The Times of India sat down for an interview with Sophie Keller, author of the How Happy series, to discuss the secret to happiness. Many people think happiness is a result of your job, your spouse, or how much money you have. But being happy has nothing to do with these outside material things. Keller says the secret to happiness is knowing you’re already happy, because happiness is an internal state. “We’re human ‘beings’, not human ‘doings’ or ‘havings’, so happiness needs to be a ‘being state’,” she says.

In fact, about 50% of our happiness is an inherited trait, but there are fundamental things all of us can do to increase our happiness quotient. This includes building close social connections, working at jobs that bring us satisfaction, and working towards some sort of greater good. Happiness has nothing to do with fate or destiny. Happiness takes work.

In this wide-ranging interview with Sophie Keller, Times of India uncovered a number of key things we can all do to boost our overall sense of happiness, including:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others: “Comparing is a battle, a fight. If you were to look back on your life, you don’t want to think you’ve wasted your time on it,” Keller says. Comparing yourself to people who you believe are smarter or more attractive breeds resentment. Resentment is the number one destroyer of inner happiness.
  • Don’t hold onto grudges: American writer Rita Mae Brown had it right when she wrote, “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” How true. But forgiveness doesn’t always come easily. However, letting go of grudges is an essential part of the secret to happiness.
  • Practice gratitude: Living with gratitude is a skill that can be practiced. You can acquire more gratitude by keeping a daily journal of things you’re grateful for, no matter how small they may be. A study by The Journal of Happiness showed that people who wrote letters of gratitude experience less depression, more happiness, and greater life satisfaction. “We all don’t have things that we want, so it’s easy to be negative. Soon, this emotion seeps into our subconscious and takes over our minds,” Keller says.
  • Practice good self-care: Looking after yourself properly is an important component to happiness. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. Good self-care helps keep you relaxed, fit, and calm.

Click here to read the whole interview