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Our lifestyle communicates a clear message about who we are and how we think. Lifestyle is where we go, what we do and how we feel once we are there. Lifestyle is how we dress, what we drive and the type of entertainment we choose to enjoy.

Lifestyle is a mixture of substance as well as style, refinement as well as intellect, and emotional control in times of challenge, as well as emotional release in times of joy and happiness.

Successful people, and those in serious pursuit of success, tend to communicate the level of sophistication and intelligence they have managed to acquire. How they conduct themselves leaves little doubt about their intensity for personal development and personal achievement.

Related: Why Some People Fail and Others Succeed

Everything about us is sending a message to others about our level of intensity as well. The things we do, the things we say, even our appearance, suggests an inner attitude about life. If we are spending more money on donuts than we do on books, that suggests something about the sincerity of our desire for personal progress.

Whether we spend an evening in front of a computer screen or a TV screen, talking with our children or having fun with our “pals from the office,” lifestyle is a function of attitude and personal values. We can all afford to live better. It doesn’t take more money to change how we live. It takes more deliberate thought and a greater appreciation of the real values in life.

Lifestyle means designing ways to live uniquely. It is a skill to be mastered, not a condition to be pursued. It is finding new ways to bring joy, pleasure, excitement and substance into our lives and into the lives of those we care for while we are working on our goals, not once we have achieved them. A more abundant existence does not necessarily mean a more enjoyable lifestyle.

Many of us dream of becoming wealthy, of having a beautiful home that is tended by others so that we will be free to enjoy ourselves. We dream of winning lotteries that will enable us to quit our jobs tomorrow and go off in pursuit of the good life. We dream of chauffeurs to drive us and servants to take care of us so that we can have all the time in the world to do whatever we want to do.

The big question is what would we do? In a very short time, most of what we dreamed of one day doing would become as uninspiring as our current lifestyle. There is only so much traveling, so much partying, so much sleeping and so much “enjoying” that we can experience before this too would become tedious.

If it is not a life of endless fun and laughter that we are after, then what are we in pursuit of? What is this thing we call lifestyle?

We might all have different opinions of what lifestyle is, but hopefully we will all agree on what it is not: It is not something we get simply as a result of having more. Lifestyle is a result of living more… living more fully, living more consciously, living more joyfully, living more appreciatively. The more fully we live, the more we do and the more we become. Lifestyle is not a reward for all of our hard effort; it is a way of making our hard effort more rewarding, more meaningful and ultimately more productive.

If we wish to be wealthy, we must study wealth, and if we wish to be happy, we must study happiness. The combination of these two studies create the aura that we call lifestyle.

Most people do not make happiness and wealth a study. Their plan for finding happiness consists of going through the day with their fingers crossed, hoping that, somehow, something will work out that will make them happy. But happiness is an art, not an accident. It is not something that falls out of the sky. Happiness—that unique emotion that we mistakenly believe comes to us only when we have become successful—must precede the achievement of success. Happiness is as much a cause of success as it is a result of success, and we can begin to experience happiness whenever we wish, regardless of our current circumstances.

Related: 17 Quotes to Help You Find Your Happiness

Adapted from The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle
This post originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

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