10 Keys to a Happier Life

March 23, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

If you’re looking for ways to live a happier and healthier life, look no further than the “10 Keys to Happier Living.”

Living well should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. Myriad advice articles have been written on techniques and tactics to complete this not-so-easy task.

Action for Happiness, a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society, offers what it believes are the keys you need to live a more contented and fulfilling life. The organization’s 10 Keys to Happier Living mini-guidebook aims to get you on the road to happiness, healthiness, and well-being.

Why not take the Action for Happiness pledge, and get started today? The pledge is simple: “I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me.”

Here are the 10 “GREAT DREAM” keys you need to remember to reach happier living.


Do things for others. In other words, if you want to feel good, do good! The act of giving back literally makes us happier and can even make us healthier. It also creates stronger connections and builds a happier society. And giving doesn’t have to mean money. It can be as simple as offering someone a compliment, helping an elderly person with groceries, or volunteering once a month for a cause that resonates with you.


Connect with people. One of the most important factors dictating our happiness level are the relationships we have with others. Close relationships bring love, meaning, support, and self-worth to our lives. Broader relationships and social networks foster a sense of belonging. And all positive relationships help us live longer.


Take care of your body. Besides improving your physical health (and your waistline), exercise does wonders for your mental health and happiness level. Physical activity releases chemicals to the brain that boost mood and reduce stress. No need to run a marathon or compete in a triathlon; start small by just parking a little farther from the shopping mall, taking the dog for an extra-long walk, or doing a little gardening.


Live life mindfully. Be aware of your surroundings, and stop to smell the flowers occasionally. Doing so will help you remember where you are in your life and what you have to be happy about. Meditation can be a great way to improve your emotional well-being and increase your mental focus. But start simple: Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and take 5 minutes just to breathe.

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Keep learning new things. Humans have an innate desire to learn and progress. Learning new things and trying new activities, hobbies, or skills keeps you engaged, builds confidence, and makes you more adaptable. By giving yourself a new sense of accomplishment, you can increase your happiness level 10-fold.

Continue reading on the next page for the last 5 keys and other resources.


Have goals to look forward to. If your outlook is bleak, there is no way for you to enjoy your life and be happy. By setting personal goals and motivating yourself to reach them, you give your life and your future a positive outlook. It’s important that your goals be achievable, though, whether they’re as small as making time to see friends or as large as earning an advanced degree.


Find ways to bounce back. You are going to fall now and again, but it is important to always pick yourself back up and continue. How we react to the stresses in our lives plays a large part in our overall well-being. You can’t normally choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you react to your circumstances. Tackling adversity head on is the first step in building resilience.


Look for what’s good. By focusing on the positive aspects in any situation—whether the situation is good or bad—you will increase your happiness level, broaden your perception, help you perform better, and increase your resilience. When you focus on the good in small situations, that attitude carries over to larger situations and often leads to lasting positive changes in outlook, problem-solving skills, and overall health.


Be comfortable with who you are. Accept yourself first before you do anything else. This simple thing can open you up to a brighter and happier world where being unhappy is a much more difficult task. Being comfortable with who you are simply means seeing your imperfections as perfectly normal and having a bit of self-compassion. In other words, be kind to yourself when you least want to be.


Be part of something bigger. Figure out your calling in life, your end goal, your meaning, your purpose, and go chase it. Being a part of something bigger than yourself can make a real difference in your happiness level because it can help guide you in how you live your life, make you feel less alone in the world, and provide comfort and strength in difficult times.


In addition to 10 Keys to Happier Living, here is a small selection of books (all available on Amazon) that might spur you to get your happiness on:

  • Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, by Rick Hanson, PhD
  • 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story, by Dann Harris
  • Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill, by Matthieu Ricard
  • The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, by Jonathan Haidt
  • Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, by Tal Ben-Shahar
  • The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, by Shawn Anchor
  • Real Happiness: Proven Paths for Contentment, Peace & Well-Being, by Jonah Paquette, PsyD