Happy Lesson Picture

10 Ways to Be Happy (plus a Happy song)

Let’s start with a song that I’m sure will make you happy!

Here is the chorus so that you can sing (and clap along to).

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier

The following is adapted from this article and looks at 10 ways that you can be happier.

1. Exercise (7 minutes)

When most people think about doing exercise, they think that they have to go for a long run or do a lot of cardio. However, there are many studies that show that doing short and intensive exercises is much better and more efficient.

If you want a quick workout, try this:

From the article:

 Exercise can help you relax, increase your brain power, and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight.

I recently shared an article on Facebook that talks about how you should exercise before an exam:

Also try exercising before studying and see if it helps.

2. Sleep More

One study shows that when you are sleep deprived (don’t get enough sleep), you are more likely to concentrate on negative emotions. On the other hand, getting enough sleep increases your chances of experiencing positive emotions.

I think this is pretty common and that most people are in a bad mood when they don’t get enough sleep. So, sleep is important for happiness as well as your overall health.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

3. Spend More Time with Family and Friends

Not spending enough time with family and friends is one of the 5 regrets of the dying (see my post on this here). From the article:

Social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving our happiness, even for introverts. Several studies have found that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel.

One study showed that relationships are worth more than $100,000. It concluded saying that an improved social life had a big affect on happiness while an increase in income didn’t make much of a difference.

4. Get Outside More

The article highlights many studies that show that getting outside every day makes a big difference to how happy people are. I have definitely found this to be true: when I go and walk my dogs in the morning (when it’s light and nice weather), I feel energized and in a better mood.

This wasn’t always easy when I was in the UK:

5. Help Others

Have you heard about retail therapy? This basically means going shopping to make you feel happier. However, a study has shown that buying things for others makes us happier than buying things for ourselves.

In addition, spending our money on experiences (concerts, sporting events, meals out) brings us more happiness than buying material goods (shoes, handbags, gadgets).

Volunteering also helps – from the article:

 In fact, 100 hours per year (or two hours per week) is the optimal time we should dedicate to helping others in order to enrich our lives.

6. Smile

This is my third key to fluency in my latest book (download for free here.) Smiling is especially effective if you back it up with a positive thought:

Of course it’s important to practice “real smiles” where you use your eye sockets. (You’ve seen fake smiles that don’t reach the person’s eyes. Try it. Smile with just your mouth. Then smile naturally; your eyes narrow. There’s a huge difference in a fake smile and a genuine smile.)

When you are doing something that you don’t normally enjoy, ask yourself, “How can I do this while having fun?”

7. Plan a Trip (even if you don’t take one)

As opposed to actually taking a holiday, simply planning a vacation or break from work can improve our happiness. A study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as people enjoy the sense of anticipation:

So, we don’t have to take a vacation/holiday to get positive emotions and make us happy. It’s all about the anticipation of a holiday. If you could leave tomorrow for two weeks, where would you go to? (answer below)

8. Meditate

My friends over at Real Life English wrote a great post on how meditating can improve your English (specifically your confidence, memory, concentration, and self-awareness).

The original article states:

Meditation literally clears your mind and calms you down, it’s been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier life.

You can start by just doing 30 seconds. Just clear your mind, stop thoughts coming into your head, and concentrate on your breathing. Try it now.

9. Move Closer to Work

Our commute to work can have a surprisingly powerful impact on our happiness. The fact that we tend to commute twice a day at least five days a week makes it unsurprising that the effect would build up over time and make us less and less happy.

It goes on to say that we usually concentrate on things like a bigger house or a better car, but having a shorter commute will make us happier. However, if you have a long commute, fill your MP3 player or phone full of English podcasts and listen to English. Make the most of the time you spend commuting.

10. Practice Gratitude

Being thankful for what you have will make you happier. Before going to sleep I often think about about the things that I’m grateful for. Here is something to be grateful for: If you are reading this then you can also access a huge amount of English learning material.

As little as 10-15 years ago, this wasn’t possible, and to be able to read or listen to things in English you had to buy a book or a tape. Be grateful for the fact that you can watch, listen to, and read an unlimited amount of things in English. This is truly an amazing thing and you just need to take advantage of it.

What to Do Now

Answer the following question: If you could go anywhere in the world for a two week holiday, and you had to leave tomorrow, where would you go? (You get unlimited spending money too).


There are no explanations in this lesson. Instead, use the tools that I talk about in this video.

Also feel free to comment below on this lesson.

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  • Chauncey Zhou

    My answer is Beijing. Location is irrelevant. I think my parents like to have a trip to Beijing. Especially my father adores Chairman Mao very much. But I was studying these years. So I’m always going to plan this trip with them. If I have time and money to organize this trip, I’ll take them to our capital and enjoy our time there.

    Additionally, these ten tips are right and effective. But there should be some complements for them. For example, the sleep should not only enough, but also be correct. We must sleep at a certain time. If we’re in bed for 8 hours at the daytime, and work hard at midnight, the result will be very bad in my opinion, although the time of sleep is enough. Actually these tips are agreement with the theory of traditional Chinese medical science, which advanced these study more. If you’re interested in this, I recommend you to inquire some information about it.

  • Phineas Crumpy

    Let me offer another happy song to help you be happy. I hope it works. hehe