How to be Happier Today: 36 Ideas to Climb Out of a Bad Mood

how to be happier today a woman holding a dark colored dog along with purple big flowers


These are the words that I (rather melodramatically) whisper-shouted a few days ago while pawing through my bathroom cabinets. After a 16-hour work day and ages stuck in traffic, I’d officially reached that overtired, non-rational emotional state where just about anything will push you over the edge.

And in this case? It was the discovery that I was out of toothpaste.

Which was obviously the end of the world and probably a direct result of some failure on my part and indicative of my value as a human being.

But I eventually unearthed a tiny travel sized tube of toothpaste, brushed my pearly whites, and lived to blog another day. Close call, right?

Bad moods happen to the best of us, but they don’t have to derail your day or infect your relationships. Really!  Here are 36 of my favorite ways to get out of a funk – and stop sniffling over toothpaste.

1. Start the flow of positive energy – do something good for someone else!
Maybe that’s popping quarters in an expired parking meter or just holding the door.

2. Do as many jumping jacks as you can

3. Play your favorite music super loud. Sing off key – at the top of your lungs
How off key can you get? Have a one-person dance party in front of the mirror, in your pajamas! (PS. This is one of my all-time favorite things to do when I’m stressed out.)

4. Indulge in your “guilty pleasures”  
Maybe that’s chocolate cake, back to back episodes of The Housewives of Beverly Hills, cheese and a stack of US Weekly magazines. Of course, these are guilty pleasures because we only do them once in a while.

5. Call a good friend and ask them out to dinner or a slumber party
A good friend – and a nice plate of pasta – can lift your spirits like no other.

6. Stay up till sunrise watching your favorite movies
Best to do this on a Friday or Saturday night (or you’ll be doomed to another grumpy, sleep-deprived day at work)

7. Yoga. Any kind!
Restorative, power flow or kundalini are my favorites.

8. Write a list of things that you appreciate right now
Focus intently on each of them and let the light build up inside you. Even on our worst of days, there are always things to be happy about.

9. Look through old photos – with a close friend or family member if possible.
These people can really dig into reminiscing about the good ol’ days. “Oh my god, remember when I used to wear my hair like that?!”

10. Plan your next vacation!
Start a vacation board on Pinterest. Grab a handful of travel magazines from the newsstand and give yourself over to daydreaming about all the adventures to be had. Book the flight, invite your best friends.

11. Remember the best kiss you ever had
Was it on a boardwalk in the rain? In the basement of your friend’s house? On a beach somewhere?

12. Go on an invigorating hike or walk. Surrender & breathe deep.
Few things are as healing as fresh air.

13. Plan a themed party!
Invite all your good friends and some new people, too! Think about how you can decorate your home in that theme, what dishes you can cook, what you will wear.

14. Try rock climbing
It’s an amazing workout and you’ll be so, so proud of yourself when you get to the top!

15. Load up your ipod with new music go for a walk through your favorite park or city streets.
Pretend this music is the soundtrack to the movie of your life.

Click here to Make Happiness a Habit!

16. Get dressed up and take yourself out to a fancy lunch or dinner
Pull that stylish black number out of the closet and make reservations at the buzzy new restaurant everyone is talking about.

17. Color your hair!  
You can always change it back.

18. Make cartoon shaped pancakes for breakfast
Top them with your favorite fruit and maybe some organic whipped cream!

19. Buy ridiculous pajamas
I personally have a ridiculous sock collection full of polka dots, stripes, cartoon characters, and reindeer. They make me happy every time I wear them!

20. Lie on your back in the sunshine  
Take a deep breath and smile.

21. Make a list of actionable, practical, reasonable ways you can improve your situation
Who can you talk to? What changes can you make?

22. Hug the friends you see today hello

23. Sleep the opposite way or sideways on your bed
Whenever I do this I feel like such a rogue!

24. Visit a favorite arts and craft store and make a friend a surprise package
Doing things for others – especially unexpected things – always improves my mood.

25. Chocolate.

26. Be optimistic and feel empowered
Search for the silver lining or a way that you can take ownership of your current situation.

27. Change the screensavers on your phone and laptop
What about a photo of your friends laughing hysterically or an image that just makes you smile?  I have a picture of my new, giggling niece and it thrills me every time I see it.

28. Spend an hour in a favorite department store smelling and sampling perfumes or cologne. 
When you find something you like, ask for a sample, tuck it in your pocket and use it for the next week.

29. Write a letter to your future self
Hide it somewhere you may forget – an old book, photo album, pocket of a rain coat. It will be a welcome surprise when you discover it years from now!

30. You know that exciting, overwhelming project you’ve been putting off?
Welp, now’s the time to throw yourself into it. It’s good if it feels a tad too big for you! It will be the fuel to your fire for weeks and months to come!

31. Walk around a vintage record or clothing shop
Imagine all the lives and memories these objects have seen.

32. Spend two hours watching the Biography Channel

33. Flirt
(Innocently) with the barista, the FedEx person, the front desk cutie.

34. Be interested
“Where did you get that?” “How did you learn how to do that?”

35. Be interesting
“Oh, didn’t I ever tell you about the time I hiked Kilimanjaro?”

36. Know that this too shall pass
Really. In a year, you’ll look back and wonder what the fuss was.

Climbing up and out of a bad mood is a life skill we should all master. And it can be as easy as laying in the sunshine or giving a real, deep hug. Promise.

Ready to take that happiness from today to every day?

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  1. Instead of hearing the same old same old antidotes for mood lifting, your suggestions are fresh and worthy. Thank you!

  2. Like this list – but how about a list of similar items that can be done from work? I think that is when we need to lift our moods the most.

  3. This is the best “how to be happier” list I’ve ever read. So many creative ideas that actually made me smile in my seat just reading them! 🙂

  4. If you haven done so yet, You should check out the poem “just for today” by Frank Crane 1921(I like this version). It’ll resonate well with your blog.

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