30 Activities That Are Scientifically Proven to Make You Happier

We all hate to be bored. We live in an era of FOMO and are constantly looking for ways to keep life exciting. But a lot of the time, we mistake doing nothing as boredom, when truly being bored is actually so much more than that. “Boredom most often results from repetition, routine, and laziness,” says psychologist Vivian Diller. “So any activity that adds novelty and stimulation alleviates boredom.”

“People aren’t struggling with a lack of things to do, but rather too much of things that don’t bring much satisfaction or joy,” says Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, a psychologist who treats patients via telehealth app LiveHealth Online. “[This] is why finding something that brings you happiness is important to all of our lives.”

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We are all different; what may be engaging to one person isn’t going to be the same for the next. Henderson says to make a list of things that will personally engage you and complement your lifestyle. “For example, if your work keeps you isolated or sedentary, try being social and active,” she says. “Alternatively, if you interact with others throughout most of the day, try something a bit more solitary, like painting.”

In other words, we should look for activities that do more than just get us out of bed or to pass the time; we need activities that really change up our routine and stimulate the brain. That is the true key to finding something that will make us happy. “This is basic psychology 101: activities that meet our needs and desires lead to satisfaction and happiness,” says Diller. “If we ignore this basic desire for stimulation, we tend to feel less alive and happy.”

Both Diller and Henderson have given us basic thought starters on things to do that will not only keep us from being bored but lift up our mood as well. Here are some of their recommendations.

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  • Go for a run. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people aren't bored.
  • Take a walk. Sometimes you need to just get some fresh air and stretch your legs. It's also a great way to clear your head and maybe discover something new about an area you thought you were familiar with.
  • Take an exercise class. Find one you’ve never tried before, but have always wanted to.
  • Read. Books have the power to take our minds on an adventure. Sign up for Book of the Month Club to find the latest good read.
  • Listen to a new podcast. We love podcasts. Our rec: Pod Save America; the bros of the Obama administration analyze the current political landscape and offer the funniest and wittiest commentary.
  • Attend a lecture. It's a great way to learn something new without having to worry about getting a good grade.
  • Go to a new museum. We're big advocates on going by yourself to really immerse yourself.
  • Go see a new movie. We're found that people go out to the movies less now and that's a shame. Go grab a friend or go solo to your nearest theater and watch the newest film out right now.
  • Call up a friend. Go through your Facebook or have someone pick a random name in your phonebook and call up a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.
  • Explore. Go to a place you’ve never been to before.
  • Go out to dinner with friends. It's easy to get into the habit of just going out to drink with friends at bars and clubs. Change it up and gather everyone for dinner to catch up and get into some great discussions.
  • Find a new place to eat out. Going out to eat is a great activity in itself, but make it more fun by trying out a place that just opened or a place that's been on your restaurant bucket list.
  • Meditate. Our mental health is so important and this will help clear your mind of all the clutter.
  • Start a hobby. We suggest you pick something that has nothing to do with your current occupation or skill set; it'll push you out of your comfort zone and really make you think outside the box.
  • Keep a journal. It's therapeutic to get all your feelings and thoughts out. It's also a great outlet for your emotions.
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  • Start a DIY project at home.
  • Learn a new language. Find classes, download an app, or invest in Rosetta stone. Whichever you choose, learning a new language is a fun way to keep your brain actively thinking.
  • Volunteer. Look for an organization that fights for a cause you're passionate about.
  • Go to a comedy show. There's no way you'll be bored if you're laughing. This is also a great way to discover new comedians.
  • Turn your cell phone off for a couple of hours.
  • Watch TED TalksYou can watch lectures from the comfort of your own home.
  • Create a playlist of songs from your favorite artists.
  • Go see a band play live. There's something about live music that is truly magical. It doesn't need to be a big artist for it to be fun either.
  • Buy an adult coloring book. Call your inner artist and get creative.
  • Clean and organize a room in your home. We all like to put off cleaning and no better time to do it when you have nothing else to do.
  • Take a class to improve your craft. We're all about bettering ourselves. Invest in your talent and find classes that will help better your skillset.
  • Find new websites to visit based off of your interests with StumbleUponYou'll be stuck in an internet hole in the best way possible; this site shows you.
  • Learn a new recipe (or how to cook in general). This is a skill that will only help you.
  • Catch up on much-needed sleep.
  • Play games (not in love) like charades or Heads Up! with friends. Some friendly competition never hurt anyone.
  • Learn fun trivia about your favorite TV show, movie, hometown, or anything.
  • Start and complete a puzzle.

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