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10 Keys to a Happier Life­­


What are the daily habits of truly happy people? And how can we incorporate these habits into our daily lives?

Action for Happiness—a movement dedicated to helping people experience more fulfilling lives—has developed a list of 10 habits, or keys, based on the latest scientific research of happy people.

You may have already guessed that these habits have nothing to do with striving to be smarter, richer, or better looking than our neighbors. In fact, these ten keys are based on being less competitive and taking time to really love yourself, love others, and enjoy the world around you.

To make the habits easier to remember, the Ten Keys spell the acronym GREAT DREAM:

Giving: Be generous. Whether it’s a smile, a kind word, or a helping hand, give freely to others.

Relating: Connect with people. Close relationships provide love, support, and meaning in our lives.

Exercising: Stay active. Your body and mind are connected—the health of your physical body affects your mood.

Appreciating: Be mindful. Notice the world around you, and take time to enjoy it.

Trying out: Keep learning new things. Be curious and engage with life.

Direction: Set goals to feel motivated and challenged.

Resilience: Find ways to bounce back. Practice the art of letting go.

Emotion: Take a positive approach to life. Try to focus on the good in every situation.

Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are. Don’t compare your insides to another person’s outsides.

Meaning: Be part of something bigger than yourself. People who have meaning in their lives experience less stress, anxiety, and depression.

So which habit comes most easily for people? And which one not so easily?

Action for Happiness, along with another charity called Do Something Different, gave out another survey asking 5,000 people to rate themselves (on a scale of 1-10) on how well they practiced the Ten Keys. Here are the top and bottom ranking habits:

  • Giving was the top-rated habit. When asked How often do you make an effort to help or be kind to others? people gave themselves an average of 7.41 out of 10. One in six people gave themselves a 10 out of 10.
  • Acceptance came out as the least practiced habit. When asked How often are you kind to yourself and think you're fine as you are? people's average rating was just 5.56 out of 10. Almost half (46%) rated themselves at a 5 or lower.

Ironically, researchers found that it is the habit of Acceptance—the habit rated as most difficult for people—that was most associated with overall happiness levels.

So, this week, let’s work on all ten habits, but perhaps spend a little extra time thinking about self acceptance. Be comfortable with who you are first, and the other nine habits will come more easily.

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional freelance writer who specializes in psychology, science, health, and spiritual themes.  Some of her most recent work includes covering the latest research news in science and psychology, writing science chapter books for elementary students, and developing teacher resource books.  When she is not researching and writing, she is spending time with her family, reading anything and everything, and going to the beach as often as possible.

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