Well-Being//

Small Joy Triggers That Will Make You Feel Happy Every Single Day

From opening a new notebook to buying yourself flowers, these little strategies will instantly fill you with joy, even on stressful or challenging days.

Artem Varnitsin/ Shutterstock
Artem Varnitsin/ Shutterstock

We often talk about “finding happiness” as a massive long-term goal, but in reality, happiness can be found in the small moments of joy that fill our day-to-day lives. And in times of stress or overwhelm, it’s even more important to seek out little pick-me-ups that can help us shift gears to a happier, more optimistic mindset.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small things they do that spark joy in their daily lives. Which of these will you try today?

Take yourself on a coffee date

“One of the simplest things that brings me joy is taking myself on a coffee date. I love knowing that the only reason I’m out on my own is simply to feel good and be with myself. Sometimes, I read or scribble in my journal. Other times, I simply sit and smile and take in all that is happening.”

—Danielle Brooker, joy coach, London, UK

Complete a crossword puzzle

“My morning routine includes the minute of joy I get when tackling the New York Times mini crossword puzzle on my iPhone. It’s a kickstart to my brain that gets me to focus, think on my feet, and provides me with my first accomplishment of the day. It allows me a positive and confident beginning to a challenging workday.”

—Jennifer Zar, marketing strategist, New York, NY

Read to your kids

“As a working mom, the thing that brings me daily joy is cuddling with my two little boys before bed while reading them a nighttime story. Taking the time to slow down and be present with my children, and watching the pure joy on their faces as I read them the same story for the hundredth time, is like sprinkling a dust of magic. It makes all my worries and anxiety from the day fade away.” 

—Althea Lovell, corporate relations partner, Auckland, New Zealand

Buy yourself flowers

“For the past 25 years, I’ve purchased a bouquet of white roses every Friday. Years ago, when I studied under an Israeli Moroccan French Shaman, known in Hebrew as a Chazah, she told me that she believed white roses can remove the negative energy from a home. Since then, I’ve always had white roses on my table. I also gift white roses when I go to friends’ homes.”

—Elly Molina, intuitive advisor, New York, NY

Wear your favorite shoes

“When I want to start my day with a mood-booster, I opt to wear my favorite pair of heels. Rocking my favorite heels always sparks joy for me, and serves as a reminder that I am fearless and can handle anything the day ahead throws my way. I have found throughout the years that shoes and other small accessories are great little joy triggers.”

—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO

Hug your partner

“My pick-me-up is taking the time to close my eyes and hug my husband.  I’m talking about a spontaneous, full, tight squeeze of an embrace in which I bury my cheek in his shoulder and hold for a good ten seconds. It’s a quick reset, allowing myself a moment to realize that no matter what stressors surround our lives, we have each other.”

—Pam Fisher, associate director, Glens Falls, NY

Work on a passion project

“I make sure that the first thing I do in the morning is something I love, and for me, that’s working on a passion project. It helps me get up in the morning, and start my day feeling happy and productive. It fuels the rest of my day and makes me feel great! Plus, I’m that much closer to completing my goals simply by spending an hour in the morning doing something I love.”

—Laura Winter, author and life coach, Huntsville, AL

Practice yoga 

“As someone who really enjoys yoga, I haven’t been able to find a studio that’s close to my house after moving about three years ago. One day, my seven-year-old son came home with enthusiasm that he was learning yoga at school, and wanted to practice at home with me! We found a 20-minute nighttime yoga routine on YouTube. It’s a very sweet end to our day, and I so look forward to that practice.”

—Pradeepa Narayanaswamy, fertility coach, Dallas, TX

Stare at the ocean

“The look and smell of the ocean always sparks joy in me. Sitting on the beach just before the sun sets, smelling the salt water, and watching the waves break is pure happiness.”

—Corey Katz, college counselor, Merrick, NY

Incorporate an act of kindness into your day

“I have three little rituals that keep me focused on all the good that surrounds me. I wake up each morning grateful for the day ahead, incorporate a random act of kindness into my day, and then at night, I express my appreciation for the day. It’s my recipe for joy.”

—Nicki Anderson, women’s leadership director, Lisle, IL

Open a new notebook

“A brand new notebook brings me joy. It’s like a new beginning where the journey could take you anywhere!”

—Lindsey Benoit O’Connell, editor, New York, NY

Look at greenery

“My greatest pick-me-up is looking at plants — noticing a seed that has just popped up, an herb that is flourishing with its own delicious fragrance, or a flower bud that is promising a pretty bloom. These are the little things that bring me so much joy.”

—Hema M., influencer and blogger, London, UK

Write in your journal

“As someone who loves writing, what sparks joy in my daily life is journaling. When I get the chance to note down my thoughts, I immediately feel good and more centered. I think everyone has a creative medium that works for them.”

—Maria M., content marketer, Moscow, Russia

Keep a meaningful memento

“My mother kept two ceramic angels on her dresser, one for each of her daughters. When I was young, I thought of them as kitschy. I downsized her house when she got Alzheimer’s and kept the angel. My mother has since died, but her angel sits on my dresser where I see her every day, filling me with joy.”

—Diane Gillespie, emerita professor at University of Washington, Bothell, Brier, WA

Appreciate the morning stillness

“What brings me joy is that moment of silence before starting work, when I walk around my house and know that my family is safe and everyone is where they need to be. I watch the sun streaming through the garden doors, drink a hot cup of tea, and sit in silence. For that second or two, it’s just bliss, and it sets me up for the rest of the day.”

—Jill Leake, employee communications consultant, Solihull, UK

Watch the squirrels in your backyard

“I absolutely love watching the squirrels hang upside down on my bird feeder and fill themselves up with sunflower seeds. It’s a welcome sight while working that always makes me giggle.” 

—Hilary Johnson, business coach, Charleston, SC

Collect photos of joyful moments

“I have a folder on my phone that contains pictures of happy moments in my life, like my wedding day, time with my sons, and special moments with friends. Opening this ‘box of joy’ folder and browsing through the pictures gives me an instant feeling of joy and gratitude.”

—Isabel Galiano, health and cancer coach, Singapore

Declutter your house

“A clean and zen home sparks joy in my life, because my home is my and my loved ones’ sanctuary.”

—Beverly Lim Leel, lifestyle editor, New York, NY

Look back on a meaningful memory

“My joy lies in remembering. I look back to what I call my ‘standing stones.’ I recall a similar situation where I have ultimately triumphed, and I draw from that reservoir. Whether I’m experiencing job loss, an illness, or just struggling to decide what to make for dinner, there’s history on which I can stand with confidence.”

—Susan Harris, television host and author, Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada

Go to a Pilates class

“What has been joyful in my life recently is my Pilates class. I realize that my body is stronger than I thought to believe, and so is my mind.”

—V.C., project coordinator, New York, NY

Take a walk

“What brings me joy is taking a walk around the neighborhood and admiring the nature around me. I love touching the unique patterns of the gorgeous tree barks. For those few moments, I’m able to completely disconnect from my thoughts and feel that I am exactly where I need to be.”

—Irène Abbou, relationship coach, Los Angeles, CA

Help someone solve a problem

“I find purpose when I can help other people solve a problem or give them guidance. It could be as simple as offering my opinion or as complex as strategizing about future company goals. Resolving issues and helping people come to a resolution makes me feel valuable, allows me to learn, and brings me great joy!”

—Kaleen Skersies, real estate development, Seattle, WA

Do a gratitude body scan

“A quick body scan puts me in a place of happiness. I do this first thing in the morning. With my thoughts, I walk through everything that is right in my body. I can move, I can breathe, and I’m alive. I feel complete because I have everything I need to have a great day.”

—Lennis Perez, wellness consultant and engineer, Austin, TX

What’s one small way you incorporate joy into your life? Share it with us in the comments!

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