Baby steps, people. Inspired by this Quora thread.
1. Give at least one genuine compliment every day.
Making other people happy will make you happy. Try it! Emergency Compliment can give you some ~creative~ ideas.
Valentine via ChoBeArtandDesign on Etsy, $3.75.
2. Thank your partner for the small, expected things.
Research has shown that gratitude is maybe the most important factor in predicting happy and successful relationships (more on that in “17 Small Things You Can Do To Have a Stronger Relationship Today”). Expressing that you’re grateful even for the small stuff will really make your partner feel special — and it’ll also make you realize how lucky you are. Everyone wins.
3. Focus on adding more healthy foods to your diet, rather than eliminating the “bad.”
Download the app Wholesome, which can help you track your vitamin and nutrient intake each day, and can give you recommendations of foods to eat that will help you reach your daily goal of all the good stuff you need.
Diets often fail in the long-term, and in the short-term they can make you feel miserable and cranky and deprived. Instead of focusing on all the foods you can’t or shouldn’t eat, try to think of food as a way to nourish and sustain and fuel you (assuming you don’t have a health condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure, that requires you to limit certain food types). It’s a happier way to live.
4. Learn to say “sorry” to loved ones and friends in a meaningful way.
Take responsibility for what you did (none of this “I’m sorry you feel that way” passive garbage). Show remorse. Promise to do better next time. And actually mean it!
5. Stop looking at any electronic screens within an hour of bedtime, if you can.
All kinds of light can mess with your circadian rhythm. But light from glowing electronic screens is especially bad for your sleep. Switch to regular books or magazines an hour before bedtime. And dim the lights. This’ll help you pass out faster and have an easier time getting up the next morning.
6. Walk outside, even for a short while, every day.
7. Set an alarm on your phone for 45 minutes before you want to be in bed. This way you can force yourself to start getting ready and actually get to sleep on time.
Getting enough sleep is so, so critical for your health and happiness, but so many people have trouble with it. One way to get better sleep is to force yourself to follow a routine every night and every morning.
8. Set your morning alarm to play your favorite song.
Alarm clocks are the worst. Wake up happier, start the day happier.
9. Try to read one book a week, if you can.
If you’re too busy, start slow with this one by trying to read a little bit of a book every day. This can help you learn, help you unplug, and help you detach from the go-go-go always-changing-always-updating nature of the internet.
Need a recommendation? Try the BuzzFeed Books newsletter for some great ideas. Or you can try any of these 24 books you should read based on your favorite TV shows.
10. Keep a to-do list, and get it all set up for the next day as the last thing you do before you leave work for the night.
Life can get complicated, and it helps to have an organized list of priorities so you know for sure what you need to be focusing on. Preparing for tomorrow helps you hit the ground running when you get to work. Doing it at work (at the end of the day) also means you won’t be stressing over your to-do list at home before bed.
Download Clear to your phone ASAP. It’s the easiest to-do list app out there, and swiping right or left to complete a task (or delete it entirely) is sooooo satisfying. And if you’re looking for an app that’s a bit more robust (think daily reminders, color-coded lists, and so on), check out One List.
11. When you lend money, lend with the secret assumption that you’ll never see that money again.
And if you feel like you can’t survive without getting the money back, think about how you might be able to help in another way.
This small change in mind-set can solve (or help you avoid) a huge number of problems born out of generosity.
12. Go to bed angry.
No fights are ever truly resolved at 2 a.m. anyway. And this allows you to take a break from the argument and come back with a clearer head. More on this here.
Bite Me cupcake necklace via CherryCute on Etsy, $7.50+.
13. Use a financial tracking tool to help you stay on top of your spending habits.
Mint.com is a great one — it can help you categorize all your purchases, so you see exactly what you’re spending your money on and how you might be able to save. Along those lines:
14. AUTOMATIC DEDUCTIONS. Use them!
If you can afford it, configure your bank account to automatically move a certain amount of money from each paycheck into a savings account. It’s much easier to dip into savings when you need to than to keep yourself from spending what’s right at your fingertips.
15. Help people without expecting things in return.
Especially if those things you can do don’t cost you anything. Make an introduction that might help a friend out, forward along applications to jobs when you know the hiring manager. Things like that. Read “16 Random Acts Of Kindness That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity” for some more ideas.
16. Fill half your plate with veggies as often as you can.
People who eat more vegetables live longer and live healthier. Here are “27 Of The Most Delicious Things You Can Do To Vegetables,” for some ideas! And recipe for those sesame garlic green beans pictured above here, via Wishful Chef.
17. Get a reusable water bottle, and bring it with you everywhere.
So many benefits: You’ll drink more water. You’ll drink less coffee/soda/other stuff. And it’s good for the environment! The Klean Kanteen water bottle pictured above gets top marks from the Wirecutter. Get it here.
18. Master the art of the power pose.
Watch this awesome TED talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School. More and more research is emerging that says that how we hold ourselves can have a big difference in how other people perceive us, and also in how confident we are. Get that raise!
19. Try to see the good in people.
Sometimes it’s hard. But it’s almost always a good idea. For their benefit, and for your own outlook.
20. Think of your worst flaw. Now think of how that flaw might come with a silver lining.
Like, say you’re too damn impulsive for your own good. But that impulsivity definitely means you’re more creative.
New research shows that when you believe in the silver lining of your flaws, you’ll work harder at being great at whatever that silver lining is. Pretty neat.
21. Do 10 push-ups when you get out of bed (or as many pushups as you can do).
If you start today and do it every day, within a year you will be shocked at how many push-ups you can do. Get instructions for good form here.
22. Keep a phone charger at work and one at home.
Just in case!
23. Make your bed as soon as you get up. Fold your clothes and put them away right when the laundry’s done. And do the dishes right after you eat.
These small tasks take no longer than five to ten minutes, and will make a huge difference in how you view your living space. Also, learning this kind of discipline can have an impact on other areas of your life as well.
24. Make sure there’s protein and fiber in your breakfast.
A carbohydrate-based breakfast will leave you famished again well before lunch. But a protein- and fiber-rich breakfast takes longer to digest, keeps your blood sugar levels more steady, and will make you feel energized throughout the morning.
Some good options: eggs and fruit. Greek yogurt and granola. Avocado toast. An egg and spinach omelete. Hearty oatmeal with nuts. Nom nom nom.
25. Exercise a little every day.
I know, I know, I knowwwww. But seriously, exercise is pretty much the biggest and best thing you can do for yourself. It helps you sleep better. It helps you eat better. It makes you feel better. It helps you think better. It is so tremendously good in so many ways. Just… Just try it. See how you feel.
If you don’t know where to start, check out these nine quick total-body workouts you can do anywhere.
26. Every week, write down five things you are grateful for.
People who write down five simple things they’re grateful for once a week feel better about their lives, have more optimistic expectations about the future, report feeling fewer aches and pains, and even spend more time exercising than other people, according to a gratitude study from 2003.
27. Remember that most people you meet are probably just as uncomfortable as you are.
Most people are shy. Most people feel awkward at some point. Everyone is stressed. When you reframe your outlook to think about other people’s comfort, rather than your own you suddenly feel less anxious and awkward, and more empathetic. Try it!