When it comes to living a happy and fulfilled life, many of us feel a bit lost. It’s hard to know where to start and what things foster joy in our lives—mainly because there is so much misinformation on the internet. Thankfully, studies have begun to focus on this elusive thing called joy and what people can do to cultivate it in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The following will explore some of the methods that increase the joy in your life.

If You Are Seriously Struggling

If you are suffering from sadness, guilt, shame, stress, or emptiness to the point where you are considering harming yourself, or others reach out to a trusted friend or a professional. Alternatively, you can call a helpline that will allow you to have a conversation with someone who is open and genuinely cares about your well-being. These phone calls are always completely private and anonymous.

Embrace Gratitude

You might have heard of this approach to happiness already and for a good reason. Finding things to be grateful for and expressing your thanks to God, nature, or the universe has been proven to create joy in people’s lives. Expressing gratitude and encouraging thankful thoughts or writing down the things you’re grateful for has consistently been found by professionals as the easiest way to increase your happiness. If you practice gratitude habitually, you can experience a long-term boost of joy in your life.

Don’t Give Life Events, Accomplishments, Or Milestones Too Much Importance.

Studies have also shown that humans radically overestimate the impact that life events will have on their happiness. Things like having the right job, romantic partner, or wealth have a much smaller impact than you might expect. Likewise, when negative things happen like losing a job or experiencing a breakup, we tend to assume that we’ll be sad forever—it’s not true. Avoid seeking happiness by setting goals surrounding life events, accomplishments, or milestones.

Live Authentically By Being Truthful With Yourself

Many of us grow accustomed to problems. We have struggling relationships, jobs that beat us into the ground, stressed familial bonds, and a never-ending to-do list. For many of us, there are important truths about ourselves and our existence that we have left buried deep in the back of our minds. It turns out that living dishonestly can really put a damper on our daily joy. Part of cultivating happiness is to dust off those inner truths and live according to them.

This can mean living in the way that we believe is moral, even if the rest of society or our workplace culture doesn’t support it. This can mean admitting that we hate where we live, and we only moved there for that job that we no longer work at. Truths can take any shape or any size. Do you want to move to and work in Costa Rica, where your family is? Start applying for those jobs and researching real estate in Costa Rica. This can mean reading the books we actually find interesting, even if they’re not “high-brow,” or listening to the music that we truly like that our friends make fun of. Living authentically is a crucial element in being happy.

Understand Your Happiness “Set Point”

Studies have found that, for the most part, we have a comfortable, habitual level of happiness that we gravitate towards. This means that experiences can alter our joy for a short time, but eventually, we move back to our set point of happiness or our disposition. Luckily, you can alter this set point. In particular, focusing on compassion, altruism, and helping others has been shown to have the biggest impact on people’s happiness set point. This doesn’t mean you have to spend money. There are as many ways to help others as there are people in this world.

Focus On Community

Studies have shown that being lonely or alone is terrible not only for our health but also for our emotional well-being. Especially given the worldwide lockdowns that are still ongoing due to the coronavirus pandemic, we could all do with a little extra focus on the community. An 80-year-long Harvard study found that being an active member of a community is one of the most important joy components. This doesn’t mean you have to stick with the community you were given at birth, however. It’s completely fine to switch things up and find a new community aligned with your values. Churches, found families, hobby meetup groups, community gardens, dog parks—opportunities to foster community relationships are all around us.

There is no magic formula for happiness; however, there are tips and tricks that can set you off on the right path toward joy. There are countless more studies that you can read through if you find the above helpful.