Of 1,019 adults polled in a recent Wall Street Journal/NORC-University of Chicago poll, 56% rated themselves “pretty happy,” while just 12% considered themselves “very happy.” Having most Americans consider themselves “pretty happy” is great news. But what do these “very happy” respondents have in common? A large majority value strong relationships. Two-thirds are either very or moderately religious. They also value community involvement more than most. They share a common interest in physical fitness, and 44% are age 60 or above. While many of the 12% believed their happy states of mind could be partially attributed to their choices, they also acknowledged that some is innate. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take some control over our general contentment, through friendships.  People with five or more friends with whom they could discuss hardships were 60% happier than those with fewer.  Other strategies include being kind, practicing gratitude, establishing exercise routines, and setting achievable goals.

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