3 exercises to help you get your happy on

Today we’re talking happiness. It’s something that we all crave, as we strive to lead happy and fulfilling lives.  The feelings of happiness change every day, and are influenced by many external circumstances, but also by our inner choices, our attitudes, our approach to relationships, our personal values and sense of purpose.

Today, on International Day of Happiness, I’m sharing three psychology exercises that are proven to increase happiness, and get you results in just one week. Try all three and notice how they affect your mindset and your actions.

1. Count three blessings

Before you go to bed, think about what good things have happened to you today. Write them down and also write why they happened. Think about the impact these positive events had on your day and how your day would have turned out if they didn’t happen.

Identify three strategies for continuing to live in a state of thankfulness and manifesting more positivity.

Take a moment to jot down each time something good happens, perhaps in a gratitude notebook, or even to a note in your smartphone. Also write down how you could make a bad situation better.

2. Gratitude visit

Think of someone who has down something kind for you, who you’ve never properly thanked. In a letter, write down exactly what they did and the specific effect it had on your life. Write and rewrite it multiple times, making it powerful and concise.

Handwrite the letter or present it in a creative way, then meet the person face-to-face, and read them the letter. Don’t forget to take some tissues!

3. Use your signature strengths in new ways

Consider the following characteristics, and which of them are part of your own signature strengths:

  • Humour
  • Bravery
  • Self-regulation
  • Open-mindedness
  • Prudence
  • Spirituality
  • Social intelligence
  • Citizenship
  • Perspective
  • Leadership
  • Integrity
  • Humility and modesty
  • Vitality
  • Hope
  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  • Persistence
  • Kindness
  • Gratitude
  • Love of learning
  • Creativity
  • Fairness
  • Forgiveness and mercy
  • Curiosity

Consider how you already use your signature strengths, then brainstorm ways you can use them even more, writing down specific actions you can take. Commit to using your strengths in new ways this week. Carry a small notebook with you and write down each time you complete an action that utilises your signature strengths.

I hope you enjoy these exercises, and I’d love to hear about the impact they make your levels of happiness.

If you'd like more ideas to help with your happiness and the people around you, visit the the International Day of Happiness website for lots of useful resources.

The three exercises were adapted from Authentic Happiness, by Penn University.