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20 Best Positive Psychology Exercises & Activities to Boost Happiness

20 Positive Psychology Exercises, Techniques & Activities For Adults To Boost Happiness

When it comes to positive psychology exercises and techniques, we can say that this is a relatively new field of study, but it has already made great strides in understanding what makes people happy.

This branch of psychology does not just focus on mental health and illness but instead views these two concepts as interrelated. One way to increase your happiness according to positive psychologists is by practicing certain exercises or engaging in specific activities every day.

According to Baker (2003), self-care activities also have the potential to improve self-awareness, self-regulation, coping, and balancing of self and others. There are many ways you can use positive psychology techniques to boost your level of happiness today.

While techniques like meditation and journaling can boost happiness, identifying and strategically applying your unique strengths is a powerful catalyst for positive change and one of the most widely researched positive psychology exercises in itself. The HIGH5 strengths assessment reveals your top strengths so you can purposefully leverage them to increase happiness, fulfillment, and overall well-being.

In this article, we’ll explore 20 practices, alongside the HIGH5 approach, to help you maximize your individual potential for flourishing.

What is a positive psychology exercise?

Positive psychology exercises are a form of therapy that helps you improve your mental health in simple ways. When we say ‘positive’ we aren’t just talking about the things you like and enjoy, but we also mean the positive emotions and actions you can take.

The idea of positive psychology is that it focuses on what makes people happy, which is why so many people are interested in its development. Happiness plays a major role in our lives when it comes to flourishing, because if we aren’t happy, then we simply can’t flourish.

Positive psychology interventions help us to develop the characteristics needed for happiness, without having to rely solely on medication or therapy sessions with experts. When you use positive psychology techniques and exercises you’ll be able to improve your mental state and make progress toward greater psychological well-being over time.

Positive psychology exercises can also be used as a supplement for therapy and medication by mental health professionals when discussing further options with doctors or specialists.

What is a Positive Psychology Exercise & Why is It Important

Moreover, when it comes to positive psychology exercises and techniques, there are plenty of them to try out. There is no need to stick with the same things over and over again.

You can use positive psychology techniques and exercises for a long time without getting bored or feeling like you’ve done it too many times before. Even if you do repeat some positive psychology exercises, they will still have the same effects on your mental health every time you practice them.

The value of doing these exercises is that the more you practice, the better your mental health will be. This is one of the reasons why positive psychologists recommend staying with these exercises for a long time.

So many people only practice one or two exercises, then they give up. The more you practice positive psychology exercises and techniques, the better your mental health will be.

20 exercises for positive psychology

We will discuss in-depth every practice. But first, let’s cover a list of 20 exercises and practices:

  1. Giving & receiving compliments
  2. Releasing stress with meditation or yoga
  3. Positive affirmations
  4. Writing in a gratitude journal
  5. Mindful eating
  6. Doing a good deed for someone else
  7. Making a list of things you’re grateful for (and practicing gratitude)
  8. Get proper sleep
  9. Learn to take responsibility
  10. Make a wish list
  11. Write a letter to yourself
  12. Learn something new every day
  13. Practice mindfulness techniques
  14. Change one bad habit into a good one
  15. Meditation exercise
  16. Give back to your community
  17. Become someone you admire
  18. Take a “time out” every day
  19. Talking about your problems with someone you trust
  20. Take a mini-vacation every week

20 Best Positive Psychology Exercises & Activities to Boost Happiness

1. Giving & receiving compliments

This means that you have to give out compliments freely. It’s hard for us to accept compliments sometimes, which is why we don’t do this too often. If someone tells us that we did a good job or something similar, we deny it and think about the things we didn’t do well instead of all the good things. This is not productive.

The key to accepting compliments gracefully and giving them back in return is practicing. When you keep doing it over and over again, you’ll see how easy it can be to just smile and say ‘thank you. It won’t feel weird anymore either. You’ll find yourself offering genuine compliments to other people without even thinking about it.

2. Releasing stress with meditation or yoga

Stress is one of the biggest enemies of our mental health. When we feel stressed out, it’s hard to think straight and it affects our emotions greatly. It has an impact on our overall physiology too. As such, practicing a type of meditation or yoga is an excellent way to manage stress. There are even some short forms of meditation that you can do in just five minutes every day.

3. Positive affirmations

Positive affirmations are a huge part of positive psychology. They work by programming your mind to say things that will make you feel better about yourself, which of course boosts your mental health.

After all, if you don’t love and accept yourself fully, how can you expect anyone else to? When it comes to positive affirmations everyone is different. Everyone has different insecurities and worries that they need to overcome with these exercises.

It’s very important to start with easy ones and then when you feel more confident move on to harder ones. As long as you keep practicing them eventually, the confidence will grow stronger within you. And just like meditation and yoga, there are many short versions of this exercise that only take a few minutes every day.

4. Writing in a gratitude journal

This might seem like a boring activity, but when you write about positive experiences in your own words it can help your mental health out. Sometimes we can’t find the words to express how we feel and even when it comes to writing some of us get writer’s block. It’s not always easy and there are no shortcuts for this one. But if you do keep at it eventually, over time you will improve.

5. Mindful eating

When we eat mindlessly, food consists only of taste sensations and nothing else. However, mindful eating involves taking the time to savor each bite and paying attention to the food inside your mouth and how it feels. Sounds weird, right? But try it out and you’ll be surprised by the results.

6. Doing a good deed for someone else

Good deeds cannot only make those who are receiving them feel better, but they also work as positive psychological exercises that help improve our mental health. It’s been proven that when we do something nice for someone else or even just hear about good work being done, our happiness levels increase.

There’s no need to go around with charity in mind all the time, but doing one good thing a day will give this exercise more effect on your mental health than you think.

7. Make a list of things you’re grateful for (and practicing gratitude)

Everyone knows the benefits of practicing gratitude and it is one of the most commonly used positive psychology exercises out there. After all, it’s not that difficult to come up with things you’re grateful for (when push comes to shove just think about your amazing family or good health).

If you want to do this exercise better, keep a journal in which you write down three new things that you are grateful for every week.

Gaining clarity on your innate strengths through the HIGH5 assessment can enhance this practice further. When you understand your top strengths, you develop a deeper sense of self-appreciation and gratitude for the unique positive traits that make you thrive. This self-awareness allows you to consciously apply your strengths while feeling grateful for them.

8. Get proper sleep

It’s no secret that when we don’t get enough sleep, we have a lower mental health status. One of the main reasons for this is that we are much more irritable and prone to emotional outbursts. This means it’s important to make sure you get at least six hours of quality sleep every night, but if your schedule permits, eight hours is even better.

9. Learn to take responsibility

Taking responsibility for our actions and mistakes in life is an important part of mental health as well as personal growth. As people, we need to learn what works for us and what doesn’t by observing the consequences of our actions.

If something goes wrong, sometimes the best thing we can do is to try to figure out exactly what went wrong and why. This exercise doesn’t always have to be hard but it can be if you decide to make it so. Just remember the golden rule of taking responsibility: you will only get out what you put in.

10. Make a wish list

Making a wish list is one of those things that we think about doing, but never actually do. The idea is simple enough though; create a list of things you want or need and then try to get them (if possible).

It might seem easy, but when was the last time you sat down and wrote out exactly what you wanted? Everyone has something they can think of right away, some people are even able to narrow it down into three short sentences.

11. Write a letter to yourself

We all have regrets in life. Some of us don’t let these regrets get the best of us and just try to make the most of them because there’s no other option, but others tend to hide away from accepting that they made mistakes or regret doing something in the past.

However, a good way to approach this problem is by writing yourself a letter where you describe how you feel about what happened and why you wish it had ended differently (and then read that letter).

It may not be easy at first, but when it comes down to your mental health it’s better than letting those feelings fester. When you do this consistently, it will become like a series of psychological interventions that you self-perform each and every time you do so.

12. Learn something new every day

Learning new things has many positive effects on our lives. This exercise doesn’t have to be difficult either, it can start small and just involve learning a new word every day or something you never thought about before. If you want to take it to the next level and make this exercise beneficial for your mental health, however, try committing to learning one thing every day that will help improve yourself in some way.

13. Practice mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness has been proven as an effective psychological technique in which you are encouraged to do things that increase self-awareness. We often think we know ourselves well but that’s not always true.

Learning about yourself is a great way of boosting happiness – whether it’s by practicing activities like yoga or meditating on what makes you the person that you are today. In line with this, the HIGH5 strengths assessment provides science-backed insights into your most powerful natural abilities, allowing you to mindfully observe, appreciate, and apply them for personal growth.

With this clear understanding, you can practice mindfulness while consciously leveraging your strengths in all areas of life

14. Change one bad habit into a good one

Bad habits are those things that we do because it feels good or is easy but in the long run, they can lead to something worse. An example might be biting your fingernails which eventually leads to needing a manicure or going to bed late at night and being tired at work the following day.

This exercise involves changing one bad habit into something positive and beneficial for you (an example would be replacing smoking with baking). You don’t have to eliminate the bad habit, just substitute it with something that will give you other, more health benefits.

15. Meditation exercise

Learning how to meditate may seem like a difficult task but it’s just a matter of sitting in stillness and learning to appreciate breathing. Meditation doesn’t always have to be practiced for extended periods either, sometimes you can achieve great mental benefits from just taking ten minutes out of your day to sit quietly with yourself.

The best thing about meditation is that it is something you can practice for the rest of your life since many different techniques exist (to name a few: Vipassana, Dzogchen, and Yoga Nidra).

16. Give back to your community

Giving back to the community around us is valuable because we get as much out of the action as those who receive our services or goods. Use this opportunity to get creative and come up with ways you can benefit others, whether it’s donating your time regularly or volunteering at an animal shelter. Also, make sure to listen to what their needs are.

17. Become someone you admire

Many people spend so much time thinking that they’ll never be able to become as great as their favorite celebrity/role model, but why not? Who says we can’t become someone better than our idols simply by practicing the qualities they have? We can take something we admire about them and implement it into our own lives.

While admiring role models is natural, true fulfillment comes from striving to become the best version of your authentic self. The HIGH5 strengths assessment reveals your unique positive qualities and talents.

By mindfully developing and applying these innate strengths, you can shape an extraordinary life aligned with your values and potential. Rather than emulating others, embrace and amplify the strengths that make you genuinely remarkable.

18. Take a “time out” every day

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with your emotions or going through a bad day, try to take time for yourself and recharge. A simple exercise would be going to some quiet corner of the house where there are no disturbances and doing absolutely nothing but appreciating relaxing silence.

If you feel like this is too difficult, try listening to music or call a friend who will listen to whatever is on your mind without passing judgment.

19. Talking about your problems with someone you trust

It’s not always easy opening up about your problems with others, especially if it concerns feelings that make you look weak in someone’s eyes (some people have built up walls of emotional abuse and don’t want to feel vulnerable).

Talking about your problems with someone you trust is important because they can give you advice from their own positive and negative experiences and help you find a way to solve the problem. If they are truly loved ones, they’ll do everything in their power to help.

20. Take a mini-vacation every week

To live a meaningful life, we all need some time off from work and life in general, so why not take weekly vacations? This could mean getting away for just one weekend or even an hour alone during the week.

The point is to relax and clear your mind by doing something simple, like sitting down with a good book, going for a walk, or cooking.

Pro Tip From HIGH5

As you plan your weekly mini-vacation, consider how you can rejuvenate by engaging in activities that allow you to apply your unique strengths. For example, if creativity is a top strength, take a look into the actionable insights provided by the HIGH5 platform for your strength and schedule time for an artistic hobby you’re passionate about.

Bonus: Unlock Your Potential with Strengths

While the positive psychology practices covered so far can boost happiness, one of the most powerful paths to sustained fulfillment is discovering and intentionally applying your unique strengths. The HIGH5 strengths assessment provides a scientifically validated way to uncover your greatest natural talents and abilities.

By taking the HIGH5 test, you gain invaluable insights into what makes you thrive as an individual. Understanding your top strengths allows you to amplify them strategically across all areas of life for maximum efficacy and authenticity. For example, if creativity emerges as one of your profound strengths, you can purposefully craft more opportunities to innovate and express yourself through artistic outlets.

Beyond self-discovery, the HIGH5 approach yields insights for building high-performing teams and organizational cultures. When a group’s collective strengths are identified and optimized, a synergistic effect takes hold where each member thrives while accomplishing shared goals more effectively.

If you’re ready to unlock your full potential through the transformative power of a strengths-based approach, take the first step by taking the strengths test now.

What techniques are used in positive psychology?

The techniques, activities, and exercises implemented in positive psychology are intended to help individuals feel happier and more fulfilled. Some of the techniques include meditation, journaling, self-help books, or attending meetings with others who share similar goals.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these techniques and activities.

Meditation and mindfulness

Meditation is a very popular technique used in positive psychology, but this concept can be confusing for those who are brand new to it. The exercise itself is simple – the person meditates to achieve a calm and focused state of mind.

This can be done through yoga, sitting cross-legged on the floor, or lying down in bed with your eyes closed. The goal behind meditation is to clear your mind of all old thoughts that may be holding you back from being happy.

You typically start by focusing on one thing – whether it’s an object or a visualization that sits in front of you – while blocking out any outside distractions trying their hardest to pull you away from achieving a sense of inner peace.

Understanding that you have the power to control your thoughts is a great way to start developing a sense of mindfulness and achieve happiness just by focusing on what’s in front of you. This will give you major life satisfaction if done consistently over time.


Journaling is a simple technique that many people use as an outlet for their emotions, whether it be good or bad. A positive psychologist would recommend picking up a notebook and writing down anything that comes to mind – whether it was something funny or something negative that happened throughout the day.

There are no rules with journaling because it allows you to explore your creativity while still getting your feelings out in the open. Writing things down will help you feel like there’s someone listening which can be quite liberating in many ways.

Self-help books

It can be very helpful to read a book written by someone who has overcome difficulties similar to your own and lived to tell the tale (so you know it’s possible).

This is one of the most popular techniques used in positive psychology for both children and adults because reading books can help you feel inspired, motivated, or even empowered. Knowing that you’re not alone is an important part of this technique because we are all human and have our bad days too.

Design a beautiful day

Make it your goal to create a beautiful day for yourself – whether it means starting with a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper or watching your favorite TV show.

The key here is simply because you want a relaxing, enjoyable morning that will give you lots of good vibes throughout the rest of the day.

Find your voice

Trying something new can be scary and intimidating, but doing so is very beneficial to your mental health by helping you grow as an individual. There are many different ways in which to try new things, such as relocating if you’re unhappy where you live or finding your passion in life through taking classes at a community college.

This technique isn’t just meant for those who feel their daily life is lacking creativity, but it can be used to help people who are feeling negative emotions as well.

For example, if you feel sad one day and you try your best to cheer yourself up only to find that nothing works, then why not try something new?

What is the P.E.R.M.A. model in positive psychology?

The P.E.R.M.A. model stands for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

These are the five positive components that contribute to overall subjective well-being. The model suggests that you should prioritize your everyday life around these five activities to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle. There’s no wrong way of doing things because everyone’s priorities will be different from one another.

P – Positive emotion

Positive emotions are vital for your psychological health because they help you feel good about yourself and your life overall. Having positive experiences such as laughing and smiling releases endorphins which can make you happier and more at ease emotionally.

Positive emotions also lead to better performance in several areas of life, including relationships, work, and school.

E – Engagement

Engagement is the second part of the P.E.R.M.A. model that refers to how much time you spend on activities that bring value to your own life. Outside of family, friends, and loved ones, many people spend a lot of their time doing things that aren’t meaningful or rewarding in any way.

One important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just about doing fun things, but it’s also about spending time on activities that will help you develop skills and grow as a person.

R – Positive relationships

Relationships are the bonds we have with other people. These can affect our mental health more than we think. Strong emotional connections can make us feel good when we’re down or help us get through our difficult times.

They can be challenging to nurture, which is why many of us struggle to maintain connections throughout our lives. This means that sometimes, making a conscious decision to work a positive relationship that matters the most to you is vital.

M – Meaning

Meaning refers to what brings value and significance to your life. We all need something or someone to look up to, something that will motivate us and help us build a better future for ourselves. Understanding who / what gives that special meaning to your life is an important exercise to go through.

A – Accomplishment

Accomplishment is the final part of the P.E.R.M.A. model which involves setting goals and achieving what you want in life as long as it brings value to your overall well-being.

For example, if you have some extra time on your hands, why not make use of it by volunteering? When we accomplish our personal goals, we feel empowered and proud of ourselves because we know that hard work pays off in the long run.

Exercises for positive psychology FAQ

What are positive psychology exercises for groups?

Group exercises are one of the most effective ways to increase cohesion and support. Group exercises can be used in a variety of settings, ranging from schools to corporate offices.

Positive psychology group exercises include:

  • Creative writing
  • Mental health walking programs
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Meditation
  • Problem-solving
  • Group challenges
  • Project-based activities

Do positive psychology exercises work?

Group exercises can be very powerful when done properly. Many of them are designed to build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, especially among people who don’t know each other well yet.

The exercises should be designed to have a positive impact on one or more aspects of your life, such as social relationships and social skills. They are also effective at providing activities that you can do regularly to improve yourself and have more positive events in your life.

This is because many of them are simple yet effective, allowing you to incorporate them into your daily routine with ease.

What is the ‘three good things’ positive psychology exercise?

The “three good things” exercise involves writing down three positive experiences or things that went well each day. This practice helps to shift focus from negative to positive aspects of life, fostering gratitude and improving mental well-being by reinforcing positive emotions.

Overall Conclusion

According to positive psychology exercises, the goal of your life is to make a difference. Every one of us has something unique about ourselves that can be developed into something great with enough hard work and dedication.

By using positive psychology exercises, you’ll be able to learn how to spot the things that make you happy or just bring a smile to your face. You’ll be able to reframe negative events and turn them into positive ones. Positive psychology exercises can also help you find out what it is that makes you feel fulfilled and help you grow as a person in every aspect of life.

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