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We all want to be happy. It’s a desire as universal as our want for water, food, and fresh air.
But happiness is a difficult thing to measure. It’s a spectrum – not an absolute. There’s a whole science behind our happiness levels, why they fluctuate, and what we can do to boost them.
Ironically, too much time and thought spent in the pursuit of happiness has been found to actually decrease a person’s overall happiness. So it’s fortuitous that scientists have identified a countless number of small, conscious steps a person can take to elevate their mood with minimal effort. (See also: 29 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier This Year)
So what have you got to lose? Check out our list of 100 small things you can do to bring more joy into your life. The sooner you get started, the better you’ll feel.
1. Talk to a Stranger
Smile, or better yet, strike up a conversation with a stranger in line at Starbucks or during your morning commute. Behavioral scientists say initiating positive interactions with people whose gazes we might otherwise avoid evokes higher happiness levels in both parties. It’s a guaranteed win-win.
2. Send Snail Mail to a Friend
What’s better than opening the mailbox to find an unexpected hand-written note from a friend, just because? This small act of love and friendship pays off two-fold, for you, too, get to experience a burst of joy knowing you’ve brightened the day of your letter’s recipient. A simple envelope-sealed note will suffice, but feel free to let your imagination run wild with small gifts, puzzle cards, and other personal ideas.
3. Watch the Sun Rise
It happens 365 days a year. But how often do you make a point of seeing it? Watching the sun rise is actually an ancient method of healing. And there are numerous other benefits, like enjoying a beautiful show of color and light, and having quiet moments of stillness and reflection.
4. Go to the Theater
Behind sex and exercise, people are happiest at the theater. That’s the takeaway of a British study on activities that bring people the most glee. Time to scout out tickets for Shakespeare in the park or your favorite Broadway musical.
In helping others, you also help yourself. That’s because altruism is proven to boost happiness. So spend some time volunteering for a community, charity, or religious organization. The more often you give back, the more self-satisfaction you’ll receive. Volunteering will also help you live longer, according to some studies.
A shot of endorphins to the brain will make you feel oh-so-good. And one of the best ways of getting this boost is with exercise. So pick your poison – running, soccer, ice skating, a long walk in the woods. Get moving and get instant satisfaction.