Some people seem to be happy all the time. They’re smiling when you see them, laughing with their children and making jokes with cashiers. If you’ve ever wondered how happy people maintain such a delightful demeanor, you’re in luck.
We’ve uncovered nine secrets of happy people. We’ve also added nine practical ways that you can apply these happiness secrets to your life and brighten things up.
1. Happy People Share in the Happiness of Others
Competitiveness won’t make you happy. Happy people know that. They aren’t prone to vicious jealousy and envy when others are glowing with glee. Rather, happy folks share the joy with others. They are the first people to put a heart next to your recent family photo, congratulate you on your promotion and get all giddy about your new puppy.
How to apply this secret: If you find yourself internally rolling your eyes when a somewhat successful friend tells you excitedly about his or her recent 12-day, three-continent, land and sea excursion ― check yourself. Remind yourself that success is often a lonely place. Increase your own happiness by sharing in the joy. Be thankful that someone you know and care about got to experience something so wonderful and magnificent. Don’t allow yourself to spend one second being bitter and envious about it. Bitterness and jealousy will never make you a happier person.
2. Happy People Don’t Take Things Personally
Think about the happiest, most contented person you know. Do you usually hear that person complaining about the way a coworker looked at him or her? Probably not. That’s because happy folks try not to take things personally. They know that in all but the rarest situations in life, no one is out to get them. Happy people also know that attempting to navigate the inner thoughts and intentions of others is pointless and almost always erroneous. People who wish to maintain feelings of contentment don’t take things personally. They aren’t offended easily, and they don’t need you to tiptoe around their egos.
How to apply this secret: If you tend to personalize the grimaces of others, take the advice of licensed marriage and family therapist Marina Edelman of Westlake Village, California, and just assume that you’re liked. Edelman wrote, “What if we suddenly changed our perspectives of the way people treated us and just assumed that we were universally liked by everyone we met? What would this do to our confidence, self-esteem and general outlook on life? Would this perspective make us more social, braver? Possibly more likely to do things that we normally wouldn’t? Would we be more willing to participate in more social occasions, therefore bringing more joy to our lives?” Of course, the answer is yes. You will be more content and happier in life and social situations if you regularly remind yourself not to take the words and actions of others as personal affronts or judgments toward yourself.
3. Happy People Are Chill
Happy people don’t get all worked up about much. You won’t likely find content and a happy person engaged in road rage or a fight in the school pick up line. Happy folks don’t live that way. They control themselves and their responses.
How to apply this secret: Breathing exercises, meditation and listening to peaceful music are all good ways to chill out when the going gets tough. Practice mindfully controlling your responses to the maddening situations you encounter. Remind yourself to chill out when you’re tempted to flip someone the bird for following you too closely in traffic. You’ll be happier.
4. Happy People Choose Happiness
Ever notice that even though the most challenging life situations, some people remain peaceful and positive? Happy people aren’t just happy because their lives are full of only daffodils and chocolate pudding. They choose happiness every single day, regardless of their circumstances.
How to apply this secret: Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s title character from “Anne of Green Gables,” said, “It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” Be like the often wordy, red-headed young lady from the story and make up your mind firmly to choose happiness. Choose it with everything you’ve got and keep choosing it repeatedly.
5. Happy People Aren’t Always Happy
Just like the rest of us, happy people have hard days. They grieve losses, get frustrated and have pity parties. The main difference is that happy people don’t let themselves sit down in their unfortunate situations for more than a few days. Happy people don’t ascribe to the notion that they’re cursed with bad luck, they can never get ahead, or they just can’t win. They aren’t always happy, but they are still heading in the direction of happiness.
How to apply this secret: Accept that you won’t always be smiling. Bad things happen, hard life circumstances can overtake you temporarily and situations aren’t always pretty. When you’ve hit a brick wall, it’s OK to sit down for a few minutes and catch your breath. Soon, however, you’ll have to get back up and start building a taller ladder.
In her wildly popular book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it and, sometimes, even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. Once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
6. Happy People Overlook Faults
Happy people don’t only like you because you’re good looking, well dressed and wealthy. They also know that others aren’t perfect, and they don’t expect that their friends will never let them down. The happiest people overlook the faults of others and accept them with grace.
How to apply this secret: Get into the habit of shrugging your shoulders more. Practice saying, “It’s no big deal.” Give your friends a pass when they forget to wish you a happy birthday or your work anniversary is overlooked.
Spending two hours pouring your heart out to your journal about hurts and grievances will not make you happy. However, writing about ways you can stop dwelling on small issues might.
7. Happy People Will Not Let You Take Advantage of Them
Being a doormat is not a characteristic of a happy person. Happy people will normally help you out of a jam. They are positive friends that generally have much to offer.
Although they’re often benevolent and kind, your jovial friends won’t be taken for granted. They can see right through the platitudes of someone who just wants to take a free ride on their Netflix account.
How to apply this secret: One of the quickest ways to find yourself genuinely unhappy is to slave over ungrateful people who are perpetually squeezing every last drop of your hospitality and politeness from you while never trying to improve their own situations. If you’re a people pleaser who puts the needs of everyone else too far above your own, stop doing that. It won’t make your life happier.
8. Happy People Trust Others
Happy people aren’t afraid of deep, trusting, vulnerable relationships with others. They have weighed the risks and know that trusting other people with their true selves is essential to building strong bonds that enrich their lives.
How to apply this secret: In his novel, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Jonathan Safran Foer, wrote, “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” To be happy, a person has to trust others and be vulnerable to sadness. You may get hurt along the way. Nevertheless, the beauty and happiness that loved ones add to your life are well worth the battle scars.
9. Happy People See a Glass That Is Half Full
Remember Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh? He wasn’t ever happy. It’s because he spent a lot of time complaining. Miserable people can always find something about which to complain. Happy people ― not as much.
You won’t hear happy people go on and on with their lists of what’s wrong in the world and what they wish they had. Happy folks learn to be content with their lot and embrace it. They don’t see the glass half-empty or the cupcake half-eaten. They see blessings both ways.
How to apply this secret: Start retraining your brain to see the positive things in your life by routinely writing a list of them. If you don’t want to write them down, speak them out ― either to yourself, your cat or another human. Require yourself to express thankfulness and recognize your blessings several times each day.
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make, makes you. Choose wisely.” ― Roy Bennett, “The Light in the Heart.”
Edelman, M. (2019). Assume everyone likes you until you see proof of the contrary. Retrieved from: https://www.marinaedelman.com/assume-everyone-likes-you-until-you-see-proof -of-the-contrary/
Gilbert, Elizabeth. (2007). Eat, Pray, Love: One woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia. USA: Penguin.
Montgomery, L. (1908). Anne of green gables. New York: Black & White Classics.
Safran Foer, Jonathan. (2006). Extremely loud and incredibly close. USA: Mariner Books.