How to hold on to joy and prolong feelings of happiness

The secret to feeling happier for longer? According to experts, it’s all about knowing how to flex our happiness muscles. In the same way that better physical health comes from being mindful and consistent about what’s beneficial for our bodies, we can also set intentions and form daily habits that’ll help us hold on to happiness and prolong those warming feelings.


“There isn’t a unique definition for happiness, other than that happiness is that calm, peaceful feeling that you get when life is going your way,” explains Mo Gawdat, a happiness expert and the inspirational ambassador behind our 14-day Happiness Challenge. “It’s those times when you would not mind if life stays exactly as it is right now, for a long time.”


While we’ve all revelled in those warming moments of calm and balance that Gawdat describes, knowing how to get back there when the fuzzy feeling seems out of reach can seem like a tricky task. But this, according to well-being experts, is where you can actually train your mind to return to what Gawdat calls our ‘default’ way of being – a state of happiness.


Ready to explore how you can prolong your own feelings of happiness? Whether it’s the changing of seasons, an unexpected setback, or perhaps periods of stress that tend to derail your happiness train, try these tips and techniques to reawaken joy and make yourself happier, for longer.


Practice gratitude

Cultivating gratitude, and trading negative emotions for positive ones, can help to instil a sense of purpose and give you more control of your emotions,” says Dominique Antiglio, a sophrologist and the founder of BeSophro. “Practicing gratitude can really transform how you approach daily life – it brings a burst of happiness into your day and supports good overall mental health and wellbeing.” Read our guide to learn even more about the glorious benefits of cultivating gratitude.

Savour the little things

By savouring life’s small pleasures, it can become easier to feel happy no matter how our circumstances may change, notes Ray Sadoun, a mental health and recovery specialist. “The best things in life can be enjoyed year-round, from going on long walks with friends to making your favourite breakfast on a Sunday morning. Though we may not have as many sunny days to look forward to at the moment, we can get excited by the prospect of wrapping ourselves in a blanket on a rainy day or putting the fire on when it’s cold outside.”


Journal your thoughts

“Writing it all down has been a life-changing daily routine for me,” says Ali McDowall, a mental health campaigner and co-founder of The Positive Planner. “Simply picking up a pen and letting it all out for five minutes a day can really change your outlook on things, and encourage resourceful thinking around tricky areas of your life.”


Antiglio agrees, noting that it can help to spend a few minutes each day jotting down at least one thing (though ideally, try aiming for three) that you’re grateful for or that makes you feel happy. “It’s going to remind you of the best things in life, even when challenges might be making you feel the opposite,” she explains. Keen to try it? Read our guide to mindful writing.


Take 10 minutes

“One of the best techniques you can implement to look after your wellbeing and boost daily happiness is to simply make time for yourself regularly,” says Antiglio. “Just 10 minutes a day dedicated to looking after yourself is certainly worth it. If sitting still in meditation isn’t your thing, try something more dynamic like sophrology.”


New to sophrology? Antiglio recommends a technique called The Pump to help release pent-up stress:

  • Stand tall, close your eyes, allow your arms to fall by your sides
  • Mentally locate where in the body you feel the stress, anxiety or tension, and clench your fists
  • Exhale through your mouth, take a deep breath in through your nose, and hold the breath
  • Now ‘pump’ both your shoulders up and down until you need to breathe out – this pumping action helps to oxygenate the brain
  • As you exhale, allow your clenched fists to relax, visualising all your tension and anxiety draining out through your fingertips
  • Repeat the process for as long as you need to release any lingering agitation


Want to discover more secrets about happiness? Join the Rituals Happiness Challenge, with Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer at Google [X] and author of Solve for Happy. It’s a 14-day interactive journey that will transform your life and help you find true, long-lasting happiness.