Being happy doesn’t have to happen by accident.  

Research suggests that a variety of factors influence how happy you feel, including your thoughts, physical state, habits, decisions, values, and expectations.

But perhaps one of the most critical forces impacting your daily and long-term happiness are the important choices you make about how you will live your life.

In particular, there are 3 decisions that if you’ve taken the time to consider and proactively live by, you will feel happier.   These decisions allow you to experience a greater sense of purpose, joy, direction, and control over your life. 

Here are 3 critical decisions that will support greater levels of happiness:


1)  Who do I really want to be?

While deceptively simple, this question addresses the personal qualities you want to exhibit to feel best about yourself.   Ask yourself, “What personal characteristics do I value and admire? What do I want to role model for others?”

If you come home at the end of day feeling good about how you behaved toward others and yourself, you will like yourself more.   When you like yourself more, you will be happier.

In the end, self-approval and self-love is often a more powerful driver of your happiness than what material things you attained, since these can be lost.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for achievement, meeting goals, and having things you want, such as a family or a good job.  It’s just that in the hierarchy of happiness factors, liking who you are at the core level tends to provide more consistent boosts to your happiness than what you’ve acquired.

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2)  What people do I want in my life?

The quality of the people you spend time with on a regular basis plays a big factor in your level of happiness.  Do you have relationships that nurture, support, and love you?  Are there people in your life that bring you joy, challenge you, make you smile, and help you grow?

When you take time to examine what kinds of people are in your life, you can decide what’s working and what’s not.

You may realize that you need to start investing more time and energy to improve some of your existing relationships.   You may also decide that some relationships aren’t healthy or able to be fixed, in which case you should try to reduce their focus in your life to the extent possible.  Whatever you decide, the point is to be proactive in choosing your relationships wisely and nurturing the ones that give you the most joy.


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3)  What do I want to give or create?

One of the greatest human pleasures is to feel valuable and useful.  Everyone knows how good it feels when you do something that helps somebody.   When you give your time, energy, talent, or attention to something or someone, it provides a sense of purpose, whether just for the moment or for the long term.   It can also provide some needed challenge as well as a creative expression outlet.

When you make a conscious effort to decide how you want to be of service or what you want to create in your life, you will feel a sense of direction and control.

If your answers focus less on being of service and more on creating something you see as enjoyable, such as children or a piece of art, that’s ok too.  The idea is just to have made a proactive decision.

Even when your life journey has obstacles or detours, your ability to feel happy over the long-term will be less impacted when you keep this larger vision for your life in mind.

DIVE DEEPER:  Boost your happiness, self-perspective, and resilience by mastering how you think about your life story here.

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