16 Free Ways to Boost Your Happiness
By changing my life in 16 simple and free ways, I’ve been more happy, at peace, and in tune with myself than ever before.
These are the simple and gradual changes I’ve made to my life over the past few years, how they’ve changed me, and how they could help you find what you are looking for.
1: Car ➜ Walk
Selling my car forced me to re-evaluate my daily plans and activities.
I had to ask myself if there was anything else that I could get done while I was out.
Driving to the store to pick something up real quick and drive back out again for something else 10 minutes later was no longer an option.
Instead, I’d organize several different things I could take care of at once when I would be out around town.
It created an enlarged kind of mental accountability to optimize and maximize the use of my time while I was out.
I had to begin to do things more deliberately.
As quick and convenient cars can sometimes be, I find myself with even more free time without one in some ways:
- Not being stuck in traffic
- Not filling my car with fuel
- No car maintenance time or money spent (oil, tire rotations, tune-ups)
- No time spent at the Department of Motor Vehicles
- No digging my car out of the snow
- No waiting for the engine to warm up
2: Escalator ➜ Stairs
It’s not faster, but not much slower, either.
Physically challenging and sometimes mentally, there are some moments where I notice I am exercising my will power a bit more.
Take each step on purpose, with purpose.
Pushing myself to take the stairs when I feel mentally fatigued makes me feel all the more triumphant over my weaker self when I’ve made it through. One’s discipline and willpower strengthen.
Taking the stairs will not get you ripped like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but your resulting glutes and quads will have your current (or future) partner glad that you did.
“Start with small steps.”
“One at a time.”
3: Umbrella ➜ Get Wet
I remember days in California where if there was a rain cloud, hardly anybody would be outside.
Many people sport umbrellas when there’s hardly a drizzle. Maybe we are so scared that we will melt, or that if are socks and shoes get wet, they will never dry again.
Yeah, being inside is terrific at times, but do you remember what it is like to have the sun warm your face?
How about having the wind run through your hair?
The average modern human spends more than 90% of their waking hours sheltered inside.
Allow yourself to get wet, sun-soaked, and windswept sometimes– and enjoy it.
Laugh at yourself in your soaked clothes.
When you get home, hang things up to dry and put on some warm, dry clothes again.
You’ll remember things that you have long forgotten.
Find comfort in the long-forgotten world of nature that you belong to.
4: Moving Fast ➜ Moving Slowly
Subways, buses, and cars are a quick and convenient way to get a lot of places.
However, walking will take you places you’ve never seen and run you into situations you will not find otherwise.
You’ll be free to explore. Take a different route home that you have never taken before. Explore streets, side alleys, and neighborhoods you have never seen along the way.
Listen to yourself think.
Observe your mind wandering.
What do your thoughts say about you?
Allow the clamor and chaos to unwind and dissipate.
Arrive at your destination calmly and at peace with yourself.
5: The “People-pleaser” or “Yes-Man” ➜ Saying “No”
Saying “no” was hard for me.
Every time I was invited out to a party, birthday, or drink, I’d always accept.
I think it’s because I didn’t want to disappoint people. I wanted to show people I was fun and always up for a good time.
Too many “yeses” led me to many challenging consequences.
Learning how to balance accepting and declining opportunities changed multiple things for me:
- I manage my time better.
- I find it easier to show up on time.
- I was able to spend more time enjoying the moment by not having to stress at the thought of how much time I had left before the next rendezvous.
- People are happier around happier people. In other words, being able to enjoy myself more due to my feeling less stress allowed others to enjoy my company even more.
- Better relationships = even better experiences.
Spend your time intentionally and meaningfully.
6: Video Games ➜ Personal Development
There’s a hard-to-determine-line between recreation and addiction.
I wish I could say I always played video games for fun, but there were many, many undeniable times where it was purely escapist– an attempt to get my mind off of other matters.
Before launching a video game, I now ask myself:
“Is there a chance I’ll look back at this moment and wish I had done something else?”
I counter my escapism by working on some personal goals and skill development instead, be it art projects, writing, learning Spanish, etc..
When the hours have gone by, and I look back at my progress, there’s a more profound sense of fulfillment and reward.
7: Music ➜ Listen to Your Mind
I love music.
Headphones go with me everywhere.
Listening to music every moment was my previous modus operandi.
I still carry headphones with me though I hardly frequent their use liked I had in the past.
Music has a way of stopping some of your own thoughts and getting your senses to funnel into a narrower space.
It can be great for helping focus for this reason.
Moments of silence bring out the loudness of your mind.
I don’t find it enjoyable at first, but after some practice you find peace.
As tranquility becomes more and more apparent and easily attained, you become a master of silencing your mind, owning and controlling your thoughts, and finding inner peace.
—And guess what? I still love and listen to music.
8: Videos ➜ Reading
I get so easily consumed by TV shows, movies, and YouTube.
By watching fewer videos and reading more, my willpower is stimulated, knowledge grows and satisfaction is longer lasting.
I find myself imagining, creating, learning, and asking more questions.
My imagination and potential are unleashed from the digital screens of media.
9: Shopping and Eating Out ➜ Create, Cook, & Grow
Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious or restless, I just want to go out and spend money.
I’ve been re-channeling this restlessness into a creative channel to try and create things and cooking meals with friends.
Aside from getting closer to the people I love being with, I enjoy the satisfaction of having concocted something rather than having taken it off the shelf.
10: Fulfilling Needs with Money ➜ Using Needs as a Motivator to Learn
When my kitchen sink needed to be resealed, I didn’t call a plumber.
There are small, seemingly tedious things that come up in one’s life.
Rather than rely on money to take care of everything, I’ll try to take it upon myself to tackle some obstacles.
I’m forced out of my comfort zone, find solutions myself, and by the end of it, I’ve learned something new that I can share or relate with others.
You’ll be surprised by what you are capable of doing.
(And you can find just about everything on YouTube or in a How-To manual.)
11: Phone. Wallet. Keys. Check ✓ ➜ Empty-Handed & “Unobstructed”
I guess I’ve got it simple:
Good to go.
In allowing myself to leave my home with nothing or almost nothing in my pockets, I guarantee myself a kind of tranquility.
Sometimes, I will make a pact with myself to give 100% of myself to my thoughts, surroundings, or the people I am with.
Give it a try, and go for a walk without your phone, wallet or purse. Try spending time with someone without having your phone on you.
Feeling “present” is often obscured by our possessions “possessing” us.
“Empty hands can hold a free mind.”
12: Phone Addict ➜ Improved Self-Control
I used to take my phone out every time it went off.
Every message, call, email, or notification, and my hand was already taking it out of the pocket and sticking it in front of my face regardless of:
- Where I was
- What I was doing, or
- Who I was with.
Allowing ourselves interruptions and distractions makes it hard to settle into deep reflection or conversation with others; because we have made ourselves emotionally unavailable and have not dedicated our full attention to the present moment.
It’s as if we are diluting ourselves amongst multiple things as opposed to being fully present with where we are and who we are with.
It was hard at first, but after practicing keeping my phone in my pocket regardless of its cries(notifications) and tantrums(vibrations), my abilities of self-restraint increased. Initially, I had to assure myself the world was not going to explode if I didn’t check my phone.
Most notable benefits:
- Ability to develop deeper relationships
- Greater awareness of my environment, my thoughts, and my emotions
13: Facebook Zombie ➜ Facebook Mastery
“Oh! I need to go onto Facebook so I can...Whoa, look at that…”
The untraceable frequency to which I’ve lost myself to the Facebook void begins to limit itself when I turned off Facebook notification badges and sounds on my phone.
Facebook will grab at your attention every moment that it can and try to get you lost in its infinite scroll.
Turning off Facebook notifications and sounds will help you take your time back for yourself.
Another trick is deleting the app. The simple fact that it takes more steps to use a web browser as opposed to the app will reduce your motivation for spending unnecessary time on it. Inaccessibility can be your friend.
The less often I go on Facebook, the little time I do spend on it is more deliberate.
A sort of self-enforced prioritization comes into place.
I am more in control of my usage.
Now my perpetual dance and tumble into the Facebook void much less probable.
14: Porn ➜ Fantasy
These wild and crazy staged scenes of what sex is supposed to look and feel like can put some incredibly unrealistic ideas into our minds.
Our brain is the hub of the central nervous system.
Thinking leads to feeling. When your imagination is at your disposal, you can go anywhere with your own discretion—granted it can take time to re-align one’s focus.
Tuning in with your body’s sense of touch and your imagination can allow for sensational experiences to occur.
Scientifically, porn triggers a massive amount of dopamine to be released, and if repeated over time, the brain creates more dopamine receptors. These receptors anticipate being flooded with more and more dopamine. Tolerance levels are increasing. The stimulation must continue to become more and more extreme to recreate the previous levels of temporary satisfaction.
This can ultimately affect real sex lives when they are no longer able to compete with the dopamine overindulgence from pornography.
15: Needing to Be “Right” ➜ Improved Self-Esteem
Anytime someone would be expressing an opinion or their beliefs, I felt the incessant need to share mine and, if needed, prove and defend it.
I have taught myself to understand that when others are expressing themselves fully, they are not attacking me–my insecurities.
Confidence, comfort, and humbleness overcome me when I’ve told myself I don’t need to prove what or why I feel what I do.
Openness and wisdom encourage me to share when it is appropriate.
I allow myself great peace by teaching myself to accept others and their perspectives as they are.
I do not need to hold myself responsible for convincing the world to see everything the way that I do, nor am I allowing myself to keep total conviction so that I may maintain humility and an open mind.
16: Reacting ➜ Responding
In moments where you think to yourself before reacting to a situation, you have started to allow for a better consequence to emerge than if you had simply reacted.
Why not give yourself a second to think about what just happened?
An immediate reaction could prove futile and even worsen things.
Take a step back.
Ask yourself, “What is the best possible thing that could happen next?”
Engaging with our analytical mind may help us discover something beyond initial visceral/emotional reactions.
We can maintain grace and control in challenging situations and succeed in creating favorable results more easily if we take a moment to breathe.
What simple changes have you made to your life that have a positive effect?