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How to be happy

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

We all want to be happy. Who wouldn’t want a life of contentment and joy?

Happiness can sometimes be hard to catch. You may be looking for it in the wrong places.

There are plenty of myths surrounding happiness.

For some of us it’s always on the horizon; I’ll be happy when I get promotion, get a boyfriend, get skinny. It doesn’t work like that.

We’ve asked some of the world’s top happiness experts what REALLY makes us happy and why is it such a good thing anyway?

What is happiness?

Happiness is hard to define. There are all kinds of happiness but generally it makes you feel that things are good and that all is right in your world.

"It’s not a fleeting feeling but an overall satisfaction with our relationships, our work and being optimistic about the future," according to Dr Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness.

What’s so good about being happy?

Happy people tend to have healthier and more enjoyable lives. They tend to have better relationships and are regarded as more likeable.

Leo Bormans is the author of the international bestseller, The World Book of Happiness, in which 100 experts from 50 countries share their knowledge on happiness.

He says: "We know that happier people are healthier and live longer. They are more successful in work, sports, studies and friendship."

"There’s concrete evidence that being happy gives us better health and psychological wellbeing," according to Dr Williamson. "You are half as likely to catch a cold if you are happy, and you’ll have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. There’s a preventative and protective link."

Benefits to society

Even politicians and economists are even realising the benefits of happiness.

The Office for National Statistics now looks at how happy we are as a nation. Former prime minister David Cameron decided he wanted to measure Britain’s happiness index, to find out the state of our wellbeing.

In 2013 the United Nations held the first international day of happiness. So the belief that being happy is important seems to be gaining momentum in many areas of life.

"On a society level it’s better for employers as happy workers tend to be more productive, have less time off and are more likely to help others," says Dr Williamson.

So what makes us happy?

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