15 Good Habits for a Meaningful and Happy Life

Rachel Sharpe
Rachel Sharpe

Developing good habits can help you transform your life for the better. Bad habits can lead you away from your own goals or worse – your happiness. However, by fostering good habits, you can inch closer to success, happiness, and the life you want. By taking the time to invest in your personal development, you can become a better version of yourself. Here are fifteen good habits for a meaningful and happy life. 

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15 Good Habits for a Meaningful and Happy Life

#1. Practice Daily Meditation

Your first step in your journey to developing good habits takes place in the mind. Your mind is like a control center for your life. It controls your moods, your actions, and how you live your life. If your mind is chaotic, you’ll live a chaotic life. If your mind is racing with negative thoughts, you’ll always see the worst in everything. But with meditation, you take back control of your mind. You might notice a negative thought arising but instead of internalizing it, instead you’ll watch it come and pass. That’s the impact meditation can have. It gives you back your clarity, your focus, and your positivity. You can check out our free guided meditations on our website or download our free meditation app on your phone to start this good habit today. 

Reading is a healthy and good habit to pick up

#2. Read Thoughtful Books

Good habits come from good knowledge. It’s hard to improve yourself if you don’t know what that looks like, how to attain it, or if it’s even possible. By reading books each night, you can learn new perspectives, new ideas, new skills, and so much more. Education is the secret to success. But you don’t need to go to school to become educated. All you need to do is read books each night. We compiled a list of some great meditation books you can start out with if you’d like.

There’s a book available on literally every topic you want to improve on. Want to improve your communication skills so you can build more positive relationships? You might want to check out Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Maybe you want to take back more control of your life so you focus on learning how to negotiate better. In that case, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss might be worthwhile to check out. If you’re looking for a self-help book to help you become a leader, you might want to read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. You can build good habits by reading books that teach you how to improve your weaknesses.

#3. Express Gratitude

One of the good habits you can build to increase your happiness is expressing gratitude each day. It’s never been easier to lose sight of all the wonderful things we have in our life. All you need to do is head to Instagram and look at your friends vacation pictures, slim figures, loving couples photos, and picture perfect life. Maybe you’ll want to try a social media detox for a while.

There’s no need to be envious of what others have. There are countless people in the world who have less than you who still find happiness in their lives. It’s okay to be temporarily frustrated, sad, or angry when things don’t go according to our plan. But it’s important to remember that this moment is fleeting and you still don’t see the whole story. Sometimes bad moments lead to good moments and this can be true of even the darkest periods in our lives.

Even on our darkest days, we must do our best to see the good we still have in our lives. Write it down. Develop the good habit of listing all the things you’re grateful for each day. This will give you hope on tough days. 

Smiling is a good habit that can be practiced right now

#4. Smile

You’d be surprised at what kind of impact something as simple as a smile on your face can have on someone. If you regularly walk around with a smile on your face and an upbeat attitude, you can bring happiness and joy into other people’s lives. People will also be less combative with you. You’ll find friendlier faces in your daily interactions. And it all starts with a smile.

Smiling is contagious as well. So, if you’re walking down the street and smile at a stranger, that person will very likely smile back at you. What you don’t see is that maybe that person was having a bad day and yet your smile shifted their focus – even if just for a moment.

Smiling is also good for you. It helps strengthen your immune system.It helps reduce your stress levels. Smiling helps you boost your own mood (and others moods too). Smiling releases feel good endorphins. And it helps you stay positive. It’s actually really hard to be negative when you’ve got that big ol’ smile on your face.

Smiling is one of those good habits you’ll want to develop to live a happier life and to make the lives of those around you happier as well.

#5. Speak Kindly

We’ve all had those dreadful moments where we’re frustrated or mad and we say something that we live to regret. So many of the world’s problems are caused by communication errors. While we’re all imperfect, for the most part, most people are good. But sometimes our emotions get the best of us and we say things we shouldn’t.

One of the good habits you should consider developing is speaking kindly – even during tough conversations. Aim to be empathic with people who may be disgruntled, mad, or frustrated. Sometimes people take out their frustrations on you. But it’s important to remember that you have full control over your reaction of every event that happens to you.

And with that power knowing how much control you have, it’s a must to do your part in the world of spreading kindness. You can’t take back hurtful words and it’s extremely difficult to undo the damage toxic words can have on someone.

Exercise such as jogging is a good habit

#6. Exercise

On any good habits list, exercise always finds a way to creep its way in. With busy workdays and family life keeping us so busy, we tend to put our physical and mental health on the backburner. But the lack of exercise can cause serious health issues for you down the road.

The hardest part about starting an exercise regimen is taking that first step. You come home from a long day at work, the very last thing you want to do is change your clothes and workout. But fortunately, with online fitness classes, at least you won’t need to leave your home.

A trick that works wonders at motivating you to workout is to make a YouTube playlist of workout videos with the songs you love most. That way, when a song gets played out all you need to do is swap it in with a new song. There’s so many workout videos to all the top songs on YouTube that you can easily follow along to.

By developing good habits like exercise, you’ll feel more energy throughout your day which will make you happier. Those endorphins sure know how to make you feel good. Plus, you’ll be taking part in living a healthy life. Doctor recommended.

#7. Eat a Balanced Diet

The busier we get the easier it is to just open up that Uber Eats app and order take out. But that quickly becomes a slippery slope. It starts off with just one order but before you know it, you’re ordering take out several times a week. And the chef is definitely not putting in the ingredients that make up a healthy meal.

Eating a balanced diet is one of those good habits you’ll want to do. And with so many different diets and meal plans to choose from, it seems like there’s a lot of confusion about what a balanced diet even is. We’re all made differently. We all share different values. And that’s totally okay.

But there are little things you can do such as reducing the amount of sugar you eat or stocking up on veggies. Focus on filling your body with all the nutrients you need to help you determine what a balanced diet means for you.

Spending time with friends

#8. Spend Time with Friends

One of the most neglected good habits is spending time with friends. As we grow older, family life takes over and friends get replaced. But the happiest people are those who’ve maintained their friendships into old age. Your friends are the people who likely knew you before you fell in love or started a family. They’re important people too!

Find time to spend with your friends. Simple things such as celebrating birthdays, mailing random thinking of you cards in the mail, or going out to a quick coffee can really help you strengthen your friendships. Believe it or not, you’ll immediately remember how much fun it is to hang out with your friends. All the silly inside jokes you have, all the wild memories you’ve shared together, and that feeling of being accepted and loved by someone who isn’t blood. It feels pretty good.

According to Psychology Today, maintaining and having friendships helps people as they age. This becomes extremely critical after the age of 65. Likely because that’s when your kids are busy with their own kids. So aim to have life-long friendships with those you care about. Don’t lose touch. 

#9. Volunteer

Volunteering is one of those good habits that help you build a meaningful and happy life. Most of us think that the most important person in our lives is ourselves. And that’s true. And self-care is so important. But outside of our lives, there’s a world of people who need love, support, and care.

There are people who can’t afford to put food on the table. There are people who are struggling with the loss of a loved one. Others may be battling demons they can’t control. And by volunteering, you not only get to help those people and make a difference in their lives. No. You also become grateful for the things you have.

Volunteering helps you further develop your compassion towards others. It’ll help you practice patience and understanding. And by hearing people’s stories, helping people in need, and doing good work, you become more empathic. And that empathy will help you build more meaningful relationships and appreciate your life a bit more.

Spending time with the elderly as a practice of making it a good habit

#10. Spend Time with the Elderly

Loneliness is the most common emotion felt by the elderly. As they grow older, so do their children who become busy raising children of their own. However, the beauty of spending time with the elderly is that they have so much life experience and so many stories to share. You can learn so much from them simply by spending a day with them. A good habit is spending time with the elderly so you can live life as you should. You might be able to learn from mistakes that someone made in their lifetime so you can correct wrongs early in your life. You can also use that wisdom to gain an appreciation for what you have in your life now. You can gain a lot of perspective from spending time with the elderly. 

#11. Eat Dinner with the Family

One of the good habits to develop for a meaningful and happy life is to eat dinner with the family each night. As Netflix and other streaming services become more popular, families are more likely to eat separately while watching their favorite shows online. But ensuring your family spends quality time together every day at dinner allows you keep your relationships strong. It also ensures that you always know how your family members are doing. You can talk about your days, your challenges, things that make you happy, and share kind words with each other. By eating dinner together every night, you commit to keeping your family bond strong. 

Watching something funny at a movie theater

#12. Watch Something Funny

Injecting humor and laughter into your days is one of those good habits that’ll ensure your happiness for years to come. You don’t necessarily need to watch something funny, maybe you hang out with a funny friend, or you follow a funny social media account so you get your daily boost of happiness. If you constantly expose yourself to stressful or negative content, you’ll likely always be negative as well. But if you focus on watching funny content or chatting with hilarious friends or following funny accounts, you’ll live a more playful life.

#13. Simplify Your To Do List

Having a simple to do list is one of the good habits you should have. There are two types of people in the world: people who have to do lists that are longer than they can possibly finish and people who do not have to do lists. But there is a happy medium that can serve you well. Being organized and having a to do list can help you feel a sense of purpose and a sense of accomplishment when you finally cross something out. But you need to be realistic about what you want to accomplish and how long it takes to complete. Keeping a daily to do list of only five tasks will help you realistically accomplish more. You’ll feel happier knowing that you regularly accomplish what you set out to without feeling overburdened or behind like those with epically long lists.

Keeping accountable with your good habits with a daily planner every Sunday

#14. Analyze Your Week Each Sunday

One of the best good habits to have is to regularly monitor your performance and behavior each week. You can keep a journal or answer the same set of questions. By picking a set day of the week such as Sunday to do this, you ensure that you consistently do this good habit. To live a happy and meaningful life, you need to regularly check-in with yourself.

Which good deeds did you do this week? Were you always kind to others? Are you moving towards or away from your goals? Did you spend enough time fostering relationships with those you care about? Did you fall off the wagon for any of your goals? How can you improve? By asking yourself questions like this each week, you hold yourself accountable. You can literally answer the same set of questions each week so that you stay committed to what you’re setting out to accomplish. 

#15. Do a Daily Act of Kindness

To live a meaningful life, doing a daily act of kindness is one of those good habits that are a true game-changer. Most people don’t think about doing kind things each day. But it’s those little things that really make a difference. You can do something simple such as send a Facebook friend a birthday message. It’s someone’s birthday every day so that can be one of your acts of kindness. You can also write appreciation cards for coworkers, friends, or family members where you list what you really appreciate about the person. During the holiday season you can mail out cards to family, friends, and strangers on the internet. By getting in the habit of being kind, you live the kind of life you’d be proud of living. 


You might want to add other good habits on your list of what you want to develop in yourself. That’s cool. These are just some of the good habits you could potentially consider. There are so many others that can be just as valuable and meaningful in your life. It’s not just about coming up with a list of good habits but really going out of your way to take action on them. And really make them a part of your life.

Which good habits do you practice each day? Let us know in the comments!

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