10 Simple Habits Proven to Make You Happier

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“You are good enough!” Self-acceptance is a key happy habit, yet it’s one people practise the least.

A new survey of 5,000 people has found a strong link between self-acceptance and happiness, despite the fact that it’s a habit not frequently practised.

The finding comes from a survey carried out by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different.

For their survey, they identified ten everyday habits which science has shown can make people happier.

Here are the 10 habits, with the average ratings of survey participants on a scale of 1-10, as to how often they performed each habit:

  1. Giving: do things for others — 7.41
  2. Relating: connect with people — 7.36
  3. Exercising: take care of your body — 5.88
  4. Appreciating: notice the world around — 6.57
  5. Trying out: keep learning new things — 6.26
  6. Direction: have goals to look forward to — 6.08
  7. Resilience: find ways to bounce back — 6.33
  8. Emotion: take a positive approach — 6.74
  9. Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are — 5.56
  10. Meaning: be part of something bigger — 6.38

(You’ll notice that the first letters spell out the words GREAT DREAM.)

The survey showed that one of the largest associations between these happy habits and reported happiness was for self-acceptance.

This category, though, got the lowest rating for people actually performing the habit, with an average of only 5.56.

Top of the list of happy habits that people performed was ‘giving’.

In this category, one in six reported a 10 out of 10; just over one-third scored an 8 or 9; slightly fewer scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less.

One of the psychologists involved, Professor Karen Pine said:

“Practising these habits really can boost our happiness. It’s great to see so many people regularly doing things to help others — and when we make others happy we tend to feel good ourselves too.

This survey shows that practising self-acceptance is one thing that could make the biggest difference to many people’s happiness.

Exercise is also known to lift mood so if people want a simple, daily way to fee happier they should get into the habit of being more physically active too.”

Increase your self-acceptance

Here are three ways to boost your self-acceptance, as suggested by the researchers:

“1. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small.

2. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you.

3. Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you’re feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.”

Image credit: ganeshaisis

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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 9 March 2014

Text: © All rights reserved.

Images: Creative Commons License