April 28, 2014

Keys to Happiness

keys to happinessDo you like your life? If so, you will probably want to “hang in there” as long as possible and enjoy life to its fullest. So it seems like a major key to living younger longer is being happy – happy enough to live well and healthy enough. So how do you get there? How do you become or stay happy? Below is a list of 10 happy habits. I think the list is lacking, but today we’ll just focus on this list.

Keys to Happiness: 10 Habits

There are 10 habits best identified as the keys to happiness. These 10 habits are based on the Ten Keys to Happier Living Framework developed by Action for Happiness: Reading down the first letter of each habit you get the acronym GREAT DREAM – if that helps you remember them – though I’ve never found acronyms helpful – just seems like another thing to remember.

  • Giving:  doing things for others
  • Relating:  connecting with people your care most about
  • Exercising:  taking care of your body
  • Appreciating:  noticing the world around you
  • Trying out:  keep learning new things
  • Direction:  setting goals/purpose
  • Resilience:  the ability to bounce back
  • Emotion:  positive outlook
  • Acceptance:  comfortable with who you are (self-acceptance)
  • Meaning:  being part of something bigger than yourself

Perhaps listening to this song by Pharrell Williams should be an 11th habit.

A group of 5,000 individuals were surveyed and asked to rate themselves on the 10 happy habits on a scale from one to ten. The survey comes from the collaboration Action for Happiness and Do Something Different.

Giving was the highest rated habit in the group with relating a close second. But, acceptance was the habit most strongly linked to life satisfaction. Despite all the talk and encouragement exercising was rated low by the group.

The researchers thought that because there is so much pressure to be successful that people are perhaps constantly comparing themselves to others leading to unhappiness and anxiety (the grass is greener story) and suggested that we learn to be more accepting of ourselves.

I’m not sure I agree entirely with that. I think we should be content with what we have and who we are as we strive towards becoming what we want to become and have what we want to have. So I don’t think a little discontentment is unhealthy or makes one unhappy – we just need to be aware that life is a process and things don’t happen overnight. Continuous self improvement should be goal for all of us, should it not? I’ve yet to meet a person who could not be better than he or she currently is.

To improve our self-acceptance it is recommended that we be kind to ourselves as we would others, see mistakes as learning opportunities, pat ourselves on the back for even the small things we do well. We should also ask others what our strengths are and what they value in us. We should also spend time alone, learn more about ourselves, and become at peace with who we are.

So which happy habit(s) can you work on?  I can do better on the appreciating habit and better job connecting with family and close friends (I’ve been working on that one).

Personally, I think this list of keys to happiness is incomplete neglecting a few values or habits which I believe are more important than any listed and will save that discussion for a future post. Let us know what else you think should be on the “happy habit list”.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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