Exercises to Create Happiness

There are specific activities, suggested by Achor and others in positive psychology, which tend to make people happier and Dr. Pierson suggested picking one and committing to it daily, as a “happiness workout.”

  • Meditate for eight minutes a day, which helps rewire your brain for greater happiness, less stress and improved immune functioning.
  • Journal for two minutes about a positive experience you’ve had.
  • Look forward to something.  Make a plan for something positive.
  • Consciously do something kind for someone.  Write a positive note, email someone you care about, or do volunteer work.
  • Surround yourself with positivity.  Put up inspirational quotes, hang pictures of people you care about, or go outside for 20 minutes.
  • Exercise.  Even ten minutes of exercise daily can have a positive impact on your mood.
  • Push past your comfort zone.  The more you do something novel, the happier you are.  Experience new places, new food; take a class in something.
  • Spend money on experiences, not stuff.  Spending money on activities, especially involving others, produces positive emotions which are more meaningful and last longer than those created by buying things.
  • Exercise a “signature strength.”  When people use a skill they have, it generally lifts their mood.  Research suggests that using a character strength, such as creativity, curiosity, humor, judgment, or kindness, creates even greater happiness.
  • Express gratitude.  Write down three things for which you are grateful daily.
  • Allow yourself to be imperfect.  The happiest among us are those who know perfection is un-obtainable and who allow themselves to be “good enough.”
  • Learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings.  Negative emotions are a part of life. Learn safe ways to release them or sit with them, knowing you can stand it.  Over time, your ability to withstand day-to-day negative emotions will expand.
  • Expand your sources of support.  Connection with others is crucial to physical and emotional well-being.  Even brief encounters with others—an email, a smile, an exchange of a few words, can help both parties feel more alive and happy.
  • Practice and make it easy to do the good stuff.  As you develop new habits, you rewire the brain. Put the desired actions as close as possible to the path of least resistance, and make it harder to do the things you don’t want to do.

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