Simplify Happiness: 50 Easy Actions for Joyful Living

Are you waiting for happiness?

Do you think you will find it when you make a certain amount of money, or achieve something big, or maybe find the perfect relationship?

Happiness is at hand right now.

It's right in front of you, but sometimes we miss it because we are so busy looking for it.

If you have attained some of those big things in life that you felt would bring you happiness, you might have found it — temporarily.

Have you noticed how once you get what you want, it's wonderful for a while?

But then you want something else, something bigger or better.

You grow bored with the new thing or accomplishment.

It takes a lot of hard work and stress and worry to secure your happiness goals. And then, after all that work, the happiness begins to dissipate.

What if you didn't have to work so hard for it? What if there were a simpler way to be happy?

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”  ~John Burroughs

According to research psychologist  Sonja Lyubomirsky, who wrote the book The How of Happiness, we have control over 40% of our own happiness.

Genetics accounts for 50%. 

Our life circumstances account for only 10% of our happiness quota.

So we have the power to create a good portion of our sustained happiness.

Dr. Lyubomirsky has discovered through her research that the happiness we control, the 40%, is within us.

And it is sustainable through awareness and practice. She suggests three happiness activities that will substantially increase your levels of job: positive thinking, gratitude, and acts of kindness and selflessness.

These happiness activities can be applied in a variety of ways in your day-to-day life.

You can simplify happiness, and ironically you will have more happiness and more often!

50 simple happiness activities to create more joy in your daily life:

1. When you awaken in the morning before you get out of bed, think about your day ahead and visualize positive outcomes and experiences.

2. Make your bed and be grateful for a comfortable place to sleep.

3. When you take your shower, take 2 minutes to simply enjoy the feeling of warm water running over your body.

4. Look at your spouse and/or children and tell them how important they are to you.

5. Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line.

6. Write an old-fashioned hand-written note of gratitude to someone who positively impacted your life. Someone who hasn't heard from you in a while.

7. Walk outside and absorb the sensations of nature. Take a moment to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around you.

Related: 33 Time-Tested Ways To Find The Key To Happiness

8. Listen to music from a time in your life that was carefree and happy.

9. Go skinny dipping.

10. Dance around the house with your children (or whomever).

11. Look at pictures from happy occasions in your life.

12. Get up before sunrise and enjoy the quiet of your home.

13. Roll the windows down in your car and turn the music up.

14. Walk around your house and appreciate everything you own. You probably have more than most people on the planet.

15. Put flowers in your house or on your desk at work.

16. Find something nice to say to the people who serve you during the day.

17. Give an extra big tip.

18. Go out of your way to help a neighbor with something.

19. Read something inspirational.

20. Pick some useful items in your house that you don't need anymore and give them away.

21. Invite a friend to lunch and learn even more about them and what makes them happy.

22. Do some small creative activity — write a poem, sketch something, plant some flowers, rearrange a room in your house, cook a unique meal.

Related: 31 Fun Things To Do By Yourself

23. Give a back rub.

24. Take a walk holding someone's hand.

25. Clean a room in your house thoroughly until it sparkles.

26. Take the scenic route instead of the highway or main road.

27. Send an anonymous love letter.

28. Refrain from saying anything critical for a day. Make only uplifting and kind remarks to others.

29. When someone pushes your buttons or makes you angry, stop and observe your feelings and examine the cause within yourself instead of blaming.

30. Spontaneously invite friends to your house for a simple dinner.

31. Sit outside and stare at the stars.

32. Ride a bicycle.

33. Go out for ice cream.

34. Slow dance with someone you love. Even if you've been married to them for 25 years.

35. Lie in bed at night and listen to a thunderstorm.

36. Call your mom and dad and tell them how they were wonderful parents.

37. Help someone at the grocery store load the bags in their car.

38. Re-live some of your happiest moments in your mind before you go to sleep.

39. Count all of the people in your life who care for you.

40. Throw and catch a ball with someone.

41. Introduce yourself to someone new at a meeting or social event and strike up a personal conversation.

42. Pick only two important tasks to do today and do them mindfully.

43. Surprise your child at school or your spouse at the office and have lunch with them.

44. Make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and eat them warm with a glass of milk.

45. Take a walk in a quiet, natural environment.

46. Play a game of catching yourself any time you get on a negative thinking cycle. Consciously change the negative thought and re-frame it in a positive way.

47. Watch a really funny movie with a great friend.

48. Turn off the television and the computer for the day. Listen to music, read, sew, cook, go out. Do anything fun or peaceful or creative.

49. Say “I love you” frequently and with feeling.

50. Write down 25 things you like about yourself. Keep adding to the list.

29 thoughts on “Simplify Happiness: 50 Easy Actions for Joyful Living”

  1. These ideas are great!

    I have experienced #5. Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line – both as the giver and the receiver and both are so simply uplifting!

  2. Very cool Courtney! It’s fun to do those things when the person has no idea who the giver is. I’ve paid the toll before for the person behind me. It is uplifting.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. I love all these ideas but, particularly, found the first three quite profound. Noticing and being grateful for small actions we do everyday is a wonderful way to feel joyful. Offering a genuine wave and smile to a road rager always seems to break down their barrier to joy just a little. Holding hands with someone is a good one too.

  4. Hi Barrie, truly awesome list. I love number 3 and especially when you get the water to the perfect temperature!!

    I love 13 and am renowned for doing that all the time anyway – Especially when I used to have my 3000watt bass system in the car! lol

  5. Hi Katie,
    The road rager wave is a great idea! I’ve done that smugly before — which defeats the purpose. But if you do genuinely, then you are spreading a little peace in the world. Thank you for commenting.

    After looking at your awesome blog and reading about you, I can soooo see you driving around with the music blasting and loving life! Keep doing it!

    Thank you both for commenting!

  6. Love the post. Am actually working on a project relating to Happiness and Life and your post is quite inspiring. While I’ve done quite a few of these, this week am actually doing the note of gratitude thing for four people and a modification of #44. Am baking the cookies but for kids at an orphanage:-) Happiness for them and for me!
    Blessings and happiness.

  7. Wow Barrie! What a bundle of joy to look forward to!

    As for me, I have been doing a lot of #8 lately – listening to music from a time in my life when I was carefree and happy. This took me back to my college days when anything seemed possible and life was laid out in front of me.

    These long forgotten songs made me realise that actually I can still be happy and carefree now:-)

  8. Hi Prerna,
    I hope you’ll share your project with us when you are ready to! I’d love to hear about it. Wow, cookies for kids at an orphanage — that is lovely. When you know how much happiness that will bring, baking takes on an entirely different meaning.
    Thank you for sharing your joy!

    I love listening to music from my high school and college years. Sadly, my teenagers roll their eyes at me when I’m belting out the Bee Gees or Earth Wind and Fire. They strongly believe a middle-aged mother’s place is sitting quietly darning socks and responding to their beck and call! It appears that the world is still your oyster Arvind!

  9. Ahhh, feeing happy just reading this list. I love how it reinforces that much happiness is free (or low cost like #5 and # 33.

    I’ll add one:
    writing a poem with a friend – for fun – taking turns writing a line or a word. It can be a wonderful silly happiness.

    • Aileen,
      I love that one — writing a poem with a friend. You can have lots of silly happiness with the right friend! Thank you for adding to the list.

    • Thank you Linda! Your article on the same topic is outstanding. I hope my readers will jump over and read it too. I really appreciate your kind comments.

  10. I love this list. I do many of them about everyday. I also write down something at lease one thing positive that happened to me that day, it maybe something simple like hearing a bird sing etc. And then if I have a day that I am feeling down I take out my list and read all the positive things that is happening in my life everyday.

    Thank you for this list. I did send it to my surport group they will love it.

    • Hi Sherri,
      I’m so glad you like it! That’s a great way to keep positive. We should all keep a happiness list handy.

  11. I just did #6.
    I wrote “You said words that were life altering for me – those words made me appreciate ‘ME’.”

    c”,)’ thanks for reminding me.

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