It really comes down to values. A happy life is a life you see matching your values.
Writer Ayn Rand puts it this way: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”
I find the term “values” here beautifully ambiguous, since almost every definition could apply to happiness.
So let’s examine three connected values that make for a happy life.
Values You Bring
The values Ayn Rand speaks of basically amount to your purpose or art form—the goods that you as an individual could potentially provide the world.
You discover your art form within the specific combination of your unique perspective and talents—those things you find you can naturally understand and excel at without really having to try.
Your art form is a powerful, foundational force—something you can always tap into and run with, which can transform your life from frustrating and unproductive to exciting and successful.
Values You Live By
When you hear the term “values” you might think of morals or ethical priorities handed down from parents and culture. But at their core, these values are just character traits of the type of person you believe you should be.
The key to character growth is looking for progress, not perfection. You will never live perfectly by your values (you’ll never just be your conscience). But amazing happiness and peace come when you realize that none of your current hindrances (character flaws, compulsions, addictions, etc.) will ultimately keep you from becoming the person you hope to be.
Values You Treasure
Consider the most important things, people, and experiences in your life. These can also be your greatest motivations . . . your reasons for living more and more the way you know you should (values you live by) and for achieving success in your art form (values you bring).