Soon, we will all be shouting, Happy New Year! It’s a warm and hopeful sentiment because we know that happy people live longer, are healthier and live more prosperous lives. How we try to find happiness matters. Scripture confirms that true happiness is found in our relationship with God.

“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” Psalm 68:3

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13

But do we play a part in feeling happy?

A study reported in the March 2008 issue of Psychological Science concludes that certain personality traits predispose us to happiness. Even if you are fortunate to have happy genetics, about 50 percent of happiness is up to us and influenced by external factors in our lives. Thus, we do influence how happy we are.

And here are a few ways to increase happiness:

Make God your most important relationship.
Believe God wants the best for you, is ordering your steps, and can be trusted to be who He says He is and do what He promises. Happiness is an outcome of our God relationship. This doesn’t mean we always feel happy. But we can be happy because of God’s presence in our lives. We are not alone to face trials and tribulations.

Work on your intimate relationships.
Strong and healthy marriages are associated with increased happiness. People who pursue intimacy with others and don’t judge themselves against others are happy.

Be grateful and express it.
Happiness increases in those who feel and express gratitude. Take time to focus on your blessings. Tell others how much you appreciate them.

Be forgiving.
University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson found that forgiveness is a trait linked to happiness. Forgiveness is also a biblical mandate linked to our relationship with Christ.

Don’t look to materialism.
What doesn’t make people happy is stuff! One of the reasons we find depression increasing after the holidays is that possessions don’t bring the proclaimed happiness advertisers purport they do. When happiness is dependent on materialism, people feel empty and realize that stuff cannot fill the void.

So, this December 31, when we ring in the New Year, remember to keep God at the center of your life, work on your relationships and keep them strong, don’t buy in to the idea that things bring happiness and maintain an attitude of gratefulness and forgiveness all year long. Then, it will be a Happy New Year!

How to have a Happy New Year