Happiness doesn't just show up one day; it comes from your actions. There is the transient type that comes and goes, fed by things like a walk in a park, spending time with a friend, or eating ice cream. What creates sustained feelings of happiness, is traits like optimism and resilience, fed by behaviors such as expressing gratitude, forgiveness, and being kind to others, all held together by a strong sense of purpose.

Add to that mix one master ingredient; a sense of community and supportive relationships with others. For the recipe of happiness there are some ingredients:

Satisfying social connections

People who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to a community, are happier, they're physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. You don't have to have dozens of friends or even be in a committed relationship, it's the quality of relationships that count.

Looking on the bright side

Optimism and pessimism are the yin and yang of happiness. Optimists are people who expect good things to happen to them, while pessimists expect bad things to happen. It turns out that looking on the bright side of life is good for your health. Research has found a direct link between optimism and a stronger immune system. Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem-solvers.

Meaning and purpose

A sense of purpose and meaning in your life is a big part of living a longer, happier life. Do you have a job or a calling that makes some sense? If your sole duty is to achieve the best for yourself, life becomes too stressful, too lonely; you are set up to fail. Instead, you need to feel you exist for something more substantial, and that very thought takes off some of the pressure.

Striving for well-being will allow you to perform better at work, have better relationships, fewer sleep problems, lower levels of burnout, better physical health, and you'll live longer.


Inspired by: CNN - Being happier will help you live longer, so learn how to be happier, by Sandee LaMotte