15 proven ways to boost your mood and live a happier life

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Are you feeling stuck in a rut and searching for ways to boost your mood and live a happier life? Do you find yourself constantly searching for mood boosters like feel-good movies or videos? 

I’ve been there – I’ve felt what it’s like to lie in bed in the mornings, wondering whether there was any point in getting up. 

But here’s what I’ve found over the years: happiness is not something that happens to you. On the contrary, you make it happen for yourself! 

Want to know all about how you can go get it for yourself? 

In this article, I’ll tell you all about 15 scientifically proven ways to do that. I have no doubt that you’ll feel so much better once you finish reading. 

Let’s get to it!

1) Practice positive self-talk

I’m going to start with the most obvious yet one of the most neglected happiness hacks – positive self-talk

Have you ever caught yourself thinking this way? 

  • I’m so stupid! I can’t do anything right!
  • Oh, I’ll never be good enough. 
  • I’m too old/young/fat/thin/etc. to do that.
  • I’m not worthy of love and happiness.
  •  I’ll never be successful. 

News flash: The way you talk to yourself affects your happiness level. 

The thing is, our thoughts make grooves in our brain. The more you think a certain thought, the deeper the groove it makes. 

That means, if you keep thinking negative thoughts, you’ll eventually have that dark cloud hanging over you all the time, like Eeyore. No wonder life can feel so heavy!

It’s time to make new grooves – this time with positive self-talk! I’m not just saying this – research actually says that positive self-talk boosts confidence and improves our level of happiness. 

However, it’s not as easy as you think. To shift from negative to positive self-talk, you’ll have to do the next tip. 

2) Practice mindfulness

You can’t change the way you think if you don’t catch yourself thinking it. It’s that simple! 

So, how do you do that? With mindfulness techniques. 

Research shows that mindfulness really does reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness and peace. It can even reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

All because it helps us be more self-aware. 

Through mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing, you can learn how to focus on the present moment and pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. 

3) Focus on the present moment

Once you’re more mindful, you can focus only on the present moment, and that’s one more ingredient to boost your mood! 

Too many of us think about the past or worry about the future. I’ve done it myself so many times; I actually still do sometimes, but I’m now more aware of when I’m doing it and find it easier to stop it. 

I’m not saying we should never think about the past or the future. Sometimes we do need to reflect and learn from the past, and we need to plan for the future as well. 

But here’s the thing – endlessly worrying about that does not serve us. They simply take away from more productive thoughts and make it easy for us to miss the joy in the present moment. 

Psychologists have found that we can find happiness by living in the now – not in the past, not in the future. 

So, say goodbye to those worries and lose yourself in what you’re doing right now. See if that doesn’t boost your mood! 

4) Set achievable goals

Speaking of planning for the future brings me to my next point, which is the importance of setting achievable goals. 

One of the most common reasons why people feel unhappy is a lack of purpose and direction. 

It’s easy to feel happy in pleasurable activities, but if we’re talking about overall happiness, the kind that’s long-lasting and deeply satisfying, we need goals. 

Setting and achieving goals can increase feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. It gives us a reason to strive, to do our best, and to keep growing as a person. 

A word of caution, though: make sure that those goals are achievable. Unrealistic goals set us up for disappointment and frustration, and we want to avoid that. 

We want goals that increase our chances of success and give us the satisfaction of accomplishment. 

5) Pursue your passions and interests

You can multiply that feeling of accomplishment even further when you engage in activities you enjoy. 

Studies point to the role of passion in happiness. Whether it’s music, sports, art, or any other pursuit, as long as it totally floats your boat, you’re bound to feel more fulfilled. 

This is something I know firsthand. All throughout my life, I’ve pursued many avenues of interest. I’ve dabbled in painting, writing personal essays, urban sketching, rowing, pottery…the list is quite long, and I won’t bore you with that.  

But let me tell you this – these hobbies have lifted me up so much, especially in difficult times. They’ve filled me with such joy and purpose

Bonus part: I’ve also made so many new friends with like-minded people! 

6) Take breaks and relax

One of the things I’ve learned in my pursuit of happiness is the necessity of taking breaks. That’s actually why I started exploring all those hobbies – they were fantastic for relaxation and were a welcome break from work. 

Taking time for self-care can improve mood and reduce stress. Aside from hobbies, simple relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing, can help reduce stress and improve mood. 

Even a warm bubble bath can do wonders for your mood. Pair that with a glass of wine and some chocolates, and you’ll begin thinking, “Life is good after all!”

7) Exercise regularly

Self-care isn’t just about what makes you feel good. More importantly, it’s about what makes you healthy. 

Studies have shown that exercise can boost our mood and improve overall well-being. Regular physical activity has been linked to increased production of endorphins, those “feel-good” hormones that can help improve mood and reduce stress. 

I have to admit that I really struggle in this department. But every time I’m able to get a workout in, I always, unfailingly, feel so light and energized. I come away feeling more confident and ready to take on the world. 

Plus, exercise gives me better sleep, which brings me to my next point…

8) Get enough sleep

Good sleep hygiene is key to maintaining a positive mood and overall well-being. Period.

I guess that’s common knowledge, countless research studies have confirmed this. Yet, it’s amazing how we still resist going to bed early. It’s crazy how we’d still rather spend those precious midnight hours scrolling on our phones or binge-watching TV shows!

But the truth is, lack of sleep can lead to irritability, fatigue, and decreased mental clarity, essentially making you feel like crap even before you get out of bed. 

On the other hand, getting enough zzz’s in can be enough to make you feel recharged and prepared to handle whatever life throws your way! 

9) Get outside and spend time in nature

Another habit that comes in really handy for boosting my mood is spending time in nature

There’s just something about soaking in the sunlight and breathing in fresh air that makes us feel so peaceful and happy. At least, that’s how it is for me. 

And science agrees with me – whether it’s a walk in the park, a trip to the beach, a hike in the mountains, or simply sitting outside, spending time in nature can reduce stress and reverse all those bad feelings we may have.

And you know what? Whenever I’m out in nature, I suddenly get in a zen mood and remember all my blessings!

10) Practice gratitude

That’s right – the simple act of being thankful for what you have can make you feel happy and contented. 

The happiest people aren’t those who’ve been to Disneyland or live in fabulous mansions. They are those who’ve nailed the art of gratitude, no matter their circumstances. 

According to Harvard Health, gratitude helps us connect to something larger than ourselves and shifts our focus to the good things in life. 

The study also showed that people who take the time to write down the things they were grateful for were much more optimistic and felt better about their lives. 

So get out a notebook and get into the habit of gratitude journaling. Believe me, it’s going to make you feel good about your life! 

11) Connect with others

Remember when I said I’d made new friends through my hobbies? That was another bonus that added to my feeling of well-being. 

You see, strong social connections have been linked to greater happiness and life satisfaction. Spending time with friends and family, joining social activities, and volunteering in your community – these can all improve your social connections and boost your mood. 

In fact, according to Stanford Research, “good social relationships are the most consistent predictor of a happy life.” They can even make us healthier and have longer lives! 

However, I must point out one thing – the quality of these relationships is also important, as the next section shows.

12) Surround yourself with positive people

Why choose your friends wisely? 

Well, because they can affect your happiness. 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had a toxic friend or two who have made you feel bad about yourself. The truth is, no matter how strong we think we are, what other people say to us and about us makes a dent in our self-esteem. 

Fortunately, I was able to weed those people out of my life, and my circle is now tighter, filled only with family and friends who support me and make me feel better when life gets tough. 

So look closely at your circle – remember that they play a major role in your sense of happiness. 

That said, it’s also good to be aware of the energy you bring to your friendships, too. You want to be a positive force in their lives as well!

13) Help others

Being a positive presence in the world means being generous. Remember that saying, “It’s better to give than to receive?”

Guess what? It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s absolutely true! 

A study on people performing acts of kindness proved that helping others really makes us feel happier

So, if you’re feeling like you can’t get out of your head? 

Go out and volunteer! Or donate to any charity. Or just do this – simply be kind to others

I have no doubt that this will get you feeling positive about life! 

14) Get a pet

Any fur parent or pet owner will tell you that getting a pet will do wonders for your mental health. Believe me, I’ve always had dogs, and I truly can’t imagine my life without them. 

It’s not just me…according to Brian Hare, an expert on canine cognition at Duke University, dogs have “hijacked the human bonding system.”

How are they (and pets in general) able to do this magical thing? 

Because when we interact with them, they can cause our brains to produce oxytocin, the hormone that makes us feel relaxed, trusting, and anxiety-free

No wonder I keep wanting to cuddle with my dog! 

15) Seek therapy or counseling if needed

Finally, we get to the last part, and it’s something we can all benefit from – positive psychotherapy. 

Some people think therapy is a bunch of hogwash; they don’t see the point of sitting in someone’s office and telling that person all their problems. 

But therapy is so much more than that, and new evidence proves it. A competent counselor can help us work through negative thought patterns and teach us ways to cope with stress and challenges. 

And there’s no shame in needing help. Sometimes, life is just too complicated to wade through on your own. Sometimes, our issues can run so deep that general advice from friends and family just won’t cut it. 

So go ahead and get the help you need. You owe it to yourself to be healthy, happy, and thriving!  

12 tips to find like-minded people (who understand you)

10 things mentally strong women never do