Six things likely to make you happier in the long-term
I've previously looked at how to get a short-term "hit" of happiness. Now I'll explore the more important subject of long-term happiness.
Obviously, we are all individuals, with different wants and needs. There are some needs that are broadly common to us all, however, even if we sometimes like to pretend we're "different" with regards to them. If you're missing one or more of the below, you're likely not as happy as you could be.
Moving towards bettering your situation in one of the areas mentioned will almost certainly increase your general satisfaction with life. Alternatively, finding yourself moving backwards in one of the areas will probably make you feel less satisfied.
I won't go into strategies for achieving within these areas at the moment. I'll save those for the broader discussion they require. Firstly, my aim is simply to identify what these general life-satisfaction zones are.
So without any further introduction, here they are:
1. Being involved in a loving relationship
More than almost anything else in life, most people long to be in a loving relationship with a significant other person. The desire for this outcome is so strong, that it seems to be hard-wired. It's at the centre of our very being.
The evidence that those in a good, long-term relationship are generally more happy is all around us. There are plenty of surveys that tell us so, but we don't need to be told. We can see it with our own eyes. We can feel in our hearts that this is one thing we really want.
Such a connection can also be the building block of a family, which can extend the initial loving couple into a close-knit emotional group.
A loving relationship is the foundation upon which most people who achieve the goal of happiness build.
2. Being in good health
Bad health, be it mental, emotional or physical, makes it very difficult to enjoy the good things that life has to offer. Poor health leaves us feeling depressed, lethargic, numb and just downright sick. People who suffer drops in their level of health through accident, disease or aging gain a fast appreciation of just how important it is to their well-being.
Maintaining a good level of health is an essential part of being content with life.
3. Having satisfying employment
Most of us work because of financial necessity. Being at work takes up a big chunk of our time - not only actually being there, but also commuting to it, recovering from it and thinking about it. Many jobs are dull, unsatisfying, and draining - both emotionally and physically.
Yet work also forms an important part of our identity. One of the first things people ask upon meeting us is what we do. It's rare to meet a happy unemployed person, even if they're not financially burdened by that unemployment.
Finding more satisfying work often translates directly into spending more of your time in a satisfying way. How can such an outcome do anything but increase your happiness?
4. Being financially independent
Financial independence can be measured on a crude scale. It's largely a factor of how many assets we have. For the sake of simplicity, by assets I'm referring broadly to resources we own that we can use to support ourselves, such as cash or shares.
A simple scale of financial independence looks like this, with the most desirable level being at the top and the least desirable level at the bottom:
We are all prisoners of financial necessity. In order to live, we must have money to spend - on food, on clothing, on shelter. In addition to this, money can bring us some of the enjoyable things in life - comfort, entertainment, travel and so on.
- being able to live however we like without having to work, although we may still choose to do so,
- being able to live comfortably without work,
- being able to take some time off if we desire, but knowing we'll eventually be forced to return to work,
- being forced to work to support ourselves right now due to a lack of assets,
- being forced to work in order to pay off debt.
The level of financial independence we have is the distance between ourselves and this financial necessity becoming a problem. Generally, this distance is measured in assets.
The more financial independence we have, the more happy we are likely to be.
5. Having a good social life
We are social creatures. Spending time with each other renews our spirits. It helps us to laugh, deal with tragedy, examine possibilities, and solve our problems. There are also many activities that are just more fun if you do them with others.
Having a group of friends to share your life with is an important component of happiness.
6. Having a sense of purpose
Miserable people often complain that they can't see the point of going on. Without a reason to exist, we feel aimless and despondent. A goal to focus on is something we all need. It provides us with something to look forward to.
Such goals vary from person to person. Some people want to raise a loving family, others want to achieve a charitable aim, others want to build a successful business.
Having something to strive for makes us want to go on. It helps to make us feel alive.
So there they are - my six foundations for a happy life. Each is quite broad and ready for you to interpret in your own way.
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|Six things likely to make you happier in the long-term |
|I've previously looked at how to get a short-term "hit" of happiness. Now I'll explore the more important subject of long-term happiness.|
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