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How to be happy: 20 tips and exercises for a happier you

Everyone strives for happiness, but it’s not always easy. Especially when circumstances don’t go in our favor, we often have the feeling that we can’t do anything at all to make ourselves happy. This, however, is not true: happiness is also, or actually first and foremost, a question of our own thinking and doing.

How can I be happier? This question is on the minds of a whole array of people throughout the world. Often we look for happiness in material things, but being happy means one thing above all: finding happiness within yourself. Read on to learn how to find happiness in the small things.

Happiness: what being happy actually means

Feel happier with meditation and mindfulness

When do you feel happy? If you ask different people about what makes (or would make) them happy, many will start listing external factors: a great job, love, vacation or car …

Of course, these things can make you happy if you have them, but they are not a prerequisite, and that’s a good thing.

Being happy is often a matter of the small things. Lots of small happy moments can add up to one overarching feeling of happiness, and you can see to it that you get these moments, no matter what’s going on in your life right now.

Be happier in everyday life with these tips and exercises

Be happier in everyday life with these tips and exercises

We’ve got 20 ideas, tips and exercises for you to help you get happier with yourself. To you, they may seem like trivial things, but added up, they can result in a whole host of valuable moments.

Do things you love

The things that are actually important to us often get lost in the stress of everyday life. At the same time, doing what you love is the best way to bring you joy, so you should make time for it on a regular basis.

If you don’t know what this is, it’s time to find out. This could even be the start of a new hobby.

Spend time with people you care about

Spending a relaxing day with family, chilling with friends or having a chat with an old classmate … time spent with people we care about has the highest potential for generating those moments of happiness.

Be grateful

Gratitude causes feelings of happiness almost immediately, and the best part is that we can teach ourselves how. One way of doing this is to get in the habit of writing down three things you’re grateful for every day.

These can be big, existential things, like your children or having enough to eat, but even very little instances can often leave us grateful, amazed – and happy.

It often comes down to the right mindset because positive thinking is something you can train yourself to do with some practice, even if you tend to be pessimistic.

Reduce stress

Reduce stress

Stress is probably the biggest killer of happiness in this day and age. If you’re always rushing from one appointment to another, you’ll have neither an eye for beauty nor time for the things that are important to you. What’s more, stress also makes you ill.

Enough reasons to reduce the stress in your life, right? How to do that depends greatly on the individual, because it comes down to the factors that are causing you particular stress.

Maybe you have to hand off some of your tasks, resolve any ongoing conflict or even distance yourself from certain people. But sometimes it’s the smaller things, like managing your time better or taking regular short breaks to relax that help reduce the stress in your life.

Get outdoors

Nature is a tremendous happiness booster. This is especially evident when we stand on the beach and look out to sea, but riverbanks, forests, flower meadows or snow-covered fields can also spread some joy.

Even if it’s gray outside, at least some daylight and fresh air still do us good. Various studies have shown that people who regularly get outdoors are also happier.

Learn to say no

Be happier by learning to say "no"

If you’re always being talked into doing tasks (or buying goods), you’re wasting a lot of time, effort and money. Being happy also means knowing what doesn’t do you good, and then not doing it where possible.

Of course, it is not always possible to avoid annoying tasks, but you don’t have to say yes to unpleasant chores simply because no one else wants to do them. Learn to say no and enjoy the small feeling of happiness you’ll get by not having to do something unpleasant.

Work on your dreams and visions

What goals do you still want to achieve in your life? What is your vision of a fulfilling life, your meaning of life? What dreams are still waiting to become reality?

Take these goals, visions and dreams seriously and work on getting closer to them every day if possible. Even if achieving them is still a long way off, making a small step in the right direction can still make you happy.

Write down moments that make you happy

This is probably the most effective exercise for being happier in everyday life: take a little time every day to write down as many moments as possible that have made you happy. Make it part of your evening routine and choose at least three top moments that made you happy that day.

This may be difficult at first, but after a short while you’ll notice that you’ll start paying more attention to what makes you happy during the day, and this, in turn, will lead to significantly more happy moments than before.

Get active

Doing exercise can make you happier

Exercise releases endorphins and they make us happy. It also improves our health, and being healthy and fit forms a solid basis for being happy. Therefore, if you’re not doing it already, you should start exercising more regularly.


When you meditate, your thoughts can finally settle down and make room for relaxation. As a result, many people find meditating a great contributor to happiness. Why not give it a try?

Find a balance between give and take

If you are constantly concerned with doing things only for your own benefit, you won’t be happy in the long run. Neither will those who constantly just give, and exhaust themselves in the process.

People who, on the one hand, are able to accept nice things, but on the other hand, also like to pass them on to others, are the ones who are truly happy. This can refer to many areas of life: money, time, compliments, attention or help …

Be loving to be happy with yourself

Let’s be honest: how do you act with yourself? Do you pay attention to your needs? Do you give yourself encouragement or do you tend to belittle yourself when something doesn’t work out? Do you make sure that you get everything you need for your well-being?

Many people think that others are responsible for doing these things, but this is a big mistake that quickly leads to unhappiness. First and foremost, it’s up to you to love yourself.

Cut out things (and people) that are bad for you

What’s not doing you any good? What tasks, objects, or even people constantly get you worked up and don’t give anything good back?

If there are such things in your life, you should seriously try to get rid of them. Nothing and nobody has the right to do us permanent damage. Cut these things, or even people, out of your life.

Get a good night’s sleep

Get a good, restful sleep

The fact that getting enough sleep is an important contributor to happiness is something we actually all know from experience and despite this, we often do far too little to make sure we get it. There are many ways to ensure a better night’s sleep, like going to bed early or making sure we relax in the evening.

You can also optimize your bed and bedroom to make them into real resting places, adjust your daily schedule to your own biorhythm as much as possible and avoid alcohol. What causes you to sleep badly? And how can you change it?

Find the beautiful things around you

This is a little exercise you can do anytime, anywhere: try to find something beautiful in your surroundings no matter where you are. Even something tiny is enough to focus your mind on positivity and thus make you happier.

Live in the here and now

You can’t change the past or predict the future, so it’s the people who live right in the here and now who are the happiest.

This means not being constantly preoccupied with the past and not seeking happiness in an uncertain future. If you want to be happy, be happy now, no matter what circumstances.

Learn to forgive

Hurt feelings and anger held onto from the past can put a real damper on happiness. The remedy for this: forgive. Many people don’t want or are unable to forgive because they don’t realize one thing: resentment does not harm the person who did something to you, it harms only you.

It usually doesn’t affect the other person too much, but you yourself have to keep dealing with your doom and gloom. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting everything or approving an act. It only means freeing yourself from the hurts of the past.

Open your eyes to what you have

Focus on what you have

Most people focus on the things or traits they want to have, but don’t: my neighbors have a bigger car, my friend is slimmer or I don’t have anyone to share my life with …

If you constantly focus on what’s missing, it will make you unhappy. Instead, turn your attention to the things you do have, because they form the basis for making you happy. You can practice getting into this mindset together with the exercise for gratitude, which we explained to you above.


A few years ago, something amazing was discovered: our brain seems to find out how we’re feeling from our facial muscles.

This means that when you smile – even if you don’t feel like it – you’re signaling to yourself that you’re feeling good, and your brain will release the appropriate neurotransmitters that actually make you feel happier. Smiling to yourself and others can make you happy for that reason alone.

Start today

Putting happiness off to a later date doesn’t work. If you want to be happier, you need to start today. Simply pick two or three of the tips you like best and put them into action today.

How to be happy alone

For some people, being alone is difficult. But being alone is not the same as feeling lonely.

Some people do not know what to do with themselves when they are not in company.
It is important that you can enjoy time alone with yourself.

The first steps in doing this are not comparing yourself to others and not spending so much time on social media.

In general, you should check how much time you spend on your phone and try to put it away more often and enjoy real life. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but give it a try.

Spend time in nature and enjoy the chirping of birds and the sound of the wind in the trees. Pretend you are on a date with yourself. Where would you go? Likewise, exercise can help you feel better about yourself.

Sayings about being happy

We have some sayings for you that revolve around the theme of happiness. They may encourage you to take steps forward or stop for a moment and enjoy the happiness in these words of wisdom.

  1. Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. (Abraham Lincoln)
  2. If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are. (Charles-Louis de Montesquieu)
  3. The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up. (Mark Twain)
  4. True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. (Seneca)
  5. Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue. Happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life. (Aristotle)
  6. I have chosen to be happy because it’s good for my health. (Voltaire)
  7. Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. (Anne Frank)
  8. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. (Buddha)
  9. Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination. (Mark Twain)
  10. Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. (Marcel Proust)
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