We’re all looking for the key to happiness, in some shape or form. And though what brings one person joy can be completely different from what brings joy to another, there are a few basic things that we all need to be really content. A recent Quora thread posed the seemingly simple (but, actually, quite loaded) question: What makes a person truly happy? The answers varied, but they all will resonate with anyone seeking ways to be their happiest selves.
1. Having a Purpose
We all need something to drive us and give us reason in our lives, no matter how big or small it may be. Part of being happy is discovering your own purpose, however you define it. Seek meaning for greater fulfillment.
“When we have a purpose greater than ourselves for which we can apply our unique talents, we feel ultimately fulfilled and happy. So to start you need to know what you are good at – are you a good speaker, organizer, or cook? Or do you enjoy animals? Or curious about politics? Find out what your strengths are and apply them to achieve something big alone or with others,” says Quora user Tonka Zorluer.
2. Giving to Others
Acts of kindness aren’t just beneficial to the receiver – they can have a huge impact on your own happiness as well. Giving to others puts things into perspective, and it can make us happier than taking something for ourselves.
“Neurologists suggest that our brains are wired to derive pleasure from giving: numerous studies have shown that giving, rather than taking, makes us far happier. The paradox of generosity suggests that regardless of income, individuals who spend both time and money on others are significantly happier than the ones who spend on themselves,” says Quora user Viktorija Veltmane.
3. Love and Companionship
Love, in any form, brings happiness to our lives. Healthy relationships with friends, family, and significant others can all improve your quality of life and bring joy to it.
“We’re social creatures at heart, no matter how shy or quiet some of us are,” says Quora user Joshua Otusanya. “We desire to be loved by those closest to us. In order to be happy, it’s imperative to have meaningful relationships with other people, both romantic and platonic. What’s the point of living a life of happiness when you can’t experience it with those close to you?”
4. Having Basic Needs Met
This is a no-brainer, but having access to food, water, clothing, and shelter are key to happiness. However, the misconception is that more money and material things beyond these needs directly correlates to happiness, and that’s not necessarily the case.
“I watched a documentary called Happy that explained the science of true happiness while studying happiness levels in rich and poor countries,” says Joshua Otusanya. “Their results found that money and happiness are only directly correlated to an extent. Money is a major contributor to your happiness up until your basic needs are met – food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. After you can afford to have these needs met, the amount of happiness money can bring you doesn’t drastically increase anymore.”
5. Staying Healthy
Unfortunately, our health isn’t always something we can control. However, what is in our hands is our ability to take care of our bodies as best we can. Staying active, eating food that nourishes our bodies, and nurturing our mental health (which is as important as physical health) all contributes to our happiness.
6. Acceptance of Yourself
A huge part of happiness in your life is being happy with yourself. For most, this means adhering to some sort of moral code that gives them reason and holds them accountable. Self-actualization described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, morality, and staying true to yourself are all crucial parts of being content.
“The key is to love yourself,” says Quora user Andrea Haas. “When you learn how to have love for yourself, you’ll notice several things will happen: You’ll stop looking outside yourself for happiness. You won’t feel forced into doing things for acceptance or approval, and stop buying things you don’t need for temporary pleasure.
You’ll stop taking things personally. Rejection isn’t soul-crushing . . . No one could understand you the way you understand yourself, so don’t expect them to. Be your own advocate.
Your life will become more colorful. Without those social pressures you’ll discover the things you truly enjoy doing, and may even discover some hidden talents in the process. Your motivations will be pure. You won’t be getting fit or advancing in your career to impress anyone, you’ll be doing it for you.
You’ll realize you deserve to be happy. You’ll even find it’s much easier to give love to others.”