The pursuit of happiness seems to be never ending race in most people’s lives. What’s at the top of our priority list most of the time is not in our hearts. This poses the million-dollar question, what really makes us happy, and how do we find it? Writer Jess Stuart took the time time explore the answer to this question. She quit her job and and left her long-term relationship to go on a journey of self-discovery. She reached a conclusion of the top nine factors to achieving true happiness. Below is a description of each.

1. Authenticity
To find happiness, we must be true to ourselves, live our own dreams, and be proud of what makes us unique. Stop comparing yourself to others, instead, look to see if you’re fulfilling your own potential in accordance with what you value.

2. Self-care
Health and happiness are linked; you can’t have one without the other.
Our nutrition is so important, as is getting enough sleep and regular exercise. In a world where lifestyle-related disease is at epidemic proportions, taking care of our own health is increasingly critical.

3. Mindfulness
Mindfulness is acceptance of what is, without judgment; being yourself, at home with yourself; and seeing the beauty in every moment. It teaches us to slow down and notice more. This leads to a true happiness that arises from within, independent of external circumstances.

4. Resilience
Everyone goes through tough times and it is critical that we embrace it. It’s how we deal with it and bounce back that impacts our happiness. We spend much of our time trying to avoid the bad times and cling to the good, yet both will always come and go. Shifting our perspective is key to happiness.

5. Appreciation
happiness is not about getting what you want; it’s about loving what you have. Gratitude helps us remember our priorities and focus on the things that matter.

6. Simplicity
Our struggle to hold on to things brings the very pain we are trying to avoid. Letting go doesn’t only apply to material things. There are also things within us that we need to let go of. This can be hurt or anger from the past, or limiting beliefs about ourselves.

7. Self-empowerment
We have infinite potential within us, we don’t always have to look outside for inspiration. The people in our life and our own experience can help us tap into our potential.

8. Compassion
Collaboration and acts of kindness makes us feel good. Helping those who need it brings us joy and meaning.

9. Enjoyment
Instead of just making a living, be sure to make a life. Do things you love every day, spend time with those who nourish your soul, learn new things, take time out for you.

10. Challenges
We prefer what we know because it makes us feel comfortable. Try something new, even if it scares you. It’s only by facing these fears that we are able to grow into the people we’re capable of being.

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