A happy life is the ultimate goal for most people, but what does it take to be happy? We all know healthy, wealthy, beautiful people that are miserable, so it must take something else to be happy. But what? What’s the big secret?

While these ideas will not work for everyone, there are several things that most happy people have in common.

Adding at least a few items to your life will make you smile more frequently:

  1. Something to look forward to. Think about how much more you enjoy your life when you have something on the horizon to look forward to. It could be a vacation, Christmas, a baby on the way, or the pending release of a new book. What can you plan soon that would excite you? 
  2. Someone to love. It’s important to have someone to love and someone that loves you. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. A child, or even a pet, can fill that role. There are many people alone in the world. You need only to reach out to them.

  3. Challenge. It has been shown that humans require a certain amount of stress to thrive. This is eustress, as opposed to distress. Eustress is positive because it’s uplifting to work through a challenge. It feels awesome to win! 
  4. A meaningful way to spend your time. This isn’t quite the same as challenge. Volunteering at your church or a charity might not be challenging, but it can be meaningful. It’s important to feel you matter. 
  5. Fun. Who doesn’t like fun? A little fun now and then is crucial. However, it’s also important to enjoy it in limited quantities. For example, riding a roller coaster might be fun. But riding a roller coaster 50 times in one day isn’t fun.

  6. Other people. No matter how introverted you might be, it’s necessary to spend at least a little time with others each week. That doesn’t mean you must attend two parties every week. Meeting for lunch with a close friend might be all the human contact you require. It’s up to you.
  7. Personal growth. People are happy when they’re making progress in life. There are many ways to experience progress. It might be your waistline, health, knowledge, wisdom, golf game, or your piano skills. Knowing you’re better at something today than you were last year is a great feeling.

How happy are you? What can you do to make yourself happier? The items in this list are important, but the list isn’t exhaustive. Add a few items to your life and brainstorm a few more ideas.

Avoid the trap of believing money and possessions are the keys to happiness. Studies have shown they are not.

You can make yourself happier by taking control of your life and focusing on the things that make a difference to you. Soon, you’ll feel greater fulfillment and realize that you’ve built a life you enjoy.

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