As International Day of Happiness approaches, we’re reflecting on the role that practicing happiness habits can play in building sustainable happiness over the long term.

In this post, we share six ideas for habits that have been proven to make you happier, framed around the Wheel of Wellbeing (which was inspired by nef’s Five Ways to Wellbeing).

What are your happiness habits? We’d love it if you’d share them with our Network. Let us know your suggestions in the comments, or tag us on social media (via Facebook or Twitter). We’ll share a selection of any ideas we receive, together with suggestions from those working in happiness and wellbeing, in a follow up post in the coming week.

We’re also offering other ways to get involved in International Day of Happiness: Share what makes you happy in our Happiness Haiku competition, which invites you to share a #HappyHaiku for the chance to win some great prizes. 

Happiness Habits – Connect:

Relationships have been shown to be central to happiness, so why not build or strengthen a habit to regularly call loved ones who don’t live close by – or better yet, send them a thoughtful letter in the post! Going this extra mile can really help show that you care, and appreciating your loved ones can also give you a warm glow of happiness.

You needn’t limit your connections to those you know, though. It’s been shown that empathy – core to connection – is vital for wellbeing, so why not take the time to get to know someone new. Bake some cookies for a neighbour, smile at strangers on the street, strike up a conversation with someone on the bus. Make it a habit to look at your interactions with others as an opportunity for kindness and genuine connection.

There are also many reasons why it is a good idea to connect through hugs, which are said to be good for our health and lowering stress levels.


Speaking of kindness, giving to others has also been proven to contribute to people’s happiness and wellbeing levels. One happiness habit that it is very effective to develop is to regularly practice random acts of kindness: buy a coffee for a stranger, bake cookies for your colleagues, help a stranger in need. For some great inspiration on different ways to give, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Be Active:

There is a huge amount of evidence showing the benefits of exercise not only for our physical health, but also for our mood and psychological wellbeing. But at times it can be hard to motivate ourselves to do exercise regularly.  One effective strategy is to make exercise fun: take up a dance class, practice yoga with a group, take up a sport you enjoy, or simply go for a lovely long walk with friends on a regular basis.

Take Notice:

A lovely exercise is to think back to a time when you were most happy. What did it look like? What did it sound like, taste like, and smell like? How did you feel at the time? Perhaps write about this experience or share it with a friend. Allowing ourselves the time to reflect on the details of the moments, that have made us most happy in the past, can help to encourage us to build up our happiness habits in the present.

Keep Learning:

It’s never too late to start learning. What skill or knowledge have you always wanted to develop? It can be helpful to schedule some time in to your regular routine for learning. Get ready for bed an hour early to give yourself time to read. This can also help you get a good night’s sleep. Or take up an evening class – it’s a great way to meet new friends.


A healthy, diverse and vibrant natural world is essential to human wellbeing – for individuals, communities and society as a whole. Nature’s gifts range from the very air we breathe, through to the plants and animals we use for food and materials, to the long-term benefits of a stable climate and the aesthetic and spiritual inspiration we derive from wild places.

Caring for the planet is therefore a great way to support our own wellbeing.  Simple things, like buying ethical products or taking time to recycle, help us to feel that we are doing good – and can make us feel better about ourselves. You can also find ways to engage in campaigning groups such as Friends of the Earth, and conservation projects, like Trees for Life.

It has also been proven that taking time out in Nature is good for our health, and can make us kinder, more creative and happier overall. Spending time out of doors enlivens us, and also helps us take note of the changing seasons. So, try to make time to go outside and watch the sun rise, feel the fresh air on your face, or take a walk in the local park or woods – it’s been proven you will feel better for it!

So, we hope it’s helpful for you to hear the above suggestions. We’d love to hear from you – what are your happiness habits? Share in the comments below or tag us on social media to share!