The Elements of Happiness

We all love lists don’t we?

They rock because we humans enjoy structure and order. Our brains are lazy so if it can apply a model to real life it saves processing time. Models and lists — that’s how we structure our lives.

Here’s a list of six things that make us happy.

They are the core values of a tiny watch brand called Gloriousdays.

1. Freedom

Free to be where you want, when you want. Free to do what you want and do it your way. In work settings this means autonomy. In relationships it means finding the balance between me-time and us-time. Freedom is to do what makes sense to you. No more and no less.

2. Progress

See life as a project. Or a game. What makes a project successful and a game enjoyable is not to finish it but the progress that takes place within its boundaries. Celebrate achievements, big and small, and remember that failure is also progress. What’t the opposite of success? Failure? No. It’s not trying.

3. Belonging

We all need to feel part of something to be happy. Personal relationships are part of belonging, as is belonging to a group or culture. It’s the opposite of being lonely. Belonging also creates purpose which is a big part of happiness. Purpose is to contribute to something bigger which can’t be done if you don’t belong.

4. Health

Your body is your temple. Treat it with respect, but don’t be afraid of using it in any way you can. Eat well, exercise and protect your skin from too much sun. A healthy body and a strong heart alone will not make you happy but they will support you on your lifelong journey.

5. Nature

Humans have a deeply rooted connection to nature and being surrounded by it makes us feel better on so many levels. Whether you ride the waves of the Pacific or keep a plant on your desk, the presence of nature is key to wellbeing and happiness.

6. Pleasure

Happiness of the moment e.g. experiencing flow, being mindful, having sex, listening to music, eating good food. Feeding the senses creates short term happiness. Treat it as the final spice to an already great meal, as it will feel hollow without the long term elements.

And then what?

All of these elements have been empirically or scientifically proved to increase wellbeing, fulfillment and happiness. Obviously these are very high level, which makes them practically useless in actually implementing them in your life. Rather use them as areas of your life in which you can set up more practical guidelines for your personal happiness.

If you need help with the more granular stuff, or just want some further reading:

For happiness at work, read Drive by Daniel H. Pink

For the scientific approach to happiness, read Eric Barker’s blog posts e.g. this one or this one.

For honest and unconventional life advice, check out James Altucher and Mark Manson.

What I haven’t included in this list (maybe I will one day) is the practise of gratitude and compassion, two recurring topics in the literature of happiness. If that’s your thing, get some advice from the Dalai Lama himself.

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