What makes you happy? I mean truly happy. If you did a happiness audit of your life, how would you rate your level of happiness on a scale of 1 – 10? Could your level of happiness be higher, and if so, what could you do to be happier?

As I reflect on 2020 and start planning for 2021, I’d like to create more happiness in my life. So, I’ve been reading and studying happiness — what it means, why it’s so important, and what I can do to be happier.

Today, I want to share what I’m learning about happiness and more importantly, some of the best habits for happiness so that you, too, can take inspired action to create more happiness in 2021. As they say, when you are happy, you have the ability to influence and impact other people’s happiness too. So, let’s dive in!

Webster’s dictionary defines happiness as a state of being happy; a pleasant emotional state that is characterized by feelings of contentment, joy, gratification, satisfaction, and well-being. Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is so good and you can’t help but smile. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness.

The “pursuit of happiness” is personal — you need to pursue happiness in your own way. Everyone seeks happiness to maintain a good state of mind. A good state of mind leads to new thoughts, which lead to new ideas, which lead to actions, and actions lead to success. It’s important to be happy in order to be successful, and everyone has a different definition of success. That’s why you need to pursue happiness in your own way.

So, what makes you happy? Is it having financial freedom? Having epic relationships? Learning new things? Finding peace and contentment? A warm bear hug from your hubby? When is the last time you reflected on what truly makes you happy?

You might be wondering why happiness is so important. Happiness is vital to our personal goals in life and can help us achieve many of our life’s ambitions and goals. Also, by being happy, we have the potential to change many other lives just by being ourselves.

You see, happiness is a choice. Many happy people realize happiness is a choice and it’s up to them to intentionally choose it every single day. Happy people are not held hostage by their circumstances and they do not seek happiness in people or possessions.

They understand that when we stop chasing the world’s definition of happiness, we begin to see the decision to experience happiness has been right in front of us all along. Research in the field of positive psychology continues to reinforce this understanding.

But simply knowing that happiness is a choice is just not enough. Fully experiencing it still requires a conscious decision to choose happiness each and every day. So, how might each of us begin to experience this joy and happiness?

The answer is creating habits for happiness. These habits for happiness include gratitude, connection, confidence, transformation, and work and finances.

1. Gratitude: Gratitude is a warm feeling of thankfulness towards the world, or towards specific individuals. People who feel gratitude are thankful for what they have, and do not constantly seek more. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

2. Connection: As we get older, our circle of friends gets smaller, but increases in value. Our heart and soul yearns to find like-minded people that will lift us up and grow together with us. Social connection is so important for your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re frequently getting together with the same people, and feeling bored, disengaged, or misunderstood, you might want to consider finding new connections and community. I’d encourage you to find a community who accepts you for who you are and loves you enough to support you in who you want to become. Ideally, you want to find friendships and connections where you can grow together, serve together and play together.

3. Confidence: Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from appreciation of one’s own abilities and qualities. It’s having a quiet inner knowledge of your capabilities. When was the last time you showed appreciation towards yourself, or spoke to yourself in a motivating, inspiring, insightful way? On the flip side, can you remember the last time you criticized or talked down to yourself? For many of us, we tend to focus more on our weaknesses or faults than we do on our strengths and gifts. When we engage or allow negative self-talk, we crush our self-confidence. We start making assumptions and create stories that destroy our confidence. We take action out of fear, anxiety, worry, and self-doubt. We set unrealistic goals that sabotage our dreams for the future. To build our self-confidence, we need to engage in activities that help us learn and grow.

4. Transformation: What transformational actions can you take to cement the habit of happiness into your life? Whenever you want to make changes in your life, it’s important to get clarity, set goals, and stay focused and motivated. You see, our goals become a reality when we can break them down into smaller, micro goals, and we can achieve small wins. One small win leads to another and another and so on. The key to transformation is really about finding people who inspire you to become your best version of yourself, consistently taking actions that help you create new habits, and finding a community that will help you continually grow.

5. Work & Finances: Work and finances have a profound impact on your health and happiness. First, it’s important to identify and implement your natural strengths and abilities at work. When you bring your strengths and passions to the workplace, you inherently feel more confident, you get noticed by people at work, and you attract recognition and reward. The second important habit in the workplace is to get clarity. With clarity, you can have crystal clear communication with your manager about your intentions and you can ask how you’ll be rewarded. Having clarity allows you to have the right growth conversations that help you and your company.

Similarly, it’s important to get clarity on your finances. First, you need to get clarity on your budget. You need to understand your gross pay, take home pay, and expenditures, both your necessary expenses and your unnecessary expenses. There are a ton of great resources available to help you determine how best to allocate your net income including suggested amounts for your monthly savings and specific expenses. Next, you need to perform a money audit. The money audit helps you see where you’re spending money and what you truly value.

Two things that I’ve learned and validated is the happiest people save a minimum of 20% of their net income before they do anything else, and the happiest people do not sacrifice their overall health and wellbeing. Meaning, they will allocate funds towards mental and physical health, personal growth, and self-development.

So, how are you spending your money? Do you need to tidy up your budget? Or, re-allocate funds towards areas of your life that will support your happiness goals?

As Gandhi says, Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. What’s one small thing you can do today to create new habits for happiness? What I want you to know and what I want you to remember is that happiness is a choice. It requires you to intentionally choose happiness every day. The happiest people practice gratitude, connect and grow together, optimize and boost their confidence, transform their life with focus and intention, and seek clarity with work and finances.