5 easy ways to bring more happiness into your day

8 min read
Julia Roberts on the quest for happiness in Eat Pray Love. Image: Eat Pray Love

2020 has been a challenging year. The pandemic has taken an enormous toll on mental health the world over, but you can influence your happiness levels with these quick tips from happiness hacker Penny Locaso. 

2020 has left many of us feeling afraid. Afraid of slowing down, afraid of keeping up, afraid of holding on and afraid of letting go. The way we live our lives and plan for the future has been rocked to the core, destabilising our foundations and making uncertainty and disrupting our new companions.

According to the research undertaken by Happiness Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, 50 percent of your happiness is genetically determined which means you are born with it, 10 percent relates to your circumstances, and the remaining 40 percent? Well, that’s up to you!

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This is where the concept of hacking happiness comes in. When we hack happiness, we give ourselves permission to let go of the preconceived notion of happiness being an end goal (e.g. When I have that thing I will be happy). These are some of my favourite happiness hacks, all of which take less than 15 minutes out of your day but deliver lasting impact.

#1 Dabble in rose, bud, thorn

I love to do this with my 10-year-old son. Each day over dinner we share:

  • A rose: something that brought us joy today;
  • A bud: something we are looking forward to;
  • A thorn: something that wasn’t so great today.

It’s a beautiful way to make the practice of gratitude a focus. Equally, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy this practice alone.

#2 Do something brave

Resilience is born out of leaning into fear and micro bravery is one of the best ways to build it.

‘Micro bravery’ is doing small things each day that make you feel uncomfortable. It can be as simple as having a difficult conversation, signing up for an online class to learn something you know nothing about or sharing something that makes you feel a little vulnerable with someone else.

Small acts of bravery practiced over time build the courage and confidence to lean into bigger acts, enabling you to unlock potential and possibility you never imagined.

#3 Remove the word ‘busy from your vocabulary

A psychologist once said, “a busy mind will go to anxiety; it’s just a matter of time.”

Busy perpetuates busy, as well as the feeling of being stuck on a hamster wheel running a million miles an hour.

Try removing the word ‘busy’ from your vocabulary and you might notice a huge impact on not only your mindset, but conversations you have.

When people ask me how I am, I say I’m “positively engaged”. It keeps me accountable to ensuring that I spend my days positively engaged as opposed to ‘busy’ and cultivates some curious conversations.

#4 Gift yourself the start of the day

Give yourself permission to gift yourself the start of the day. This one may feel the hardest because so many of us are programmed to believe that if we finish all the stuff on our to do list we will have time for joy at the end of the day.

So, do what most of us start the day doing? Checking emails, sorting kids, looking at social media, etc.

Try getting up just 15 minutes earlier each week day (you will need to also practice going to be a little earlier for this to be sustainable). This is your sacred time. Don’t check your phone, don’t even go near it.

Instead, gift yourself the start of the day by doing one small intentional thing that sets the tone for the type of day you want to have. It must be something that brings you joy: journal, read, write, move (do a short yoga practice or walk around the block).

Whatever works for you. Words cannot explain what a treat this can feel like, especially if the rest of the world is still asleep.

#5 Ground yourself

Grounding is quite simply physically connecting yourself to the earth. Take off your shoes and walk on the grass, touch a tree.

While a relatively new area of science, there is emerging evidence that connecting physically with nature helps us sleep better, can reduce pain and bring more joy.

Penny Locaso is the world’s first Happiness Hacker on a mission to teach 10 million humans how to intentionally adapt in order to future-proof happiness. She is the author of Hacking Happiness (Wiley $29.95).

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