7 Things You Can Do to Feel Happier

UPDATED: September 13, 2016
PUBLISHED: September 13, 2016

Positive psychology is a new and growing field. I have sifted through hundreds of studies to find “The Big 7” ways to train your brain to be happy. Many of these studies have been discussed in journals, conference keynotes and research reports, but I’ve brought them together for you here.

Related: Secrets for a Happy Brain

If you do any of these seven things for two weeks straight, you will feel happier.

1. Three Walks

Pennsylvania State researchers reported that the more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. It doesn’t take much: Half an hour of brisk walking three times a week improves happiness.

2. The 20-Minute Replay

Writing for 20 minutes about a positive experience dramatically improves happiness. Why? Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it.

3. Random Acts of Kindness

Carrying out five random acts of kindness a week dramatically improves your happiness. Professor Martin Seligman says that, “we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”

4. A Complete Unplug

A Kansas State University study found that downtime after work helps us recharge for the next day. Turn your phone off after dinner.

5. Hit Flow

Get into a groove. Be in the zone. However you characterize it, when you’re completely absorbed with what you’re doing, it means you’re being challenged and demonstrating skill at the same time.

6. 2-Minute Meditations

A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in a course on mindfulness and meditation. After the course, parts of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness grew while parts associated with stress sank.

7. Five Gratitudes

If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or journal and write down three to five things you’re grateful for from the past week.

Related: 5 Ridiculously Easy Things You Can Do Every Day to Feel Happy


Reprinted from The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha, published by Putnam, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Neil Pasricha.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Neil Pasricha is the New York Times–bestselling author of the Book of Awesome series, which has been published in ten countries, spent more than five years on various bestsellers lists, and sold more than a million copies. Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, one of the most popular TED speakers of all time, and the director of the Institute for Global Happiness. He has dedicated the past fifteen years of his life to developing leaders—creating global programs inside the world’s largest companies and speaking to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Pasricha lives in Toronto with his family.