a freelance blogger who also writes about self improvement ideas for conscious people. If you want to keep up with his life-changing updates, subscribe to his feed.