I previously came accross a quote by the legenary Elvis Presley;

“I believe the key to happiness is: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for/look forward to.” – Elvis Presley

while the quote makes a lot of sense, it does prove to have a few gaps as it has the requirement of possession, namely someone to love and something to do, nor does it address health. I believe that those things are a result of happiness not the key to it.

Although there has been many ideas on the key to happiness, I think the best ideas are backed up by scientific studies.

A great book addressing happiness from a scientific stand point and many other types of self help topics is “59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute”
by Dr Richard Wiseman.

The following is a  summary of some of the advice he gives on increasing your happiness, based on scientific research:

Gratitude

1. Having gratitude for the things in your life and keeping a diary in which allows you to express gratitude towards all the good things in your life, positive thoughts about the future (e.g. imagine – realistically – things have gone as well as you can hope, and you have achieved your goals), and affection towards those you love/have loved. Part of the reason for why this works is that the human brain has a tendency to quickly ‘habituate’ to almost anything and thus we take things for granted and must remind ourselves of them.

Writing Things Down 

2. If a problem or negative experience has effected your life, research shows that ‘positive thinking’, psychotherapy, or even just talking about your problems does not seem to make people happier. Instead, evidence suggests that writing a diary about your problems can be extremely beneficial to your happiness (the theory is that writing encourages one to structure your thoughts whilst chatting about them, less so).

Money and Happiness

3. Spending money on material things doesn’t make you happy, but spending money on experiences, such as holidays, shows, or even a meal, does. The key things seem to be that experiences offer the opportunity to interact with others, or having things to discuss with others after the experience. Equally, spending money on others does more to increase happiness than spending it on yourself.

Your Physiology Effects Your Mentality and Vice Versa

4. Actively smiling, sitting upright and generally ACTING happy, can make you feel more happy. The smile can’t be fleeting, it must be for between at least 15 to 30 seconds or more.

Advice on increasing your happiness, based on scientific research