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I believe that everything we do, every relationship we make and every goal we set is driven by one ultimate goal – to be happy and content.

What makes you happy? Is it more money? Is it success at work? Or great relationships? Believe it or not, these are just external factors that may give us a temporary high and short-term happiness. However, to be happy and content consistently is a state of mind – it comes down to our thoughts, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle choices.

Genuine and long-term happiness and contentment come from a deeper and longer-lasting feeling of satisfaction and gratitude towards our lives. This is something that we can all do. In this article, I will share 10 habits to help you become more happy and content.

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1. Develop Close Friendships

Close friendships are great for your mental and physical health. They improve your mood, boost your self-esteem, reduce stress and the chances of getting sick. Spending time with close friends leads to a happier, more fulfilling life, and increases your sense of belonging and purpose.

There was a study that showed that 94% of adolescents saw their friends pretty much every day. The same study also showed that 91% of retired people saw their friends almost every day. Something seems to go wrong in the middle years. Whether it’s because of work, family, or kids, many of us spend very little time with our friends.

Friendships are important in difficult times. When you’re going through a divorce, a job loss, serious illness, or death of a loved one, a great circle of friends can help. Friends make life happier, more fulfilling, colorful, and exciting. I recommend having a weekly friend ritual where you take the time to meet up with a close friend once a week.

2. Take Responsibility

This is the first step towards any improvement in life, and it includes taking responsibility for your emotional state and happiness.

As soon as you blame the economy, someone else, your upbringing, lack of skills or intelligence, you become powerless. You take away your ability to change and you feel like a victim. Feeling like a victim and powerless will make you unhappy.

If you want to be happy and content, take responsibility and change things that make you miserable or sad. Think about your life and ask yourself:

  • Can I take responsibility for this situation?
  • What can I change about this?
  • What can I do to not feel that I’m being a victim?

3. Become a Happiness Detective

If you want to be happy and content, try focusing on the good things in your life – the good things about your health, work, where you live, or your family and friends.

We usually focus on what we don’t want and what we don’t have in our lives. A great way to change this is to practice gratitude. Notice and appreciate what you already have in your life. Appreciate everything that is going well. To learn how to do this more effectively, read my article about gratitude.

Remember that there’s good in almost everything. If you’re often unhappy, it will take time and effort to focus on the good before it becomes a habit. It’s like building a physical muscle. You’re building a mental muscle by focusing on what you already have and appreciate. The more you do it, the more your unconscious mind will pick up on it, and the more it will become a positive habit.

4. Set and Achieve Goals

Happy people set goals. If you look at your main areas of life – your work, relationships, and health – you’ll find that you’re either improving or declining. We rarely stay still in any area of life. To ensure that all areas of your life are improving, it’s good to set goals. Many people don’t set goals because they are afraid of not achieving them. However, it’s far better to set goals and do your best to achieve them. If you miss some of them, use this as a learning opportunity.

There is a virtual cycle that goes on here – you set goals, then create a plan. That increases your self-discipline, and then you achieve the goal. When you achieve it, you feel good about yourself. That increases your self-esteem, self-worth and your happiness. Then you set more goals, and the process continues. We are goal-directed individuals, so setting goals is very important if you want to be happy and content.

5. Realize that Happiness is an Inside Job

Long-term happiness doesn’t come from achieving things in life. Why is that? Because the Law of Familiarity kicks in. Let’s say you get a significant promotion at work or a new job. You enjoy that increased responsibility and recognition. You probably have more money and a better lifestyle. That feels great and makes you happier. But over time it becomes normal and familiar.

Then you may think, “Well, there’s something else I need to do to be happy. I’ll go and live in another part of the world”. That feels very exciting. I did that 10 years ago moving from London to Sydney and it was great for the first few months. But then it became familiar and normal. The Law of Familiarity means that anything new and significant you achieve in life will eventually become familiar and normal.

Also watch out for “I will be happy when…” thinking. For example, when you’re at school and you don’t like discipline, you may think “I’ll be happy when I go to university”. At university you have freedom, but you are broke. So you think, “I will be happy when I get a job and get some money”. Then, you get a nice job and money comes in, but you face other challenges – routine, stress, or pressure from other people. Maybe you think, “When I get married, I’ll be happy and content”. And when it happens, it feels great. But over time, it becomes the new normal.

You can see how easily this can increase to “When I have kids I’ll be happy” and then ultimately “When I retire I’ll be happy”. “I will only be happy when…” is a kind of thinking you need to stop. Happiness is not a deferred payment plan! You can be happy and content in this moment. There’s almost like a limiting belief that I need to do this or have that to be happy. Remember that that’s not true. Happiness is something you create from the inside and you can be happy right now.

It’s often the smallest and most basic things that can make you happy and create memorable moments in your life, such as:

  • Being grateful for what you already have.
  • Smiling and having an uplifting posture.
  • Listening to some great music.
  • Quality time with your partner and close friends.
  • Getting out in nature for a few hours.
  • Having a lot of variety and doing lots of different activities.

6. Release Resentment

When you have resentment or a grudge towards another person, it’s you who feels it, not the other person. That person is probably not even aware that you’re thinking about them or having any of those feelings. A resentment or grudge is something that you hold inside. You are the victim. It’s you that feels violated and it’s you that feel someone else is stopping you or holding you back.

It also means that you are not taking responsibility because you are blaming someone else for your unhappiness and inability to succeed in life. Forgiveness and being able to let go is crucial for your happiness. When you do this, you will feel joy, peace, and calm. You can learn more about ways to release negative emotions in my article about the Sedona Method.

7. Cultivate Faith and Peace of Mind

Unhappy people worry a lot. Happy people have faith that everything will turn out fine. Here are 2 great ways to develop this attitude:

Use positive and soothing self-talk.

Having a positive and soothing internal voice means saying things like “You’re doing your best”, “We’ll work it out” and “Everything is okay”.

Welcome and accept all emotions.

Let all emotions flow through you – the good and the bad ones. When you resist emotions, they tend to stay. When you experience them or express them, they move on. Emotions are like clouds in the sky. If you just let them pass, they will move on.

8. Face Your Fears

Facing fears and taking risks is crucial if you want to be happy and content. When you don’t deal with stuff, it festers inside. Taking risks, facing your fears, and overcoming them feels great. That takes you out of your comfort zone and you get the sense of aliveness that comes from achieving something that you thought was hard or even impossible.

I encourage you to do one thing every day that is a bit uncomfortable. You could try a different food at lunchtime, tackle a difficult issue at work that you’ve been putting off, or deal with a difficult person.

Whatever risk you take, make sure it is calculated. Weigh up all the options first. And remember that behind every risk there is a reward – the satisfaction and the feeling of aliveness that comes from tackling challenging and difficult situations.

9. Develop Hope

A lack of hope and a feeling that there is no way out is the main reason people get depressed. Developing hope is key to getting out of any kind of depression. Hope can be built on a conviction that:

  • You will find an answer or a solution to a problem.
  • You are doing the right thing.
  • You are being guided by a higher power that will help you through this.

Your nervous system responds to your perception rather than the circumstances. Hope makes all situations possible and tolerable. Some helpful ways to develop hope include:

  • Working out the steps from where you are now to where you want to be.
  • Looking for role models that have already overcome the adversity or challenge you’re facing.
  • Doing kind things for others – a great way to get out of your head and forget any problems for a while.
  • Practicing mindfulness – letting your mind focus on one thing at a time. When you focus completely on one thing, anxious thoughts will subside. You’ll then feel more present, calm and happy instead.

10. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other People

Comparing yourself with others always leads to unhappiness. It’s a recipe for misery because it gets you focused on what you don’t like about yourself and your life. Here are some tips to help you not compare yourself with others.

Compare yourself with who you want to become.

Ask yourself:

  • What can I improve?
  • How can I become more loving?
  • How can I become more successful?
  • How can I become a nicer person today than I was yesterday?
  • How can I improve in all areas of my life?

Be okay with your past.

You may regret some things that happened in your past. Maybe some events in the past were very difficult for you, or even unfair. That’s okay. Remember that your past has helped you become the person you are today.

Take a break from social media.

Social media highlights all the great things that are happening in other people’s lives. It’s the opposite of the news. The news always tells you what’s going wrong in the world. Social media tells you all the wonderful stuff that’s happening. The reality is somewhere in between.

Take a break from social media if you feel it makes you feel inadequate or lacking something. Remember that when you look at people who seem to have it all, they might not be happy inside. You never know what someone is feeling inside. Although they may seem to have all that success on the outside, it doesn’t mean that they are happy.

So these are my 10 habits that will help you be happy and content. I encourage you to apply these into your life right now.

If you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful, please leave a comment or question below.  I would love to hear what you think!   Please also click on the stars below to rate this post. Also, feel free to share this article with other people or on social media.

Have you ever wondered what the most successful people do? The ones that are truly happy, fulfilled and prosperous? Well, I reveal this in my 10 Strategies for Your Success eBook. It’s a great read and as a treat for reading this article, it’s yours for free!

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Thank you for reading this article.  I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Paul

We have many universal human needs.  The most basic are physical such as food, water, and shelter.  Once we have these, we strive to meet our mental and emotional human needs.  These are the universal human needs that I will focus on in this article.

When these fundamental human needs are met, we feel happy and fulfilled. Our health and wellbeing can improve massively as a result.

When one or more of these universal human needs are not met, you’ll feel bad or engage in addictive behaviors that allow these needs to be met in other ways.

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These universal human needs come from the Human Givens Model. This is a method of psychotherapy that was developed in the U.K.  Here they are:

1. Safety and Security

We all want to live in an environment that is free from excessive fear. When our environment feels insecure, unpredictable, or dangerous, our mental health can suffer.

Safety and security fall into three areas. Firstly financial security.  This is feeling confident that we’re not going to lose our job, or lose our house. Secondly health. Feeling confident that our body will look after us for years to come. Thirdly physical safety. Living in an area where you feel reasonably safe walking the streets, or living with a partner that looks after you and won’t harm you.

2. Autonomy and Control

Life can be unpredictable and uncertain. However, deep down we need a sense of control and autonomy. When adversity strikes, some people rebound more quickly than others, because they have developed a good sense of internal control.

Internal control is about controlling your emotions, being assertive in relationships and making & acting on decisions. It’s also about knowing what you can directly control and what you can only influence.

If you struggle with internal control, then relax when the unexpected happens.  This will give you a new perspective.  If things outside of your control are making you feel anxious, then focus on other parts of your life that are going well and are more within your control.

3. Status

The third universal human need is status. This is about feeling accepted and valued in different social groups such as work, family or friends.
If you are unable to get this feeling of status from normal day to day activities, consider volunteering or leading something in the community that will make a difference and feels important to you.

4. Privacy

Privacy is having the time and space to reflect on life’s experiences. It’s time alone, “me time”, time to reflect on how things are going in your life. Time to consolidate your thoughts, and decide on the next step.

5. Attention

This is receiving attention from others and giving attention to others. Too much time alone can affect your mental and emotional state. The amount of attention varies among people.  More extrovert people are likely to crave attention more, but we all need this at some level.

Meet the fundamental human need for attention by spending time with family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances or even pets. Catch up with old friends, or make new friends. I highly recommend Meetup.com for finding friends with common interests. Use the phone or Skype to interact with people that live a long way from you.

Related Article: The 6 Human Needs that Drive All Good and Bad Behavior

6. Connection to a wider community

The sixth universal human need is all about connecting with a larger group of people and feeling a sense of being part of that group. This takes the focus off yourself and your own issues. It allows you to do something that goes beyond meeting your own needs and involves helping to meet the needs of others.  It’s also a great way to get out of your own head.

This sense of connection benefits your immune system, your mental health, and level of happiness and fulfillment. Consider joining a club to meet some like-minded people. Meetup.com is great for this as well.

Think about what you’re really good at and share that with other people or teach them how to do it.  We all have some skill or knowledge that we can share with others.

7. Intimacy

The seventh universal human need is intimacy. Intimacy (as defined by Human Givens) is an emotional connection with others. This includes friendship, love, intimacy, and fun. It’s the ability to share your ideas, hopes, and dreams with at least one other person. Typically this would be with a loving partner, but it could be with a close friend. As long as it’s someone that values who you are, understands you, and is willing to listen.

If you’re in a relationship, have a date night. Use this time to talk about your future, about where you’re going and your passions. Avoid talking about practical day to day issues such as money, work or the kids.

8. Look after your body

The eighth fundamental human need for a balanced life is looking after your body. Maybe you know this person. They thrive (apparently) on four or five hours sleep. They’re always first in the office. They skip lunch, believing that lunch is for wimps. They skip the gym because they’re too busy. If they feel tired, they grab a coffee. This lifestyle is not sustainable in the long term. Keep doing it and this will lead to psychological problems and stress-related illness.

It’s important to make time to look after your body. This includes getting enough good quality sleep, resting and relaxing, doing some exercise, eating healthily and visiting the doctor to get regular health checks done.

9. Competence and achievement

The ninth universal human need is having a sense of your own competence and your ability to achieve things. It’s having what it takes to meet life’s demands, feeling confident and that you’re making progress in life and achieving things.

If you have nothing to achieve or aim for, then learn a new skill. You could go to an evening class or learn online. Look back at what you enjoyed in the past. What hobbies did you have in the past that you don’t have time for now? Maybe you could start this hobby again and use that to help you meet this fundamental human need.

I also recommend setting goals in all areas of life, I start with yearly goals, then create monthly and weekly goals as stepping stones to meet my annual goals. By setting goals, you enjoy the satisfaction of watching your progress towards these goals.

10. Purpose and Meaning

The final fundamental human need is having a strong sense that your future plans are worthwhile and that you can achieve them. It’s about having beliefs and values that you stand by. Principles that guide your life.

Having a clear sense of purpose, direction and meaning will help your imagination work for you. You start to picture yourself doing things really well, thriving in new situations and becoming a different person.

People that lack a purpose or meaning in their life, often feel worthless, as if life has no meaning.  They don’t see a reason for their existence. It feels like something’s missing and they feel bored or empty. As the imagination has no positive direction, it starts to focus on what’s not working and begins to fear and imagine the worst. So your imagination needs to go where you are going.

If you need more help with fulfilling this universal human need, then I suggest taking some time out to evaluate what you want to achieve in your life. Once decided, create a plan of action to do that.

Don’t spend months or years trying to figure out what your purpose or meaning in life is. There could be several that fit you equally well. Also, your purpose and meaning in life could well change over time. Go with what makes sense to you for now. What gives you the passion and excitement right now?

Next steps

So these are the 10 universal human needs that bring lasting happiness and fulfillment.  Identify the human needs that are lacking and take some steps now to better meet these human needs. You’ll be glad you did!

Also, check out the two articles below which I used as a basis for this blog post.

Wikipedia article

Uncommon Knowledge article

Also check out my related article that covers the 6 Human Needs that Drive All Good and Bad Behavior.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article and learning about the 10 universal human needs. Please leave a comment or question below.  I would love to hear what you think!   Please also click on the stars below to rate this post or share it with a friend or on social media.

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Thank you for reading this article.  Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Paul