Here it is. The list to end all lists. In fact, throw all those other lists away because this one is the only one you’ll ever need. I’m giving you 52 personally and research-proven ways to be happy, get healthier, and enjoy life more than you ever imagined possible!
I know what you are thinking, “Alli, that sounds like a lot of work! Aren’t you the person always telling us to stop being so busy?” (Yes, that’s me. Calm down.) I am definitely not saying you have to add fifty-two things to your daily routine. Who wants more work? Not us, My friend. Not us.
This is not about more work. It’s about shifting our mindset, seeing things in a new way, making one new habit or adding an action step every week for the next year.
Join me, and I promise you that next year you’ll be happier, healthier and enjoy life more.
Sign up here to have each week’s idea with an action step emailed to you personally. You’ll be glad you did at the end of those 52 weeks!
1. Assume The Best In Others
A key to being happier in life is to make the decision to assume that the people around you have good intentions, they are operating to the best of their ability, and they mean you no harm. When you decide to err on the side of assuming others have good motives, you protect yourself from living with a negative mindset.
2. Talk To Yourself As Nicely As You Would Talk To A Friend
We use language and phrases about ourselves that would be completely unacceptable for us to say to anyone else. Make a rule, starting today that you will talk to and about yourself the same way you would talk to and about your dearest friend. Doing this is one of the most important key ways to be happy every day.
What many of us already know by experience has been proven by research. People of faith are much happier and find more sustained happiness in life. Start dedicating a little more time for prayer today!
When we intentionally choose to spend time with those who are supportive, positive, and encouraging, we acquire a positive mindset and are happier. When we find ourselves surrounded by people who are negative, critical, and hurtful, it steals our happiness and our joy.
Allow yourself to be the person you were created to be, and surround yourself with those who love you for who you really are. Scientists have studied those at the end of their lives, the most comment regret is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
From the time you take your first wobbly steps as a toddler, and all the way to adulthood, you will fail as a natural part of learning. Learning to see your failures as steps along the path to success will change how you view your failures and how you live your life.
I believe God plants dreams in us just like he gives us certain talents and gifts. If you have a dream that just won’t go away, and that dream will in some way make the world a better place, start making plans to achieve it. Write out exactly what your vision is, and find people who can help you achieve it.
I started thinking about getting healthier, and pretty soon I was planning how to grow my own non-GMO wheat in the backyard and bake my own bread. I had to reel myself back in and focus on one actual change!
Instead of drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper every day (I know, I know, I’m going to grow a tail from the artificial sweetener!), I just allow myself one as a treat when I go to the movies. Baby-steps without the backyard wheat plans!
Don’t try to change everything all at once. You’ll feel much more accomplished and more likely to set and reach other goals.
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Some people are emotional black holes. They just can’t get enough praise, attention, control, or love. They often start out very charming when you first meet, but over time you realize your interactions with this person are negative and more harmful than beneficial.
As my Grandma used to say, ”Don’t let sick people make you sick.” Let go of unhealthy relationships so you can enjoy life.
(Yes, I’m putting this right after “Let go of toxic relationships” for a reason.) Sometimes, after we have ended a painful relationship, we close ourselves off and don’t want to risk going through the pain again.
Research shows that the quality of our relationships is the most significant factor in our overall happiness during our lifetime. It’s worth it to find and invest in great relationships.
When I tuck my younger children in bed at night, I ask them, “What three things made you happy today that you’re grateful for?” It’s a simple, low-pressure question but it’s my way to instill the discipline of gratitude to my children.
Identifying three things that we’re grateful for at the end of every day is a simple way to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, and set the tone for a great day tomorrow.
It’s easy to focus on how much work we have to do and how far away our big goal is, but it’s equally important is to celebrate how far we’ve come. Taking time to celebrate our progress, even if we are celebrating baby steps, keeps us feeling accomplished and not overwhelmed.
My granddaddy used to say, “Don’t sit, soak, and sour, girl. Get up.” Doing something we love that requires us to move a little is great for our brain and our happiness level.
Take up photography (“Hello brilliant iPhone camera!”), plant an herb garden, learn archery, become an expert in dolphin mating habits. I don’t care what you do, find something that you love and run with it!
I’m preaching to myself this one. I tend to work way too many hours on my laptop and forget that there’s even an outside world. The research shows that just a few minutes out in nature boosts your mood, increases happiness, and reduces stress.
Have you ever listened to someone complain and thought to yourself, “This is so helpful. I always feel so uplifted when I hear people complain?” Of course not. It has a negative effect on you and everyone else who is listening (including the complainer).
Make the decision today to complain less and compliment more and be happier instantly.
On any given day, there are a gazillion things I could worry about. Identifying real concerns (not perceived ones) and then releasing what is out of my control, keeps me from being overcome by fear.
Always believing others are at fault for the negative things that happen in your life can become a habit. It’s called having a victim mentality and is a very negative mindset, with very negative and isolating results.
It can often take a professional counselor to train someone how “not” to view themselves as a victim. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it, and practice #1 to daily change your perspective.
Have you ever just made the decision to be happier? Most people haven’t. But it’s much easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.
You can tell yourself you are going to learn how to ice skate. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, even buy yourself a fancy pair of skates. But until you strap them on and actually start skating, you aren’t going to be a skater!
Telling yourself you are going to be happier doesn’t work. You have to take actions that will actually make you happier.
When we carry around hurt and anger, it festers and grows into a spirit of bitterness and offense. When our hearts become bitter and offended we live life wounded and see every interaction through the lens of that pain.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the betrayal is okay. It doesn’t mean what the person did to you is okay. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself, not a release of guilt to the offender. It sets you free from the weight of carrying around all that hurt and anger.
This concept is applicable to so many things in life, but specifically for this example, I want to focus on relationships. Study after study has shown that the biggest predictor of happiness in our lives is the quality of our relationships.
It’s key to invest our limited time and emotional energy and the people who we love the most. What you nourish will flourish.
The imposter syndrome is a common and well-documented phenomenon. It’s even more common among professionals, entrepreneurs, and high achieving individuals. In short, it means in any situation you feel like you don’t really belong, that you’re a fraud, and eventually everyone will notice and realize that you have no idea what you’re doing.
And get this, as people’s success levels increase, the imposter syndrome increases with it.
The key to getting rid of the imposter syndrome is to simply be aware because when you know it’s there, you can take away its power to affect you.
My whole life and business changed when I decided to get serious about spending my time and my money to get the skills and wisdom I needed to move forward with my dreams for my business. What dreams do you have that you could take steps this week to achieve?
Again I’m totally preaching to myself here! It is so important to focus on what you can learn from others instead of assuming that you know everything. When you learn something new, it makes you feel accomplished and successful. Leaders are learners.
I see this all the time with people who dream of starting their own business, writing a book, or launching a ministry or nonprofit. Instead of taking the course, they need, hiring the coach or advisor they need, or working step-by-step to get from point A to point B, they self-sabotaged by saying things like, “Oh maybe I’m not ready.” Or, “It all feels too overwhelming right now, maybe I’ll do it one day.” The problem is, “one day” rarely ever comes.
By deciding that your dreams and goals are worth it, and moving forward even when it feels scary or uncomfortable, that’s how you avoid self-sabotage,
There’s so much to say about this one, I wrote a whole article about it here. Check it out but don’t forget to come back and finish the list and sign up for your weekly prompts!
This one is relatively self-explanatory. Get some rest people! You would think the easiest of the 10 commandments to follow would be to take a Sabbath, but most of us don’t do it. Allowing yourself to rest reduces anxiety, increases happiness, and protects your body from illness.
My husband and I have five kids, which means I’m keeping up with information about seven humans, not including all of the data and information from my business, research for upcoming books, and little things like flight schedules and vacation planning.
That’s just way too much to keep organized in my brain.
Nothing stresses me out more and steals my joy more than being overwhelmed and worrying I will forget something. That’s why I use an app called Evernote as my second brain. I wrote a whole article about it here.
Making choices that don’t align with your core values will always leave you feeling discontent. This is as important in your personal life as it is in business.
There have been many times through the years when a company has wanted to hire me as an advisor, or an individual entrepreneur has wanted to hire me for coaching, but I couldn’t make peace with the product or the service they were selling.
Yes, the money was great, but we all know money doesn’t make you happy. Saying no was the best choice for my own personal happiness. Living life in a way that doesn’t align with your values and beliefs never leads to happiness.
Ever met someone who tells you often how much they hate drama, yet they always seem to be in the middle of it? Some people just simply thrive on drama while never realizing they are the cause of it.
Developing a zero-tolerance policy for drama will greatly reduce the stress in your own life because you won’t be sucked into other people’s crazy.
In Breaking Busy, I shared a detailed five-step decision-making framework, designed to help you make decisions you won’t regret later! If you haven’t yet read Breaking Busy, I would love for you to go through the free Breaking Busy course here.
There are two common types of mindsets: fixed (meaning you believe that your intelligence and abilities are set and unchanging) and growth (meaning you believe these things can and will grow).
When you have a growth mindset you believe that you can change, grow, learn and develop into the person you have been created to be. The way you think about yourself will help you grow or stay stuck. Don’t limit your own potential by not recognizing it!
All of us are unique, but we all have one thing in common- there is something about our looks or our body that we don’t like. But here’s the truth- No one, and I mean no one is out there preoccupied with your appearance and judging your looks. I promise.
Challenge yourself to give up hating on your appearance for one week and see how life-changing it is!
Now that I have turned 40 and have people in their 20’s working for me, it’s come to my attention that I’m not cool anymore. I have it on good authority from my teenage sons that if you’re not genetically gifted with the “cool gene” and you try too hard to be cool, you won’t be.
My point is to be your own awesome self, no matter what age you are, being who you are and not trying to fit into some idea of how you “should be” is what brings real happiness.
I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I love how visually beautiful everything is, and I’m a sucker for a great tutorial. But when we subconsciously compare our real-life to the perfectly planned, propped, and prepared images on Pinterest, it can steal our happiness. Remember real life is awesome.
This one is easier said than done. I shared in Breaking Busy that even Jesus disappointed other people. Disappointing others is just a fact of life. Accepting that we are going to both disappoint others and be disappointed by others reduces our unrealistic expectations, ultimately making us happier people.
I love to sing, to worship, to snuggle with my family, and I love a big cup of hot tea and a great book. I don’t spend hours a day doing these things, but I do spend “some time” every day doing things that bring me joy.
You don’t have to carve out hours a day doing the things that you love, but intentionally building in time will protect your happiness and joy from the stress of daily life.
We’ve all heard this concept in business. Finding win-win solutions in every relationship will strengthen and protect your friendships and your family relationships. Learning to compromise and truly working to reach the best possible decision for everyone involved leaves everyone feeling happier and less stressed.
Life is too short to do things you hate (mostly). There are so many ways to automate the little things in life that seem to suck the life out of you. For me, online bill paying, shopping for almost everything via Amazon Prime, and online grocery shopping are some of the best inventions of the 21st century.
If you haven’t discovered the joy that is Amazon Prime (free fast shipping, unlimited photo storage and more) Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial.
Find the three people who have earned your trust and whose own lives bear good fruit, then let those people become your trusted advisors.
Plans change, cars break down, movies sell out, flights get canceled. In fact, the only thing predictable about life is that it is unpredictable. Learning to go with the flow will go a long way in reducing your stress level.
You know your life better than anyone else. You know what you can handle, what you have time for, and what types of things push your buttons. Setting your boundaries allows you to be in control of what you say yes to. I defend my boundaries with humor and humility most days, and in doing so, I feel stronger and happier.
When I turned 30, I realized that I could keep staying up until 2:00 a.m. every night and sleeping five hours a night, but eventually it was going to catch up with me. And by “catch up with me” I mean I would be a terrible human being to be around. Research showed it would cause weight gain, anxiety, and premature wrinkles (now that got my attention).
I heard a pop psychologist on TV say, “Wake up every morning and ask yourself how you can make someone else’s day better.” The truth is, when we serve others, our family, our friends, our coworkers, the stranger whose cup of coffee we buy, we are happier people (and so are the people around us). Imagine if we all asked ourselves this question every day and then acted on it.
Because I’m not a morning person and my brain doesn’t even work before I have my first cup of coffee, I set myself up for success the night before. The coffee is ready to brew, the kids’ school uniforms are all laid out for them, and I take care of any little things that need to be done first thing in the morning. (This could be a permission slip for a field trip, a check I need to write, etc…)
A dedicated five or ten minutes every evening saves a lot of stress and hassle the next morning.
Just because we feel something, doesn’t necessarily make it true. Some days, when I’m overly tired, and I’m facing battle after battle professionally, I feel like everything’s terrible. It’s a valid feeling. But just because I feel like everything is terrible doesn’t mean it is.
If we wait to send that fiery email reply, or that negative social media comment, or that mad emoji-filled text until we have stepped back and looked at things a bit more objectively (with fresh eyes), we can often see that things weren’t quite as bad as we thought.
Have you ever found a $10 bill in the pocket of the jacket when you put it on? Didn’t that make you so happy? I intentionally try to leave myself little surprises all the time. Sometimes it’s money in the bottom of a purse I’m putting on the shelf until next season. Sometimes it’s a sweet drawing from one of my little kids in the pocket of a suitcase.
With my full life, it’s not difficult to forget they are there, so when I find them, voila! Instant happy!
If there’s one happiness lesson in parenting I’ve learned, it is that good enough is just fine, especially when your kids are young. If you can survive the day without something broken, something thrown up on, something without a bloodstain, or a day without a broken heart, it’s a total win.
Isn’t it funny how many of the things we are supposed to do to make us happy are all things our moms told us to do our whole lives? Turns out, research backs up our mom’s wisdom.
Research shows that getting exercise improves your happiness, your health, and your life. Whether it’s going outside for a walk and getting some fresh air, or using something as simple as the seven-minute workout app on your phone, moving your body will always make you happier.
In the words of Buddy the Elf, “I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” One of the best decisions I made as a mother is to smile (most of the time) when one of my children walks through the door. Not a forced smile, but a big old goofy smile that makes the corners of my eyes crinkle up. It’s an investment in the happiness and security of all of my children and in my relationship with them.
The power of a genuine smile, research has shown, not only makes you happy, but it makes those around you happier as well.
People are people, and no matter how much we try to protect ourselves from being hurt, at some point, we are going to be hurt anyway. If we wrap ourselves up in bubble wrap and hide in a closet, we might not get hurt, but we will be miserable and lonely. If people hurt you, forgive them and let yourself love anyway.
Success is God’s department. Faithfulness is our department. To me, success is being faithful to take care of the things God has entrusted to me; namely my husband, my children, my family, my calling, and the precious friends He has given me for this lifetime. Fame and fortune aren’t the real indicators of my success. How well I love and am loved is.
Did you know that a four-leaf clover is imperfect? It’s a mutation of sorts. And yet, when we find one, we believe we have found something special. That is the best example I can give you of noticing the perfect even in the imperfect.
When one of my sons writes a sweet note, I don’t criticize the misspelled words, I treasure that his words are on paper. When my mom comes to visit, I don’t complain that her plane arrives at 10 p.m.; I celebrate that she’s there! With practice, noticing the perfect even in the imperfect helps us celebrate the good things in our lives.
You made it! You read all 52 ways to live a healthier, happier, and more joy-filled life. So what now? How do you actually go about starting to live the life you want to live?
This time next year, we are going to be some healthy, happy, joy-filled people!
PS. If you love research and want all the research that I mentioned above, be sure to sign up for the weekly emails. I’ll include links to the research as well as action steps. 🙂