The 6 Best Things You Can Do to Boost Your Own Happiness This Weekend

Because we could all use a little more joy in our lives, follow these expert tips.

We aren’t a very happy bunch. According to the 2022 World Happiness Report, the United States ranked sixteenth in happiness, falling below Germany, Austria and even Israel. Finland retained its number-one spot for the fifth year in a row, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.

But how exactly do Americans become happier? We’re all ridiculously busy during the week, but we may have the opportunity during the weekend to give ourselves a little positive bump.

Therapists *not so surprisingly* have a few expert suggestions of mood-boosting activities you can do that are backed by research. So, if you’re looking to boost your own happiness, here’s exactly what you can set out to do this weekend to feel an instant joy kick. (Finland, we’re coming for you in 2023!)

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1. Say “no” more often

Are your weekends jam-packed with things you don’t want to do? Saying “no” more often is key to happiness because it allows you to focus on the things you really care about doing, explains Jay Serle, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the clinical director of The Ohana Luxury Alcohol Rehab.

“Often, we say ‘yes’ because of what someone else wants, not because of what we want,” Serle says. “The problem is that this focuses on other people’s needs, and doesn’t allow you to focus on the things that you want.”

2. Move your body

woman smiling exercise class

Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects, says Megan Harrison, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who organizes Couples Candy, a project dedicated to providing couples with information to promote happy and successful relationships.

A moderate amount of exercise is key to maintaining your mental health and happiness: Harrison recommends getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

3. Get adequate rest

Lack of sleep can make you feel fatigued, irritable and stressed, Harrison says. It also affects your memory, which can make your day-to-day life more difficult. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

If you have trouble sleeping, try refraining from using electronic devices before bed. While you may be tempted to sleep all day on the weekends, resist the urge: Oversleeping on the weekends to make up for a lack of sleep will mess up your circadian rhythm, and will result in you feeling even more tired. It may even give you a headache.

4. Actively focus on the good

Woman With Journal

Appreciate what you have, says Stephanie Gilbert, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Gratitude journaling can be a simple practice of listing three things you are grateful for each day, she says.

“It’s not so much about setting aside large amounts of time each day to journal in order to see benefits, but more about the repetition of doing the practice daily,” Gilbert says.

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5. Seek out connections with others

If you’re looking to build happiness, think about creating a life that makes you happy. “Happy people have a support system that cares for them,” Gilbert says.

“Connect with others in your support system to build happiness, or find places you can start to build connections.” Building a community increases overall wellness and supports you in creating a happy life.

6. Devote your time to a good cause

happy woman volunteering cleaning up outside

Helping others not only makes them feel good, but it also makes us happier, says Samantha Saunders, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in trauma and toxic/narcissistic relationship recovery.

Take an afternoon to volunteer at a homeless shelter or at a pet shelter. If you don’t have time, try giving a friend a gift or donating to a charity. This will help you learn to be grateful for what you have.

Danielle Braff
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Read more
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