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Why That List of Amazing Habits for Happiness Doesn’t Work for You & What You Need to Do Instead

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

If you are new to my blog, you may not know that we talk about habits for happiness all the time. There are all of these articles and courses on how to create happiness habits; we are talking thousands upon thousands of resources out there. While many of them pose excellent ideas, beautiful practices, and insightful theories for building greater happiness for yourself, they miss the most crucial step.

YOU need to do what will work for YOU!

Yes, I can give you a long list of things that "may" work scientifically to improve your habits for happiness (and I will throw some ideas your way further down). However, if you are not in that head space, you will end up feeling unproductive, discouraged, and even less happy than you were before when they inevitably fail. So how does one find what works best for them?

happiness road exist sign

How to Build Your Habits for Happiness

What if we looked at all of the science, all of the guru's tips and tricks, and the articles with listicles, and we said:

“OK, this is your HAPPINESS SOUP. How do YOU want to make it?

I often think about how people make chicken soup as an excellent comparison to building a habits for happiness routine. In chicken soup, some add rice; some add noodles. Some add corn, and some add peas. Some use stock broth from the store; some make it from scratch. There is no “right” way to make chicken soup; everyone simply makes the version they enjoy best. You certainly aren’t going to force yourself to eat a chick soup recipe you hate merely because someone told you it was the “right” way to do it!

We have to apply the same concept to happiness habits. If writing in a gratitude journal makes you dread it, but you think you need to do it because everyone says it will make you happy - it won't. That's crazy!

Instead, it would be better to try out different happiness habits (i.e., recipes) to see which ones you like the most and which actually work for you. Then you can combine them to create a meaningful, impactful happiness routine that you enjoy doing!

Habits for Happiness Ingredients

Now that we understand how to make our happiness soup, it is time to figure out which ingredients we like the best. I have listed a few of my favorite habits below, but that certainly isn’t all of them. If you want to try another happiness habit idea, go for it!

#1: Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude can be done in a variety of ways, including:

- Thinking of 2 things you’re grateful for while you brush your teeth

- Add a gratitude note to a jar at the end of every day

- Keep a gratitude journal

- Sending out thank you cards

- Taking a gratitude walk and thinking of all the things you are grateful for

#2: Performing Random Acts of Kindness

Studies have shown that doing nice things for others when you expect nothing in return can boost happiness. Here are a few ideas for performing random acts of kindness:

- Giving to a charity or volunteering

- Opening the door for someone

- Helping someone carry their groceries

#3: Getting Out to Exercise

habits for happiness - woman enjoying the sunshine

It is pretty easy for the mind and body to be hindered by too much time inside, especially during the winter, decreasing our overall happiness. Some ways I enjoy getting some much-needed exercise are by:

- Going for a walk

- Playing tennis

- Practicing yoga

#4: Building Social Bonds

The bonds we create in life are what ground us and push us to become the best version of ourselves. However, life can sometimes get in the way of relationships, but building social bonds is a beautiful happiness habit. To do this, you can:

- Call a parent once a week

- Set a monthly coffee date with a friend

- Plan a date night with a spouse

- Book a trip with a best friend

- Take extra time to spend with your children

#5: Letting Go of Unnecessary Drama

habits for happiness - woman having fun outside

I’ll be honest; sometimes, my brain goes down a yucky spiral of negative thoughts, which lead to negative emotions and often negative actions. Letting go can be challenging, but doing these actions helps me to do it and improve my happiness:

- Looking at the silver lining

- Practicing Mushin No Shin

- Removing yourself from toxic situations/relationships

- Taking a deep breath when you get stressed

- Meditate to ground yourself

- Spend time with people who make you happier

#6: Being Kind to Our Bodies

When we get stressed and overwhelmed, personal health and wellness are the first things we usually give the boot. When we don’t take care of ourselves, it can compound and decrease happiness. Here are a few ways to boost it back up:

- Get plenty of sleep (my fave!)

- Eat a well-balanced diet

- Drink lots of water

- Skip alcohol and sweets for a bit

- Take deep breaths

- Remind ourselves to smile, laugh, & be playful

#7: Making Intentional Margins®

Intentional Margins are a way of adding a positive backbone to your day, and ensuring you have time for the things that matter most to you. An easy way to incorporate Intentional Margins into your routine if you haven’t already is to:

- Build an intentional day

- Balance work and life in a way that works for you

- Set aside time for what matters

The Next Steps to Building Positive Habits for Happiness

I highly encourage you to try out a variety of habits to see which flavor suits your taste before building your soup. If one doesn’t work, throw it out and try something new! Remember, your habits for happiness are about you and only you. Try to skip comparing yourself to others or thinking someone else’s soup is “better.” Focus on you, your happiness, and your life!

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