A row of bright, white teeth will light up your face every time you smile, instantly creating the impression of youth and vitality. Image Credit: Camera Press

Do you think everything is dreary and that life could not possibly get any better? Are you feeling uninspired? Pessimistic? Miserable? Do you want to move out of your unhappiness?

We all aspire for happiness. For all of us, happiness comes in various shapes and sizes. Others try to find it in wealth, in material things, in their careers, in close relationships and other life achievements. We all have different ideas about what happiness is and how to get it, but one thing is constant: The quality of our life depends on the quality of our happiness.

For the average person, happiness is a choice, yet why are many people unhappy?

According to research, about 50 per cent of our happiness comes from a natural predisposition. Each of us is born with a certain level of happiness, which explains why some of us are just more inclined to be happier than others.  Then, about 10 per cent of our happiness is the result of circumstances like race, gender, wealth and personal history. Certainly those are factors we have little or no control over. But—get this—about 40 per cent of our happiness is due to what we do to make ourselves happy!

So while you may be born with a certain predisposition, this certainly doesn’t mean you can’t adjust yourself to achieve that level of happiness you want.

Happiness is within your reach, but it is a choice you must make. It is not something that can be delivered to your doorstep. You have to get out there and choose to make it happen.

Sure, it takes less effort to be unhappy, but do you really want to be stuck in that zone? Why choose to become this lethargic, uncreative ball of negativity when you can be the best person you can be?

The truth is, happiness is a state of mind and you can rewire your brain to think happy thoughts. When you choose to let your mind focus on the good, you will be happier. Make happiness happen for you by choosing to make it your top goal.

Love life. Start by practicing a spirit of gratitude every day, every chance you get. The more we are thankful for the things we have, the more we appreciate them and the less likely we will take them for granted.
 
Look around. There is a lot to be thankful for: Your health; your career; your family; the simple fact that you are still alive, can walk, talk and read this while others are struggling with debilitating diseases, or only have a few months to live. Know that you are blessed and be thankful.
 
Don’t compare yourself to others. It is an unhealthy, unnecessary competition. A lot of times, we are unhappy because we continually pitch our happiness on others. They’ve got more money in the bank. A better car. A bigger house. The list goes on. Instead of focusing on what they have that you don’t, focus on how you can make your life better. Dispel any negative distractions. Set goals and make them happen. When you continue to improve yourself, you make life more fulfilling.
 
Take advantage of opportunities to learn how to be happy. Be in places that can boost your happiness levels and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Spend more time doing pleasurable things. They don’t have to be grandiose, like buying your dream house, but they can be experiences that money can’t buy: time with family, friends or a loved one. Take time to develop close relationships. People with more close friends tend to be happier than those with fewer friends.
 
Stop aiming for perfection. We think we can only be truly happy once we get that perfect job, that perfect relationship. We spend more time waiting for that perfect opportunity instead of enjoying what we have now. Happiness is not a question of perfection, but rather the result of understanding that nothing is ever perfect.
 
Happiness is also linked to your physical well-being so don’t neglect your health. There is a huge link between physical health and happiness. Injury or illness can be emotionally devastating, so set time for exercise to improve your overall well-being. Your body is your temple so eat right, exercise and take care of it.

Get quality sleep. Sleep helps your body recover from everyday stress. If you’re not well rested, your body and mind will not operate at optimum level, which means you can be grumpy and prone to negative emotions.
 
Get a breath of fresh air. Literally. Being outdoors makes people happier. Spending 20 minutes outside can boost positive moods. So when you are feeling stressed or down, step out and change the setting.

Do a good deed and do it often. Studies have shown that helping others is one of the best ways to boost your happiness. Spread that happiness around. Enjoy life now and take control of your happiness.