In 1776, when John Hancock (and 55 others) signed the Declaration of Independence, they were well aware of the fact that "the pursuit of happiness" is vital to the welfare of individuals. The following list constitutes some of the important lessons I have learned in my own pursuit of happiness. Ten ways to cultivate happiness in your life are...

1. Work on your attitude. Charles Swindoll was right: life IS ninety-percent how we react to what happens. A positive attitude is vital to our happiness. The great thing about attitudes is that they can be changed. If you see yourself as a pessimist, make a concerted effort to see the positive side of every situation.

2. Recognize all that you have for which to be grateful. When you think things aren't going your way, think about all the people in the world who would see what you have as truly bountiful. Think of your friends and family, your ability to see the beauty of a sunset, your sense of humor, and spend some time thinking about what your life would be like without them. Make a list of 100+ things you are grateful for in your life.

3. Practice Extreme Self-Care. Find more time in your schedule to spend with yourself and your loved ones, eat healthy, take up a hobby that has always interested you, don't take work home on the weekends, etc. Treat yourself with the kindness and respect you deserve.

4. Spend time in nature. Nature has a peaceful healing quality that city dwellers don't often recognize. The blues of the ocean, the greens of fields and forests, the delicious smell of wildflowers, and beautiful music of song birds make us feel happy on a primal level. Spending time in nature has the power to rejuvenate and sustain us.

5. Think outside the box - use your creativity! The creative part of ourselves is where we find our ability to play and innovate. These are qualities small children have in abundance. Take some time to watch youngsters at play and try to emulate them in your own life. I revived my ability to have fun by playing with my three year old nephew. From him I learned to use my creativity to find happiness in odd places - like cement mixers and rusty horse shoes.

6. Stay physically fit. This works on several levels. For one thing, exercise releases endorphins in your body that create a sense of well-being. Being in decent shape also opens up the field of activities you can engage in to bring more fun into your life (i.e. you can play volley ball, soft ball, etc). Engaging in these types of activities also helps keep you in shape which will reduce illness and injury. Now that has to make you happy. Consult with your doctor for information on diet and exercise before you begin any new program.

7. Choose happiness - no matter what happens. A great line from the movie Thelma & Louise is "You get what you settle for." It is possible to settle for happiness. Read biographies of people who have overcome adversity in their lives (Hellen Keller for example) to see how it can be done. Let the stories of others inspire you to put your own troubles in perspective and settle for happiness.

8. Ask for help. It isn't easy to change a life long habit of pessimism, but it is possible. Talk to people whom you see as having a positive attitude and ask them how they do it. Ask your friends and family to support you while you upgrade to a happy life by providing feedback, nudges, and playmates. Hire a coach to help you define and implement changes in your life that will enhance your happiness.

9. Give something away. Volunteer your time or money to give back to the community. Find a cause you believe in and support it. Help an elderly neighbor by mowing their lawn or shoveling their walk. Giving of yourself to others is tremendously rewarding.

10. Connect with something spiritual. Be it religion or meditation, having a spiritual connection in our lives provides an outlet for deep contemplation and an opportunity to connect with like minded people. Find a spiritual practice that feels right for you and set aside time each day to pray/meditate on the deeper meanings of life.

Author's Bio: 

Ruth Hegarty is a certified law of attraction coach and educator who helps shy and socially anxious people live outrageously high quality lives. Learn more at