For twenty years I’ve been spotting future trends and sharing them with readers, radio listeners, and audiences of all types.

Here’s the latest trend I’ve spotted: GETTING HAPPIER.

Identifying what makes one happy has become a big topic. No wonder, with the increase in life expectancy, people want to know what constitutes personal contentment. They want to know if they have enough of it, and if they don’t they want to know if they can be happier.

I’m happy (no play on words intended) to report that ‘yes’, happiness can be identified and it can be increased if we are in short supply of it.

Like most studies on nature vs. nurture, about 50% of our happiness is determined genetically and about 50% by our conditions and personal decisions. Our biochemical makeup in the front of our brains determines a lot of our contentment levels. But, so does our attitude. If you want to pick up your happiness, at a minimum consider picking up your attitude.

New research also suggests there are qualities or characteristics that contribute to contentment. They are, as best I can simply communicate them:

  1. Having sufficient money. Fall below a certain amount and discontentment builds fast.
  2. Having status that money brings. This seems rather shallow, but ignore it at your own peril. It’s one thing to have money; it’s another to have some degree of status that shows you have “made it” in life. Studies show we all need both to feel content.
  3. Engaging in work. Retiring to an island to do nothing but relax is an illusion. Studies show that millionaires who work are more content than millionaires who do not.
  4. Maintaining Good Health. Illness saps contentment. Having a body that allows you to perform a normal schedule of activities cannot be overlooked. This is probably what drives us from an evolutionary standpoint to keep our calories down, exercise routinely, take vitamins, eat vegetables, fruits, healthy foods, and drink lots of water.
  5. Establishing Relationships. Research shows that people who concentrate on having good relationships live longer and are happier. Dedicating time to worthwhile relationships with a spouse, partner, family, friends or pets is essential to happiness.

Who would ever have thought ‘Getting Happier’ would become a Trend. If you are reflecting on your present state of happiness and feeling you fall short of your desired level of personal happiness, then consider the following.

  • Work on your attitude. Come to grips with negative feelings. Face them (tough as they may be), resolve them, and get on with life. Facing negative attitudes and moving on in life produces greater personal contentment.
  • Take control of your life by making goals. A lot is accomplished by deciding what you are going to achieve. Research shows that attitudes improve and financial security increases when goals are created and completed. Create short and long term goals. Then create action items to work toward attaining your goals. Planning your life is important.
  • Save and invest. Studies show the average American will change jobs four or five times within their lifetime. Naturally that creates ups and down in one’s personal cash flow. Get in the habit of having money set aside so you don’t feel overwhelmed when change comes. Work to have three months of cash on hand.
  • Work hard at what you like. People who work at something they like usually make more money than those who don’t. In addition, they are also more likely to be recognized for making an accomplishment among their peers. The key is to strive to make a living out of what you like doing.
  • Impose your will on your body. Move your body on a daily basis. Walk, swim, bike, exercise…whatever meets your capabilities and interests. Eat green and eat lean. Exercising and eating healthier will keep you happier and has long term happiness benefits.
  • Invest in relationships. The more you invest in relationships, the more content you will feel throughout the course of your life. Family, friends, pets, and long term relationships all enhance one’s happiness and longevity.

Try implementing these recommendations little by little. Happiness is not to the swift but to those who plug away at it.

Last, I have observed “Getting Happier” is not just available to those who live in rich countries, like America. Slowly, the possibility of achieving greater personal contentment is becoming available to people all over the world. The reason for this is that the world is gradually becoming more prosperous, and with growing prosperity the fundamental building block for greater happiness is created. Hopefully, that makes us all just a little bit happier.