Is it hard to put your finger on what makes you happy? According to a Deakin University study , happiness boils down to three things: financial freedom , a life of purpose, and authentic relationships.

In other words, happiness — about 40 percent of it, anyway — is within your reach and, most importantly, largely in your control. Genetics and financial circumstances aside, it's entirely your choice to serve others, be grateful, and care for your mind and body.

How to Be Happy
Be careful, however, not to confuse happiness with pleasure. Drinking alcohol might feel good in the short term, but abusing it leads to unhappiness and depression . Running, on the other hand, might hurt temporarily, but research shows that high-intensity physical activity is linked to long-term happiness .

Breaking your routine with the following five habits might be uncomfortable at first, but stick with them, and you'll bring a more positive attitude to each day.

1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness isn't magic; it's simply being present in the moment and aware of your own thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

A recent study on mindfulness in the workplace showed that employees who receive mindfulness training are more focused and efficient in their work. The workers who took the course absorbed new information more quickly and exhibited greater emotional stability than their peers.

Harness mindfulness to give you focus and purpose in your work. Use it to drive you toward your personal best, not to compete with others. Pitting yourself against other people is a well-recognized route toward stress, anxiety , and self-defeating decisions.

2. Spend the most time with the people you love most.
After too much time apart, I spent last Christmas in New York City with my parents. Getting to unplug from technology, relax, and laugh with my family was just the thing I needed to carry me into a new year.

What about a bike ride, nature walk, or day trip to a state park? Everyday activities with loved ones aren't just fun; they're essential to maintaining those happiness-boosting familial bonds throughout life.

3. Help others.
Did you know that 96 percent of people who volunteer say it enriches their sense of purpose? As strange as it sounds, thinking beyond yourself can be hugely beneficial to your own happiness .

It doesn't particularly matter what your chosen cause is; it just matters that you do good for others. Personally, I choose to run marathons around the world to raise awareness for the nonprofit New York Road Runners , which aims to inspire and help people through running. Nothing — not even conquering the Rome Marathon — feels better than serving others.

If you're not sure where to start, look around for local charities. Spend a day volunteering for each of your top two or three choices, and commit to the one that resonates most with you.

4. Go back to nature. Does living in a concrete jungle ever get you down? Take a walk in your local park. Head out of the city for a trail run, bicycle ride, or picnic. Enjoy a lazy hour or two in the tranquility that only nature can offer.

In the fall, I like to take refreshing walks through Washington Square Park. Breathing crisp air, listening to rustling leaves, and getting my blood flowing gives me the energy I need to tackle the day.

Just by spending time in nature, your brain sheds depressive thought patterns. One study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that simply being in a park reduces blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with negative emotions and despondency.

If you're too busy for nature walks, try taking your daily tasks outside. Eat breakfast, read, or even just check email outdoors for a change. Soaking up some rays is one of the shortest paths to everyday happiness .

5. Be grateful.
Right now, think through your blessings. Think about how lucky you are to have a family , a job, and a roof over your head. Then, tomorrow morning, try meditating on them.

That's exactly what I do with my mornings. Starting my day with who and what I appreciate about life helps me focus on all the positive things around me. To keep myself accountable, I'm taking a 365-day gratitude challenge on Instagram.

Although there is no scientific consensus that gratitude generates happiness, research certainly points in that direction. One particular study tracked people for 10 weeks and asked them to write about satisfying circumstances in their lives. After crunching the numbers, researchers discovered that participants became more physically active and less prone to illness than the general population.

Happiness isn’t a pleasure or feeling; it’s a state of mind. You — and only you — determine this mindset. Only you can recognize your strengths and choose to use and share them with others.

Most importantly, don’t make excuses and blame your unhappiness on external factors. It always comes back to you. Maybe your car was broken into, or maybe you didn't accomplish the goal you set for yourself. Perhaps you're facing even greater challenges, such as health issues or family upheaval. How you respond to these hardships determines your resilience and makes you that much better equipped to overcome challenges in the future.

Have a bad day? We all have them. I get through them by reminding myself that every moment is a new opportunity. A chance to do better. A mental reset to improve your life. The past only determines the future if you let it.

By building a life that is meaningful and supercharged with strong, long-lasting relationships, you'll wake up happier each day with a joy-filled attitude that you can't help but spread to those around you.

Author's Bio: 

Phil Dumontet is the founder and CEO of Dashed , a leading restaurant delivery service in the Northeast. Consistently recognized year after year as one of the fastest-growing companies in its space, Dashed is known for its industry-leading delivery times.

In 2016, Forbes named Phil to its fifth annual “30 Under 30” list of the most influential American entrepreneurs. An ardent supporter of fitness nonprofit New York Road Runners , Phil finishes in the top 25 runners in his age group in New York races.