1. Make eye contact with five strangers throughout the day and smile like you mean it at every single one of them. The positive energy you’ll receive in exchange for distributing a few extra grins to a few unsuspecting passersby will prove worthwhile (unless of course you creep people out).
2. Give someone you know a thoughtful compliment. Don’t just comment on what they’re wearing, or robotically mention that their kids are adorable. Think about who this person is, and what you genuinely admire about them. Tell them.
3. Start fake laughing and see how little time goes by before you’re actually cracking up. Works every time.
4. Call your mom or dad and ask them lots of questions. Force yourself to stay on the phone longer than usual chatting about the stuff that’s important to them.
5. Ask your parents about their pasts. Don’t underestimate the value of the lessons they learned through dating and struggling as a young adult. You might be surprised by how not-so-different things were, and by how many helpful insights they have to share.
6. Read a news story on a subject you know nothing about and figure out what the hell’s going on in the world outside your regular bubble.
7. Be kind to a total stranger for no reason at all, with no expectation of gratitude. It could be as simple as holding the door open for longer than etiquette dictates necessary, or keeping the elevator doors from closing on someone as they rush into the lobby.
8. Set aside an hour during which you don’t respond to any of the noises your phone makes to remind yourself that your phone can almost always wait.
9. Read a certain number of pages in a book without stopping to check the time or go to the bathroom or look at your phone.
10. Set your alarm for fifteen minutes earlier than usual and use the extra time to slow down the following morning.
11. Exercise for five minutes longer than you normally do.
12. Downsize your wardrobe by purging it of all the items you haven’t actually worn in the last two years. Donate those extra clothes to charity, give them away to friends, or consign them.
13. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator for an entire day.
14. Make up a joke that’s entirely your own. It doesn’t have to be good. Bad jokes are often funnier anyway.
15. Try your new joke out in conversation, even if you’re 99 percent sure it’ll flop. The failure might be more hilarious than any zinger of a punchline.
16. Go out of your way to help a fellow classmate or an underling at work. Offer to take them out to coffee, or pop by unexpectedly to give them a useful tip.
17. Establish a spending limit for the day and don’t break your own budgetary constraints.
18. Learn a new word. Flip a dictionary to a random page and point, or choose a letter and start combing through the options online until a word strikes your fancy. Commit the chosen definition to memory.
19. Use the new word you learned in a sentence again and again until it feels like second nature. Et voila! Your personal lexicon’s one word richer.
20. Instead of ordering takeout, get creative in the kitchen and make do with whatever’s in the fridge.
21. Drink one less cup of coffee or one less glass of wine than you usually do.
22. Reach out to an old friend directly with thoughtful questions about what they’re up to instead of combing through their social feeds to get the catch-up fix you crave.
23. Ask yourself what cause you genuinely care about. Make a small donation to a related charity.
24. Congratulate someone who deserves it.
25. Call your brother or sister and reminisce together the way only siblings can.
26. Find a cool Kickstarter project that inspires you and pledge to back it.
27. Commit to doing something culturally enriching a few weeks down the line. Buy tickets to a concert even if they cost more than you’d like, or plan a museum visit with a friend.
28. Set aside some time to cross every lingering item off your To Do list so you can start the next day fresh.
29. Put some money in a savings account, even if it seems like an embarrassingly small amount.
30. Take a walk midday no matter how busy you are.
31. Take the long way home and use the extra time to think.
32. Ban yourself from social media for a certain timeframe and hold yourself accountable to the self-imposed restriction.
33. Do something alone that you’d normally ask a friend to do with you. Go to the movies, eat at table for one, or try a new exercise class all by yourself.
34. Meditate for five minutes, even if you have no idea what meditating entails, exactly. Just close your eyes, sit still, and try to let go.
35. Write down a list of your future hopes, dreams, and goals, no matter how ridiculous or crazy they seem.