Most believe that happiness is just a feeling you sometimes stumble upon — if you’re one of the lucky ones. But what if it were possible to actually unlock it and have it readily available to you by using specific keys to a happy life?
It turns out there are very specific things you can do to experience more happiness in your life. But before getting into the 10 keys to a happy life, let’s explore what happiness truly is and why it’s so important.
What is happiness?
Happiness is often thought of as any positive emotion. Words that people will often use to describe being happy include bliss, joy, gratitude, contentment, delight and enjoyment.
Yet these terms aren’t specific enough for happiness researchers because they want something they can measure. Researchers tend to define happiness as “subjective well-being.” And this means that the more satisfied people describe themselves as being along with the amount of positive emotion they experience, the greater their subjective well-being and the greater their happiness.
What this points out is that happiness is about much more than a fleeting or temporary emotion. Happiness is about the experience of more positive than negative emotions and an overall sense of satisfaction with your life.
Why being happy is important?
It turns out that there are more benefits to happiness than just a general sense of feeling good.
There is scientific evidence to suggest that being happy may make you healthier.
- When you’re happy, you’re more likely to have healthier lifestyle habits including a healthier diet, getting regular exercise, even better sleep.
- Your immune system is stronger so you’re less likely to catch colds. You’re more resilient to stress.
- Happiness can help lower blood pressure.
- Happy people tend to live longer.
- Your perception of pain may be reduced — especially if you have a chronic pain condition like arthritis.
It also suggests that you’ll be more successful across multiple areas of your life besides your health. These areas include marriage, friendship, work performance, community involvement, and mental health.
The same research even shows that happiness precedes many different types of success. In other words, we start to achieve more of our goals and find greater satisfaction in our lives when we’re happy.
What’s interesting is that there isn’t just one way to find happiness. Happiness, just like every other emotion is a personal experience.
Despite its personal nature, you can often recognize happiness in others — just as they can recognize it in you.
The problem is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for happiness. That’s because it is a subjective experience. What makes you happy may not make others happy. Because we are all unique, what exactly brings you joy will be unique, too. However, there are some similarities.
Happiness is easier to attain when you have a positive attitude and tend to be a glass-half-full person. It’s also easier when you can manage your emotions and thoughts and redirect them toward happiness when appropriate.
When you decide to be happy, you’re taking responsibility for your happiness. You’re not letting someone else have control over whether you’re feeling contentment or happiness, but if they contribute to it, that’s icing on the cake.
Taking this responsibility means you’re going to do what’s necessary to experience more joy in your life. You’ll look for ways to increase the pleasure you experience in each and every day.
What are some areas to examine to see if you can dial up your happiness?
- Live (or Work) in the Moment
Don’t get stressed thinking about things you have to do later on. Simply focus on what’s at hand in the moment, and tackle whatever you need to do now. You’ll be significantly less worried–but also more effective.
- Find Resilience
The scariest times are not when we’re overwhelmed or stressed–they’re when we can’t come back from our moments of feeling like we’re drowning. Teach your brain to be able to bounce back from strenuous situations, and reduce your overdrive.
- Manage Your Energy
Don’t get worked up over things that ultimately won’t matter in the long run. Instead, keep your thoughts for only the most important things. Wasting your mental capacity on people or thoughts that don’t matter has never been an effective way of spending one’s time.
- Do Nothing
While we all have obligations we have to take care of, doing nothing allows us to tap into our creativity. You’ll come up with more ideas in the long run.
- Treat Yourself Well
The way we treat our own bodies reflects how we want others to see us. Regarding our own faults with compassion instead of anger leaves you more likely to recover from your mistakes.
- Venture Outside Your Comfort Zone
Playing it safe is easier–but not the best way to grow. Your brain is supposed to build new skills, but there’s no way to learn them unless we push ourselves outside of what you already know. Your comfort zone is nothing but a boundary to break.
- Show Compassion Outwardly
Validating the opinions and feelings of others allows you to form valuable connections. Do not underestimate the power of empathy. Showing compassion is the way to building successful relationship–and connections–that can only help you in the future.
8. Be Grateful
An attitude of gratitude, practicing appreciation and accepting “what is” can all influence how happy you feel. Research in positive psychology has verified that there is a positive association between being grateful and happy.
Part of focusing on gratitude means that you’re not complaining or focusing on worry without searching for the cause to resolve it.
9. Share Your Happiness
Sharing your happiness is one fairly easy way to expand your happiness and that of those you encounter. You can share it through a great story, a hug, a kind word, or even a smile.
10. Be yourself
It’s nearly impossible to be happy when you don’t allow yourself to be who you truly are. When you try to mold yourself into who someone else wants you to be, or who you think you should be you’re disrespecting yourself.
And it’s pretty hard to be happy when you’re disrespecting yourself and pretending to be someone you’re not.
When you truly embrace your imperfections and unique perspective, you become confident. Confidence then allows you to more fully explore your world and place in it. And the exploration allows you to expand your limits.
Think of it as a confidence-happiness cycle. As you get to know yourself, you feel more confident and experience more contentment.
Finding happiness isn’t always easy. Sometimes we have challenges that we need support to overcome. Sometimes that support and encouragement can come from family, friends or a life coach.
If you find that you have difficulty finding or sustaining happiness no matter what you do, it might be a good idea to talk with a therapist. Therapists are trained to help people find the support they need to begin finding their keys to a happy life.
The good thing is that you have the capacity to experience happiness as more than just a fleeting emotion. You just need to find your unique keys to unlocking your wellbeing and contentment.