Four keys to happiness

Life is beautiful and complex. But could we simplify it to one core concept: what is everyone trying to obtain?


Let’s face it, there is no single determining factor that will guarantee your happiness. We are all different and various things are able to make us happy. That being said there may be some common threads between us. In this article I will briefly describe some that have worked for me — these keys to happiness are not theoretical but empirical, which also suggests they are subjective, but I believe they would apply to most people. In each one I will ask you one simple question, related to “are you happy today?” I believe you will notice that the answers all correspond with that answer.

I think our happiness is tied strongly to our physical well-being so in this article I will be focusing on physical things that can make you happy.

Key #1: Sufficient Sleep

We’ve all had those days that we went to bed really late and then had to get up early in the morning: I.E we didn’t get enough sleep. I personally hate that tired feeling because it’s something that in all likelihood I have to bear all day until the next night comes when I can sleep again. For me this factor is one of the biggest in determining my happiness. Quite simply:

Are you tired today? Did you get enough sleep last night?

I find when I have had sufficient sleep I feel much more aware of my surroundings, much happier, brighter and light-hearted. What a great blessing good sleep is!

Key #2: Exercise

I think the hardest part of exercise is probably just the first minute, or basically—pushing yourself to start. Recently I’ve been biking my way from home to the train station and back almost every day as weather permits, what a difference that’s made to my happiness! In total that adds up to around 50 minutes of cardio-vascular exercise daily. I have found that consistent exercise (especially for me personally – cardio-vascular exercise) has a massive impact on happiness:

Have you exercised today?

I think you need at least 15-20 minutes of good heart-pumping to make it count, walking up two flights of stairs is not going to do it. Be serious about the effort you put in and you will get a seriously positive result.

Key #3: Eating and Drinking well

I think I’m a bit more lenient with regards to food! I think most of us know what foods are good for us and what are not, what kinds of food do you regret eating shortly after completing the meal? It’s quite obvious which side those fall on. More than just the importance of eating healthy food is eating consistently:

Have you gone hungry today? Have you maintained hydration today? Have you eaten enough today?

As a guy I think with my stomach a lot. This results in much happiness when my stomach is satisfied!

Key #4: Being free from addiction.

Addiction is like a chain that wraps itself around us constraining our happiness. Is there something that you can’t live without doing? Some substance that you can’t live without partaking? Some activity that you must do or you will feel withdrawal symptoms? Overcoming whatever that addiction is, is a great key to becoming a happier person. You will be happier without the constant burden of addiction on your body.

Are you addicted to anything?

Overcoming addiction is a process, not an event. While you are working to overcome any bad habits or addiction to substances, recognise that you won’t get over it easily and most of the time a “cold-turkey” approach will simply result in a relapse. Slowly cut down the substance / behaviour day by day until eventually your desire to have that thing begins to dissipate.

Be happy!

Sufficient sleep, exercise, food, and not being addicted to things. Sounds like a happy life to me!

One last thought: If happiness were cheap or easy to acquire, then it wouldn’t be happiness. Anything with a high reward has a high cost.

Put simply, the cost of happiness is discipline.



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