20 Simple Ways to Live Happily in Your 20s

Life is complicated. It doesn’t seem to get any easier as we get older, and supposedly “figure things out.” If we don’t cultivate practices for living a happy life now, we may never do it. Here are 20 easy ways that we can simplify life to its happiest and prioritize what really matters. In no particular order …

1. Prioritize work-life balance.

As far as it depends on you, walk away from work at a reasonable time each day. 

2. Get rid of your TV.

It will clear away some clutter in your life. Besides, what you really want to watch, you can watch on your computer. 

3. Practice mindful eating.

Do not multitask while eating. Savor. Put your utensil down between each bite. 

4. Get at least one form of exercise every day.

Even if that is a simple walk. Savor the gift of movement. 

5. Wear nice underwear for yourself.

...whenever you want. (Men, this applies to you too!)

6. Be honest.

Give yourself license to say what you think and what you need and what you truly believe. On the flip side, don't lie. Keeping up lies complicates your life. Make life simple and tell the truth. As Mark Twain said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

7. Ask yourself, “do I really need to buy that?”

...and also “what would I rather (eventually) buy instead?”

8. Put down your phone.

Look people in the eye when speaking with them. No telephones at the table, except maybe occasionally to take photos. 

9. Take public transportation instead of a car when possible.

Even better, walk and bike. 

10. Respond to emails within 48 hours.

This is a practice of many great leaders. It will clear your head and your inbox.

11. Get a pet.

Caring for something else brings simple meaning to your life.

12. Write personal holiday cards and thank you cards.

This gives you the chance to stay connected to important people without feeling pressured to check in all the time. This also gives you the chance to reflect on your year. Besides, deciding whom to send cards to each year is a good exercise in "pruning" and simplifying those relationships you choose to nurture. 

13. Do two major “clean outs” per year.

Get rid of stuff that you haven't used in the past six months, instead of holding onto stuff and memorabilia.

14. Walk slower.

Look around you. Do not text and walk. 

15. Invest in a hobby or a cause (besides work) bigger than yourself.

One that brings you life. Bowling … stand up comedy … cooking … Habitat for Humanity … knitting … Dungeons and Dragons … Throw yourself into it and don’t apologize!

16. Get some sun.

At least 15 minutes per day. Studies show that Vitamin D can boost your mood and prevent diseases such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, osteoporosis, and the flu. 

17. Put your friends and family members’ birthdays into your calendar

Set up a yearly repeat reminder a few days before each one. On their birthday, tell them a specific reason why you appreciate them, and not just via Facebook. 

18. Learn to cook 3 essential dishes:

Learn to cook something for breakfast/brunch (to impress a loved one), something to take to a dinner party or picnic (besides alcohol), and something cheap and nutritious that you can cook in bulk and freeze the leftovers (like soup or curry). Also remember: food with few ingredients is often tastier than those with more.

19. Invest in a good coat and a good suit.

Life is too short to be cold and miserable … and to be awkward in professional situations. 

20. Talk to a kid.

Don't treat children like nuisances or distractions. Treat them like adults. Ask them about themselves. Nothing is more humbling than talking to a child and realizing they are just as complex as you.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Catherine Skroch

Catherine Skroch is a George Mitchell Scholar pursuing her Masters in International Relations at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She studies mechanisms for healing survivors of trauma and conflict, with a special interest in food, nutrition, and building community around the table. To this end, she is also the founder and director of PeaceMeals, a program which facilitates healing for survivors of trauma through creative cooking classes and dinner parties. Before coming to Northern Ireland, Catherine was a Herbert Scoville Peace Fellow and Policy Associate at the Truman National Security Project, where she specialized in democracy, human rights, development, and nonproliferation policy. Prior to joining Truman, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, researching transitional justice via the Equity and Reconciliation Commission. While in Morocco, she worked at a medical rehabilitation center for victims of torture and advocated for the Right to Reparation. She has also conducted fieldwork research in Senegal on local resolutions to the civil war in the Casamance region. In addition, Catherine has volunteered with dialogue and reconciliation campagins in Israel/Palestine, and the inner city of Milwaukee. Her writing focuses on human rights, torture, rule of law issues, and foreign affairs. Catherine is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has vowed to never spend another freezing winter.

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