Woman pictured on a white wall

5 Simple Changes to Your Routine That Can Brighten Your Day and Increase Overall Happiness

“It’s a beautiful life… well, you won’t always see it that way.

In my line of work, it’s hard not to lose faith in humanity, but even if you didn’t choose a career in the environmental and human rights sector, you just need to turn on the TV to be inundated with everything that’s wrong with this world.

To ensure that I don’t grow old and cynical before my time, I had to make a few adjustments to my daily routine. For those of you in need of a little reminder that life is beautiful even if it doesn’t always seem that way, here are 5 simple ways to brighten your day and increase overall happiness:

  1. Spend less time in front of a screen and more time outdoors and/or with family and friends (if you haven’t found like-minded people yet, try Meetup.com). I limit my exposure to news and prefer to consult media outlets that offer thoughtful analysis and propose solutions (e.g. .Mic and TED Talks).
  2. Practice gratitude. If you look close enough, there’s always something to be thankful for: the roof over your head, a kind smile, a shot of caffeine. I take a moment every day to count my blessings (if you haven’t done this before, write down whatever comes to your mind). My mental list usually includes my family and friends, the first cup of Irish breakfast tea in the morning, and writing novels.
  3. Laugh. I could write an entire book about the funny things my friends say, but if you’re lacking hilarious people in your life, pick a sitcom, watch stand-up comedy, read a rom-com, or find a funny YouTube channel (I love Lilly Singh). I hardly ever go a day without laughing no matter how bad things get. Another great way to make you laugh is to do something silly (like jumping on a trampoline or a game of Watch Ya’ Mouth). Life is easier if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
  4. Retreat to a “happy place” for a while. This can either be a physical space (outdoors or at home), a mental image (or daydream), a book (e.g. Chickensoup for the Soul), or even a website like Pinterest.
  5. Listen to music. I name every chapter in my novels after a song that fits with what my characters are going through, so I know there is a song for every imaginable situation. Many of my go-to songs when I need a pick-me-up are included in my book playlist (see here).
—Beautiful Life by James Morrison (one of my all-time favorite songs)