4 Essential Ingredients for Happiness


Happiness is one of those aspirations that each one of us has. Somewhere, deep inside whatever we do, we strive to be happy. Often people believe that when they buy this new car, they will be finally happy. Or when they get this job, promotion, pay rise, holiday trip of their dreams or even a perfect-partner to have a relationship with. If you look carefully, in most of those examples and potentially in your life, people often relate external circumstances to trigger our inner happiness. Sounds a bit pathetic, doesn’t it? Can’t we do anything for ourselves to actually be happy and take responsibility for our happiness? I will agree that it is certainly hard to be happy when you don’t have basic necessities or the cash to pay your next rent or your education. Nonetheless, there are clear reports of people who are happy but live a life lacking most of the luxury ‘essentials’ from the first world point of view; and endless people with first-world wealth but still feeling they are un-happy. So, what then are the essential ingredients for happiness?

Health, nutrition and fitness

Health and fitness give us the freedom to do so many things in life. It may start with a simple fact of being mentally healthy to study or physically healthy to exercise, dance or laugh. But they are also inter-related; eating properly and going jogging or doing an hour of yoga is often key to improving your study and work routines.

People neglect their nutrition in the modern world. Marketing works by branding and packaging a product or service and selling it to you. Nobody has successfully branded lettuce leaves, broccoli, or going for a walk in the sun. Dare to be different; if most of the food currently in your fridge comes with a brand and/or a labelled list of ingredients, or has sugar as a component, then start shopping differently! What you eat is decided at the point of buying the food; make sure your kitchen is stocked to support your health!

Physical and mental fitness are very inter-related; if you enjoy a good basic level of health then make sure to keep it going by moving and exercising every day. Start today, appreciate your body and take care of it so that it can help make you happy! Nutrition, exercise, fresh air, sleep, stress management, relaxation and a loving relationship can directly influence and boost your health. What do you do on a daily, weekly, monthly level to support your these essential ingredients?

Family and Friends

People are social creatures; indeed, we are born to be with people, we have complex social ties and generally love to communicate. Humans need each other; we need close relationships to share and to listen. We need to support each other and be there for each other. Neglecting friends, family or your partner because of intense study or work schedules is a common mistake. If it lasts for just a short period of time, they will support you and be there for you when you need them. But in the long term, you get only as much of a relationship as you put in! Be conscious about your relationship ‘investments’ and where you spend your time. There is a simple analogy; you have to put into a relationship ‘bank account’ in order to be able to take out of it later. If you are working 60 hours a week then sure the ‘professional’ bank account will be full but what about your social life? Partners, family and friends are all people; you have to be there for them if you want them to be there for you.

There may also be occasions in your life where a relationship might not be good for you. If this it what you feel when you are around a particular person, become aware of it and take action. There is no rule that says all friendships or relationships have to last for a lifetime. Some relationships might last forever but there is nothing wrong with relationships that can be close and intense but lasting for a shorter period. Some say that friends come into your life for a ‘season’, a ‘reason’ or a ‘lifetime’. If a relationship turns a corner, or your circumstances change, don’t be afraid to go your own way.

Meaning and Purpose in your life

Looking at studies of longevity, older people survive longer in societies where they have a meaning and purpose. I come from the Russian culture and when growing up I was often baby-sat by my great-grand-mothers. In part it was probably hard work coping with a boisterous child like me but on the other hand they had meaning and purpose throughout their lives and were active contributing members of a family and society.

No matter which age, if we feel we are making a difference, someone needs us and counts on us, we will be delighted to get up and go. Supporting or helping others is one of the most rewarding things you can do no matter how old you are. If you don’t happen to have great-grand-children kicking around to look after, try some volunteer work. Organisation like the IAVE (international Association of Volunteer Effort) are making a great effort to connect volunteers with the right opportunities. When was the last time you helped somebody? How did it feel? What is your purpose when you wake up?

Do what you love

The Centre for Creative Leadership recently published a study on the amount of time people spend at work. Executives and many others may spend sixty hours a week at work, so time is precious!

People who consider themselves happiest are often those who manage spend more of their time doing what they love, and loving what they do. They take great pleasure and inspiration from their primary occupations. They also spend time on their health, with their partners and families and socialising with friends. If their ‘work’ is not so fulfilling you will find that they are passionate about their hobbies and other activities outside work; maybe they perform in a theatre group or help out in the local community in some way.

Do you want to set yourself up for a life where you wake up in the morning and look forward to the day no matter if it’s Monday or Sunday? Do you want meaning and fulfilment in your life? Work on finding out what makes you really happy so that you play in your ‘zone’. There are countless subjects to study; endless careers and professional occupations to aim at. It’s never too late to change even if you have already started a career or a degree and realised it may not have been the right choice.

It may take a year or two to transition from one career or degree course to another; but what’s those few years compared to the rest of your life? Yes, it might be hard work or a lot of effort but your ‘future-self’ will thank you for it!

Happiness is complex but let’s focus at these basics for the moment. Try checking your life for the above criteria that may help you become happier. Where do you stand? What should you do less/more off?

If you’d like to learn more about what you are like as a person, about how to consider what to study or which career to choose, you can contact us here at IYLC. Our coaches will be happy to support you, just send us an e-mail to info@iylc.ch or complete the contact-form and we’ll get back to you.

Best of joy on your road to happiness, you only live life once, so take that chance and make the most of it!