No matter what you do for a living, the end goal -- really, the goal to life -- is to be happy. So how do you become happier? This varies by individual, of course, but there are some things you can do to become happier that are backed by science.
Here are nine things you can do to make each day mean more.
1. Always plan for something.
When you have plans in the works or a project on the go, you feel more optimistic and happier about the future. When you have something on the calendar-even if it's a month or a year down the road -- it gives you something to look forward to.
2. Practice an attitude of gratitude.
Are you a glass is half full or half empty person? If you said it's half full, then you're on your way to being happier.
Those who are grateful for what they have, and that give thanks for it, are happier folks. The key to leading a blissful life is to be content with what you do have, and not be envious of what others have.
3. Shorten your commute.
What would you rather have: a smaller abode closer to your work, or a larger home that's a bit further from everything? If you chose the former, then you're on the right track. Time is money, and if you're spending a good chunk of it sitting in traffic or staring out from behind the windshield every day, then you're not making the best use of it.
If you work full time, that is, five days a week or more, that's a big chunk of your life that you're spending in a car, train, or bus. Consider moving closer to work, even if it means buying a smaller place.
4. Spend more time with loved ones.
Palliative care workers often hear deathbed confessions, and they say that one of the things people say the most is that they wish they had spent more time with their loved ones. Spending time with them instead of traveling, or working, will make you happier and live longer.
You won't regret it. That emotional connection is good for you.
5. Move your body.
Even if you don't think you have the time, or the energy, there's something about exercise that allows you to look at the world in a new way. You get more energy, the blood is pumping through your veins and you feel like you can do anything. Furthermore, exercise can relax you, help you sleep better, improve your body image, look healthier and more fit, and help you think more clearly.
And busy people, rejoice -- you don't need much of it to get this amazing effect.
Science shows that you only need seven minutes a day to feel even a little bit happier about your life. (More is recommended, of course. Seven minutes is the bare minimum.) So get to the gym, put on some running shoes and go for a jog around the block, or hit up a yoga class.
6. Get enough sleep.
We all need to sleep. While our bodies need it to repair and recover from the day before, our minds need it to help us focus, be more productive, and feel happier. People who get more sleep feel less anger and fear, and they are even less sensitive to negative occurrences.
Not enough time for long sleep? If you got a poor night's rest, a nap will help you get the same positive effect.
7. Get some fresh air.
We know you're chained to your desk, but make it a point to pry yourself away from your computer for at least 20 minutes a day. Spending 20 minutes outside in good weather makes you work more efficiently, increases your energy, and boosts your mood.
8. Volunteer or give of yourself.
When you help others, you are really also helping yourself. Just two hours a week will enrich your life and make you feel more fortunate, more blessed, and happier with your life. When spending money, remember that as nice as it is to spoil yourself, you may feel more fulfilled in the long run by buying something for someone that you love.
9. Try meditating.
It will improve your focus, clarity and attention span, and keep you calm. It will also make you happier in the long run. Perhaps because it will keep you from getting stressed out. Immediately after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy.