If you had to answer quickly, what would you say are the things that make you feel good about yourself? An acknowledgement at a team meeting from your boss, a compliment on your outfit from your co-worker, breaking 100 likes on an Instagram photo—all things out of your control, right?
The thing is, you have a lot more control of how happy you feel every day than you think. It just starts with developing some good personal habits.
In fact, these five daily habits are so easy to adopt you’ll be shocked how quickly you start to notice your mood improving.
1. Learn Something—Anything!—New
I’m not talking about reading the textbook cover-to-cover kind of learning. Rather, you should go into every day hoping to come out with new knowledge and insight into the world—whether that means sitting down with a team member from another department and learning about their latest project, or reading one chapter of a book each night, or even listening to a podcast.
Why does this make you feel good about yourself? For one, you can end every day knowing you’re just a bit smarter than yesterday (yes, I give you permission to make this claim). And, you’ll have a lot more to contribute—or brag about—to your friends or co-workers if you need some good small talk topics.
2. Get Up and Move Every Day
I hear you groaning, and I totally get it. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wish this wasn’t true. But, all the science out there says otherwise.
The good news is that you don’t have to constantly be training for a triathlon. Even the smallest workout, such as a walk around the block or a light yoga class can do the trick. Personally, I can always feel a difference in my mood, composure, and energy levels after I’ve moved around (especially when compared to how I feel after sitting around on my butt all day).
3. Give Yourself Pep Talks
As I said, most of our confidence comes from external factors—people telling us we’re awesome.
Well, why not tell yourself you’re awesome? You know what you like to hear, and you know your biggest pain points. Plus, it costs you nothing to try.
Want to know the best technique for self-talk? Talk to yourself using “you.” According to a 2014 article in Fast Company, psychologists have found that using the pronoun “you” (telling yourself, “You’re doing great”) is even better at improving your demeanor and disposition than “I” (telling yourself, “I’m doing great”). Basically, you’re your own best cheerleader.
4. Be Nice to Others
It’s sort of counterintuitive, but even on your worst days, turning your crankiness into a helping hand, or a kind gesture, or even just a smile, makes not just the other person happier—but you, too.
Really, just ask science. In one study, shared in Time, for example, showed that participants who thought compassionately about others experienced “an overall increase in positive emotions, like joy, interest, amusement, serenity, and hope after completing the class.” And all they did was just think about being nice!
5. Be Nice to Yourself
Finally, the easiest and almost-too-obvious habit: Take care of yourself.
Now obviously, this looks different to different people. To me, it means having a nice, warm shower every evening and a clean bed to crawl into at night. For others, it could mean eating a healthy breakfast or getting at least eight hours of sleep.
Figure out what makes you feel good and do it every day. Maybe that means setting aside alone time in the evenings (calling all introverts), or maybe it means scheduling a weekend get-together with friends to look forward to after a long week (calling all extroverts). Feeling good about yourself starts from within, so make sure you’re making it easy for yourself.
There are probably a lot more habits that boost your confidence that are particular to your routine or personality. Whatever they are, make them a part of your daily routine. Because you deserve to feel great all the time—no matter what life throws at you.
By Alyse Kalish – Previously an editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She’s written almost 500 articles for The Muse on anything from productivity tips to cover letters to bad bosses to cool career changers, many of which have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., CNBC’s Make It, USA Today College, Lifehacker, Mashable, and more. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer and reader, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.