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How to live a happy life: 5 key happiness habits

09 September 2020

By Vanessa King, Science of Happiness Expert 

Globally, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic we have faced lockdowns, social isolation, illness and possibly bereavement. Add to this devastating forest fires, economic and political instability, 2020 has been a challenging year for many of us, to say the least. 

For those of us living and working away from our home country as expats, the challenges may be even greater. We haven’t seen family or friends from home, even at a distance, for almost a year. It is easy to see why our happiness might be challenged.

If you are on an expat assignment for work, happiness impacted your performance, even before the current global crises. The 2019 InterNations Expat Insider survey found personal unhappiness was one of the most difficult elements of expatriate life and a primary reason for early repatriations.

Did you know there is more to happiness than luck and circumstance? Recent studies have shown our happiness is not purely genetic, although that does play a part, and neither is it entirely circumstantial. Scientific research shows once our basic human needs are met, there are simple, psychology-based tools we can use to affect our own happiness. 

Our science of happiness expert Vanessa King interviewed a selection of expats located around the world. Discover the specific challenges they face and Vanessa’s science backed suggestions that may help you overcome similar difficulties. Although the interviews are with expats, the articles and happiness habits suggested are relevant to everyone. 

If you are not sure where to start, take our happiness habits quiz to discover what is currently feeding your happiness as well as areas you may wish to give additional focus.

We hope you find the science-backed, practical ideas in Vanessa’s articles an easy way to learn more about how to live a happy life:

Having the right mindset has been shown to play an important part in finding true happiness. Do you find yourself focusing on the things that are wrong in your life while struggling to appreciate what is right? It turns out this is part of how the human brain evolved. It was useful for our ancient ancestors because it helped them to be sensitive to potential risk and stay alive. 

While we no longer encounter the same kinds of risk our ancient ancestors did, our brains are still wired to do this. In Vanessa’s mindset article she shares some easy practical tips you can use to help retrain your brain and mindset to focus on more positive emotions that improve our happiness. 

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’? The science of happiness is showing this is indeed the case. Spending all our time putting the demands of work and the needs of our family first, may cause us to struggle with our mental health. 

Expats on assignment are often under pressure to be high achievers at work. Some juggle this with family life, all in an often unfamiliar country. How do they find time for self-care? And is it really that important?  

Science shows, and most of us know intrinsically, that meaningful relationships are important. Whether you are naturally introverted or extroverted, feeling connection to others is an essential ingredient of the psychological well-being that feeds into our happiness. 

But how do we nurture those relationships when we are away from home? Or asking to remain socially distant? Even if you can’t spend time with your loved ones, there are many ways you can continue to gain the many benefits close relationships bring to our lives

Did you know that feeling what we do in life is worthwhile and having a sense of purpose influences how happy we feel? Looking back over your life, were some of your most stressful times where you may not have seen a clear path forward? Waiting on exam results, job offers or the end of a significant relationship? In the current global pandemic, more of us than ever may need to look at where we find meaning in our lives and adjust for the new normal. Try some easy exercises that might help you identify meaning in your life and apply it to a new area.  

Resilience is our ability to bounce back from the inevitable setbacks in life. Do you find yourself feeling bad about a mistake at work or a choice you made in life long after they happened? Rather than learning from them and moving on? Building more resilience could help.

Did you know we can train our brains to be more flexible and view potential difficulties in a more positive light? Discover how turning your inner critic into a wise coach or challenging your instant interpretations may improve your resilience at work and at home. 



 For more Happiness tips and inspiration, visit Allianz Care’s Happiness Hub. It’s filled with videos, articles and interactive content that may help you take back happiness in your life.  

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