40 Tips for a Happier Life

Since the end of the 90s a new branch of the science, also known as Positive Psychology has been dealing with the essentials for happiness. In order to help you find out which happiness potentials are maybe lying idle with you, I have summarized the 40 most important insights on the subject “happiness” in an abbreviated format in the following “checklist”.

1. Get to know yourself really well!

Whoever knows more about him/herself, will better be able to tap into his/her potential, advance his/her development and learn to better deal with critical issues. (Our personality test is a great starting point for that)

2. Do what you love!

Professional and private activities conveying the feeling of absolute fulfillment create “flow” in us – and that makes us happy. It is the result of the brain’s optimal utilization. (See also my article "Do what you enjoy doing!")

3. Invest in your partnership!

People living in long-lasting, good partner relationships are evidentially happier than singles. In multiple studies this factor has repeatedly been proven to be the most effective for increasing life-satisfaction – it is much more important than money, job and hobbies.

4. See your profession as a calling!

Whoever sees him/herself as important contributor in his/her work, experiences his/her occupation as meaningful and feels that his/her special skills are needed is happier than those who are just ”doing their job”. (See also my article "How to find a job that makes you happy")

5. Cultivate friendships!

Positive social contacts reduce stress and promote health. Studies also clearly indicate them to be life prolonging.

6. Don’t chase after money!

Studies frequently demonstrate that the impact of a higher income on happiness or even that of winning the jackpot turn out to be minimal in the long term.

7. Make peace with your past!

An essential condition for satisfaction and happiness is to make peace with one’s own history and past and accept it the way it is.

8. Don’t compare yourself with others!

Comparisons with others who are (perceived) to be doing better in some way or other is a perfect method to make yourself miserable because they reduce your own satisfaction.

9. Savor times of happiness to the fullest!

The longer and more intensely one enjoys the times of happiness and the resulting high, the more this memory becomes a part of the consciousness and positively impacts the overall life-satisfaction.

10. Set yourself realistic milestones!

Intermediate goals are easier to reach and therefore cumulatively provide more frequent feelings of happiness than one long term and excessively ambitious goal: Each individual sense of achievement activates the brain’s reward system and creates happiness.

11. Clear out and sort!

Divesting oneself of the old, useless and unwanted provides all sorts of energy, momentum and creates room for new and exciting things in life.

12. Frequently tackle new things!

New surprising experiences activate the brain’s pleasure system, curiosity and the willingness to deal with the unknown are important elements of happiness.

13. Quickly take care of things that must be done!

Although procrastination may sometimes be temporarily the easy way out, in the long term it creates unhappiness: Much more conducive to happiness: The sense of achievement when a task (especially if it was unpleasant) has been accomplished. (See also my article "How to fight procrastination")

14. Work on your character!

According to Positive Psychology the following six virtues are the key to happiness: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.

15. In times of crisis look for professional support!

Banal but important: It is a lot easier to handle depressions, traumatic experiences or other serious psychological problems inhibiting one’s happiness with someone’s support.

16. Look for outdoor leisure!

Engagement with nature and plants steadies, relaxes and imparts the feeling of success.

17. Enjoy consciously and intensely!

Savoring consciously stimulates all senses, creates happiness and can even prevent depressions and ease pain. This is possible through the release of opioids produced naturally in the body.

18. Develop your spirituality!

Human beings are creatures searching for meaning and a spiritual footing. Regardless whether one is drawn to the traditional religions or as a free spirit creates one’s own superstructure: Any form of faith has been proven to benefit personal happiness.

19. Look for contact with animals!

Pets provide variety, affection and fun in our daily routine – they make us happy and are frequently important participants in psychotherapy.

20. Help others!

Helping others also makes us happier and more content. Volunteering can even positively impact life expectancy!

21. Learn to value the unexpected!

Variety prevents inurement and insensibility vis à vis known fields and allows for new and enjoyable experiences that one would miss otherwise.

22. Exercise regularly!

Exercise is a very important source of happiness. Studies have shown that for many people regular endurance training three times a week for half an hour helps as effectively against melancholy as medication.

23. Avoid any kind of drugs!

Regular drug use can reduce the amount of D2-receptors in the brain, docking stations for the neurotransmitter Dopamine. The smaller their amount, the more difficult it becomes to feel happiness.

24. Smile and laugh at every opportunity!

Smiling has so many positive effects on body and soul that many therapies now specifically treat illnesses and depressions with gratuitous laughter training.

25. Be grateful!

To be constantly aware for how much one can be grateful in one’s life notably and drastically increases personal satisfaction. A great method to focus on the positive aspects of your daily life is the happiness diary. (See also my article "Gratitude is a key to happiness")

26. Be parsimonious with periods of Idleness!

It is only in the short term, that idleness makes happy, but then very quickly causes dissatisfaction and even illness. Consequently, any activity is better than protracted inactivity.

27. Seek tenderness and physical contact!

Affectionate contact assuages fear, relieves stress and relieves opiates increasing our happiness and satisfaction.

28. Welcome problems in your life!

The feeling to have faced and successfully mastered a difficult situation is a central happiness module. (See also my article "How problems can make you feel happy")

29. Focus on the positive!

Those who concentrate on the beautiful things in life are happier than those who only ponder on the negative.

30. Cultivate your sex life!

Sex is one of the most effective and healthiest means to pleasant feelings providing a sheer surge of happiness hormones in the body.

31. Be open to anything new!

Maintain a large network of contacts, invariably face things with interest and generally walk through life in a relaxed way. In doing so, you‘ll make it easier for unexpected opportunities to pop up.

32. Practice your intuition – and trust it!

Those favored by luck are usually people with an excellent intuition and a sure gut feeling. (See also my article "Intuition - Knowledge on a Gut-Level")

33. Be optimistic!

Those who expect the positive, also tend to be recipients of the positive. On the other hand, those who see themselves as unlucky fellows, block their feeling to be happy. Both convictions act as self-fulfilling prophecies.

34. Occasionally say „no“!

Those who always put their wishes, needs and requirements last for the sake of peace are going to be dissatisfied and unhappy in the long term.

35. Watch your posture!

The psyche continuously receives feedback from the body about its activities and status sensitivities as for instance via muscle-movements and tension. It has been proven to lift the mood when the posture expresses optimism, happiness and confidence.

36. Give your life meaning!

Whoever wants to be happy and satisfied in the long term, must see to it that his/her life is a meaningful one. (See also my article "Give your life a meaning")

37. Drink tea, not coffee!

Four cups of tea each day help the body to reduce stress – and the tea preparation ritual relaxes and makes you happy.

38. Make decisions!

“It is better to execute imperfect decisions than to continuously search for perfect decisions that are never going to exist.” (Charles de Gaulle)

39. Learn to control your negative feelings!

Delving into anger, grief or other negative emotions repeatedly and excessively does not have a relaxing effect but reinforces these feelings and increases the chance of their repetition.

40. Meditate!

Meditation activates and exercises the left frontal lobe – the more prominent it becomes the better we are able to deal with negative experiences and the happier we feel.