10 key elements needed for a happier life (according to experts)

Happiness is not a far-fetched idea reserved for the rich and famous.   Every day Joe’s find happiness all the time through a dedication to themselves, their lives, and the pursuit of what this life may bring.

You might think you’ll find “money” at the top of this list, as there is a real assumption that money makes people happy.   Sure, money can certainly help you buy things and experiences to make you happy, but if you look at your life right now, where you are, what you have, you might find ways to be happier too.

It doesn’t take much for people to be happy. The first step is to let yourself pursue happiness. Here are 12 things happy people always do but never talk about:—

1) They don’t take things for granted.:—
One of the easiest ways to become happier in your life is to stop taking what you already have for granted.   The Harvard Health Blog says that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

A major difference between happy and unhappy people is the ability to appreciate what they have.  A white paper by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkely says that people who consciously count what they’re grateful may have better physical and mental health: “Research suggests that gratitude may be associated with many benefits for individuals, including better physical and psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased materialism, and more.”

Sure, you might hate your job, but at least you have a job. Taking a different outlook on your situation will help you see that you already have so much to be happy about.

2) They’re agile.
Happier people aren’t rigid and don’t follow a strict routine.  Getting up at 5 am to work on your novel might sound like am an ambitious goal that will make you happy, but if you are someone who prefers to sleep until 10 am, it will not. According to Psychology Today, a key component of happy people is “psychological flexibility”.  This is “mental shifting between pleasure and pain, the ability to modify behavior to match a situation’s demands”.

This is important because you can’t control everything in life. There are always going to be situations and challenges that pop up out of nowhere.  Psychology Today says that flexible thinking gives you the flexibility to tolerate discomfort: “The ability to tolerate the discomfort that comes from switching mindsets depending on whom we’re with and what we’re doing allows us to get optimal results in every situation.” It’s also beneficial to learn to tolerate negative emotions and uncomfortable situations.

According to Noam Spencer Ph.D. in Psychology Today one of the “main causes of many psychological problems could be the habit of emotional avoidance”.  Noam Spencer Ph.D. says that avoiding a negative emotion buys you short-term gain at the price of long-term pain.

Here’s why: “When you avoid the short-term discomfort of negative emotion, you resemble the person who under stress decides to drink. It “works,” and the next day, when bad feelings come, he drinks again. So far so good, in the short term. In the long run, however, that person will develop a bigger problem (addiction), in addition to the unresolved issues he had avoided by drinking.”

3) They are curious.
Happy people love learning about themselves the world around them, and the people in their life. There is more information out there than you could ever possibly use, but the pursuit of knowledge is certainly one that will bring happiness to your life. A brilliant article in The Guardian, it argues the case that curiosity might have an intrinsic link to a happier existence.  Curiosity may lead to more happiness for a couple of reasons.

According to Kanga, “Curious people ask questions, they read more and, in doing so, significantly broaden their horizons.” Also, “Curious people connect with others on a far deeper level, including strangers…They ask questions, then actively listen and absorb the information instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.”

4) They avoid getting stuck in a rut:—
Happy people keep life interesting by pursuing new experiences, trying new hobbies, and developing new talents.  Unsuccessful people are those who never change their approach to life. They never challenge themselves. They never feel or do anything that could change the way they see their lives or the world around them. 

On the other hand, happy people work hard to find new things to learn, experience and do. They enjoy simply seeking out new experiences that push them out of their comfort zone.  This makes them happy because it is easy for them to feel alive instead of just coasting through life.

5) They remember how to play.
Happy people let themselves be silly. Adults forget how to play, and only allow it in formalized ways.  In his book Play, psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen. He writes, “…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” In the book, he says that play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve, and more.

Dr. Brown says that play is how we prepare for the unexpected, find new solutions and keep our optimism. The truth is, when we engage in play and have fun, it brings joy and helps improve our relationships. So kick off your shoes and get your feet wet in the river. Get dirty. Eat ice cream. Who cares how many calories there are in it.

6) They try new things.
Give yourself permission to go out and experience the world around you. It’s huge!  There are things you have never done right in your backyard. Try something new and watch yourself be happier. Psychologist Rich Walker of Winston-Salem State University looked at over 500 diaries and 30,000 event memories and concluded that people who engage in a variety of different experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones.

According to Alex Lickerman M.D. in Psychology Today: “Thrusting yourself into new situations and leaving yourself there alone, so to speak, often forces beneficial change. A spirit of constant self-challenge keeps you humble and open to new ideas that very well may be better than the ones you currently hold dear (this happens to me all the time).”

7) They serve others.
There is a Chinese saying that goes:  “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” For years, some of the greatest thinkers have suggested that happiness is found in helping others.   Research is also suggesting that this is the case. A summary of existing data on altruism and its relation to physical and mental health had this to say in its conclusion:

“The essential conclusion of this article is that a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally kind and compassionate in their charitable helping activities—as long as they are not overwhelmed, and here world view may come into play.” We often look inward for our happiness meters, but often serving the needs of other people is enough to make us feel happy in an outward way.

If you turn your attention to helping someone else, a friend or family member perhaps, then you take the burden of happiness away from yourself and try to make someone else’s life better. In turn, you get to feel pleasure from helping them and they get to feel happier from your help. It’s a win-win.

Yet, more and more people are focusing on how to make themselves happy without regard for how they can help bring happiness into the lives of others; missing the opportunity to indirectly make themselves happy. [To dive deep into self-help techniques you can use to improve yourself, check out my no-nonsense guide to using eastern philosophy for a mindful and peaceful life here].

8) They experience life.
Happy people embrace all types of experiences and in doing so, experience all that life has to offer. If you want to be happy, you need to get out there and see what the world has to offer. You aren’t going to find happiness sitting on your couch binge-watching television.  It might bring you momentary enjoyment, but it doesn’t add to your happiness factor. And if you are on a mission to find things that make you happy, that requires getting up and getting out.  Experience, regardless of age, makes people happy.

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been researching the effect of experience on happiness for two decades. Gilovich says “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences are part of you. We are the total of our experiences.” Young people often feel stifled in life because of a lack of funds and society’s expectations that they need to struggle before they can relax.

9) Don’t live life waiting for the next event
There’s such a thing as being too forward-thinking. If you’re the kind of person who only finds happiness in the next thing (the next trip, the next job, the next time you see your friends, the next milestone in your life), you’re never going to find peace in your life.   Even when your life is at its best, you’ll always be looking out for what comes next. This kind of mindset is damaging to the things you already have and are currently built.

Instead, happy people look at what you have now. They take pleasure in knowing that whatever is currently happening in their life is good enough, and the rest that will follow would just be a bonus. So how can you develop this mindset and be satisfied with what you have right now? The most effective way is to tap into your personal power. You see, we all have an incredible amount of power and potential within us, but most of us never tap into it. We become bogged down in self-doubt and limiting beliefs. We stop doing what brings us true happiness.

I learned this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. He’s helped thousands of people align work, family, spirituality, and love so they can unlock the door to their personal power. He has a unique approach that combines traditional ancient shamanic techniques with a modern-day twist. It’s an approach that uses nothing but your own inner strength – no gimmicks or fake claims of empowerment.

Because true empowerment needs to come from within.  In his excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can create the life you’ve always dreamed of and increase attraction in your partners, and it’s easier than you might think. So if you’re tired of living in frustration, dreaming but never achieving, and of living in self-doubt, you need to check out his life-changing advice.

10) They work on their relationships
There’s a reason why human beings are drawn to one another: we belong together. Whether you find a close friend to confide in or you have found the love of your life, having someone to love beyond yourself is an ingredient in the happiness recipe.  Having a few close relationships has been shown to make us happier while we’re young, and has been shown to improve quality of life and help us live longer.

So, how many friends? About 5 close relationships, according to the book Finding Flow: “National surveys find that when someone claims to have 5 or more friends with whom they can discuss important problems, they are 60 percent more likely to say that they are ‘very happy’.” Giving of yourself to someone else is not only rewarding for them, but also for you.  If you let yourself be loved, that simple change can make a big difference in how you show up in the world and how you see your value. That can improve your happiness ten-fold.

Leave a Comment