It’s one of life’s big questions: what is the key to happiness and how can I get it?
While people have been asking themselves this question for years, doctors have been researching the idea too and looking at the key factors that make for a truly happy life.
After years of research, experts from around the world have picked out a number of factors they say can help you live a happier and fuller life.
Do things for others
Giving back to others and the world around you is hugely important when it comes to personal happiness. Scientist were able to tangibly measure peoples’ happiness based on this idea and found that we are much happier when we give to others rather than take. In the words of Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.
Find ways to bounce back
Resilience is an important factor when it comes to happiness. Having the ability to bounce back from hardship and find ways to break through the tough times goes a long way towards building a happier life. Embracing the idea that we are stronger for what we’ve gone through makes us more accepting of the world around us and more equipped to deal with everything life throws our way.
Be part of something bigger
Contributing to something bigger than yourself helps you to feel connected, both with others and the world around you. Whether you’re volunteering with a charity, contributing to a cause close to your heart, or staying involved in your local community, finding these connections and sticking to them can give you a purpose outside of your usual bubble.
Make friends and family a priority
According to studies, one of the best ways to get happy and stay happy is to form strong and life-long bonds with your friends and family. Doctors stress the importance of making time for your loved ones and spending real quality time together away from day-to-day distractions.
This is a big one. Everyone goes through phases on of self-doubt and self-loathing, some more than others, but learning to love who you are goes a long way towards finding personal happiness. It’s not always easy, and some people may need a little help along the way, but doctors say the sooner you learn to love yourself, the sooner you’ll find everlasting happiness. “Leading a happy life is an inside job,” Dr Laura Anderson told Starts at Sixty. “Too many people believe that their happiness comes from other people. We are responsible for our own happiness and wellbeing.”
Income equality helps
They say money isn’t everything, but when it comes to happiness it seems that money really does play a big part. Interestingly though, it’s more about having a similar amount of money to those around you rather than just having lots of it. People who live in Scandinavian countries, where income equality is highly regarded and closely monitored, are routinely named as the happiest in the world. When everyone is on equal footing there are less opportunities for comparison and feelings of missing out because you don’t have as much as everyone else.
The health factor
The correlation between health and happiness has been evident for a long time now with doctors saying that how we treat our bodies has a huge effect on our minds, too. The beauty in this is that it’s so simple to do. Eat right and exercise regularly and you’ll be feeling the benefits in no time at all. It’s not about the physical factors either; Dr Anderson says a healthy mind can create a happy mind too. “Writing down three things that you are grateful for in the morning and in the evening as you have completed your day is a very positive start. We have to remember that our thoughts create our reality.”
Don’t overdo it
Our lives are busier than ever these days, with more people in the work force and greater demands placed on us at home and in society. It can be difficult not to let it all get to you, but doctors encourage people to avoid the trap of over-committing to engagements, work and family issues. Taking time for yourself is important as it allows you to reset and recharge.
Let it go
Learning to let go can sometimes be difficult, but it’s a huge part of finding that inner-peace and happiness we spend so much time searching for. Whether it’s a mistake you made, a grudge you’re still holding onto, or a regret you can’t forget, finding a way to let it go is important.
Fake it till you make it
A wise man (or woman) once said, “fake it till you make it” and it turns out they were right! Doctors say it’s all about believing in yourself and embracing the concept of ‘having a go’ and seeing what happens.