Habits for happiness: daily habits to boost your happiness levels

Turn that frown upside down with these habits for happiness.

Smiling woman with surfboard walking on the beach – an example of habits for happiness
(Image credit: Photo by Ezra Bailey/Getty Images)

No one can be on top of the world all the time, but try some habits for happiness every day that can boost your mood and help you see the glass half full. You probably already have at least one of the best meditation apps downloaded on your phone, so why not work your way through a few more of these daily habits for happiness!

Daily habits for happiness

1. Habits for happiness | Smile (duh!)

You can quite literally smile your way to happiness, scientists have found. Putting on a big ol’ grin—even if you’re not feeling in great spirits—sends a signal to your brain, which in turn boosts your mood

2. Habits for happiness | Start a gratitude jar

Showing daily gratitude has been identified as one of the most powerful ways to rewire your brain towards happiness. 

Try keeping a ‘gratitude jar’ which involves writing down the things you’re thankful for on pieces of paper and putting them into a jar beside your bed. Every so often, tip them out and read them back for a pick-me-up.

Alternatively, you could keep a gratitude journal. Don’t forget to show gratitude in more spontaneous ways, too, like thanking a shop assistant for their help, or telling your partner how much you appreciate them.  

3. Habits for happiness | Buy someone a coffee

Spending money on others is a science-backed way to make you happier, and a simple way to do this is by simply treating someone to a coffee. This could be for a friend, your partner or even the person behind you in the queue at Starbucks (just pay for two coffees, and tell the barista to ‘pay it forward’).  

4. Habits for happiness | Switch off your phone

High phone usage makes you less able to switch off and enjoy your leisure time. Counteract the effects by committing to a device-free period every day. Try turning your phone off at 9pm and banning it from your bedroom, or avoid it for the first hour of your morning. During that time, reap the benefits of distraction-free downtime with a book or your favorite show, or relish a self-care regime where you’re not at the beck and call of anyone else. 

5. Habits for happiness | Have an orgasm

Now here's one of the happiness habits we're definitely going to try out. Whether you’re doing it with a partner or solo, reaching the big O is a surefire route to bliss. One single orgasm increases levels of the pleasure hormone oxytocin (the same one your body releases after hugging) which helps to reduce stress. 

6. Habits for happiness | exercise more

In the immortal words of Elle Woods, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. It really is that simple. While all cardiovascular exercises release some endorphins, it’s been suggested that moderate-intensity exercise—such as brisk walking, cycling or rollerblading—is best. 

Young woman walking along fallen tree trunk in forest - another habits for happiness idea

(Image credit: Oscar Wong)

7. Habits for happiness | Do a five minute declutter

Marie Kondo fans, this tip is one for you. Cluttered environments raise our levels of stress hormone cortisol, making us feel anxious and out of control. Incorporating even just a five minute tidying session into your day, to tackle your desk, bedroom or kitchen counters, can keep you in a happier frame of mind.  

8. Habits for happiness | Snack on Brazil nuts

Embrace those good-mood foods! Introducing happiness-boosting food habits isn’t all that difficult. For instance, did you know that eating just one Brazil nut gives you your recommended daily intake of selenium which boosts levels of serotonin, a chemical associated with lowering anxiety and depression? The other golden rule is to combine eating foods high in tryptophan (an amino acid which gets converted into serotonin levels in your body) such as eggs, turkey, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds, with healthy portions of slow-release carbohydrates. These regulate your insulin levels to prevent mood spikes and aid your body’s absorption of tryptophan.  

9. Habits for happiness | Take a walk in the park

There’s been quite a bit of research linking so-called ‘nature therapy’ with increased wellbeing, but this doesn’t have to mean a weekend-long hike in the forest. One study found just 10 minutes in nature boosts happiness and reduces stress. Try a quick lunchtime stroll to your nearest green space, and feel the joy.

10. Habits for happiness | Open your curtains

Morning, sunshine! Remember, it’s important to get as much exposure to natural light as possible, particularly during the winter months when the days are shorter, to avoid the mood-dampening effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Open your curtains or blinds as soon as you wake up, and be sure to get outside during the daylight hours at least once daily. 

11. Habits for happiness | Create a sleep routine

Who hasn’t felt cranky after a bad night’s sleep? Countless studies have linked maintaining a healthy sleep pattern (between six and nine hours, for most adults) with happiness and wellbeing, which is why getting your zzzs is non-negotiable. Create a calming routine you’ll look forward to, involving clean pajamas, a lavender pillow spray and a good book. If you struggle to switch off, try a mediation app, like CALM—which has sleep meditations and bedtime stories designed to help you nod off.  

Hopefully you'll try at least one of these tips. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a bit more happy?

Francesca Specter

Francesca Specter is a freelance journalist and the author of Alonement: How to be alone and absolutely own it. Based in north London, she's previously worked for Yahoo Lifestyle, Express.co.uk and Healthy magazine, and has written for the Telegraph, Red and Huffington Post.