The pursuit of happiness is a focus for many people, but it can be a challenge . We all want to be fulfilled and joyful every day, but too often we get caught up in the hardships of life and what we don’t have or have not accomplished.

The big question is, what truly makes someone happy?  The answer is still unclear, but the consensus seems to be that  money, a big house and a nice car can’t increase happiness long-term. In general, happiness is different for everyone, and is often shaped by beliefs, values, personality, outlook and interests.1167491_31133359

How can you increase your happiness?

1. Focus on friends and family

People who have strong social connections are happier than those who do not.  Some of the happiest countries are places where there is a strong community of people spending every day together and supporting one another. We are social creatures. The connections with others is  a need we have as human beings. So spend time with family, make new friends and continue to build and maintain relationships.

2. Do what you love

This is said often, but still people pursue careers to make money instead of what makes them happy. Engagement and a feeling of accomplishment can increase happiness. If you are not engaged in what you’re doing every day, it may be time to reevaluate what you truly want to do. What are your interests and goals? If you enjoy your job, you may reach a flow state while at work. Flow refers to an experience when you become entirely absorbed in an activity or, also known as, being “in the zone”.  Ultimately, you have to enjoy the activity for your mind to reach a flow state. If you choose a career based on your interests, you’ll most likely look forward to going to work and be engaged every day.

3. Live a healthy life

Living healthy goes hand in hand with happiness. Healthy food and exercise both have an impact on your mood. Exercise relieves stress, releases endorphins in the brain, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Additionally, healthy food triggers chemical reactions in the brain and has a positive impact on your mood.

4. Practice gratitude

Too often people dwell on what they don’t have rather than being thankful for what they do have. Just being able to wake up healthy every day is something to be thankful about. Anytime you’re feeling down, remind yourself of all the good things in your life and your outlook will change instantly.

5. Help others

Does anyone ever really feel unhappy or bad after helping someone? Very doubtful. Helping someone gives a feeling of fulfillment and purpose. Volunteering in your community is a great way to not only build relationships with others, but also help those in need.

In all, if you want to be happier, focus on  your values and find what truly makes you happy. You’ll enjoy life more, build stronger relationships and become a healthier person.

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