Surrounding yourself with loved ones, setting meaningful goals, and being in nature can help you feel happier. But it all starts with defining happiness for yourself.

“How can I be happier?” This is one of the most important questions about humanity that philosophists and psychologists around the world have pondered since the beginning of time.

With current research, we’re better able to understand what makes people happier. You can adopt the practices of happy people so that you, too, can live the happiest life possible. Here are some easy things to start with.

Often, the environments that we find ourselves in can cause us to be stressed or unhappy. By making small but significant adjustments to your environment, you can boost your happiness.

Spend time in nature

Research has consistently found that spending time in nature is positive for overall well-being. One recent review concluded that people who spent more time in nature reported better mental health outcomes; they were also more likely to experience other health benefits like better sleep, improved cognitive functioning, reduced cortisol levels, and more.

If you’re unable to go out into nature on a regular basis, find ways to bring nature to you. Fill your bedroom with potted plants, or place your desk next to a window.

Declutter your home

Spending time in cluttered environments can increase stress and decrease mental health. According to a 2023 study, clutter can negatively affect your quality of life and reduce cognitive processes, such as decision-making.

To feel happier, try organizing your home and workspace. Focus on one thing at a time, and put things away in storage or give them away entirely. If you don’t have time, even removing clutter from your daily field of vision could be helpful.

Create a comforting space

Mental health therapists often design their offices to be comfortable for clients. They may think about details like lighting, seating, colors, temperature, and more. They understand that some environments may feel triggering to some clients, while safe for others – and adjust the environment accordingly.

In the same way, you can design a physical space for yourself that feels comforting and safe.

You may ask yourself:

  • What colors make me feel happy?
  • What are some items that boost my mood?
  • What sounds are soothing to me?

For example, some people may enjoy loud and cheerful music, while others might feel happier with a white noise machine. Take your time in observing what helps you to feel most comfortable and relaxed. The environment your design for yourself will look different from others, and that’s OK.

Happiness and mental health are linked in inextricable ways. Making sure your mental health is in top shape is one of the best ways you can feel happier on a daily basis.


It might seem counterintuitive, but moving your body every day is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. In a randomized controlled trial from 2018, daily aerobic exercise was equally as effective as internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in treating depression.

A 2017 review even found that just one session of exercise can give you a mood boost, making exercise perhaps one of the quickest ways to become a happier person.

Seek a therapist

Just like you would seek a fitness trainer or a physician to care for your physical health, you can speak with a therapist or counselor to care for your mental health. The stigma against seeing a professional for mental health is alive and well, but you don’t have to let that stigma keep you from caring for yourself in every way possible.

There’s no shame in speaking with a therapist, and you don’t have to wait for a mental health crisis to happen to see one. Working with a therapist is a great way to figure out what would make you happier, and take steps to get there.

Observe your symptoms

It’s also important to be aware of when you need extra support for your mental health. Consider practicing self-reflection, and observe your symptoms mindfully. Try to do a mental health check-in with yourself on a regular basis. What are the signs that your mental health needs a boost?

For example, maybe you notice yourself getting more irritable, or having a hard time sleeping. Keep track of your mental health symptoms and seek support when necessary.

Research has found time and time again that strong social support is one of the things that defines some of the happiest people in the world.

Work on your communication skills

One of the most important aspects of building healthy relationships is to work on healthy communication skills.

Try learning about active listening and assertiveness, which are communication styles that can help you understand and have empathy for the other person while also expressing yourself in an honest way.

Be present with loved ones

Relationships don’t flourish on their own; you need to invest time into them, whether they’re romantic or platonic.

Consider scheduling time to spend one-on-one with people you feel connected to. Check-in with them regularly, and create opportunities to share special experiences.

Foster or adopt a pet

Meaningful relationships don’t only happen with other humans – for many of us, the most meaningful relationships are with our pets. If it’s possible for you, consider adopting or fostering a pet to unlock all of the happiness that animals can bring to your life.

Lastly, happy people follow their hearts without the fear of being judged by others. They walk their own path and live true to themselves.

Set meaningful goals

Try setting goals that are aligned with your life values. Take a look at how you’re living your life. How do you spend most of your time? What are your goals for your life? Compare these answers with your values.

Next, try to focus on what’s most important to you. How can you set intentions for your life that are aligned with these values?

For example, if you value freedom and adventure above all, it may not make sense to set a goal to climb a corporate ladder.

Redefine success

Similarly, you can redefine what success means to you. Your version of success doesn’t have to look the same as anyone else’s. Success is about meeting your goals and living a life that’s aligned with your own values – regardless of whether or not others view you as successful.

Be creative

Consider following your heart to pursue creativity; research shows it’s good for you. A 2021 study found that people who described themselves as creative were also more likely to report higher subjective well-being. To put it simply, being creative makes you happier.

Find ways to bring creativity into your day-to-day life. For example, you could create or sing along to music or start an arts and crafts club with your friends.

No matter what your definition of “happiness” is, research shows that a happy life is possible. By making some small adjustments to your environment and daily habits, you can take steps toward becoming a happier person.

Only you can define what happiness looks like for you. It may take time to discover what brings you the most joy and happiness, but creating the life you desire deserves patience. Try to take it one step at a time.