"People want to believe that changing how they feel is a complex, obsacle-strewn path filled with thorns and leg-hold traps. It turns out, however, that altering the mood is often a somewhat simpler task..."
- Randy J. Peterson in How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use
As someone who suffered from depression for three long years, I can tell you that it seems (*key word here) REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY hard to "find" happiness at times. But the reality is, happiness is available to all of us, all the time. All we have to do is stop doing all the things that make us unhappy and replace those thoughts, habits and actions with ones that encourage happiness instead.
On that note, I have put together a list of 10 things that happy people do differently. This is not your typical self-help blog post where I encourage you to drink more water and indulge in a bubble bath. This is actual, life-changing stuff.
I don't want you to just read it and think "that was nice" and then forget about it five minutes later. And for that reason, each point is accompanied by a "small win", a tiny, actionable step you can implement into your life immediately.
1. Happy People Make Happiness Their #1 Priority.
The number one difference between happy people and everyone else is that happy people prioritize happiness and then base all their decisions around that.
Here are a few examples of how happy people choose to prioritize happiness.
- When they have the opportunity to make $100,000 a year doing something they don't like and they choose the $50,000 job that makes them happy instead.
- When they can either check their emails first thing in the morning, or spend that 20 minutes meditating and they choose to sit in stillness.
- When they get invited to a party they don't actually want to go to and so they politely decline the offer and do what serves them best instead.
If you want to be happy, the first thing you have to do is choose happiness for yourself and prioritize it above all else. (I dive deeper into this topic at the end of a guest post I wrote for PurposeFairy.com. I highly encourage you read it.)
Starting now, choose happiness for yourself. (Literally say, "I choose happiness for myself starting now" and then watch what happens in the following days.)
2. Happy People Treat Happiness Like a Full-Time Job.
Happy people don't just hope that they will one day stumble upon the key to everlasting happiness. They work on it. Every, single, day. That's how they stay happy. Because anyone can be happy when "good" things happen. That's easy. The trick is to work at being happy all the time until it becomes your natural, dominant state. And even then, once you've got the hang of things, you still have to maintain that state with routine upkeep. Happiness doesn't just happen people. It takes practice, like any skill.
Create a happiness ritual you can incorporate into your daily routine starting today. For example, my happiness ritual includes, gratitude journaling, reading inspirational books, meditating, and some form of exercise (usually dancing or yoga).
3. Happy People Give Thanks.
Having an attitude of gratitude is one of the most popular habits among the happy because it freakin' works. When you're constantly noticing all the blessings and awesomeness in your life, it is physically impossible to be unhappy. Seeing the world through grateful eyes is basically the equivalent of wearing (metaphorical) "happy" lenses all the time. It skews your perception towards positivity. And who doesn't want that?!
Keep a daily Gratitude Journal. I did this when I was overcoming depression and it seriously made all the difference.
4. Happy People Meditate.
Given the countless psychological, spiritual, and physical benefits of mediation, it's easy to see how it's one of the best tools for cultivating and encouraging happiness. Happy people meditate often, ideally once or twice a day to help maintain their inner peace, which improves pretty much every aspect of their lives, not just happiness.
Learn how to meditate the easy way. (Trust me, it's not as impossible as it sounds.)
5. Happy People Put Themselves First.
Happy people always put themselves first, so that they can take care of others second. To a degree, I am talking about selfishness. But not the kind of selfishness that is at the expense of others, the kind of selfishness that ultimately benefits everyone. Because when you're happy you have so much more to give.
If you've ever flown on an airplane, I'm sure you've heard the safely lesson where the flight attendant says, "In case of a drop in cabin pressure, put your breathing mask on first, and then assist any children or elderly..." Well, life is the same. Help yourself first, only then will you be able to help others.
Do something nice for yourself today. Take care of your own needs for once.
6. Happy People Give.
The fact of the matter is, giving makes us happy. As much as we think (and are taught) that obtaining more is the solution, it's not. (Unless of course, you obtain a bunch of money... and then give it away! Hah!)
Researches have actually demonstrated that our brains light up when we give charitable donations, similar to how they would if we were enjoying a delicious piece of chocolate or even having sex! Studies have also shown that people who volunteer have shown better mental health, wellbeing and even longevity. So what are you waiting for?! Cause if you're waiting to have more before you start giving, then you're missing the point.
Become a "Hogar Hero". Donate as little as $10 a month to support the cuties at Hogar Miguel Magone orphanage in Guatemala. They need people like us to support them financially so they can have toilet paper, food, schooling, clothes, and all the rest! I visited here last summer and it seriously changed my life.
7. Happy People have fun.
When was the last time you set aside some boring aspect of your busy adult life to have some good old-fashioned fun? Honestly.
Happy people make it a point to have fun on a regular basis. To them having fun is not a lost art that went extinct as soon as they started "adulting". Having fun is part of the daily happiness upkeep. It's not hard to do (obviously), you just have to do it. :)
Do something fun today. Maybe try a new activity on Groupon! #thatwaseasy
8. Happy People Stay Present.
Happy people do their best to stay present as much of the time as possible. Think about it, if you're living in the future you're probably having anxiety, and if you're living in the past you're probably depressed! Which leaves the present as the one and only moment any of us really need to pay any attention to. That's why happy people practice mindfulness, the art of staying present.
There are tons of ways to practice mindfulness, but my favorite right now is yoga. When you practice yoga, it requires so much mental focus that there's no room left in your brain for the past or future to creep in. It puts you totally in the NOW. Chances are you already have something like this in your life. That one thing you love to do that makes time fly. Whatever that is, do more of it!
(Sidenote: A great book about mindfulness is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It's a bestseller for a reason.)
Take a yoga class. Read The Power of Now.
9. Happy People Smile (A Lot).
Now, I know what you're thinking, "Of course happy people smile a lot. They smile because they are already happy!" And to this I will say, yes, happiness does lead to smiling, but smiling also leads to happiness. It works both ways.
Happy people know how to hack their emotions with their body language and actions. By smiling, standing tall, laughing, or anything of this nature you can actually trick your body into happiness. (Especially because when you smile for no reason, you'll feel stupid and probably laugh at yourself. Boom, you're happy.)
For five minutes sit still with your eyes closed and soft smile on your face.
10. Happy People Create Their Life.
Happy people are deliberate creators of their own reality. Which simply means they take full responsibility for their life and they know (that since they are the ones in charge) they can change it at anytime! Life is never happening to them, it's always happening from them. Which is a pretty empowering way to live.
Whereas most people are too busy blaming the economy, the president (don't get me started), the school system, or their parents... for their troubles and therefore are throwing away all their power! Don't be like most people. Create your life with intention and you'll be happy. (Yes, I am talking about using the Law of Attraction to manifest a badass life.)
Join my tribe! I'll show you how to become the ultimate creator of your own reality.