19 Habits You Didn’t Know Are Actually Making You Happier, According to Science

Habits can be hard to break, especially the bad ones! Luckily, some aspects of your daily routine may be beneficial to your overall mental health and even contribute to increased happiness. You might even be doing these things already and inadvertently boosting your mood! Here are the 19 ‘good habits’ that science says will help make you more content.

Spend Time in Nature

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Numerous studies have shown that spending time in the ‘wild’ among greenery, wildlife, and natural landscapes increases happiness and reduces stress. It’s not just the increased serotonin you’re getting from sunlight, either—a sense of awe and curiosity about the natural world makes us feel calm, fulfilled, and appreciative. So, grab your wellies and get out there!

Express Gratitude

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Gratitude doesn’t just benefit the receiver—it boosts the mood of the person giving thanks, too. Mental Health First Aid writes, “Studies have found that a single act of thoughtful gratitude produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms.” Acknowledging thankfulness can significantly improve overall life satisfaction.

Get Enough Sleep

Photo Credit: WeAre/Shutterstock.

When you’re sleep-deprived, everything is more complicated and stressful—it’s hard to concentrate, and you’re irritable and prone to making mistakes. Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health, and chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to anxiety, depression, and poor attention span. Aim for 7–8 hours of quality sleep each night to wake up feeling refreshed.

Help Others

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

Like gratitude, helping others isn’t just beneficial for the recipient; it’s great for the helper, too. Studies show that acts of kindness (like volunteering, doing favors, or raising money for charity) trigger the release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin, increasing feelings of happiness, purpose, and social belonging. Just make sure you save enough time for self-care, too.

Savor the Good Times

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

In our busy, fast-paced world, it’s all too easy to focus on what’s next and fail to stop and ‘smell the roses.’ Try to savor positive experiences, like a child does—focus on the moment and try to enjoy the good times no matter what is lurking on the horizon. Practicing mindfulness is one way to help fixate on the moment and stop your mind from dwelling on past problems or future tasks.

Exercise Regularly

Photo Credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.

We all know that physical activity is good for our bodies, but it’s a potent mood booster as well. The Mental Health Foundation states that even 10 minutes of exercise will make you feel more calm, alert, and motivated. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which naturally elevate your mood and make you feel happier and more content. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Connect With Loved Ones

Photo Credit: Liderina/Shutterstock.

Meaningful social connections are essential for human happiness because we’re naturally gregarious animals. Spending time with loved ones (relatives or friends) provides a sense of belonging, support, and love that is essential to our overall contentment. Such connections offer a buffer against sadness, stress, and loneliness, particularly if they’re face-to-face interactions.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Meditation is an ancient practice with a surprisingly well-proven multitude of benefits for mental health. Studies reveal that daily meditation reduces stress, improves focus, and increases feelings of calm. It’s a great way to ‘train’ yourself to be present and less reactive to negative feelings and emotions. Even just a few minutes of daily meditation can make a big difference!

Challenge Yourself

Photo Credit: TunedIn by Westend61/Shutterstock.

Stepping outside your comfort zone and taking on new challenges can be intimidating and stressful, but it’s essential for personal growth, self-confidence, and achieving your goals. Learning a new skill, pursuing a hobby, or starting a new project increases happiness by giving you a sense of accomplishment, progress, and self-reliance. Just don’t set the bar too high!

Practice Forgiveness

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

The Mayo Clinic warns that holding onto bitterness and grudges can be mentally exhausting and harmful to your emotional health and recommends practicing forgiveness. Even small hurts can build up and ‘weigh you down,’ so try to let go of the negative feelings associated with them. For greater betrayals and insults, the process takes longer but is even more worthwhile.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Photo Credit: volobotti/Shutterstock.

Processed junk food might save you time and taste satisfying, but it won’t give your body the nutritious vitamins and compounds that it needs to function well. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and unsaturated fats helps regulate blood sugar (improving and stabilizing your mood), boost energy levels, and reduce stress and depression.

Limit Screen Time

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Technology is addictive and convenient, but excessive screen time isn’t good for your mental health. Research shows that spending too much time on social media, online shopping apps, or watching TV can lead to isolation, boredom, loneliness, and dissatisfaction. Limit screen time, especially before bed, and replace it with activities that make you feel happy and relaxed.

Express Yourself

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Creative activities are a wonderful way to express yourself, reduce stress, and boost your mood. Which outlet you choose is up to you—painting, dance, sculpture, dressmaking, upcycling, writing, playing music, and home decorating are just a few! Your skill level isn’t important so long as you feel content, imaginative, and free to experiment and have fun.

Practice Self-Compassion

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Being kind and understanding to yourself is just as important as being kind to others. A study published in the National Library of Medicine asserts, “Higher levels of self-compassion are linked to increased feelings of happiness, optimism, curiosity, and connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, rumination, and fear of failure.” So show yourself some love!

Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Photo Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.

Striving for perfection is a recipe for unhappiness because it’s an unachievable (or at least unsustainable) goal. No one is perfect, and no one has to be. Set yourself realistic goals that are challenging but within your capabilities, and celebrate your progress along the way. Be proud of the effort you’re putting in and how far you’ve come rather than fixating on the ‘endpoint.’

Listen to Uplifting Music

Photo Credit: Nutlegal Photographer/Shutterstock.

Music has a powerful effect on our emotions, and the right tunes can significantly boost your mood, increase energy levels, and even reduce stress. Next time you’re feeling down, choose some music that’s upbeat or has happy memories attached to it, and turn the volume up! Singing along or dancing to the rhythm is highly recommended—you don’t need to be an expert!

Spend Time With Positive People

Photo Credit: DavideAngelini/Shutterstock.

While it’s important to support loved ones going through tough times, try to spend time with positive people as much as possible. The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your overall happiness, and consistently socializing with negative individuals can rub off on you, making you more depressed and anxious, too.

Learn Something New

Photo Credit: bbernard/Shutterstock.

Keeping your mind active and engaged is a great way to boost happiness by giving you a sense of achievement and fulfillment. It doesn’t matter what the new skill is—a language, musical instrument, craft, or sport—so long as it’s enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding. The process of learning something new keeps your brain sharp and stops it from dwelling on negative thoughts.

Practice Mindfulness

Photo Credit: mavo/Shutterstock.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment, which fosters a sense of calm acceptance. Focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the here and now can help ‘ground’ you and reduce stress. Studies have proven that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve focus, and increase emotional well-being.

Read More: Why People Aren’t Religious Anymore: 15 Simple Reasons

Photo Credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock.

As society evolves, so does our approach to spirituality. This article looks at the subtle yet profound shift from traditional religious adherence to a more personal, evidence-based belief system.

Why People Aren’t Religious Anymore: 15 Simple Reasons

17 Things Society Can No Longer Do Because Gen Z Said So

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Gen Z, our digital-native, trendsetting generation, is making waves in the cultural sea, steering the ship of societal norms in fresh and unexpected directions. As they charter new territories, there are certain practices they’d rather we say goodbye to. Curious? Let’s take a look at 17 things the rest of us can no longer do because Gen Z said so.

17 Things Society Can No Longer Do Because Gen Z Said So

19 Common Behaviors of Highly Intelligent People

Photo Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

Intelligent individuals often display a range of behaviors and qualities that set them apart from others. When exploring these characteristics, it’s crucial to comprehend that intelligence is a multifaceted attribute. Here are 19 essential behaviors and qualities frequently observed in highly intelligent people.

19 Common Behaviors of Highly Intelligent People

17 Things We Were Taught in High School That We Now Know Aren’t True

Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.

Well, this one may depend on when you went to high school, but for this millennial, these are the things we were taught in high school that have been proven not to be true. Personally, I still want to go back and correct every teacher who told me I wouldn’t always have a calculator in my pocket; the joke is on them.

17 Things We Were Taught in High School That We Now Know Aren’t True

16 Reasons Why Trump May Not Get a Second Term

Photo Credit: Aaron of L.A./Shutterstock.

Though Republican frontrunner Donald Trump thinks his trip back to the Oval Office is all but guaranteed, there are some real hurdles he has to get past. Here are the 16 obstacles that may stand in the way of a second term.

16 Reasons Why Trump May Not Get a Second Term