What are the ingredients that make life delicious? 

It’s a deep question, but one that you may have asked yourself before, especially when you meet people who live life to its fullest. They have infectious energy and vitality. That leaves us wondering, “What is it that enables some people to thrive? What are life’s success factors?”

I’ve studied the science of happiness the world over, and identified eight common elements that make life satisfying, enriching, and meaningful. These are the ingredients that make life delicious. 

#1: Interpersonal Connectivity

Personal connectivity is the biggest contributor to happiness over a lifetime. 

A study conducted by Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina found that interacting with friends, family, and even colleagues can extend your life. For adults, strong social networks extend longevity by 50 percent. The benefits of a healthy social life can be as positive as giving up fifteen cigarettes a day.

So, prioritize personal connections. Loving (not necessarily romantic) relationships throughout life have the most significant positive impact on life satisfaction. People love you back. Your job and your gadgets do not. 

#2: Independence with Time and Money

Society prioritizes money over time. We think that a bigger house or car is the key to a better life, and we exhaust ourselves to get them.  But “more” doesn’t translate to “more happy.” 

A 2010 study showed that after a point, increases in income don’t improve your life satisfaction.

Financial security will improve your life.  Financial security buys time affluence, which is having sufficient time for what is most important. Time is more valuable than money. It’s scarce. You can produce more money, but you can’t create more time.

#3: Identity

Identity describes who you are and what you stand for, not what you do. You own your identity. It doesn’t depend upon anything or anyone else. Your self-worth has nothing to do with your net worth.

For years, caretaker Bronnie Ware looked after terminally ill patients who were in the final weeks of their lives. She began to notice many recurring themes in the thoughts of the dying. The number one regret people had was, “I wish I dared to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

#4: Intentionality

Intentionality delivers meaning, which is a common aspiration among professionals. National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner studied societies with extended lifespans. Those societies with long lifespans have healthy social relationships with their families and community. They have a deep sense of meaning and purpose.

What gets you out of bed each morning and keeps you going? Do you embrace mornings eagerly, or reluctantly?  To live intentionally is to look forward and to deliberately pursue what’s most important. 

#5: Impact

Most of us want to make a difference in this world. We want to contribute to something bigger that has meaning, whether it’s at work, at home, at school, or in our community.

Researchers in Michigan and Korea found a relationship between meaning and life satisfaction, health, and longevity. They discovered that a life framed by purpose satisfies people more than a life centered on pleasure. “The search for meaning is not only morally worthy but as it succeeds, eventually satisfying,” the researchers wrote.

#6: Integration

Work-life balance is something we professionals always aim for but miss badly. It’s like a seesaw: if one side is up, the other must be down. 

There’s a different and more lasting way to think about the work-life equation: integration, when your highest priorities fit together and you can accommodate everything that’s important. Gandhi described happiness as when “what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” 

#7: Inspiration

As our careers advance, our intellectual range narrows. Over time, we simply slow down the learning. When you’ve done something for the hundredth time, no matter how complex it is, it poses less of a mental challenge.

To maintain mental fitness, we need inspiration. The novelist Tom Clancy once said, “When you stop learning, you die.” People who keep learning tend to earn more, live longer, have more friends and more confidence, and be more interesting.

#8: Invigoration

Invigoration is associated with fitness, proper nutrition, and healthy living. It’s the closest thing to a magic pill to enhance your life.

At our 9-to-5 jobs, we almost ignore this essential. We sit all day, grab fast food for lunch, sit during the commute, and then sit in front of a screen when we get home. But invigoration is powerful, it’s free, and you can do it almost anywhere. It is one of the eight essential ingredients that make life delicious. 

This article was adapted from the book, ENRICH, written by Todd Miller. For more information visit Enrich101.com.

Todd Miller is an American-born entertainment executive who has extensively researched and aggressively experimented with the work-life equation for over a quarter century.