20 Ways to Change Your Life and Find More Happiness

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It’s time to learn how to find happiness in life when everything gets a little crazy.

Maybe you’re working long hours at the office, taking care of a new baby, struggling your way through grad school, or just trying to manage stress while keeping your head above water.

You feel stressed, overworked, and at your wit’s end.

Whatever you’re doing now doesn’t seem to be working. You need a way out.

Don’t worry. We’ve all been where you are, and there is a light at the end of a tunnel.

20 Ways to Find More Happiness in Life

When life has you feeling overwhelmed, sometimes it’s best to take a step back and focus on what’s most important.

Here are 20 ideas you can use to change your life and learn how to find happiness within yourself, no matter where you are at now.

1. Value love above all else

Wiser souls have been saying this one for centuries in various forms of art and literature.

What the world needs now is love sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of. Quote by Dionne Warwick

And the latest to chime in on the matter: Harvard. A nearly 80-year Harvard study on adult development found that the key to living a long and happy life isn’t just about your cholesterol or blood pressure; it’s about your relationships.

The study found that our relationships and how happy you are in them have a powerful effect on your health. It revealed that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.”

Now that you know that the secret to finding happiness is to make an effort to spend more time with the people who matter most. Become part of a community. Grow your network. Call your mom.

All you need is love. Quote by The Beatles

2. Make more money

Money can’t buy happiness. You know this. However, more money can help you achieve your goals faster, provide you with more opportunities for new experiences, and allow you to support causes you care about.

And those things absolutely can make you happy and help you ultimately find happiness in life. If your financial situation is looking drab, don’t give up.

For example, you can learn how to manage social media accounts for small businesses. Many businesses will pay for services like creating Facebook Ads, posting on their social media pages, and responding to customer messages.

Another option is to sell things you no longer need. From clothes and furniture, to the old electronics collecting dust in your attic, offload them quickly with any number of selling apps available.

Related: 50 Best Side Hustle Ideas for 2020

3. Simplify your finances

A 2015 survey conducted by Harris Poll found that money is a top source of stress for Americans.

The survey revealed that 64% of respondents reported that money is a somewhat or very significant source of stress. The good news is there are easy ways to reduce your money stress and find happiness in life by simplifying your finances.

If you haven’t already, have a close look at your financial situation and start creating a monthly budget. Personal Capital makes it easy to track your income and expenses. It also allows you to see your investments, retirement funds, and loan accounts all in one place.

For recurring expenses, consider automating your payments. This will ensure that your bills are always paid on time, and you won’t have to worry about tracking every account and missing a payment. Other ideas you can try: eat out less often, plan your meals, and get cash back on groceries.

Finally, reduce spending to save money. Check your bank and credit card statements and cancel subscriptions for products and services you no longer use.

4. Exercise more often

Our bodies need exercise, and there’s no way around it.

No matter your age, shape, or weight, everyone can find more happiness from exercising daily. And the benefits are incredible — greater than any drug on the market.

There are the physical aspects of exercise — toning your body, building muscle mass, strengthening your bones, and improving your skin. However, there are additional benefits. Exercise increases relaxation, improves sleep, supports stronger immune function, and more.

And did you know, there are companies out there that will actually pay you to lose weight? If you need a little extra motivation, then maybe a cash incentive will help you reach your weight loss goals.

HealthyWage is one such company that pays people to lose weight. The company encourages a happier, healthier lifestyle by allowing you to place a bet on your own weight loss goals. If you lose weight, you win money. It’s a win-win situation.

5. Pay off your debt

No matter what type you have — credit cards, student loans, mortgage, car loan, or whatever your situation — having debt is never fun. Not only does debt prevent you from spending your money the way you want, but it can also increase stress and anxiety.

Without debt, you have the freedom to work less, save more, and you may even be able to retire earlier.

6. Eliminate things that no longer serve you

Every once in a while, you have to do a self-check-up to make sure that things in your life are still serving their purpose. And sometimes you’ll realize some of them are no longer bringing you joy.

Eliminating those things could help you find happiness in life. Maybe it’s a friend who refuses to put in the time and effort they expect from you. It could be an activity or community you no longer enjoy.

Whatever it is in your life that causes more stress than it brings pleasure or fulfillment, fix it or nix it. Life is too short for all that negativity.

7. Meditate

In the short-term, meditation is known to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase awareness and concentration. What’s even more impressive are the long-term benefits of meditation.

A 2015 study by UCLA researchers published in Frontiers in Psychology found that long-term meditators have more gray matter volume in their brain than their non-meditating counterparts.

In case you’re unfamiliar, gray matter is a major component of the central nervous system. It plays a role in speech, muscle control, memory, emotions, decision-making, and sensory perception. As people age, their gray matter deteriorates, resulting in various diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

So, in theory, the long-term practice of meditation could help ward off some serious diseases in older age. Meanwhile, it can definitely elevate your mood, help you find happiness in life, and make people overall more tolerable.

8. Find time for yourself and reflect

As American philosopher, psychologist, and education reformer John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Some people need more alone time than others (hello, other introverts). But everyone can benefit from a little time away from the buzz to think and reflect. If you’re looking to change your life for the better, try scheduling some time for yourself. Ask your spouse to watch the kids. Tell your friends you can’t go out tonight. Go to lunch alone.

You’ll reap the most benefits from your experiences by reflecting on them.

9. Slow down and appreciate the present

With technology connecting people more than ever, that’s easier said than done. If you’re not careful, a year from now, or even twenty years from now, you may be wondering how you spent your time and what made it so special.

Practice slowing down and being present. You’ll observe more about the people and things around you. Your mind will appreciate the break, and you may even increase your productivity.

10. Determine what is important to you

Warren Buffett is a legend. He’s a successful businessman, investor, and philanthropist who pledged to donate 99 percent of his wealth to charity. And he’s amassed a net worth of over $77 billion.

I’d trust advice from a guy like that, wouldn’t you?

Warren Buffett created the 25/5 rule that goes something like this:

  1. Make a list of 25 goals you want to accomplish in x amount of time.
  2. Review your list and pick your top 5 priorities.
  3. Focus on the top 5 and avoid the others at all cost.

The power of elimination is underrated. By focusing on only a few of your most important priorities and eliminating everything else, you’ll be more productive and more likely to achieve your goals which could help you find happiness in life.

11. Spend time doing the things you love to change your life

This one should be a given. Doing things you enjoy makes you happy. Do more of the things you love and less of the things you don’t.

Don’t have time? Then you have to make time. If you’re an avid planner keeper, schedule it into your days. Want to spend more time reading? Pencil it in. Enjoy hiking with your dog? Who’s stopping you?

You are the one who ultimately controls what you do with your time. Spend it wisely.

12. Minimize

You don’t have to go completely minimalist to reap the benefits of downsizing. Get rid of things you don’t use that are taking up valuable space — physically and mentally — in your life. If something is valuable to you, hang on to it.

Cutting back on clutter can save you time since you won’t have as many things to take care of. Fewer repairs, less time cleaning and organizing, and more time and resources for what matters. Finding happiness in life takes action, and organization is one of many ways to get started.

13. Practice gratitude

It’s easy to think about all the things that could be better, but how often do you think about the things that are going pretty well?

Psychologists at the University of Miami found that practicing gratitude can lead to more happiness, stronger relationships, and greater overall health. Various other studies support these findings. It’s also a great way to boost your mood when you’re feeling down in the dumps.

This one doesn’t require much extra time out of your day. The first few quiet minutes after you wake up, driving in the car, and taking a shower are a few places you can practice this simple exercise.

Start by naming three things you’re grateful for each day. Focus on one big thing, one small thing, and one experience.

14. 80/20 your life

The 80/20 rule is called the Pareto Principle. The key takeaway here is that 80% of your outcomes are a result of 20% of your inputs.

Joseph M. Juran coined the idea and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto developed the idea growing peas in his garden when he noted that 80% of his peas came from 20% of his plants. Many entrepreneurs, including Tim Ferriss, author of the bestselling 40-Hour Workweek, use and suggest the principle as a method for increasing productivity.

Figure out the 20% of things in your life — whether it’s in your business, your work life, or social life — that produce 80% of your outcomes. That could be the 20% of people who make you the happiest. The activities that generate the most income. The tasks that accomplish the greatest results.

The 80/20 rule can be applied to almost any area of your life and will help you find happiness. Focus on your top 20% and your time will be well spent.

15. Unplug

Electronics are handy — there’s no denying that. Never has there been another time in history when the answer to any question you could possibly imagine was literally at your fingertips. However, there are downsides to spending so much time “plugged in.”

For example, spending more time on social media can actually make you feel more isolated, according to some studies. Screen time also distracts from the things around you and makes it difficult to stay focused and be productive.

If you’re looking to drastically change your life, unplug and spend time with those around you. Stop watching others live through a screen and connect with them. Just beware of the side effects. Unplugging may cause increased productivity, more satisfying personal relationships, and a greater feeling of connectedness to the world around you.

16. Limit your choices

Ah, the Paradox of Choice. At face value, having more options seems better, but in reality, that’s far from the truth.

Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a study in 2000 analyzing the purchasing behaviors of customers at a food market. They displayed 24 varieties of gourmet jam on one day, and only 6 varieties on the next. Customers who visited the table received a coupon for $1 off the jam of their choice.

The results showed that even though more customers visited the larger display, those shoppers were one-tenth as likely to purchase than those who visited the smaller display. Additional studies have since confirmed that more choice is, indeed, not always better.

Eliminate choices in your life by cleaning out your closet (fewer clothing options), decluttering your house, and prioritizing your goals.

17. Stop trying to multitask

Anyone who says they are good at multitasking is a liar. It just doesn’t work.

Employers often list multitasking as a “required skill” on job openings, but studies indicate that multitasking is actually less efficient because it takes extra time to shift mental gears every time a person switches between tasks. This is called context switching. Basically, our brains are wired to focus on one task at a time. Switching between multiple tasks wastes time and decreases productivity.

Instead of multitasking, try doing your work in sprints. Focus on one task for an allotted period of time and take breaks in between sprints.

For example, you could do 50-minute sprints with 10-minute breaks in between. Use your breaks to get up, move around, and relax your brain before moving onto the next task.

18. Get organized

Another surprising way to improve your happiness and overall health is to be more organized.

Organizing your life helps you optimize your time and get more done. You’ll also feel more in control of your schedule and be less likely to miss appointments and more likely to schedule time for things you enjoy.

One method for getting organized is to buy and use a planner like the Panda Planner. It’s perfect for planning your months, weeks, and days for optimal productivity. The gratitude and review sections also help you maintain a positive outlook and learn from your experiences through reflection.

19. Practice yoga

Studies show that yoga can help reduce back pain, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, increase flexibility, relieve anxiety and depression, and more.

There are different types of yoga for different purposes. If you’re looking to work up a sweat, try Bikram.

Or if you prefer a more relaxing, meditative style, try restorative yoga.

The benefits of yoga are endless. It’s good for escaping stress and is a positive, uplifting way to change your life for the better.

woman doing yoga outside

20. Spend time outside

Most people these days spend a significant amount of time indoors while staring at computer screens.

Spending time in nature can help you detach from stressful situations and develop a better sense of awareness. Enjoying nature will help you find happiness in life.

Of course, there are other reported benefits, such as increased Vitamin D levels, exercise, improved concentration, and an overall elevated mood.

Megan Robinson

Hi! I'm Megan. I'm a personal finance enthusiast on a mission to help millennial men and women understand and make more money. Along with writing and editing content, I work one-on-one with individuals as a financial and behavioral money coach.

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