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Hoda Kotb says you need these 3 things to be happy

Looking to lift your mood? TODAY's Hoda Kotb shares a few helpful hints.

According to a new study, happiness helps you live longer.

And according to TODAY's Hoda Kotb, there's a simple formula for finding happiness.

Hoda and Jenna Bush Hager were discussing the results of research out of Columbia University, which indicates having a positive outlook on life cuts the risk of heart disease by 22%, when the fourth hour co-host suddenly remembered some valuable tips she once heard.

“Someone said you only need three things to be happy,” Hoda explained.

  • Someone to love.
  • Something to do.
  • And something to look forward to.

She believes the latter two points might explain why some people lose their sense of happiness later in life.

“Sometimes, in retirement, people feel like they don’t have a direction. They feel kind of lost,” she said. “So something to do could be a million different things — even if it’s visiting your neighbor. That’s something to do.”

The topic brought to mind another, slightly longer list Hoda once shared on the show for boosting one's sense of glee.

Back in 2015, she shared five other secrets to happiness, which included doing the following things:

  • Write down three things you feel grateful for daily.
  • Write down something great that happened within the past 24 hours.
  • Exercise a little each day.
  • Meditate for a few minutes each day.
  • Perform a random act of kindness.

“Somebody says if you do all five of those things a day, it works," she said at the time. "And I’m pretty happy."

Her ever-present smile seems to be proof of that.

But during their chat Friday morning, Jenna noted there’s “a difference between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of joy.”

And while that might seem a minor matter of semantics, Hoda agreed that joy is the real goal.

“Happiness is circumstance,” Hoda responded. “So happiness is, ‘I’m going to the club!’ or ‘I’m going to a party, and we’re all going to go and we’re going to be drinking!’ That’s happy, and it (only) lasts as long as the thing lasts. But you’re right, joy is the other thing.”