Head into just about any bookstore and you’ll inevitably find an unfathomable number of books in the self-help section that talk about finding the key to happiness. To some people, the greatest source of happiness may be derived from vocational or monetary success. Truth be told, we all get a pretty big kick out of getting a promotion at work or having a blog post hit Digg’s front page. When you manage to achieve a certain success, you feel pretty good about yourself. At the same time, some people may also say that you have to choose between success and happiness. So, what makes you happy?

For me, the single greatest source of happiness can be broken down into just one word: novelty. Think about that for a moment.

Different personalities obviously seek out different levels of novelty, but its the freshness, the new-ness of an experience that brings about our happiest moments. It is perhaps this mindset that brought me to my current career as a freelance writer. I didn’t like the idea of being pigeon-holed into a single position, taking on the same monotonous task each and every day. If I were to write for a single publication, there’s a good chance that they would get me to cover a single topic area and there would be very little opportunity to spread my wings into other areas.

As a freelance writer, I’m able to write about a variety of subject areas, ranging from blog monetization to video games. The scope of my work is only limited by the clients and projects that I take on. Thankfully, I have a good level of control over this too, because if I don’t want to write about insurance, I can turn down a project offer. If I suddenly take up an interest in fishing, I can seek out freelance writing gigs that talk about lures and bait.

Consider how far-reaching this concept of novelty being the key to happiness can go. I can think of at least five areas where novelty can bring a huge sense of joy and happiness.

 1. Food and Fine Dining: They say that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I’m inclined to agree. I can’t possibly imagine eating the same thing each and every day, so when an event like Dine Out Vancouver presents itself, I jump all over it. Munching on a $60 burger was pretty novel too.

 2. New Friends: This doesn’t mean that hanging out with some old high school chums isn’t fun, but one of the most exciting times in your life is when you are meeting new people and new friends. Do you remember the excitement and jitters you got when you first met your significant other? How about the arrival of your first child? That’s pretty new.

 3. Video Games: I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember, so it’s always refreshing when I get to try something a little new. After the initial novelty of the Wii, the glossy white system started to collect dust. That is, until I picked up Guitar Hero III and the Wii Zapper. New games are so much fun, simply because they’re new.

 4. Gadgets and Toys: Even though I get to play with new gadgets on a fairly regular basis, every time that I receive a new product to review, I smile a little. This is especially true if the product isn’t as mundane as a USB flash drive, and is rather something that is particularly innovative and unlike anything I’ve seen before. Playing with the Jawbone Bluetooth headset was pretty fun.

 5. Travel and Vacations: Perhaps the best way you can spend your money is on travel. There are so many cultures and countries that I’d love to experience, along with all the fun activities and unique food that I’d get to enjoy. If it weren’t for vacations, I wouldn’t have been able to eat black eggs or buy a luchadore mask.

If you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, treat yourself to something new and exciting. By keeping it fresh, you have a much better chance of improving your mood and your outlook on life. Don’t worry. Be happy!