1. Altruism/Selflessness. As humans, our natural instinct is to be selfish; us before them. Yet those that are able to rise above that instinct and sacrifice their own time/pleasure/possessions for others find a huge return on investment. A return that is better than money.
2. Pursuit of Happiness. Indeed, the freedom to do as we wish, to pursue our own ambitions, including our definition of happiness, can bring significant contentment to our lives. For those of us lucky enough to live in a free land, we ought to be very thankful.
3. Gratitude. People that demonstrate gratitude, especially for the little things, exude happiness. Gratitude helps us be less selfish, think highly of others and keep our ego in check. Maybe we could say it’s the antithesis of unhappiness.
4. Safety/Security. Studies have demonstrated that countries that score the highest on their happiness scale are those with significant social safety nets. I don’t believe the happiness comes in the social/political aspect, rather in our desire to feel safe and secure.
5. Faith/Belief. Many people, myself included, find tremendous peace and hope through their faith. And the peace and security obtained through those feelings is a source of happiness for many.
6. Sociality. Relationships are big. But we are all different – so what works for one may not work for another. The key is to find out what works for us (large vs. small groups, extrovert vs. introvert, feeler vs. thinker etc…) and surround ourselves with it.
7. Progress/Achievement. No doubt this is a big one. Tremendous happiness can be found in accomplishing something difficult. And that happiness tends to be lasting and encourages us to achieve something else. Personal progression can be a great source of contentment.