Who doesn't want to live happier? Sometimes life gets in the way, though. We get so busy with work, family and schedules that we forget to enjoy the little things, the happy things. We searched high and low, looking at both scientific research and advice from the general public, about what makes someone happy. Here are 50 things you can do to add a little cheer into your life. Enjoy!
1. Color a picture. Adult coloring books are all the rage these days. You can find dozens to choose from, and use fancy-schmancy colored pencils, too. Sit down and commit to an entire picture from start to finish.
2. Go to a concert. Music feeds the soul, and experiencing it live is like no other. You don't have to go to a big, crowded concert in order to enjoy live music. Though, if that's your thing — go for it! Also look for small venues and independent bands in your area.
3. Eat an entire candy bar. Everyone has a guilty pleasure candy or candy bar that they enjoy. Buy your favorite, and don't share it with anyone!
4. Sit down for a family dinner. Life gets so busy that we rarely get together and experience one another anymore. Sit down with your family all at the same table, and have everyone share something about their day.
5. Surprise someone. This one is completely wide open — interpret it in any way you want. You could send someone flowers, take a special friend lunch or have a treasure hunt with your kids.
6. Watch the sunrise or sunset. Waking up before the sun isn't an easy feat, but it's entirely worth it to wake up with the birds. Want a challenge? Both wake up before sunrise and watch the sun set, all in the same week.
7. Blast your favorite music. Whether you do this in the comfort of your own bedroom or riding down the highway with your windows down, it's time to turn it up.
8. Read a good book. You can either re-read one of your favorites or hit the library or bookstore to find something new.
9. Go to somewhere new in nature. Here's another good outdoor challenge. Pick a sunny day, and then go to a park, preserve or other natural area for the day that you've never been to before. (And if these nature ideas appeal, you should check out the 21-day nature cleanse concept at the bottom of this story.)
10. Volunteer. Research shows that when you give back to others, it makes you feel good about yourself.
13. Get a full night of sleep. It's okay if you didn't get to everything you wanted today. It can wait. Commit to turning the lights out early, so you can finally get a good night of sleep.
12. Watch the birds. Have you ever met a birdwatcher? They are some happy, go-lucky people. So give it a try. Go to your local park or nature center just for the purpose of watching birds. You can also do a Google search for "bird walk," and you're bound to find a group to join up with.
13. Spend time with your pet. When life gets busy, our pets often fall a few notches on the priority list. Try to spend good, quality time with your pet, and it'll naturally lift your spirits, too.
14. Start a "good" habit. We have a lot of "good" intentions, but life gets busy. They do tend to make us feel good, though. Pick a good habit to start implementing in your life, like making your bed or doing a few yoga poses each morning before your start your day. Try to do this good habit for at least a week. Who knows? Maybe it'll stick.
15. Enjoy your favorite meal, guilt-free. The key to this one is the guilt-free part. Treat yourself! Maybe you should even go for dessert after.
16. Plant something. Gardening definitely lifts the spirits. Hit up your local nursery and put together your own container or just peruse the aisles until you find something that sparks your interest.
17. Meditate. If you're new to meditation, look up videos on YouTube or download an app. You can start off slow. Just a few minutes a day can really help.
18. Perform a random act of kindness. This one is fun! Buy a stranger's coffee or send in a surprise for one of your child's teachers. The options are endless.
19. Get a massage. This is guaranteed to lift your spirits and help you recharge. Ah, the sacrifices you must make!
20. Buy a new pair of shoes. Shopping for shoes is awesome. You don't have to get undressed, and you pretty much know your size. What a great excuse to go shopping with a friend!
21. Make a list, and actually do the things on it. It's easy to make a to-do list, but it's a lot harder to actually do the things on it. Today, set out to accomplish all the things on your list.
22. Call an old friend. Dig deep into your contacts list, and reach out to a friend that you haven't spoken to in a while. Give them a call and catch up.
23. Do something by yourself. Everyone needs some alone time, whether they realize it or not. Take at least an hour to do something completely selfish and just for you.
24. Enjoy a bonfire. Whether it's the crackling of the wood or warmth of the flames, campfires are just happy. If you can roast marshmallows, all the better.
25. Bake something. Start softening the butter because it's time to test out your Betty Crocker skills. Try to challenge yourself and pick something you don't usually make.
26. Gaze at the stars. If you live near a city, do yourself a favor and drive out and away from the lights on a clear night. This will give you the best view to find those constellations you learned about as a kid.
27. Go on a picnic. When's the last time you packed up a lunch, went outside and enjoyed some time on a blanket? If the answer is "never" or you don't remember, then put it on your calendar.
28. Play a game. Hit the local park with your kids for a game of tag, or pull out the old Scrabble or Monopoly board. Playing a game is a great way to step away from technology for a bit and focus on having fun.
29. Treat yourself to your favorite wine or beer. This one should be a complete splurge! Opt for the slightly more expensive beer or wine just because you can.
30. Dance. Like music, dancing naturally lifts the spirits. You can blast the music from your living room and dance with your kids, or you can hit up a local hot spot to dance your little heart out.
31. Watch funny YouTube videos. You can find dozens of giggle-worthy YouTube videos out there. If you have kids, ask them; you're guaranteed that they will know some. If not, do a search for Kid President. This little guy will definitely make you laugh.
32. Work out. Studies show time and time again that when you get physical, it helps clear the mind. Of course, there are some obvious physical benefits, too. Whether this is running, biking or doing yoga, it pays to get active.
33. Take a road trip. Pick a place on the map or start driving and see where you end up. Either way, don't forget the road trip snacks.
34. Do something from your childhood. You know all those simple things from when you were younger that made you oh-so happy? Go out and so some of them. Skip some rocks, fly a kite or build a fort!
35. Send someone a gift. Anyone can give a gift at the holidays or for a birthday, but when you send someone an unexpected gift out of nowhere, it really makes their day.
36. Do something fun in nature. Being outside definitely lifts the spirits, but try something new the next time you head for the outdoors. If you usually go hiking, go kayaking instead. If you like to run, hit the bike trails.
37. Let someone else make your coffee. Maybe you try not to spend the money on coffee shop drinks, but today, go ahead and treat yourself. Heck, order something from the bakery, too.
38. Follow a dream. We all have those things that we've always wanted to do or try, but we just never get to them. Maybe yours is small like trying one of those "sip and paint" classes, or maybe it's bigger like taking a class about starting your own business. Find something that supports one of your dreams, and go for it!
39. Sit by the lake or water. There's something about water and its movement that naturally soothes the soul. Hike to a waterfall, find a river you've never been to or just sit and enjoy your favorite body of water.
40. Watch music videos. MTV isn't what it used to be, but that doesn't mean you can't go back in time to watch your favorite music videos from your high school and college years. Thank you, YouTube.
41. Enjoy art. This can mean 10 different things to 10 different people, so take your pick. Maybe you want to hit up an art museum, or perhaps you want to check out a shop in your area featuring local artisans.
42. Visit a farm. There's something about horses and chickens that just naturally make us happier. If you get the chance to pet one of those chickens or ride a horse, say yes. Your joyfulness is guaranteed to go up.
43. Say thank you. Often times, we forget to say "thank you" to the people that matter most. Whether it be friends, teachers or family, send a few notes of thanks to the important people in your life. This small gesture will mean a lot.
44. Cook something challenging from scratch. The best part of this one is the research involved in finding what you want to make. Luckily, there are all kinds of websites out there dedicated to awesome recipes, so start searching. Try to push yourself, and don't take any shortcuts.
45. Reduce clutter. We all have those junk drawers or piles that we intend to deal with but never do. Commit to taking care of at least one of these piles, and you'll feel a lot lighter!
46. Go to a farmers' market. This might seriously be one of the happiest places on earth. With local merchants, homemade foods and fresh produce, you can't help but smile when you're at the market.
47. Challenge yourself physically. Set a goal like hike 7 miles, bike 15 or do 50 push-ups in a day. Only you know the right challenge for yourself.
48. Make time for someone important. Perhaps life has been crazy lately, and your kid time or friend time has gone by the wayside. Change this. Commit to making time for someone important to you.
49. Take a nap. You’ll love setting out to accomplish this one. Give yourself permission to take a nap. Your to-do list can wait. It really can. (Unless you decided to do No. 21 on this list.)
50. Try something new. We all get into routines without even realizing it. Then we tend to forget the joy of trying something different or new. Pick something to try either on your own or with a friend, and go for it!