Plenty of people waste time thinking that they would be happy if they had a lot of money. Others think that all they need is to buy a new car, house, phone, or clothes. Sure, those things can make us happy and satisfied in the short-term, but it’s not the same was really enjoying your life. In reality, there are plenty of millionaires who are miserable, and poor people who love their lives. So, if money is not the answer, then what is the key to happiness? The answer to that question is going to be different for everyone. If you are feeling down in the dumps, here are 40 ways to make you feel instantly happier, even without money.
Pretty much everyone who went to their health classes in High School knows that exercise gives us feel-good endorphins. And yet not everyone makes it a habit to incorporate into their everyday lives. According to studies conducted by both Yale and Oxford Universities, exercise truly does make you happier than money. The study polled over 1 million Americans asking, “How many times have you felt mentally unwell in the past 30 days, for example, due to stress, depression, or emotional problems?”.
These same participants were asked how much money they made, and how active their lifestyle was. The study came to a shocking conclusion. Exercise makes you feel just as happy as if you were making an additional $25,000 per year. If you aren’t already getting outside to exercise, try to encourage your partner or friends to do it with you. This could make you both feel significantly happier, and it could be a great bonding experience.
39. Spending Time With Family and Friends
If you are lucky enough to be married with kids, they should be one of your go-to sources for happiness. Spending time together can truly be a wonderful experience, and you don’t need money to do it. You could go outside to fly a kite, watch a movie on Netflix, or play a board game. On the flip side, if your family is one of the things that is bringing you a lot of unhappiness, maybe you should try to work on that. You can choose your friends, but you will only ever have one family.
Speaking of friends, they are also an amazing free source of joy. If you are low on cash, ask your buddies if they just want to come over for a cup of coffee, chat, or watching a movie together. It’s okay to be honest with them if you are on a budget. We have all been there. If they are your real friends, they won’t mind doing something that is free together, or they may even be willing to cover you until your next paycheck.
38. Playing With Your Pets
Studies have shown that taking time to play with your pet will make you happier, and more mentally healthy. There is even a push for employers to begin allowing people to take pets to work with them, because it is known to reduce stress. The beautiful thing about spending time with a dog is that they truly love you unconditionally. They will always want to play with you. Get outside with your canine, and go for a walk. Being outside in nature with them should boost both of your moods.
If you have a cat, you should play with them, as well. Unlike dogs, cats do not always show their affection in such an obvious way. So it can sometimes feel like maybe they don’t care as much as your dogs do. But they still love you, and see you as their family. Even if you don’t have any cat toys from the store, they love playing with string, feathers, and laser pointers. This will help to bring you both closer.
37. Going to the Ocean, Lake, or River
There is something about being near the water that instantly soothes human beings. If you live anywhere near a river, lake, or the ocean, try to get yourself there for at least an hour. Hearing the sounds of the crashing waves or the trickling of a stream is so calming, it will almost make you want to fall asleep.
Before you go to the water, consider coming prepared with a picnic lunch, or activities to do with your family. If you are going to the beach, you may want to bring a book and a blanket. If you have the option, take a nap near the water, too. (Just remember to take your sun screen.)
36. Take a Walk Through Nature
As human beings, we are far more connected with nature than we realize. If you live in the city, you might go months at a time without seeing grass, trees, wild flowers, and forest. If it has been far too long since you have enjoyed the great outdoors, jumps in the car and get to the nearest park or nature reserve.
If you are not sure where to go, do a Google search for State and National Parks in your local area. If you or your kids have never been to a farm before, you might also want to consider going to one nearby. Try to look into farms that provide tours, or wait for the fall. Usually, during harvest time, you can go to farms for apple picking, hay rides, and corn field mazes.
35. Write a Gratitude List
Unhappiness often comes from a lack of appreciation for the things in our lives. Instead of focusing on the things that you do not have, why not be grateful instead? Take a notebook, or buy a new journal specifically for a “happy diary” for daily lists of gratitude. Start writing sentences that begin like, “I am grateful for…”
If you feel particularly down in the dumps, it may be difficult for you to think of anything that you feel grateful for. So you can start with your basics, like, “I am grateful to have a roof over my head.” Then move on to the things in your life that other people may not have, like a high-paying job, children, and your skills. After a while, you will begin to see a long list of things that you are grateful to have, and it will make you much happier.
34. Watch Funny YouTube Videos
There is a saying that “laughter is the best medicine”, and it’s really true. Laughing and smiling has even been scientifically proven to strengthen your immune system. Everyone has experienced a time when they laughed at something truly hilarious, and it instantly put them in a good mood. You can re-create this moment, even if you are alone. And if you have someone else with you, that makes it even better, because you are now creating a funny memory between the two of you.
The great thing about the Internet is that you can find funny videos on-demand. Go on YouTube and search for movie clips that you know are guaranteed to make you laugh. Or, find some skits from Saturday Night Live. After a few funny videos, you will feel yourself getting happier, and ready to move on with your day in a much better mood.
Sometimes, being told to “smile more” can feel condescending, especially when we are going through a hard time. There are going to be days where it truly feels impossible to smile. However, there is real scientific evidence that shows that you can trick your brain into feeling happy simply by smiling.
If you force yourself to smile actually does make you feel happier. When the muscles in your face contract and you smile, your brain thinks that something happy is happening. So it sends a chemical reaction to your brain that makes you feel more joyful. It has also been linked to strengthening your immune system.
32. Make New Friends, and Reach Out to Old Ones
Sometimes, we feel unhappy because our relationships with our friends is strained. It is important to value the people that are in our lives, but we should also remind ourselves that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Even if a friendship ends, you can always make new ones. If you are still going to school or working full-time in a large company, there is a big chance that you have opportunities to meet new people in your daily life. It all starts with a “hello”.
As we get older, it becomes more difficult to make friends. You may have to join a gym or a local club in order to meet people in your local area. If you cannot afford to join a new club or gym, just try striking up friendly conversations with new people at work, or during your commute. You can also reach out to old friends on Facebook that you have not seen in a long time, and ask if they want to hang out and catch up. Having good people in our lives can make the biggest difference in our quality of life.
31. Create a Vision Board
One of the ways to make yourself happy is to focus on your future goals, and remind yourself of everything you have to look forward to in the future. Consider making a “vision board”. This can be done either by hand, or online. It’s a collage of images of the things you want some day. So it could be a house, a family, a car, or anything you want. Sure- it may be dwelling on material things, at least a little bit. But you should also include some of your goals that are not materialistic, like “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to laugh every day.”
Once you have your mind set on your goals, it becomes a lot easier to see things around you in your daily life that will help you get there. Suddenly, you will feel like everything is falling into place, just because you re-adjusted your focus. Some people call this “The Law of Attraction”. Others have psychological names to explain the phenomenon, but it truly does work. Once your goals are clear, it all falls into place.
30. Make Love
One of the biggest reasons why someone might feel unhappy is if they are single, or recently broke up with someone. So, sorry if this entry is just rubbing it in! But it needs to be said: if you are in a relationship, you may want to consider making love to your partner if you want to feel happy. According to scientific research, people who have sex on a regular basis are more likely to have a lot of life satisfaction compared to those who don’t. Believe it or not, they also live longer!
If you are going through a long period of celibacy, or if you feel that you are forcing yourself to be with a partner who is no longer good for you, it can lead to depression. Finding someone to love is easier said than done, but the good news is, it’s free. You can download a dating app, reach out to old flings, or ask your friends if they can set you up with someone for a blind date. Then, of course, there is the good old fashioned way of hanging out at a bar.
29. Hug Someone
When you hug someone, it can give both people a really positive, warm, and happy feeling. It says “I love and appreciate you.” If you are feeling down in the dumps, don’t be afraid to ask your partner, parents, or best friend if you can have a hug. Sometimes, just touching another human being is enough to make us feel that we have someone in our lives who will support and comfort us. And it’s not just a feeling. It’s science. Hugging releases a neuropeptide called oxytocin, which is the “happy hormone”.
If you have kids, you should be hugging them on a regular basis. According to Psychology Day, hugging your child is an essential part of their mental well-being. They will grow up feeling happy, loved, and supported. So when they grow up, they will be able to get into meaningful and loving relationships with other people.
28. Compliment Someone Else
Words have a huge impact on how we feel. If you get a stellar progress report from your boss, you can’t help but feel happy afterwards. Even if no one is willing to give you a compliment, you can do the same for someone else. (Just make sure it is an appropriate compliment, of course.) By giving encouragement to other people, it makes them happy, and you will feel good for doing so. This can be done in the work place, or with your friends and family.
The next time you see one of your close friends, tell them something you have always admired about them, but never chose to say out loud. Maybe it’s their good work ethic, fashion sense, or the way they make you laugh. They will really appreciate it, and there is a good chance that they will return the favor and say something that admire about you, too. After all, they wouldn’t be friends with you in the first place if they didn’t see something special in you.
27. Do a Good Deed
Sometimes, the best way we can help ourselves in feeling happier is to help other people. Doing a good deed can be as easy as holding a door open for someone else, or being polite. You could go above-and-beyond and help and old lady across the street, or by giving a homeless person your spare change.
If you discover that you truly do feel better after helping others, and you really want to make good deeds apart of your every-day-life, consider volunteering. Your local municipal building or community center should have a lot of opportunities. And your local county college may even have their own dedicated Volunteer Center. You can also join other well-established organizations, like Habitat For Humanity.
26. Get More Sunlight
According to science, all it takes to feel a bit happier is to go outside and get some sunlight. Low levels of vitamin D can make us feel very moody and unhappy. It is possible to get the vitamin through food and supplements, but it comes naturally from sunlight. So, as long as you make spending time outdoors a regular part of your life, it should make you feel happier.
If you work at a desk job, it might he difficult to imagine getting outside to do anything. Try to see if you can bring your laptop to a local park and do work outside every once in a while. Just remember to fully charge your laptop before you go, and prep work that does not require WiFi.
25. Call a Friend
If you are feeling unhappy because you are lonely, you may feel better right away simply by calling a friend. Nowadays, most people just like to text, and they don’t call each other enough. But there truly is something about hearing someone’s voice and having a full-on conversation that makes a huge difference.
Not sure who to call? Maybe give your parents, grandparents, or siblings a ring. They will be very happy to hear from you. If you have nieces and nephews, they would probably love hearing from you as well. If you have the ability to use Facetime or Skype, seeing their faces only makes it feel more special.
24. Do Yoga
A lot of people claim that once they incorporated yoga into their life, they became happier people. Of course, going to a yoga class can be expensive. This list is all about getting things done for free. If you have gone to a class before, you probably remember what was taught to you. So pull out your yoga mat, and get it done! Some gyms also include free yoga classes as part of their memberships. If you already have a gym membership, it would be free for you to go.
Some people are afraid to do yoga, because it looks really difficult. There are actually a lot of easy poses that almost anyone can do, even if you are not very flexible at all. If you have no other option to do yoga in a class, try to look up “Yoga for Beginners” on YouTube. Plenty of people are able to learn without paying a ton of money.
23. Donate Your Unwanted Items
Do you watch Tidying Up With Marie Kondo? They you might already be on a roll with donating your unwanted items from your home. If not, it’s time to get started. By donated your unwanted items, it helps to declutter your house, which will ultimately make you feel much better in your living space.
On top of decluttering, donating your items also feels good, because you know that your used things are going to someone who will appreciate them. There may be someone who finds your clothes in a thrift store, and it would make them really happy. If you have children, this would be a great opportunity to teach them about giving. Explain that there are children out there who are far less fortunate than you, and they might find joy in their old toys.
22. Read a Good Book
For those of us who love to read, we already know how a truly good book can transport you to another world. It helps build your empathy, because you have the ability to put yourself into someone else’s experiences. Best of all, a good book can make you feel happy and excited. Own an iPad? Well, that only makes it easier to download something nonfiction that will either help improve your life, or help you dive into a world of fiction.
If you grew up reading Harry Potter, you probably remember just how much joy it brought to you. Even if you are an adult, why not go back and read them again? Lucky for you, the Harry Potter e-books are available on Amazon, and you can read the first one for free with Kindle Unlimited.
21. Take a Nap
Everyone has experienced the feeling of being in a bad mood, falling asleep, and feeling better when they wake up in the morning. There is a good reason why there is the phrase “sleep on it”, because you will always make better decisions after you are well-rested. It turns out that naps are actually really good for your help, and people should be having them more often.
According to scientific research, taking naps can improve your mood. It makes you more mentally alert, helps your memory, and some much more. If you were feeling unhappy because you were getting bad grades or just could not seem to focus, incorporating naps into your everyday life can make a huge difference.
20. Play Video Games
Sometimes, all we really need to get a boost of happiness is to play a good video game. If you always considered yourself to be a gamer, and now you have grown up to do all of these adult responsibilities, you may want to take a break and get back to your roots. There is nothing wrong with playing games every once in a while, even if you’re an adult.
Playing some vintage games from your childhood is a great way to instantly bring back happy, care-free childhood memories. For some people, watching a “Let’s Play” on YouTube or Twitch is enough to make you feel happy and satisfied. Only, instead of being forced to concentrate on playing the game, you can have the “Let’s Play” going in the background while someone else does it for you.
19. Spend 24 Hours Without Your Cellphone
In today’s world, spending too much time on your cellphone can led to unhappiness. If you are refreshing your social media to see if you have gotten any new notifications, it can feel like you have no friends, compared to only doing it once a day. On top of that, looking on Instagram will only have you feeling as if you are constantly comparing yourself.
Every once in a while, you should try to spend 24 hours without your cellphone. This might only be possible on a weekend, if you need your phone for work. If you truly feel that you cannot be without an emergency contact, try to at least put your phone on “silent” more often throughout the dy.
18. Change Your Bed Sheets
There are few things in this world that feel as good as getting into a bed with freshly washed sheets. Unfortunately, people out there do not wash their sheets as often as they should. Remember that you are sleeping in these every night. They accumulate sweat, skin cells, and bacteria. So they will eventually start to smell, and they won’t feel as good anymore after a week.
If you avoid changing your sheets because it’s too difficult to get the fitted sheet back on the mattress, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Doing the sheets together with your roommate or partner may be a great way to spend an hour doing something productive together.
Practicing meditation can help reduce stress, control anxiety, improve emotional health, and so much more. People claim that by adding just 15 minutes of meditation to their daily routine, they became better people overall.
You don’t need to go to a special class or be in a particular setting to meditate. You can do it almost anywhere. If you have headphones, it helps to listen to soothing sounds, like ocean waves or forest sound effects. There are even guide meditations on YouTube that will help you through the process of clearing your mind.
16. Visit a Farm or Animal Sanctuary
If you love animals, you will become very happy by seeing them. You could always go to a zoo, but some people disagree with the ethics of it. A great alternative is to visit a local animal sanctuary, or a farm that allows visitors. If you have kids, you should consider finding them a petting zoo.
Being around animals helps connect us with nature. It also is a good reminder of where our meat comes from, and why we need to understand and respect the process. While you visit, you will likely learn something new with the animals, aside from petting and cuddling them. It’s like the benefits of spending time with a dog or cat, only elevated.
15. Go to the Library
Need a change of scenery from working at the coffee shop? Why not try the library? It’s totally free, there’s free wifi, and there should be a lot of places to sit. If you haven’t visited your local library in a long time, you might be surprised to find just how much there is to do. There are community events, classes, and so much more. You will instantly feel more productive and proud of yourself for going somewhere to get something accomplished.
The beautiful thing about public libraries is that if you have a card, you can access any of them in your local county. Even if you do not live in a different county or state, you can still access the local library. If you are out of state and need to access the rare book room or any of their other restricted materials, you may need to pay a fee. But if all you are doing is sitting and getting work done, it should always be free.
14. Have a Day to Yourself
If you tend to be an introverted person, spending time with people at work and in social settings can feel incredibly draining. You may start to feel drained, exhausted, and miserable. The only way to combat this fatigue is to simply take a day off to be by yourself. Even if you consider yourself to be extroverted, this might help you, too. Being alone gives yourself time to reflect on the events of your life. You can think clearly about what direction you want to go in.
There is a saying that “You should love yourself before you love someone else”, and this is very true. If you feel comfortable in your own skin, you can attract better people into your life. Start “dating” yourself sometimes. Have you ever gone to a movie theater alone? It can actually be a really liberating experience. You suddenly feel really brave and confident that you don’t need anyone else with you to have a good time.
13. Listen to Your Favorite Music
For pretty much all of human history, people have loved listening to music. Years ago, the only way you could hear music was if there was a live performance in your local area, or if you sang or whistled out loud to yourself. Nowadays, we are incredibly lucky, because we have nearly every song that has ever existed at our fingertips.
If you go on YouTube, you can find pretty much any song you could ever want. There are also music subscriptions like Amazon Music, which connects through Alexa if you have Amazon Prime. One of the most popular services is Spotify, because you can make playlists and listen in your car, just like Amazon Music.
12. Watch a Funny Movie
If you want to feel instantly happy, find something to make you laugh. We are really fortune that in today’s work, we have a countless number of comedy movies at our disposal on streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. It is just a matter of a few clicks, and we can get nearly anything we want to watch on-demand. This can also be a great thing to do together with your kids. If you are all laughing together, it can help bring you closer.
If you have a night to yourself, watching a funny movie can be a perfect thing to do. If you are feeling lonely, you will almost instantly start to feel a lot better. It can be a truly great experience to realize that you can laugh and enjoy yourself all on your own.
A lot of people are really up-tight, and they have no idea just how bad their body truly feels. If you have been working for a long time, try to get up and stretch your muscles. This will instantly help you feel a lot better. Also take a short walk either to the bathroom or around the library.
On this list, we already talked about how exercise is one of the best ways to feel happy without money. Before you go run a mile, make sure you stretch first. Your happy day can get completely turned upside down if you pull a muscle.
10. Wear Yellow
The color yellow actually causes a bit of debate in the world of psychology. Some say that a pop of yellow can make you feel more alert and happy, while others say that an excess of the color can actually make you feel angry. If you happen to be someone who feels cheerful seeing the color yellow, why not go for it?
In general, bright colors usually make people feel cheerful when they see other people wear them. It also gives the impression that you are an open and friendly person. By wearing more color, you might be able to make new friends more easily.
9. Make a Hand-Made Gift For a Loved One
When you are low on money, holidays and birthdays can feel very stressful. A lot of people feel down in the dumps knowing that they cannot provide their loved ones with a huge extravagant gift. Just remember that more often than not, your friend will just be happy to have you at their party. They care more about you than material things. So why not make them a gift that will represent your friendship? In fact, if you create something that is truly sweet and sentimental, you feel feel a huge burst of happiness and excitement to get their reaction on your thoughtful gift.
If you have crafting supplies sitting in a box under the bed, pull it out and try to figure out how to make a gift for your friend. If you feel completely stumped, search for “DIY projects using…” and fill in the blank with whatever supplies you happen to have an abundance of. Or, look for Dollar Tree hacks, so that if you need anything, at least you’re only spending a dollar per item.
8. Make a Home-Cooked Meal
Even if you don’t have money to go grocery shopping, chances are that you have something in the fridge and cabinets that you can make. Unless you are an amateur chef, a lot of people will buy things and let them sit for an entire year before they decide to make it. (Do you have a random box of macaroni and cheese sitting in your cabinet? We thought so.) Instead of seeing this food as a desperate last resort, look at it as an opportunity to do something fun and different with your night.
Cooking can be a huge stress reliever. It requires a lot of concentration, so your mind will focus on trying not to burn the food, instead of worrying too much about other things. Once the food is done, you get some satisfaction knowing that you were the one who created that dish. And, of course, if you are sharing the meal with family and friends, they will most likely be impressed with your skills, and grateful for fully tummies.
7. Brew a Pot of Coffee
Most people keep coffee stocked in their home at all times. So, even if you cannot afford to take a trip to Starbucks, what’s stopping you from brewing a good out fashioned cup of joe? Whether it’s instant, group, or a Keurig K-cup, making a cup of coffee will help to make your kitchen smell delicious. As soon as you smell that coffee, it will help you feel comforted, knowing what is to come.
Drinking coffee usually helps you feel happier, because of the caffeine. You will instantly feel more perky and prepared to tackle whatever issues you were having earlier in the day. Of course, just make sure not to drink coffee too late at night, if you want to be able to fall back asleep.
6. Start Coloring
For a very long time, coloring was for “babies”, and kids eventually reached an age where they felt that they were far too old to doodle in a coloring book. But in recent years, adult coloring books have become popular. There is absolutely no shame in this hobby, because it is known to reduce stress and anxiety. If you have a lot on your mind, you should try to get out a coloring book and some markers, and just start coloring. You would be surprised as just how soothing it is.
When you color, you are very focused on staying inside of the complex lines, and it can help take your mind off of other problems. If you don’t have any money to buy coloring pages, you can print them out for free online. There are even over 100 art museums who have decided to offer coloring book page versions of famous paintings on their websites for free. So if you already own a printer, there is no need to spend anything at all to immediately get the satisfaction of coloring.
5. Explore a New Place in Your Local Area
If you live in a small town, you might assume that you have seen it all, especially if you grew up there all your life. But you would be surprised just how many hidden gems you had no idea existed. A great way to find these things is to get apps like Pokemon Go. In the game, historic landmarks and artwork are marked with “Poke Stops”. These will be scattered throughout a town. More often than not, you can probably find little spots that you had no idea existed.
You can also check out your local Facebook group for your local area. People will recommend small businesses, parks, and events. You will be surprised to see how much pops up that you had no idea about. Best of all- you might be able to make new friends.
4. Take a Bubble Bath
There are fewer things in life more satisfying than taking a bubble bath. If you are lucky enough to have a bath in your home, take advantage of it, especially if you are feeling down in the dumps. If you want to spend even more time relaxing, get yourself a good book, some candles, and soothing music, too. After a little while, it should help you feel a lot happier.
If you make bubble baths a regular thing, you might want to buy a bathtub caddy tray to help you hold a book, iPhone, and glass of wine. Once you make an investment like this, it will encourage you to continue making self-care a regular part of your life.
3. Learn Some New Dance Moves
Do you ever go out to a club, and you feel like you don’t know how to dance? This can make someone feel socially awkward, and it makes us unhappy. This is actually very easy to fix, even if you consider yourself to be totally uncoordinated. Taking professional dance lessons costs money, but you can learn some for free in the comfort of your own home. If you have the YouTube app on your SmartTV, this is the perfect opportunity to put on a popular music video, and try to mimic the moves.
There are usually also dance instructors who give slowed down step-by-step lessons on how to do a dance move properly. When you do this, you can try the moves over, and over again, pause, and replay. There is no need to feel embarrassed, and you can keep trying until you get it right. Once you know how to dance really well, it will boost your confidence and make you feel really happy.
2. Clean Your House
Some of you out there completely dread cleaning your house. So the idea that it would make you happy sounds absurd. Even if you don’t like the process of cleaning, you probably love living in a clean space. So if you can’t afford to hire a maid to come in and help you, it’s time to get to work! Once the process of cleaning up is over, you are almost guaranteed to feel a huge sense of satisfaction.
Some people actually enjoy cleaning. This is most likely because their parents helped them to feel like it was a fun and satisfying project, rather than a chore. If you want your kids to feel excited about cleaning as adults, get them involved. It can actually be a lot of fun to clean together with your children, and it will bring you a lot of joy.
1. Get Off The Internet
If you made it all the way to the end of this article, it means that you were spending a lot of time online in order to read it. We really appreciate it, of course, but now, it’s time to log off and go live your life! When we spend too much time on the Internet, it’s easy to get consumed in the virtual reality of the world wide web. It’s easy to forget that everything we see online is a carefully manicured view into someone else’s life. Everything seems perfect, but they have just as many problems as you do. So if you are judging your self-worth and success by comparing yourself to bloggers, you are almost guaranteed to make yourself unhappy.
Instead of spending too much time on the Internet, try to plan more time going out and living your life. Visit local parks, go on a road trip, and spend time with family and friends. You can be so much happier than you are right now. We believe in you!