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.
What Are Good Habits?
Good habits are a positive behavior that you continually practice. Some examples of good habits include: exercising, eating healthy, practicing meditation, and more.
How to Form Good Habits
1. Start Small
To develop good habits, you’ll need to start small. By starting small, you’ll need to pick one and only one thing first. Most people give themselves a multi-page list of things to change only to fail. Having one thing to focus out will naturally ripple out to other changes as well. For instance, over a year ago I committed to doing one good deed a day, everyday, for the rest of my life. From there, I started reading books about kindness which developed a reading habit. Then, I started eating healthy because I wasn’t as stressed so stress eating was cured. Then, I developed the habit of exercising. Yet, none of those other habits formed were planned, they happened naturally from committing to one and only one good habit.
2. Remove Obstacles
Some habits are hard to commit to. You might live in an environment that won’t support the habit you’re forming. Or maybe the one habit you’re choosing is tough to maintain for a long time. For instance, say you’re committing to a doctor recommended diet. The best way to remove obstacles in this case would be to pay for a meal delivery of the diet food already cooked. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by cooking at the end of an exhausting day. Preparing it will be faster than ordering take out from a fast food restaurant. For instance, you can subscribe to a keto meal delivery service that delivers all your meals in advance.
3. Create Balance
Without balance, it can be hard to maintain good habits for the long haul. One simple way to create balance is to have one rest day scheduled in regularly. So, if you exercise six days a week, have a rest day on a Monday. Or if you’re sticking to a diet, break it for one meal each month. The goal is to maintain the habit for years so giving yourself a few breaks on set days will help you stick to your goal of developing good habits.
25 Good Habits for a Meaningful and Balanced 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.
2. Spend Some Time Outdoors
There’s one vitamin that many people in colder climates are always low in but it’s essential to good health. That’s Vitamin D. And you get it naturally from the sun. While going for a walk on a cold day may be less than ideal, spending time outdoors is crucial for good health. It’s not just the sun. The fresh air you breath in and the ground your feet touch can help boost your mood and health. On warmer days, be sure to spend some time gardening or going for jogs around your neighbourhood. Developing this good habit can help you live a long life.
3. 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.
4. Develop A Healthy Sleep Routine
One of the good habits you’ll need to develop is a proper night time routine. Going to bed at the same time each night (including weekends) is a great way to help develop a pattern that’ll help you get your rest. Aim to go to bed at 9 or 10 in the evening to wake up naturally in the morning instead of being startled awake by your alarm. Many stoic philosophers also believed in getting an afternoon nap in, each day after lunch to help them stay sharp. If you notice you feel a bit drowsy after eating, consider adding a quick half hour nap during your lunch hour to improve your focus in the afternoon.
5. Express Gratitude
One of the good habits you can build to increase your happiness is expressing gratitude each day. Compile a gratitude list each morning to reflect on what you have and to reap the benefits of gratitude. 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.
6. Pick Up A Hobby
Some say people should invest in three hobbies: one that keeps you fit, one that makes you money, and one to boost your creativity. Overall, this is pretty sound advice for anyone looking to develop good habits. There’s a healthy balance between those three things. Maybe you start running each day with a group, then freelancing on the side, and you practice guided meditation for focus.
Each activity helps improve a different focus in your life. The hobbies don’t need to invest in too much time either. You can practice meditations in 10 or 20-minute sessions. Running for just half an hour each day can give you a runner’s high without eating up time. While a side hustle can eat up time. Yet, you can also choose one that allows you to automate processes to save you more time. These three good habits allow you to have balance in your mind, body, and finances.
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 a positive mental 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.
8. Try Right Brain Activities
When thoughts get louder than usual, it’s usually due to an overactive left brain. So, to have some mental peace and stability you’ll want to strengthen your right brain. Thus, right brain activities are good habits to develop. The right brain is known as the creative brain so any creative activity will help calm the chatterbox in your head. Some examples of right brain activities include: meditation, painting, drawing, coloring, gardening, cooking, family hangouts, graphic design, matching games, fashion design, scrapbooking, or even just making things. Keep in mind that writing also activates the left brain due its use of language so you’ll want to minimize the amount you do. Those with more active right brains tend to calm the mind more than active left brain people.
9. 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.
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.
11. Recite Positive Affirmations
Good habits like reciting positive affirmations can help you maintain a positive attitude. Studies show that optimistic people live longer, are more social, and achieve greater careers. While pessimism may be a genetic trait, it is possible to rewire the brain to become more optimistic. You can do this by reciting positive affirmations, doing right brain activities, practicing meditation, and doing other calming activities. Objecting to negative or toxic thoughts by replacing them with positive thoughts is a healthy way to help challenge thoughts that don’t uplift you. Every time a negative thought enters your mind, think of the polar opposite thought to help train your brain to think positively. For instance, “I can’t lose weight” becomes “If I keep eating healthy and exercising, I will lose weight.”
12. 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. With mindful eating, you’ll make better food choices.
13. 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. Learn how to be a good friend.
14. Practice Mindful Living
Mindful living is all about being present in the world. After all, if good habits don’t involve real world living, what’s the point? When was the last time you looked up while going out for a walk? Have you ever looked up from your phone to talk (phone-free) with your family? Do you pay attention to labels when buying food to ensure you’re nourishing your body with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients galore? You’ve eaten your favorite meal dozens of times. But have you ever eaten it slowly, focusing on the chew to really taste it, instead of gulfing it down? On this good habits list, you’re not just going to want to try these things but do it with attentiveness and focus. That’s what living is really all about.
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 empathetic. And that empathy will help you build more meaningful relationships and appreciate your life a bit more.
16. 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. There’s also wisdom to help you gain an appreciation for what you have in your life now. You can gain a lot of perspective from spending time with the elderly.
17. 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.
18. Practice Good Hygiene
One of the good habits we can’t avoid talking about is practicing good hygiene along with a self care routine. Showering each evening or morning is not only good for others, it’s also good for you. Water therapy can help people overcome bad moods. Brushing your teeth can help you improve your oral hygiene. Using deodorant prior to working out or starting your workday can help leave you smelling fresh. Good hygiene is always appreciated by others. But it can also prevent illness, improve self-esteem, reduce pain, and it helps improve social relationships.
19. 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.
20. Build Passive Income
There’s no such thing as job security. Job loss is possible at any time. Some companies even have annual layoffs in the beginning of the year. Unless you have an in-demand job and work at a popular company, the risk for joblessness is possible. Automation has been replacing people. Take a look inside grocery stores and fast food restaurants and you’ll find machines to take your order instead of people.
To have some sort of sense of a safety net, every person should have some sort of side hustle. That can be investing in stocks, freelancing, building a business, or anything that helps you generate income consistently. That additional income will help you pay down the bills faster but also help you stay afloat if you were to suddenly be laid off due to unexpected circumstances. Unless, you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed, you should consider building a passive income stream. Having financial security is one of the good habits to develop today.
21. 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.
Good habits like journaling allow you to express yourself. Journalling can take many forms. For some, they might be diary entries into your day to day life to reflect on at a later point (maybe for that memoir you’ll write someday). For others, it could be a creative outlet to design and plan your life, help you achieve your goals, or hold you accountable for an important practice, such as a gratitude journal, bullet journal, or mindfulness journal. Journals don’t need to focus on novel length stories, you can use drawings, calendars, stickers, or bullet points to share your wild thoughts and ideas. Journaling can inspire you to self-reflect, achieve, and share all in one place.
23. 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 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.
24. Have a monthly date night
Long-term and married couples should consider having a monthly date night. In the early days of a relationship, couples spend an abundance of time together. They head out to restaurants, go to the movies, and go for long walks or drives. But as relationships get longer, the act of dating goes to the wayside and sometimes couples slowly fall apart. Kids, busy work schedules, and tight budgets can make dating hard for long-time couples.
Consider adding a monthly date night to your calendar to help devote some time to one another. If you’re looking to live up to the happily ever after you promised one another in your wedding vows, this good habit will help strengthen your relationship. Find time to talk about how life’s going over a cup of coffee, go for a walk by the water, and leave the kids at grandma’s for a couple of hours. It doesn’t need to be expensive to be worthwhile. You just need to be present and together. Consider setting some relationship goals to ensure yours stands the test of time.
25. Do a Daily Act of Kindness
To live a purposeful 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!