Eight tips for making yourself happier IN THE NEXT HOUR.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Eight tips for making yourself happier in the next hour.

You can make yourself happier – and this doesn’t have to be a long-term ambition.
Over the long term, habits like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and making time for friends and family make a huge difference to your happiness. But if you’re experiencing a blues emergency, you can lift your spirits right now by using some of the following strategies. The more items you tackle, the bigger the boost you’ll receive.

When you’re feeling blue, it can be hard to muster up the physical and mental energy to do the things that make you happier. Plunking down in front of the TV or digging into a tub of ice cream seems like an easier fix.

However, research shows (and you know it’s true) that these aren’t the routes to feeling better. In the next hour, check off as many of the following items as possible. Each of these accomplishments will lift your mood, as will the mere fact that you’ve tackled and achieved some concrete goals.

1. Boost your energy: stand up and pace while you talk on the phone or, even better, take a brisk ten-minute walk outside. Research shows that when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up, and the activity and sunlight are good for your focus, your mood, and the retention of information. Plus, because of “emotional contagion,” if you act energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too.

2. Reach out to friends: make a lunch date or send an email to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Having warm, close bonds with other people is one of the keys to happiness, so take the time to stay in touch. Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that socializing boosts the moods not only of extroverts, but also of introverts.

3. Rid yourself of a nagging task: answer a difficult email, purchase something you need, or call to make that dentist’s appointment. Crossing an irksome chore off your to-do list will give you a big rush of energy and cheer, and you’ll be surprised that you procrastinated for so long.

4. Create a calmer environment: clear some physical and mental space around your desk by sorting papers, pitching junk, stowing supplies, sending out quick responses, filing, or even just making your piles neater. A large stack of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often just a few minutes of work can make a sizeable dent. Try to get in the habit of using the “one minute rule”—i.e., never postpone any task that can be completed in less than one minute. An uncluttered environment will contribute to a more serene mood.

5. Lay the groundwork for some future fun: order a book you’ve been wanting to read (important: not something you think you should read, but something you want to read) or plan a weekend excursion to a museum, hiking trail, sporting event, gardening store, movie theater—whatever sounds like fun. Studies show that having fun on a regular basis is a pillar of happiness, and anticipation is an important part of that pleasure. Try to involve friends or family, as well; people enjoy almost all activities more when they’re with other people than when they’re alone.

6. Do a good deed: make an email introduction of two people who could help each other, or set up a blind date, or shoot someone a piece of useful information or gratifying praise. Do good, feel good—this really works. Also, although we often believe that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. When you act in a friendly way, you’ll strengthen your feelings of friendliness for other people.

7. Act happy: put a smile on your face right now, and keep smiling. Research shows that even an artificially induced smile has a positive influence on your emotions—turns out that just going through the motion of happiness brightens your mood. And if you’re smiling, other people will perceive you as being friendlier and more approachable.

8. Listen to your favorite music. Studies show that listening to music is one of the most effective ways to boost your energy and mood (second only to exercise). In fact, in one study, 92% of people felt happier when they listened to music they liked. For an added boost, dance around the room, too.

Some people worry that wanting to be happier is a selfish goal. To the contrary. Studies show that happier people are more sociable, likeable, healthy, and productive—and they’re more inclined to help other people. So in working to boost your own happiness, you’re benefiting others as well. In fact, I think we have a duty to be happy.

Feel happier yet?

What joy! Through Shelf Awareness, an email newsletter about the book trade which I read every day, I found this site that provides a pronunciation guide to the names of famous people. Soooooo helpful.

I’ve started sending out a short monthly newsletter. If you’d like to sign up, click on the link in the upper-right-hand corner of my blog. Or just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. No need to write anything more than “newsletter” in the subject line. I’ll add your name to the list.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Great tips! Am turning on the music right now 🙂

  • Good advice for feeling better fast, which is, I believe, all that happiness ever really is.

  • Great little post! There are plenty of short-term things people can do to boost their moods that we just… forget about. We focus on the big tasks we can’t even tackle yet! Thanks for the good advice.

  • LadyExpat

    Great advice………..instant and free:)

  • Your yearlong project is a fabulous idea. I’ll be looking for the published memoir.
    Thanks for discussing your project and sharing your tips. I seem to do most of these almost daily.
    Great information and inspiration. Thanks again.

  • We could add #9: Read your Happiness Project every day. I lost my Igoogle that has all my RSS’s and lost track for a week or so. Oh, how happy I am now that I’ve read a few posts and gotten caught up. Thanks for this.

  • I really liked those ideas. I had personally forgotten #3. I’m going to knock off that pesky task and be happier…

  • adora

    About tip#3, sometimes you can “export” the nagging task. Like using car wash, hire a maid or paying for a plumber instead of doing it yourself.
    About the site, a lot of the Chinese names pronunciations are wrong. Not really wrong, but rather the common way Americans would pronounce them.
    e.g. “T” in “Ts-” is often not pronounced, but it should be. “Ts-” sounds like somewhere between Th, Z & D. Michelle Tsai from Slate Explainer podcast pronounce it perfectly.
    “Ng” is not pronounced as “ing”. It should rhyme with “mmm…” but with N’s.

  • thanks for the great 8 tips! i find music is such a powerful tool as well. all the best, brad

  • yeah find a lot of friends was really great, make sure you find the best one which is fill you with more love and support

  • Michael

    This philosophy has poisoned my marriage.
    My wife was unhappy with her job, not me.
    Now she’s become selfish thinking only of her own gratification in a long distance relationship.
    Whoever came up with this idea failed to mention that this advice was never intended to be used in that situation.
    Now where I was happy with her and I lived for her and we lived for each other, she looks inside for her own happiness instead of toward her sworn life mate. She finds gratification with others instead of with me. As a result it is my needs that aren’t being met now.
    I do not want to force a change in the situation and find gratification in others as she has. I can do nothing, say nothing, and am drowning in silent misery and resentment toward the people that she now allows to make her happy because she will not allow me to.

    • Jack

      I really think this is more of a “Personal Matter”. Not pertaining to you and your happiness,instead focusing on what she is being pleased With. J.s.