5 Things That Contribute To Happiness
Although happiness is not the only important thing in life, it can certainly be important and nice to experience happiness. Below I describe some simple things that can contribute to the experience of happiness.
Why life isn't only about happiness
Before we look at things that can contribute to happiness, let me make a few caveats. In the first place, happiness is not as simple a concept as it may seem at first glance. In this article I give some definitions of happiness and I propose that experiencing blissful feelings can never happen continously (for example in education but also not - I think - in work and in personal relationships).
In this article I quote Frank Martela who argues that happiness is not a good life goal and that the constant pursuit of happiness can backfire. He advocates the importance of meaning in life and sees happiness as a possible by-product of achieving valuable things. More notes on the meaning of happiness can be found in various other articles on this site.
Know what contributes to your happiness
That said, I don't want to deny the pleasureable and important side of happiness. Just because happiness isn't the only important thing in our lives doesn't mean happiness is a bad thing. It doesn't mean we should be against experiencing happiness. It may be unwise to put happiness at the center of your life, but it's nice to feel happy on a regular basis. That's why it's nice to have an idea of how happiness can come about in your life.
Five things that contribute to happiness
Various studies have shown that the following elements can contribute to happiness:
- having goals: if you want to feel a little happier, a good first step might be to set yourself a goal.
- that are personally important to you: the content of the goal is also important. With respect to happiness, it is wise to choose a goal that touches on your personal values, in other words: what is important to you in life. Intrinsic goals especially work well. These are goals that contribute to the satisfaction of your basic psychological needs. Normally, this involves things like: good and intimate relationships with people, personal growth, useful contributions to the community you are part of.
- goal-oriented activity: feeling that you are doing things that contribute to achieving these goals. So think very consciously about what you can do and how you think it can help you move forward toward your goal.
- making progress: actually making progress towards those goals helps you feel happier. In order to notice that you are making progress, it is normally necessary that you monitor your progress. We often make progress without really realizing it. Discussing your progress with others can be very helpful.
- achieving goals: completing tasks, getting things done can be very satisfying, although this effect may wear off quickly. So, in view of this effect fading away rather quickly, it seems wise to keep having goals so that you can stay focused and continue to make progress.
Conclusion and invitation
Bottom line: The five things I mention above align with Martela's cautionary remarks against putting happiness at the center of your life alone. The description of the five points already focuses on what is valuable. By doing the five things you work on progress in what is important to you and as a by-product you can expect to experience more happiness.
Invitation: would you experience a little more happiness? Try the five steps.