It should come as no surprise that you can't buy satisfaction and happiness. If you could, the wealthiest country in the world, the U.S., would also be the happiest, offering the greatest chance for a satisfying life. Yet the 2016 Update to the World Happiness Report prepared for the U.N. by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network places the U.S. 13th on the world happiness scale, just ahead of Puerto Rico, a country on the verge of bankruptcy. Neither is warm, sunny weather predictive, since Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Norway top the list.
So what determines happiness and satisfaction? "People who live in the happiest countries have longer life expectancies and more social support, experience more generosity, have more freedom to make life choices, have lower perceptions of corruption and have a higher gross domestic product per capita..."
Related: 10 Steps to Becoming a Better You
So why aren't we happier-- is it the me-centered philosophy about life that so many have?
So let's step back for a moment and see what we can do to make Your life more satisfying:
1. Meaningful relationships
For many, "meaningful relationship" means marriage and family. Many unmarried people enjoy happy, meaningful, satisfying lives, though. The fact that they don't marry doesn't prevent them from creating meaningful bonds with friends or with communities of like-minded people.
2. Meaningful work
Everyone needs work, whether you receive pay for it or not. Everyone needs to feel they contribute something to the world, that the world needs them. It doesn't matter if your work is president of the country or garbage collector -- do something cheerfully and well, and know if you're not doing it tomorrow, someone will miss you and what you did.
3. Serving others
Notice others just as you want people to notice that you are here, and do what you can to help others live meaningful lives. Serving others means different things, depending on what other people need. Something as small as a smile when you pass a person can make their day. Pay attention to what others need.
4. Maintaining a positive outlook
Studies show that religious people are generally happy. All mainstream religions train your brain for a positive outlook. You can do that for yourself as well.
5. Punctuating life
Sameness becomes monotonous, without forward momentum. Punctuate your life with occasions and rituals, bringing heightened awareness to certain times, places and activities.
6. Feeling gratitude in the moment
While remembering the past and planning for the future provide continuity in life, it's important to balance that with your presence in the moment and to experience and express gratitude in the moment.
Throughout history, people lived rich and satisfying lives in all kinds of circumstances. Wealth is not a requirement. Meaning-filled connection is. Connecting to other people, to the environment that sustains us, to our communities, to our ethnic and national histories and to transcendence brings us a sense of our place in eternity. Maybe we're small, but we're part of something very big, and that gives us a different perspective on change and loss, even on suffering.