Have you ever looked around and wondered why some people are so happy while others seem down, depressed, or sad? It’s easy to envy very happy people or to go so far as thinking that, somehow, that person is better than you are. Fortunately, this is never the case.
Instead, happy people simply practice a series of habits and tricks that allow them to live with a perpetual smile on their face. Happiness, like sadness, is a learned behavior and happy people generally do these things:
1. They Practice Gratitude
Being grateful has been scientifically proven to make you a happier person. When a person practices gratitude by doing something like keeping a gratitude journal or simply focusing on the good rather than the negative parts of his or her life, they are generally happier, less anxious, and more optimistic.
According to one University of California study, people who wrote about the things they were grateful each day had fewer doctor visits and a higher level of physical activity than their counterparts. This just goes to show that something as simple as being thankful for the little things can have a marked effect on your health.
To bring this into your life, try keeping a gratitude journal. Get a small notebook and keep it somewhere it’s always reachable and within view. When you wake up, take a second to jot down 2-3 things you’re grateful for. When you go to sleep that night, do the same thing. This helps you shift your mind into a frame of thankfulness and creates a more positive attitude over time.
2. They Nourish Their Bodies
Poor diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can quickly lead to conditions like depression, weight gain, anxiety, and diabetes. One of the most notable traits of happy people is that they take the time needed every day to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. It’s hard to feel happy and optimistic if your body feels poor or if you’re wrestling with nutritionally-caused mood disorders.
Fortunately, it’s easy to route around these things by focusing on feeding yourself well each day. Try to get adequate servings of whole grain, fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein at every meal. While this tip may seem simple, it goes a long way toward making you feel better on a daily basis
3. They Give Back
Volunteering for a cause you believe in has been shown to do everything from increasing self-confidence and providing a sense of purpose to combating depression and helping you stay physically and mentally healthy. As a general rule, happy, positive people commit themselves to a regular volunteer schedule. Whether it’s a church, community organization, or independent group, volunteering can have huge effects on your overall happiness and well-being.
So, offer to dish up soup at the community café, deliver food to a women’s shelter, read to children at the library, or pick up trash in your community. In addition to making the community you live in a better, stronger place, volunteering also helps you build social connections, see the good in people, and focus on the things that make you happy.
4. They Exercise
Exercise is the holy grail of happiness and health. Combined with a good diet, exercise has the potential to fend off degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s while also combating obesity, depression, and social isolation. Because of this, happy people tend to exercise as a force of habit. Whether you like to walk, bike, swim, or do yoga, committing to regular exercise can help make you a happier, healthier person.
5. Happy People Commit Random Acts of Kindness
Imagine if you were standing in line at the grocery store and the person in front of you bought someone else’s groceries for them. Wouldn’t that make you feel good? Happy people generally have one thing in common: they enjoy doing good and they strive to make it part of their daily routine.
Whether you choose to pick up an abandoned pop can on the street or surprise a friend in need with a bouquet of flowers, small, simple acts of kindness can help you feel more positive and develop a happier outlook on life.
6. They Don’t Dwell On The Past
While everyone has a past, not everyone lives in their past. Happy people display one thing that’s quite different from their unhappy counterparts. Unlike unhappy people, happy people rarely dwell on their pasts and, instead, are content to focus on living in the here and now. This minimizes regret and grudges and creates space for happy people to notice all of the good things that are happening around them on a daily basis.
7. They Have Goals
According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, having clearly defined goals is one of the most important factors in creating a happy, healthy life. Whey you set a goal and then see yourself making progress toward it, you give yourself an instant boost of self-confidence, happiness, and achievement while also suppressing negative emotions.
To make goal-setting more present in your life, aim to set small weekly goals and then work toward them. You could, for example, aim to read 50 pages of your new book this week or attend a painting class you’ve always wondered about. While these things may be simple, they’re important for developing a happy, healthy mindset.
8. They Have A Social Circle
Friendships can’t be underestimated when it comes to our happiness. Friends lift us up, support us when we’re down, and offer laughs, good times, and hand-holding throughout life. In fact, having great friends is so important that doubling the number of friends you have creates a happiness boost that’s much like increasing your income by 50%. Nurturing your social relationships translates into happier, healthier connections and a more fulfilling life.
9. They Do What They Enjoy
Think about artists for a moment: while they generally don’t make much money, most of them would describe themselves as being very happy. Why is this? More likely than not, it’s because they get a chance to do what they enjoy every single day. To make this more prevalent in your life, seek to make time on a daily basis to follow your passions. Whether you love to paint, read, play music, or go for long walks in the woods, you need to carve out time every day to do these things in order to safeguard your happiness.
10. They Know That Money Isn’t Everything
Multiple studies have shown that, once a person’s basic needs for food, clothing, medical care, and shelter are met, making more money doesn’t have a marked effect on happiness. In fact, research has shown that chasing more money and more possessions often make people less happy. That said, focus on being grateful for what you have now and increasing the quality of life you live on a daily basis. Doing this rather than wishing you always had more is a great way to kick start your happiness.
11. They Say “Sorry”
Holding grudges isn’t good for anyone and, when you examine happy people closely, you’ll soon find that all of them are willing to put their negative feelings aside, own their mistakes, and move forward. To be happier on a daily basis, focus on apologizing when you need to, forgiving other people, and moving past conflict.
12. They Try New Things
Life is impermanent and happy people are able to adapt to that truth. This often means trying new things, meeting new friends, going new places, and not being afraid to step outside of the box. This approach, while simple, can go a long way toward making you a happier, healthier human being.
13. They Know What They Want
Happy people know what they want and they aren’t afraid to do what they need to do to get it. Whether it’s a new skill, a deeper connection, or a fun tradition, happy people are capable of creating things for themselves, by themselves.
14. They Count The Good, Even In Bad Situations
Into every life, a little rain must fall and, when it does, happy people understand that suffering is neither permanent nor is it the end-all of everything good. Instead, happy people know that even though life gets hard at times, things always turn around and that even when the sky looks gray, there’s a silver lining somewhere.
15. Their Lives Have Meaning
It’s impossible to be happy without a feeling of meaning in your life. Whether your church, family, or volunteer work gives you meaning, it’s important to identify the things that give you a sense of purpose and hold onto them tightly. Doing this can help you feel stronger, happier, and more resilient at every stage of life.
There you have it – happy people aren’t better; they just practice a series of specific things that allow them to see the world differently. By bringing these things into your life, you, too, can produce happiness and a sense of overall well-being.