8 simple ways to enjoy a happier, fuller and more satisfying life, according to psychology

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What would your life look like if you were truly happy? Do you have a clear picture in your head? 

Sometimes chasing happiness can feel like this big lofty life goal. It’s like an aspiration for the future, but not something we can attain right now. “I’ll be happy when..” is a phrase people sometimes use.

I’ve been chasing this dream of satisfaction like everyone else but recently, I think I’ve “made it”. I don’t say this to brag or gloat but instead, to let you know it’s simpler than you might think. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. 

I’m enjoying a happier, fuller life than ever before but it’s not extraordinary. In fact, I’m just doing a few simple things that psychology experts have been telling us to do for years. 

Today I’m sharing 8 of the ways I’ve been enjoying a more satisfying life lately. Maybe you can try some of them out and find satisfaction too. 

How many of these things are you already doing?

Let’s jump in.

1) Live in the here and now 

The first thing I realized on this journey is that life is happening here and now. I know this is simple and you’ve heard it before but hear me out. 

Before the pandemic, I was living in the future, always rushing to the next thing and never taking a moment to enjoy the present.  

And while goals and progress are important, you shouldn’t miss out on life because of them. Being present takes practice. In psychology, it’s called mindfulness

The American Psychiatric Association defines mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment, and the research-backed benefits speak for themselves:

  • Less rumination 
  • Reduced stress
  • Better memory
  • Increased focus
  • Decreased emotional reactivity
  • Better satisfaction in relationships

Practicing mindfulness can be as simple or complicated as you make it. Start simple by going for a walk or breathing deeply for a few minutes each day. 

The experts have been telling us for years, and I’ve experienced it firsthand, living in the moment is a great way to feel happier and more satisfied with life. Give it a try. 

2) Appreciate the simple pleasures in life

Seeking out and appreciating the simple pleasures in life is closely connected to living in the present moment. It’s all about recognizing the little blessings around you. 

What you choose to appreciate is up to you but it could be as simple as taking a walk in nature and appreciating the beautiful scenery or taking an extra second to taste and appreciate your morning coffee.

But don’t just take my word for it.

In psychology, this is called practicing gratitude and research confirms that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” as outlined by Harvard Medical School. 

And the best part is: you can start practicing gratitude right away. Just remember it’s more than just saying “thanks” it’s about deep appreciation. 

Happiness often lies in the little things, pay attention to these moments of joy and savor them.

3) Give back by helping others 

I admit, telling you to help others to find your own happiness is a bit cheesy and clichéd but let me explain. 

About 2 years ago, I volunteered to collect money for cancer research. You know those charity workers who wear colorful t-shirts and shake buckets of change on busy streets, asking you to donate? Yes, I was one of those.

I was helping a friend when a volunteer dropped out last minute but it was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I’d done in a long time. I didn’t expect to feel so great afterward. But because of that, I volunteer more regularly now.  

As I learned firsthand, helping others can be incredibly rewarding. Volunteering, donating, or simply lending a hand to someone gives a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

And it’s not just my imagination, research backs it up, generosity is known to increase happiness.

You don’t have to quit your job and volunteer full-time, but why not help your neighbor out or donate to a good cause? It’ll help someone else and make you happier, it’s a win-win. 

4) Smile more

Did you know that smiling can boost your mood? 

According to recent research, smiling can make people feel happier. Even if it’s a forced smile, overall participants reported feeling happier after smiling. 

And the best part: smiling is contagious, it spreads from person to person which means a simple smile has a lot of power. Not only does it make you feel happier if you smile more, but you can also make someone else smile and therefore feel happier too. 

Something as simple as a smile can boost your mood, happiness, and overall satisfaction which means one of the simplest ways to enjoy a happier life is to smile more. 

5) Invest in your relationships 

I’ve got a group of friends I’ve known since high school. Back then we spent every day together and most weekends too. Now we see each other as a group about twice per year. We reflected on this recently and agreed to try to catch up more.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you also might want to start investing more in your relationships. It’s a simple way to enjoy a more satisfying life. 

Here’s the thing: human beings are social creatures and connection is crucial for happiness. Life gets busy for everyone and it can be hard to find time to invest in your relationships but it’s an investment in your happiness too. 

Research suggests that close relationships play a vital role in human happiness and the quality of those relationships is more important than quantity. 

Spend more quality time with friends and loved ones to be happier and more satisfied because healthy relationships enrich your life.

6) Positive self-talk

Do you ever talk to yourself? 

It’s more common than you think. According to a recent study, 96% of people say they have an internal dialogue. But is yours mostly positive or mostly negative?

Don’t worry if it’s negative right now, Tony Robbins, well-known motivational speaker says that “negative self-talk is just a habit and we can all learn to build new habits”.

But why should you strive for positive self-talk?

Turns out: research finds positive self-talk contributes to a happier, fuller, and more satisfied life, by: 

  • Increasing vitality
  • Reducing stress
  • Providing greater life satisfaction

Turning negative self-talk into empowering and encouraging positive self-talk is simple but not easy, it takes conscious effort and practice. But it’s well worth it.

7) Learn to say no

I’ve always struggled to say no to people. I pride myself on being a good friend so when someone needs me I want to be there. But the result of never saying no? 

I end up feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and constantly rushed. The pandemic helped me to realize I needed to change my ways. I swore I’d never go back to saying yes to everything even when the world opened up.

I realize now that to be a good friend I need to be happy and healthy in myself first. I’ve learned to say no and it’s been a game-changer for my happiness and satisfaction.

But it’s not just me, psychology also tells us that learning to say no has many benefits. 

“Saying no can create more mental health stability by helping with self-care and building your self-esteem and confidence by setting boundaries.” as outlined by Psychology Today

And unsurprisingly “The level of self-esteem individuals experience significantly impacts their happiness” according to Nathaniel Branden, renowned psychologist and author. 

Believe me: if you learn to say no, you’ll change your life for the better. 

8) Commit to adding to your life resumé

We all update and submit our resumés when we’re looking for a new job, right? 

And very often we do things that will “look good” on our resumés too, like a course to improve our qualifications or increase our expertise. 

But have you ever considered your life resumé?

It’s something that entrepreneur, Jessie Itzler, talks about a lot. He calls it building your life resumé and the basic concept is that you prioritize the people and things you love in life to create amazing life experiences.

I’ve been trying to live my life this way. Some might call it finding your purpose or following your passion, regardless of what you call it, it matters. 

As outlined by Forbes “Purpose contributes to happiness—when participants in a study felt a greater sense of purpose, they tended to feel more positive emotions—specifically contentment, relaxation, enthusiasm and joy”

Think about what you want in your life and commit to making it a reality through meaningful experiences with the people you love.

Final thoughts 

These are simple things that allow me to enjoy a happier and more satisfied life and it’s not just me, psychologists agree. 

Which of these are most excited to try out? 

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Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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