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What You Really Need to Be Happy

What You Really Need to Be Happy

Everyone strives to be happier, but the truth is some people are more successful than others at attaining happiness. Why? Most people think they know what they need to be happy. But the science of happiness reveals some surprising truths. Find out what research says about what you really need to find inner happiness below.

1. Put others first

When you choose to live selflessly and devote your time to making the world better for the people you love, your life gets better as a result. George Vaillant, an American psychiatrist and professor at the Harvard Medical School, is the director of one of the most revered longitudinal studies on happiness, the Grant Study. The study measured lifelong happiness of 237 Harvard students from 1939 to 1944.

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After completing the Grant Study, Vaillant was able to come to one conclusion: “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” When you think about it, you realize that this statement is true. You build strong relationships by doing things for others and not expecting anything in return. Don’t take your relationships for granted. Make other peoples’ lives happier, and your happiness will follow suit.

2. Spend your time wisely

Time is the most valuable thing you have in this world, so treat it as such. One research study suggests that balancing your free time is one of the key ways to being truly happy. According to the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, these are the most common regrets people have:

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  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The takeaway message here is clear: Focus your time and energy on things that serve to improve your life and the lives of those you love.

3. Choose thoughtful conversations over small talk

According to research, another thing you need to be happy is meaningful conversations rather than small talk. Researchers found that the happiest people spend less time alone and more time having thoughtful conversations than unhappier people. So even if you’re an introvert and you don’t like to spend time socializing, you may want to consider breaking out of your comfort zone to have some deeper conversations. This helps you uncover meaning in the things that are most important to you.

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4. Take care of your health

It is commonly known that exercise is good for you, but it may also be a key to happiness. A 2012 research study showed that people who exercise are generally happier than those who don’t. Exercise not only helps you look better, it helps you feel better too. If you want to substantially increase your odds of living a longer, happier life, then start exercising and eating the right foods today.

5. Be willing to delay gratification

There’s a big problem with society today. It has created a generation of people who think that if they don’t make their first million dollars by age 30, they’re failures. This new “entitlement generation” wants instant gratification in everything they do. And it’s not just young people who are the problem. People now live in a world of instant rewards. That’s why one of the most important things you need to realize is this: Some rewards take a heck of a lot longer than you plan, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. That’s life. Failure and suffering are necessary for growth. Be willing to put in weeks, months and years of work to get what you want. The rewards will be much sweeter in the end.

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6. Spend time outdoors

A team from the London School of Economics and Political Science polled 22,000 people and asked them to record their daily levels of happiness. The study revealed that participants reported they felt much happier outdoors in all-natural environments than they were in urban environments. They rated “being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon” as the perfect spot for happiness. Spending time outdoors helps you reduce stress, interact with others you love in a quiet, serene environment and get some exercise. All of these things are directly related to happiness.

7. Become an expert in something you love

If you still don’t know what you want to do with your life, here’s a good place to start: Identify the things that you absolutely love doing, then spend time becoming an expert at each of those things. The more you learn about the stuff you’re passionate about in life, the more opportunities and experiences unfold in your favor. Research shows that these experiences make us happier than having material possessions.

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

1. They Manage Their Expectations

They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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4. They’re Not Materialistic

There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

5. They Don’t Dwell

They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

6. They Care About Themselves First

They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

7. They Enjoy the Little Things

They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

8. They Can Adapt

They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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9. They Experiment

They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

10. They Take Their Time

They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

11. They Employ Different Perspectives

They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

12. They Seek to Learn

Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

13. They Always Have a Plan

They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

14. They Give Respect to Get It

They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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15. They Consider Every Opportunity

They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

16. They Always Seek to Improve

Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

18. They Live in the Moment

They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

19. They Say Yes

Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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20. They’re Self-Aware

Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

Final Thoughts

The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

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Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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