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Last Updated on September 28, 2022

16 Scientifically Proven Ways To Stay Happy All The Time

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16 Scientifically Proven Ways To Stay Happy All The Time

For every person, happiness looks different. Maybe it’s being content with who you are for yourself, having a solid group of friends who are willing to accept you, or the ability to follow your wildest aspirations.

No matter how you define true happiness, a happier, more contented existence is attainable. You can get there by making a few adjustments to your daily routines.

If you’ve ever wondered how to be happy with yourself, understand that habits play a role. If you’ve ever tried to kick a terrible habit, you know how deeply ingrained it is.

Here are some daily, monthly, and annual habits to get you started on your mission. Keep in mind that everyone’s definition of happiness and method for getting there differ slightly.

Get rid of these habits that increase stress or don’t fit your lifestyle. You’ll discover what method is for you and what isn’t with time and effort.

16 Scientifically Proven Ways on How To Be Happy

1. Add More Exercise To Your Routine

Exercise causes the production of feel-good endorphins, which make you happier after a workout or even just a short trip to the store. I’ve never encountered somebody unhappy after exercising! But where are the facts from science?

The University of Toronto did a great job on this and analyzed no less than 25 research studies. [1] The conclusion was that physical activity does help to keep depression at bay.

The best study I’m aware of was assigning three groups of depressed individuals to a regimen of antidepressants, physical activity, or a combination of the two. It is no surprise that all three groups were happier than before, but did it last?

The exercise-only treatment group had an extremely low relapse rate of just 9% six months later. How had the other two groups relapsed? Their rates were between 31% and 38%, meaning that nearly a third of them were once again depressed.

If you find yourself too busy to fit in exercise in your day, try this to get restarted: 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

2. Positive Thinking Affects Your Performance

 “Happiness is the precursor to success.” – Shawn Achor, researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

Seems like a pipe dream? According to author Shawn Achor, you can anticipate 10% of your long-term happiness if you are fully aware of all the variables that influence it, such as stressors, hassles, successes, economic conditions, relationships, and so on.

How you interpret the outside world makes up the remaining 90%. Positive thinking can attain up to 30% more energy, creativity, and productivity. The key is to think positively today, rather than waiting till you are well-off and well-known. Watch the video below for a very entertaining outline of this.

3. Trash Your Negative Thoughts

How to be happy again? Some people struggle greatly to overcome negative ideas because it overpowers them. A University of Madrid study found that actually writing these thoughts down on a piece of paper and then destroying them was effective. [2] They advised you to burn them, tear them up, or dump them in the trash!

Physically getting rid of them does help to lessen their damaging effects. Psychologists advise doing this frequently.

4. Do What Brings You Meaning

Roy F. Baumeister speculates in his book Meanings of Life that we avoid discussing or thinking about meaning because it is uncomfortable.

Our lives may be meaningless, or our goals may be unachievable if we take a closer look at ourselves and our lives, and the picture of how to feel happy again doesn’t get much clearer.

In fact, having a purposeful intention can help you if you are wondering how to be happy in life by drawing your focus on the things that are most important to you, such as your loved ones, your faith, your career, and many other aspects of your life as well.

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It allows you to cut ties with people or activities that aren’t aligned with your values. When things get tough, staying motivated is important so you can set and accomplish short and long-term goals.

It also, and perhaps most importantly, gives you a sense that your efforts are having a positive impact on the world.

“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” -Viktor Frankl

Many affluent people are experiencing unhappiness no matter how much money, respect, or fame they have because of one big reason: Our unhappiness stems ultimately from a feeling of meaninglessness.

5. Treasure Your Experiences More Than Your Possessions

Thomas Gilovich, a psychologist at Cornell University, has conducted extensive research on why it is preferable to value special memories and enjoyable experiences over the goods we acquire.

There are many reasons for this, as outlined in his study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.The initial joy we felt while buying and taking possession of that new automobile, TV, or computer can be destroyed by comparing and looking at better items after purchase.[3]

However, cherishing experiences is not nearly as harmful. They are unique, ours, and they bring us longer-lasting delight. We should always try to travel somewhere new or go hiking.

Instead of constructing new shopping malls, local governments should be able to provide the facilities needed in towns and cities so that people can engage in other delightful and pleasurable activities.

6. Write Down Why You Are Grateful

How to be happy with yourself? It’s a terrific method to increase happiness to feel and think about the things you are grateful for as soon as you wake up.

Research on our brain shows that we tend to focus on the negative things of life, like worries, tragedies, failures, and discontent. Negativity is the default position.

“We’ve got this negativity bias that’s a kind of bug in the stone-age brain in the 21st century,” – Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist.

This is why it’s important to concentrate on the positive and, more specifically, to identify our causes for gratitude. You can achieve this in several ways. Here are a few concepts on how to be happy:

  • When you wake up in the morning, mentally recite three things for which you are thankful.
  • Some favor writing down three things and keeping the list nearby as a reminder to themselves periodically.
  • If you want to, use Facebook or Twitter. It’s helpful to remind your audience that this genuinely works.
  • Thank a coworker for assisting with a project or task by calling or buying coffee.
  • Consider helping someone or volunteering a few hours each week.

But is there any scientific proof that this actually works? Check out this link to see just some of the numerous studies on gratitude.

7. Practice Mindfulness

What does being mindful mean? It simply means that you focus on the current moment, give it all your attention, and accept it without judgment. The psychology and medical fields are now seeing a rise in this phenomenon. It can improve mood, lower stress levels, and improve quality of life when practiced regularly.

By focusing on the present, you can enjoy good feelings and other bodily sensations like touch and smell. Think about how happy they make you feel. It is quite successful at helping people let go of the past and stop worrying about terrifying possibilities for the future.

However, what is the scientific proof, and can this make us happier?

Watch the video to learn how Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth argues why being present in the moment makes us happier than being distracted or daydreaming. He examined 15,000 persons to get this conclusion.

8. Don’t Forget Your Beauty Sleep

Lack of sleep greatly increases your tendency to be negative. After conducting numerous studies, researchers got to this conclusion. This particular study is fascinating:

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The hippocampus, the area of the brain that processes our happy thoughts, was the focus of the researchers’ attention. This function begins to sag, and negative thoughts creep in far more than usual when we are sleep deprived.

Researchers gave sleep-deprived students a list of words to remember to demonstrate this.

When it came to the positive or neutral terms, they were only getting about 31% of these accurate, while they were scoring highly on all the negative phrases (81%). Dr.Robert Stickgold has conducted similar experiments on sleep and memory.[4]

Now you know why people are always in a bad mood when they do not get enough sleep.

9. Dedicate a Little Time to Helping Others

Although it may temporarily improve happiness, buying bigger homes, vehicles, and phones does not appear to have a long-term positive impact on people’s overall happiness levels. That is short-lived. Researchers have found that when we dedicate a little time or money to helping others, this has a significant effect on our own happiness.[5]

10. Focus on Your Strengths

Are you courageous, curious, or open-minded? How are you utilizing these talents to enhance your and others’ lives? These are important questions, but people generally are happier when they focus on their strengths rather than their flaws.[6]

One of the best methods for achieving happiness and improving the world is to reach our full potential by making the most of our talents.

11. Let Go of Grudges

Do you know how much mental and physical energy it takes to hold on to a grudge? To get a little idea of this, try to empty your mind of your anger towards people who have hurt you. Do this for only a few seconds, and you’ll be able to tell that there’s a massive difference in how you feel.

Grudges are heavy and rob you of happiness. Sure, you will always get hurt by some people, with some being so terrible that it’s not so easy to forgive and forget. However, you would have to learn how to let go of this no matter what.

That doesn’t mean you have to be friends with everyone, especially those who are a threat to you. It only means that you shouldn’t hang on to the grudge in your heart so much that it weighs you down. Instead, focus on the possibility of having a much brighter future.

12. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Many people waltz through life like they are competing with others, which stops them from feeling truly fulfilled. You start to think that you can never be enough, and this dissatisfaction is definitely not bringing a smile to your face.

The only person you should compare yourself to is your previous version. That will actually let you know if you’re doing much better or have been in the same spot for a while.

Need to live a happier life? You’ll have to stop comparing your life to others. You can’t achieve true satisfaction when you’re always trying to mirror others.

See someone who loves to travel around the world? Suddenly, you’re interested in doing that as well, even though you’re terrified of flying and constantly uncomfortable when you leave your comfort zone.

That’s just you trying to achieve someone else’s goals and dreams, not yours. Live at your own pace, knowing exactly what you want.

13. Spend Some Time With Good Company

Of course, it’s okay to enjoy your company every once in a while. Some alone time is necessary to meditate and actually listen to yourself. However, this is much different from being a loner.

Even if you don’t enjoy being surrounded by many people, you can make the best of this by finding an excellent spot that doesn’t choke you up so much. It could be a quiet space at the park where you get to engage in a little people-watching.

An even better idea is to hang out with the people who matter to you. Bonding with your loved ones helps you realize that there are still people out there who genuinely care about you.

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Whether it’s planning an adventurous day out with your friends or just simply talking with them, it’s much better than spending every single day cooped up indoors all by yourself. Laugh freely.

14. Get Rid of Negative Emotions With Affirmations and Music

What do you do when negative thoughts come creeping into your mind? It’s inevitable that this will happen once in a while, but your response to these thoughts will determine if you get to live a happy life.

An excellent way to respond to negative thoughts is through words of affirmation. When you practice positive self-affirmation, it helps in increasing your feelings of self-worth.

You can start each day with words of affirmation. Stand in front of your mirror and repeat sentences like, “I am living my best life” or “I will have an amazing day.”

If you’re finding it challenging to come up with words of affirmation on the spot, then write them out the night before. Write at least five positive affirmations that resonate a lot with you and repeat them first thing in the morning.

Make it even better by repeating them just before you sleep at night. With this, you’re programming your subconscious to welcome positive thoughts more, boosting your self-esteem.

According to science, self-affirmations can help bring us back to reflecting on our self-worth and core values. They activate our brain systems.[7]

15. Create Better Habits

Happiness is a choice you make; it is not a gift from the universe but rather a state of mind that you cultivate, which is the first step to experiencing how to feel happy again. Making positive life changes can be difficult, as you may have discovered if you decided to do so this year, after so many crises affecting everyone on some level or another.

Though it’s a long and arduous process, its rewards outweigh its difficulties. We can build a solid foundation for achieving our goals of how to be happy again by cultivating and reinforcing positive habits in our daily lives.

The truth about why it’s so hard to break out of old routines is simply the fact that it is a routine. Human beings are creatures of habit. Charles Duhigg explains in his book The Power of Habit how the basic structure of habits consists of a cue (trigger), the routine, and the reward.

For example, stress can be your cue to engage in your routine of smoking a cigarette, which rewards you with a surge of nicotine to relieve your stress.

Duhigg teaches the key to turning bad habits into good ones is to figure out how to change the routine. Rather than smoking, maybe you can go for a nice walk or meditate to achieve the same stress relief.

If your habits are not making you healthier and happier, that means you may be automatically spending almost half your day doing things that make you more unhappy.

16. Stop Fearing Unhappiness

Pain, sadness, anger, fear, guilt, frustration – they aren’t to be feared. No negative emotion is. They are to be processed, accepted understood, and moved through to a better emotion.

You don’t need to fight your emotions. This 4 step process will help you move from negative emotions to positive ones faster.

Step 1: Hear How You Feel

Don’t try and hide from the way you feel. In my experience, clients that do this end up confronting the thing they were hiding from. It tends to be the thing that is holding them back the most.

The difficulty arises when you don’t have someone to work with to help you achieve this, and that allows you to keep hiding from what you truly feel.

Step 2: Understand How You Feel

By understanding how you feel, you can work out why you feel. Ask yourself the following questions:

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  • Was there a cause?
  • An aggravating factor?
  • An emotional vampire?
  • An action?

I have a client I started working with last year who said they dreaded February.

“It goes too fast!” They lamented, adding, “January is too long, and then February flies by, and you feel depressed that the year is going so fast and that you’ve still got so much to do!”

When they worked on this together, they could see how ridiculous this thought was.

If you are lucky enough to live for 70 years – then that’s 70 Januarys you will hate. Two thousand one hundred seventy days of your life feeling unhappiness; 8.5% of your life you will be sad because of the name of a month – and that’s before we’ve added February.

The realization that a month helped create an emotion before anything had even happened helped this client appreciate their feelings.

Step 3: Accept It

Acceptance is a huge part of achieving and attaining happiness. It leaves room to move on to the next thing.

Step 4: Ditching It

Seeing a process unfolding before you makes it much quicker to decide to ditch it. Any negative feeling is not permanent, and you can move through it back to happiness. There’s no such thing as a bad emotion, just the bad results you get when you hang on to it.

Pain is part of happiness; it’s just on the opposite end of the scale. Think of all the emotions that are considered negative or bad and ask yourself:

“Can you have one without the other?”

Final Thoughts

These methods are all known to increase happiness, according to science. If you believe that you have too many obligations and that it is too late to live a different life, reconsider! Living a better and more fulfilled life is never too late.


Don't have time for the full article? Read this.

16 Scientifically Proven Ways To Stay Happy All The Time

When you try to think of everything positively and eliminate all the negative thoughts in your mind, you feel more relaxed and happy.

A life without a goal commonly leads to unhappiness. Achieving a goal will give them a sense of achievement that will increase happiness and joy.

Thomas Gilovich, a psychologist at Cornell University, has conducted extensive research on why it is preferable to value special memories and enjoyable experiences over the goods we acquire.

Research on our brain shows that we tend to focus on the negative things of life, like worries, tragedies, failures, and discontent. Negativity is the default position. Acknowledge your blessings and practice gratitude.

Studies show that exercise can help boost happiness, and positive thinking can attain up to 30% more energy, creativity, and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com


More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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