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What does it mean to be happy in life?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people in the world to ask, but there are three common themes that show up, in studies, research, & philosophy from the ancient Greeks to today, as to what creates happiness in life.

1) Relationships. The presence of healthy relationships consistently emerges as the number one indicator of happiness. When intimate relationships are broken or lacking, we suffer. We are not made to be alone.

We need healthy relationships in order to be happy. Relationships are the buffer between us and the pain of life. Loving relationships provide a safe haven for us when we are in need of safety, comfort, connection, reassurance, and belonging. Supportive relationships also help us thrive and enable us to be the best version of ourselves.

2) Freedom. The ability to be free and live a life empowered is another common theme in what helps people find happiness. True freedom however, is not simply about doing whatever you want whenever you want, but it is about feeling a sense of personal agency and the ability to make an impact in your life and to leave a legacy behind. Freedom to live your truth is a key ingredient to happiness.

3) An analyzed life. Socrates famously said "an unexamined life is not worth living". And when we look at happiness, this dictum tracks. People who are self-aware and can look at their lives honestly and with reflection tend to be happier and more fulfilled. When people are unable to have self-awareness and understand why they do the things they do, they end up hurting others, and themselves.

Self-analysis is about understanding and getting to know yourself on a deep level. Although many people are reluctant to engage in therapy or self-analysis because they are afraid of what they might find or uncover, facing those fears and truly getting to know yourself is the final key to happiness. Kristal DeSantis, LMFT, CCTP is the author of STRONG: A Relationship Field Guide for the Modern Man (available for pre-order November 2022) Follow my instagram @atxtherapist or on TikTok @atx_therapist or visit my website:

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