50 things that make you happier

things that make you happy
50 things to make you happierTim Robberts - Getty Images

It's no secret that mental and emotional health plays a huge part in our overall wellbeing, but maintaining a positive outlook isn't just about feeling happy all the time.

Research has linked happiness to a healthier heart, stronger immune system and lower levels of stress, with studies also suggesting that happiness can boost productivity, creativity and improve our relationships with ourselves and with others.

Of course, it's simply not human to feel cheerful all the time, and it's perfectly normal to have a bad day. That said, happiness can help us through the tough times as well as the good, and making space for the things that spark joy can do the world of good for your mood and self-esteem.

So, when it comes to prioritising happiness – and finding the time to do this – where should you start?

How to be happier

"Get curious about what makes you feel good," advises Lou Baton, a mindfulness teacher and founder of 10ofzen.com. "Not 'feel good' in a way that you become numb as with the likes of alcohol, scrolling social media or watching TV – I'm talking about those things that make you feel alive and connected. Write them all down – big and small – and once you have your list, try and make more of these things your priority."

50 things that make you happy
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The charity Action for Happiness has been exploring the science of happiness since its launch in 2010. It believes that having a better understanding of happiness can help us to feel good and find enjoyment in life. This happiness movement lists "10 Keys to Happier Living" including giving, relating, exercise, awareness, trying out, direction, resilience, emotions, acceptance and meaning.

Sarah Vero, a spokesperson for Action for Happiness, suggests that these methods for happier living be used as a "toolbox" to dig into throughout the week, perhaps by helping someone with their bags at the supermarket or meditating for 10 minutes a day.

"It's a menu, not a prescription, so try things out to find what works for you. We have simple daily actions on our website, plus a calendar and an app to help you get started," she says. "If we take the time to build these happiness practices into our lives it can help us to be more resilient. When times are tough, or we are going through hardship, we have already trained our brain to look for what's good in life."

Daily habits for happiness

If you're wondering how you can possibly find time in your already jam-packed schedule to fit anything else in, Lou suggests letting go of the actions and habits that sap your energy and being flexible with your daily routine.

"Identify just one way that you could find a little more space in your day for you," she says. "Can something on your to-do list for today move to tomorrow to make room for a happiness activity?" You could also embrace the idea of habit stacking aka building a new habit on top of an existing one. For example, if you make a cup of tea every morning, take a few minutes while you wait for the kettle to boil to say three things you are grateful for.

how to be happier
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Carrying out a random act of kindness for others or taking time out in a hot bath might bring about a warm, happy feeling, but there's also plenty of joy to be found in the smaller, often overlooked things.

"For the large part, simple joys pass us by unnoticed as we are either going too fast or our minds are too caught up with worries about the past or future," says Lou. "But these simple joys are there for the taking – the beautiful sky, a favourite jumper, holding hands, being affectionately teased by great friends, a child's laugh, that first sip of tea in the morning.

"The amazing thing is, the more you notice the magic in the mundane and appreciate these moments with a little pause of gratitude, the more happiness you will feel."

50 things that will make you happy

In 2017, a study by BUPA revealed the 50 things that make us feel great – the little happiness boosts of life, if you like. Timelessly joyful, they never get old. How many do you agree with? How many do you fit in your day? Find some happiness inspiration in the full list below:

1. Sleeping in a freshly made bed
2. Feeling the sun on your face
3. People saying ‘thank you’ or a random act of kindness from a stranger
4. Finding money in unexpected places
5. Having time to yourself
6. Laughing so hard it hurts
7. Snuggling on the sofa with a loved one
8. Freshly made bread
9. Doing something for others
10. The clean feeling after a shower
11. When your favourite song comes on the radio
12. Finding a bargain in the sales
13. Listening to the rainfall/thunderstorms when you’re inside
14. Freshly brewed tea/coffee
15. The thrill of personal achievement
16. Having a long hot bath
17. Seeing a fresh coating of snow
18. Freshly cut grass
19. Chocolate melting in your mouth
20. Doing something active outdoors (e.g. bike ride, run, country walk)
21. Bacon cooking in the morning
22. Talking to or playing with your pet
23. A soothing massage
24. That ‘Friday feeling’
25. A perfectly cooked steak
26. Waking up before the alarm and realising there’s more time to sleep
27. Doing exercise
28. Rainbows
29. Remembering the name of something/someone you thought you’d forgotten
30. Making a perfectly baked cake/pie
31. Stepping on crunchy autumn leaves
32. Popping bubble wrap
33. Swimming in the sea/lake
34. New car smell
35. Dancing like no one is watching
36. The smell of new books/magazines
37. Smell of a fine wine
38. Putting your Out of Office on before going on holiday
39. Putting on a brand new pair of socks
40. Watching your breath float away in cold air
41. Getting new stationery
42. Singing in the shower
43. Getting a seat on the bus/train/tube
44. Picking an easy peel orange from the fruit bowl
45. Loosening your jeans after you've eaten
46. The ‘pop’ when you open a new jar of jam
47. Squeezing a spot
48. Cleaning the wax from your ears
49. Cleaning the bathroom
50. The Royal Family

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