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10 Keys to Happier Living

The Ten Keys to Happier Living are based on a review of the latest research from psychology and related fields. Everyone's path to happiness is different, but the evidence suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people's happiness and well-being.

The first five keys (GREAT) are about how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. They are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by nef as part of the Foresight Project. The second five keys (DREAM) come from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

Outside: Our Daily Activities

1. Giving

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Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it's not all about money - we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more...

2. Relating

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Connect with people

Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more...

3. Exercising

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Take care of your body

Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don't all need to run marathons - there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more...

4. Awareness

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Live life mindfully

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it's right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life - like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future - so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more...

5. Trying Out

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Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things - not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more...

 

Inside: Our Attitude to life

6. Direction

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Have goals to look forward to

Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more...

7. Resilience

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Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it's not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more...

8. Emotions

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Look for what's good

Positive emotions - like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride - are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an 'upward spiral', helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life's ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation - the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more...

9. Acceptance

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Be comfortable with who you are

No-one's perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people's outsides. Dwelling on our flaws - what we're not rather than what we've got - makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more...

10. Meaning

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Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find 'meaning and purpose'? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more...

About the Ten Keys

The Ten Keys to Happier Living framework was jointly developed by Vanessa King and the Action for Happiness team in 2010, based on an extensive review of the latest research evidence relating to psychological/mental wellbeing.

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Downloads and Resources

Order the full Ten Keys to Happier Living book

Read our free Ten Keys to Happier Living Guidebook

Download the Ten Keys to Happier Living summary

See our set of inspiring posters for each of the Ten Keys

Order some of our Ten Keys postcards to share locally

Try out our Happiness Action Pack

Changes to the Keys 2016

To correspond with the launch of our new Ten Keys to Happier Living book in March 2016, we have made two enhancements to the naming of the Ten Keys.

  1. "Appreciating: Notice the world around" has been renamed to "Awareness: Live life mindfully". This is partly to refer more explicitly to mindfulness (which has always been the central component of this key) and also because "Appreciating" made some people think gratitude was included here when in fact this is part of the separate key on positive emotions.
  2. "Emotion: Take a positive approach" has been renamed to "Emotions: Look for what's good". This is partly to avoid a link to simplistic "positive thinking" and partly to be more explicit about gratitude and the choice we all have over what to focus on (which again has always been the main component of this key).

Book: Ten Keys to Happier Living

Ten Keys Book Packshot

Order your copy of our inspiring, science-based book and discover how to live a happier life and help create a happier world.

POSTER: GREAT DREAM

Ten Keys to Happier Living

Great Dream 200

See the full set of posters

POSTER #1: GIVING

Do things for others

Giving 200

POSTER #2: RELATING

Connect with people

Relating 200

POSTER #7: RESILIENCE

Find ways to bounce back

Resilience 200

POSTER #8: EMOTIONS

Look for what's good

Emotions 200

COURSE LOCATIONS

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Click here for full list of currently available courses.