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A Dozen Life “Hacks” for Better Living: Growing Happiness

A “hack” is any small, simple technique you can use to do something a little better, faster or easier – and life hacks are all about finding ways to be happier, healthier and more at peace with yourself. 

A lot of people make grand New Year’s resolutions or try to overhaul their life with sweeping changes only to end up frustrated when they fall back into old habits or fail to achieve their goals. Because life hacks focus on small, manageable changes, they make it easier to obtain the personal growth and self-improvement you crave.

What can life hacks accomplish? Done well, you can:

  • Increase your productivity. Many life hacks are focused on streamlining daily routines so that you have more energy for the things that matter to you the most. By increasing your efficiency surrounding mundane matters, you can free up more time to do what you enjoy or so that you can allow yourself more downtime. The increased sense of control over one’s time can reduce your stress levels and increase your overall life satisfaction.
  • Improve your mindfulness. Mindfulness is another way of living “in the moment,” so you can reduce your anxiety about the future and any regrets about the past, thus allowing yourself to find contentment in the good parts of your life today.
  • Reduce your stress levels. Many life hacks are designed to help people manage stress more effectively. Whether it’s through relaxation techniques, decluttering physical spaces, or setting realistic goals, these strategies empower individuals to cope with life’s challenges in a healthier way. By reducing stress levels, life hacks contribute to an improved mood, better mental health, and overall happiness.

In short, life hacks emphasize the importance of self-care and establishing priorities that promote good physical, emotional and mental health – all of which help build emotional resilience and cultivate a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment in life. With all that in mind, here are 12 easy life hacks that can help you live a happier life:

1. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for increasing your overall happiness and satisfaction with life. Taking time each day to reflect on the things for which you are thankful for can shift your perspective and help you focus on the positives – even when life is lobbing lemons at you.

2. Stay Active

Do you find yourself dreading the gym? Have you abandoned your running shoes entirely? Those are signs that you need to forget the grueling exercise routines and switch your focus to just finding simple, enjoyable ways to remain active. An evening walk with the dog or gentle stretching while you unwind in front of the TV at night will do you better (mentally and physically) than any workout schedule you keep ignoring or simply dread.

3. Set a Bedtime Routine

Who says bedtime routines are just for kids? While it can take a while to pay off, a regular bedtime routine, no matter how simple, can help to relax your body and calm your mind before you try to sleep. Getting enough rest each night can also help you feel ready to tackle the day ahead – and that makes everything that follows much easier.

4. Limit Your Screen Time

Do you find yourself “doom scrolling” through the news at night? Are you losing hours to Facebook Reels or YouTube videos every week? Constant exposure to electronic screens can negatively affect your mood and productivity levels – and wind up making falling (and staying) asleep more challenging. If you can’t bear to put your phone or laptop away totally, set a timer for a half hour or so and then put the electronics away so that you can focus on other things.

5. Practice Saying “No.”

This one can be tough, especially if you’re prone to people-pleasing, but letting yourself be overburdened by other people’s needs is a sure recipe for burnout and unhappiness. Practice saying things like, “I don’t have time,” or “I don’t have the capacity to do that right now,” so you feel comfortable limiting external demands on your time.

6. Learn Something New

Your brain needs lifelong stimulation to stay healthy – and learning something new can help you find purpose and meaning that pulls you out of “work” mode and into your joy. The trick here is to pick something you want to learn, not something that you think you should learn. Don’t try to pick up a skill you intend to monetize as a side gig. Allow yourself the pleasure of adopting a labor of love. 

8. Declutter Your Space

Very easily, clutter can take over your life and your home. When you find that you spend more time taking care of your stuff than you do enjoying what you have, it’s time to eliminate some of your possessions. Dedicate time to decluttering and organizing your living space (even if it is just one room), then create a peaceful retreat for yourself.

9. Make Time for Nature

Want to find a way to limit your screen time and practice mindfulness all at once? Give yourself an extra half an hour in the morning and spend it sipping your coffee on your porch or deck when the weather is decent. Ready to jump-start your exercise program? Add an evening stroll as part of your bedtime routine. Reconnecting with nature can have a calming effect on your mind and lift your spirits in unexpected ways, and it gives you time to simply exist without putting any demands on yourself.

10. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking is a myth, so stop trying to do it all simultaneously. Focusing on one task at a time can improve your productivity and reduce the stressors in your life. Give your full attention to each activity, and you’ll find yourself accomplishing more with less effort. Practice those mindfulness techniques you’ve been learning and stay present in the moment to make the most of your time and energy.

11. Express Thankfulness

Expressing thankfulness towards others in your life by giving sincere compliments, sending thank-you notes or simply performing little acts of kindness is a great way to strengthen your connections to those you love while also building your sense of community.  

12. Laugh Often

Seek out humor and laughter in your daily life. Watch a funny movie, spend time with friends who make you laugh or do a silly dance while you wait for your coffee to brew in the morning. Laughter is contagious and has numerous health benefits, so don’t be afraid to let loose and have a hearty giggle or two.

A good life hack should make you feel more upbeat about yourself and your day, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Everybody is wired a little differently, and the only thing that matters is that you’re making small, positive changes that you can incorporate into your routine. The path forward is always taken one step at a time!