The truth is, all those things account for no more than 15% of your happiness quotient.

That’s according to Dr. David Myers, a psychologist from Hope College in Michigan who wrote the book, “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

So what does make a difference when it comes to happiness? Surprisingly simple things that anybody can have, such as healthy self-esteem, a sense of optimism, hope, good relationships and having a meaning and a purpose in your life.
In fact, those last two have the most influence on your overall well-being. And the good news is that happiness can be cultivated – which means you can boost your capacity for happiness today.

Dr. Myers compares happiness to cholesterol. Yes, it’s genetically influenced, you have a programmed set point of happiness – but it can also be influenced by things that are under your control.

For instance, you can boost your bliss by simply hanging out with your favorite people. People who value you and with whom you feel a deep connection.

Research shows that people who are consistently very happy have stronger romantic and social relationships than unhappy people.

To be happy, you also need a purpose in life. To find what yours is, ask yourself a few questions - what gets me excited and enthusiastic? What do I want to be remembered for? What matters most to me? The answers to those questions will set you on the right path to your life’s goal.

And finally, one of the biggest differences between the happy and the unhappy is that happy people focus on the solution – not the problem. So no matter what the problem is, lose the woe-is-me attitude and get into problem solving mode. Break it down into small steps and get working on it.

If you want to know more, check out Dr. Myers’ book, “The Pursuit of Happiness.”