If you’ve ever wondered, “what factors influence happiness?” you’ve come to the right place.
Here we’ll explore our elements of happiness and how they can help you achieve a happy and fulfilling life.
What Are Our Elements of Happiness?
The acronym for a little dose of happy, aldohappy (pronounced “all do happy”), represents the nine elements in our formula for happiness:
acts of kindness,
peace of mind, and
Acts of Kindness
- Acts of Kindness: Performing friendly, generous, or considerate deeds for others; paying it forward
Kindness and happiness are inextricably linked, with research proving a strong relationship between the two. Happy people are more likely to perform acts of kindness, and doing acts of kindness makes people happy.
Researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia explain this as a positive feedback loop between kindness and happiness, where each contributes to more of the other.
Simply put, doing good feels good and encourages doing more good! You’ll feel great always choosing kindness.
Kindness is contagious. It’s been said that for every act of kindness you perform, you receive 10x more in return. The simple act of kindness creates a domino effect of good karma that touches not just the person on the receiving end but also their friends, family, and community.
➡️ Be Kind Whenever Possible.
- Laughter: Action or sound of laughing; finding humor or a reason to laugh
Laughter is one of the simplest and most effective ways to inject positive emotion into your life.
The act of laughing itself induces a biochemical response in the body, decreasing stress hormones and causing the release of dopamine. This happy chemical activates the brain’s pleasure center and boosts your overall mood and outlook.
Laughter not only feels good but also has positive health outcomes. People who laugh have fewer stress-related physical symptoms, such as headaches and muscle tension. Laughter can also lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and increase your lifespan.
Laughter also strengthens relationships and is a great way to connect with others and create positive memories. When you laugh with others, you create an emotional bond that increases feelings of trust and intimacy and reduces conflict. An easy way to spark laughter and joy is to ask funny questions that get everyone cracking up!
Laughter is truly the best medicine!
➡️ Seek Humor and Laugh Whenever You Can!
- Devotion: Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for family members, friends, and causes over time
People are innately social and thrive on human connection.
The Grant Study, Harvard’s 75-year longitudinal study on human development, found that happiness and higher life satisfaction scores were directly related to the quantity and quality of social relationships, not wealth and material possessions. In other words, people depend on others for happiness.
Good relationships and strong support networks that provide emotional and practical support are key to long-lasting health and happiness.
Research has shown that those who are happiest tend to be the most devoted to their family, friends, and causes. They are more satisfied with their marriage and family life and have strong social connections. Being able to turn to others during significant life events and day-to-day challenges can make all the difference.
A meaningful and fulﬁlling life comes from your devotion to your loved ones and the causes you’re passionate about. For enduring happiness, keep in touch and cultivate your relationships. Be there for your family and friends for all their important life events. Tell your significant other you love them every chance you get! And find ways to contribute your time and energy to something you believe in.
➡️ Dedicate Time to Your Loved Ones and Causes You Care About.
- Optimism: Hopefulness and confidence about the future
Optimistic people are happier people.
Optimism is utilizing the power of positivity to forecast the future. An amazing consequence of this is that simply believing that good things will happen leads to good things happening, a self-fulfilling prophecy! This occurs because optimistic people are more willing to take risks, pursue new opportunities, and be resilient in the case of any setbacks.
Mindset is everything.
Optimism has physical benefits as well. Studies have found that optimists have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, live longer, and experience less pain. They also have better immune systems and recover from surgery faster.
Optimism truly is good for your health!
The Optimist Creed is a powerful tool that can help you through difficult times. When you are feeling down, focus on the good things in your life. Use positive psychology to shift your focus to the things that are going well. Remember that the future is always unknown, so there is no point in worrying about what might happen. Stay hopeful and confident in the face of setbacks, and you will be happier.
➡️ Believe in Your Future and Its Possibilities.
- Health: Maintenance of one’s physical and mental conditions
Health and happiness are intertwined. Healthy people are happier and experience higher overall well-being. Conversely, happiness can lead to better health.
Happy people tend to take better care of themselves and make healthier choices. They have favorable health outcomes, including better cardiovascular health and stronger immune systems, are less likely to get sick, age better, and live longer.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, therefore, is very important for happiness and includes eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, practicing good sleep hygiene, and reducing stress. When you take care of your body, you feel better and can do more of the things you enjoy.
➡️ Prioritize Self-Care.
- Appreciation: Recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of people and the surrounding world; gratitude
Showing appreciation is one of the most effective ways to increase positivity and happiness.
A study by psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Michael McCullough in 2003 showed that it is possible to become 25% happier simply by expressing gratitude through writing once a week for ten weeks. (Try this and see if it helps you every Thankful Thursday!)
Saying “thank you” and showing appreciation are not only good manners. Expressing gratitude also helps to create a more positive atmosphere. When we recognize the efforts of others, they feel appreciated and good about themselves, and you feel good too.
Being grateful for the little things in life can make a big difference. The next time you catch yourself having negative feelings and desire more positive emotions, take a step back and appreciate the good things in your life. Be thankful for your health, family and friends, home, and other reasons to be happy. It is difficult to be unhappy when you are grateful for what you have.
- Purpose: One’s meaning or reason for existing
There is a strong correlation between purpose and happiness. People who have a sense of purpose are happier. Purpose is something that gives life meaning and direction. A meaningful life involves a reason to wake up in the morning and a goal to strive for. People with a sense of purpose experience genuine personal fulfillment, are more satisfied with their lives, and are less likely to experience depression or anxiety.
People who live with purpose feel happier and happy people often pursue greater purpose.
Happiness can exist without purpose, and pursuing purpose may incur neutral, positive or negative emotions. However, research shows that people are often the happiest when they are engaged in something meaningful. Moreover, living a meaningful life with purpose leads to higher well-being in the long term. Strive for both happiness and purpose!
➡️ Pursue a Meaningful Life and Discover Your Why.
Peace of Mind
- Peace of Mind: Feeling content in the present; mindfulness
People are constantly thinking about the past or worrying about the future; to feel better, sometimes the best thing to do is slow things down and live in the present.
Mindfulness is the practice of being attuned to and living in the present without judgment. Through intentional awareness and acceptance of how things are, mindfulness builds resilience, reduces stress and anxiety, and helps people lead happier and more well-balanced lives.
➡️ Live in the Moment and Be Content With How Things Are.
- Yums: Tasty foods; enjoyment of food
Food, especially delicious food, causes a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the reward pathway in the brain. Simply put, certain foods taste good and make you feel good.
Comfort food is necessary self-indulgence but should be consumed only occasionally and in moderation.
For everyday consumption, strive to discover the holy grail: tasty food that is also healthy! It’s surprising how amazing healthy food can taste when the right combination of ingredients and spices is paired with the right preparation and/or cooking method. The goal is to feel happy when you eat and think “yums!”
➡️ Find the balance between healthy and delicious food and enjoy what you eat.
*Bonus* 10. Celebration or Notable Event: Doing something special or enjoyable for an important event or occasion
Anything that brings about positive emotions is worth celebrating!
Almost every day, there is some event that can bring happiness. The event can be personal, like one’s own birthday or anniversary, or be a local, national, or international event. The event can also be as simple as the first day of Spring or as exciting as one’s favorite team winning a championship!
Celebrations bring people together and enrich one’s life. Shared joys are a powerful connector and can help build stronger relationships. A 2012 study by Nathaniel Lambert et al. in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that sharing positive feelings and experiences increases energy, happiness, and life satisfaction.
➡️ Find Reasons to Celebrate and Celebrate With Others!
Journal Every Day About These Elements of Happiness.
There you have it. These 10 elements of happiness are a good starting point for anyone looking to live a happier life. Use these elements as a framework for thinking about happiness and journaling about what made you happy every day.
Daily journaling is a great way to focus your thoughts and learn more about your happiness. Journaling is also a form of self-care. The act of writing itself has been shown to boost mood and well-being. Other benefits of journaling include improving your working memory, promoting creativity, and propelling you to your goals.
Every day, write about the various elements that made you happy. The Do Happy App includes a journal with space for these 10 happiness-boosting elements to streamline your focus on these exact things. The more you write in the journal, the more you’ll notice these elements of happiness in your everyday life!
True happiness results when all these elements of happiness come together and you find the right combination that works for you. The secret is in the details.
The Do Happy App includes an analytics feature to help you learn about your happiness profile. Analyze it to develop a better understanding of which elements you focus on and which ones you might want to pursue more. Use that knowledge to make positive changes in your life and strive for a deeper level of happiness.
Some key questions for you to consider when you look at your Do Happy Analytics:
- What elements contribute to your happiness?
- Do you focus on some elements more than others?
- How does your happiness profile change over time?
- Are there any areas of opportunity?
By using the Do Happy App, you can focus on these elements of happiness every day, learn more about yourself and your happiness, and strive for a deeper level of joy and fulfillment in life. Your bonus is an ongoing memory book of all the moments that make you happy!
➡️ Download the Do Happy App and start journaling today!