10 Small Changes that Made Me Happier
Improving your life can happen in small doses. Instead of thinking bigger, consider these 10 small changes you can implement right now.
Upgrading your life doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take a ton of time. Just making these 10 small changes gave me a big boost of happiness.
Hopefully they will inspire you to consider what small changes might help you feel even a small bit happier.
1. Wearing a sleep mask
As someone who has wrestled with insomnia for much of her adult life, I’ve grown accustomed to getting less sleep than I should. That’s been even more true in the last few years of raising a small child.
The one thing that’s made the biggest difference for helping me sleep more and better is wearing a sleep mask at night. It helps me get to sleep more quickly and—most important for me—stay asleep longer.
Masks improve sleep because they block out light, especially artificial light, which disrupts the internal biological clock that helps to regulate sleep-wake patterns.
No need for anything fancy. This is the one I use. It’s basic, inexpensive, comfortable, and works like a charm.
2. Starting a book club
Every Thursday afternoon, I get together on Zoom with a small group of amazing women for a “book club.” Yes, we talk about books (about one per month), but we do so much more than that.
After nearly 2 years of regularly meeting—with members coming and going, sometimes returning—we know each other really well. So, our meetings are also often deep dives into the various aspects of our personal and professional lives.
Although it’s a sizable investment of time (an hour each week), I wouldn’t give up this community for anything. It makes me so happy to have a group of women who I know will listen to my problems, cheer on my victories, and join me in stimulating conversations.
3. Using less social media
There was a time in its early development that social media enhanced my life. It allowed me to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, and stay up to date on my family’s latest news.
Gradually, though, social media became less helpful and felt more harmful. Today, the ads are pervasive, the politics are loud and mean, and the comparison trap is real and unhealthy.
The less time I spend mindlessly scrolling Instagram and Twitter, the more time I find I can actually be present with the people in front of me. The less I worry about what everyone else is doing with their businesses or their bodies, the more I can be focused on what I actually want and need.
I’ve removed the social apps from my phone’s home screen. It takes one extra step to find them, and that’s often enough to remind me that I’m not going to find anything worthwhile on those sites. I also set time limits on the apps, which now I rarely reach.
4. Dressing for comfort
I’m sure this one has a lot to do with age, but hopefully it’s also a byproduct of unlearning harmful patriarchal conditioning. After a lifetime spent judging my worth based on my clothing size and what others think of my appearance, I’ve finally let that shit go.
Thanks to Becca Murray on TikTok, I’ve stopped worrying about “body positivity” and instead focus on body neutrality. Today, the only thing that matters to me is wearing clothes that don’t make me obsess about my body all day long.
What a freaking liberation. My body is a vessel and it’s important, but it’s nothing more than that. It’s not who I am, it’s not a measure of my worth, and it’s not up for debate.
Also, my dear friend Dacy Gillespie of mindful closet has been such a help in rethinking what it means to get dressed for myself, not for the male gaze.
5. Taking time alone
Since 2020, I have taken spent one weekend alone each quarter (here’s more info. on my solo hotel retreats). This private time is exactly what I need to recharge my batteries and feel more like myself the rest of the quarter.
I’m a hardcore introvert (INFJ) and realized after becoming a mom that I desperately needed to create solitude in order to feel really happy.
The retreats are on the calendar, and I no longer feel guilty taking them. My family knows that the time away allows me to be a better person when I’m with them.
6. Using my “fancy stuff”
I love beautiful journals, pricey scented candles, luxurious skin-care products. I’ve always collected those sorts of things, but used to tuck them away to use someday.
I saved my fancy stuff because it was just too fancy for everyday use. But that meant I never used it. What a waste!
No more. I’ve finally started using all of the nice things on a regular basis. I burn candles while I work, write to-do lists with pricey pens in pretty journals, and slather my skin with quality products every night. And it makes me ridiculously happy—worth every penny.
7. Capturing more memories
I’m not very sentimental, so I tend to forget to take photos or do anything with the ones I do snap. But since becoming a mom, I do find that I enjoy reflecting on the fun times I’ve had with my family (especially on the hard days).
Two apps have helped me do a better job of capturing and preserving memories.
Chatbooks: Linked to the private Instagram account we created for our kiddo when he was born, this app automatically sends us and his grandparents photo albums. It doesn’t get easier.
1 Second Everyday: Each day, I add a 1-second video clip to this app with just a couple of clicks, and it creates a cool memory video of my year.
8. Setting fewer goals
Less is more, especially when it comes to productivity. I find that the fewer goals I set, the happier (and, oddly, more productive) I am.
Humans tend to underestimate what we can accomplish over the long term, and overestimate what we can accomplish in the short term. That’s why I now try to set no more than one big goal per quarter, and put no more than 3 small tasks on my agenda each day.
This shift has helped my days feel more spacious. It’s also forced me to get more serious about what I really want to do and let go of all the little stuff that doesn’t really matter.
9. Buying more glasses
In the past, I’ve always been jealous of people who were ballsy enough to wear really funky glasses. I tend to stick to the same basic black frame.
But in the last year, I discovered some of the many inexpensive websites where you can purchase prescription eyeglasses for as little as $30 a pair.
So, I’ve started buying a variety of glasses (including sunglasses, which feels like such a treat!) and wearing different frames to match outfits or how I feel on a particular day.
It’s a small investment for a big boost in how I feel about myself.
10. Letting go of “the rules”
As an online business owner, it can be scary to do things your own way. What if it fails and I go broke?
After years of constantly trying to do everything by the book, and following all of the experts’ best practices for getting rich quick, during the pandemic I decided to stop.
First of all, I began to realize that every expert has their own rules and they often completely contradict another expert’s rules. Second, I did what they said to do and it rarely made a big difference. And third and most important, I realized that life is too short to build someone else’s vision for my business.
So, I’m doing things my way and letting the chips fall where they may. That way no matter what happens, I’ll enjoy the journey—and that’s what matters most.