Great that you are here! If you are reading this then, just like me, you might be wondering what these self-proclaimed ’happy people’ out there are doing that people like you and I might not be doing. Don’t worry I am not calling you or myself unhappy. Nor am I saying that these people are happy all the time. They are, however, more consistent in their ‘happiness-generating behaviour and THAT is worth looking into.
This topic was basically asking to be written. Sometimes it helps to learn by following by example. I asked myself one general question: what are attitudes and all around habits that make us identify these people as ‘happy’?
With that said, I present the top 12 to you right here. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list but if you can adopt at least some of these habits you should be well on your way to noticing a difference in your attitude and outlook on life.
Oh happy days, indeed but brace yourself, this is a long one ;)!
1. Savor the moment and enjoy the little things
These days many of us are living such a fast-paced existence that we often get ahead of ourselves. When we are children we are eager to grow up. Then again, by the time we are older, some of us longingly reflect back on our younger years. The last thing any of us want is to look back on our lives with regrets. Therefore, we need to enjoy our journey and not just pine for our destination.
That is right, sometimes you need to stop and smell the roses. There seems to be more truth to this saying than we think. When was the last time you looked around and just took in all that was happening around you? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we just forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
2. Adjust your outlook on life to a more positive note by regarding problems as challenges
I know what you are thinking, easier said than done. Think about it though, there is some truth to this. Just like every story has two sides, you can also view problems from different perspectives.
People tend to operate on a positive-negative mindset spectrum. Most of us find ourselves naturally-inclined to a slightly more negative outlook. This could be a result of our brain’s ‘negativity bias‘. This means that we are more sensitive to negative information and as a result, we tend to remember it better.
This is a powerful skill to master! If we find a way to approach our problems with a more positive mindset, we can learn to overcome obstacles. In this manner mountains become hills, and what once seemed like a daunting task can become truly attainable. All the while, not forgoing our healthy dose of skepticism, of course.
3. Take care of yourself and treat your body as a temple
Quite often this point is underrated but nevertheless a key element of happiness. You can have all the happiness in the world but if you are not in a good state of health, you will not be able to enjoy it as much as you know you can. Of course, this is not saying that those that suffer from illnesses cannot be happy. That’s definitely not the case! I am referring to people who consistently choose to live unhealthy lives and are then displeased to find out they are not physically capable of enjoying their happiness as they would like. Now I know there are some of you out there that will say that some people are happy living in their unhealthy ways. I honestly think everyone can relate a bit to that. But we cannot deny the benefits of a healthy self. You can see your body as your foundation of happiness.
4. Self-control is a powerful force.
”No man is free who cannot command himself.”— Pythagoras
Ah yes, self-control. If only we could tap into it as easily as we can give in to procrastination and snoozing that horrid alarm clock. What is the magic ingredient for self-control? Consistency. Actually, with any habit. The problem is applying the same consistency we have for unhealthy habits to healthy habits. It requires considerably less effort to continue doing something that might not be in our best interest. If we stick to these bad habits for too long we get comfortable putting in that level of effort.
This is where self-control comes into play. It is our inner coach that shakes us by the shoulders and says ‘ Get it together!’. The same person that slaps us on the fingers when we attempt to overindulge on that fourth cookie. They give us that necessary kick to get us up and moving. Once you master the art of discipline and follow your inner coach, your life, as dramatic as this might sound, will NEVER be the same!
5. Practice gratitude and learn to give back
The talent for happiness is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.— Woody Allen
Being grateful helps us understand all that we have in our lives for which we can be thankful for. According to researchers at Nottingham University, this turned out to be the best emotional state for giving back. It sounds like a great deal to me. We are in fact, in the best position to help others when we are appreciative of the things that we have.
With that said, it is good practice to focus less on our shortcomings and the to-dos floating around in our head. Instead we should this happens we find ourselves with time to appreciate what we have. All in all, it is not a bad habit to get into because where there is gratitude there is no space to feel sorry for yourself.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
If there is ever a habit to kill it would be this one! Thanks to the highlight reel high that most of us are exposed to, I would say that this one is hard to resist. What is the highlight reel high, you might be wondering? It is society’s obsession with social media which allows us to show ourselves from our best side. We compare everything we know about ourselves to only the best parts of others. At this pace, you might as well be comparing apples to pears!
7. Focus on being better than you were yesterday
This rides on the coattails of not comparing yourself to others. Once you understand that you should only compare yourself to yourself, it is game time. You should strive everyday to be better than you were yesterday. This is the most important race you will ever run in your lifetime.
8. Understand that you do not need other’s approval
You do not have to be a lone wolf but you also do not need to depend on others, for every single thing you do. You need to learn to value your own approval. That means that you have to learn to trust yourself. Often times when we require someone’s approval, it is because we trust this person’s authority, with respect to the matter. We would, however, have a hard time getting anything done if we constantly needed others’ approval. This might be the reason behind why we need to learn to trust in ourselves as well. Self-trust is, therefore, a matter of self-confidence.
You need to believe that you can do whatever it is that you set out to do. Now, whether you actually CAN is another matter, but it is the follow through that separates the confident from the rest. They are confident in their abilities and therefore are also not afraid to ask for help when they are way out of their domain. Either way, these confident people progress because they trust their own decision-making capabilities.
9. Nurture your social relationships
Do not take the people around you for granted! Yes, this includes family. Just because you are related to people does not mean that you do not have to put in any effort. Regardless of blood, every relationship requires your input. I want to emphasize the non-familial relationships, specifically with friends.
Any relationship is like a two-way street. Sometimes you have to give way in order for someone to do the same for you. This all comes back to effort. The means by which you show the other person that you value them. The best way to demonstrate this effort is by dedicating not only your time but also your attention to this person. For time without attention is wasted time.
10. Take time to reward yourself for a job well done
Everyone deserves the occasional ‘pat on the back’. The truth of the matter is, you do not need to always wait for someone to give you one. When it comes to rewarding yourself, YOU should feel comfortable enough to do it. Also, it does not need to be anything grand, just a simple gesture to yourself will do. Something that says: “I see you”, “You got this” or “Keep up the good work!”.
For example, I like to reward myself with a milkshake, a nice dinner with friends or even an episode of that Netflix show I can’t get enough of etc. Whatever it is, do not forget that you deserve some TLC (tender loving care) too!
11. Stop making excuses
When there is something to be done that we do not want to do, we suddenly become quite the creative individuals. Excuses pop up left and right like pop corn. While it can be annoying for the recipient of your excuse, the only person that truly suffers is you. At the end of the day, you are the one that has to live with yourself and has to witness the frequent, if not, constant postponement of tasks due to your own excuses.
12. Just be you
“The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are, and not who people think you are.”— Goldie Hawn
With all the external stimulants that we are exposed to on the daily, we’re constantly being confronted with direct and indirect messages. Our brains are always on, ready to process the next thing. We are so busy trying to make sense of the world around us that it leaves little to no time to get to know ourselves.
I can imagine that it is really hard to be yourself, when you do not really know yourself. When it all comes down to it, all that really matters for your happiness is whether or not you can be yourself. With this, I mean that you feel free to express yourself. You do not hide behind society’s expectations of you, nor its ideals.
What worked for some people might not work as effectively for you. We are all different and have distinct things which motivate us. I urge you to find what works for you and be DILIGENT about making that habit a part of you. Try not to strive for overnight change. Work on gradual daily improvements, for the key to your success lies in your consistency.
Are there any other behaviors, that work for you, which I have left out? Let me know.
Disclaimer: I know that this is not an exhaustive list. I could really go on and on but I wanted to be ‘concise’ here.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”
― Jim Rohn