Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness.
This is in part because so many people around me seem to be unhappy.
I had this epiphany upon logging into my social media and making note of everyone that seemed unhappy. Of course, we all know that most of these people wouldn’t be happy even if they weren’t unhappy, but we will leave the perpetual negative Nancy’s and Ned’s out of this.
I am erring on the practical side of things here, and with that being said, I honestly think most people want to be happy. The problem is, most of them just aren’t sure HOW to be.
A lot of people believe that happiness is stems from luck, a sunny disposition, or falling into favorable circumstances. I don’t see it that way, I think happiness is a CHOICE. I believe the best way to find it is to follow in the footsteps of those who have already achieved it.
After watching and assessing “happy people” for decades, here are the habits I’ve learned:
- Stay focused on what you have and not on what you don’t have – Unhappy people seem to be unthankful people. Count your blessings. Get out a journal and write down everything that you are thankful for in your life. Unhappiness can sneak in when we lose sight of the positive things in life and become too consumed with the difficult things.
- Always question where your expectations are coming from – It’s common for unhappy people to want what they don’t have, and sometimes their want for these things is very strong. Are these realistic expectations? Where are these expectations coming from? Hopefully not from the media because causing yourself misery by thinking that you’re not living up to these expectations is a real tragedy.
- Be generous – Several studies have come to the same conclusion. People who are selfish are miserable. People who are happy give their time and resources to a cause greater than themselves.
- Keep in mind that happiness is not a destination – People who are truly happy are the least conscious of their own happiness. It’s all about learning to enjoy the ride, not reaching a destination.
- If you don’t like your life, make a change – It’s important to take control of your own life. Do you regret not going to college? Sign up for some classes. Do you want to improve your spiritual practice? Go to church. Do you want to learn to play the guitar? Take lessons. No one is holding you back but yourself, so do the things you’ve always wanted to do and make changes in your life.
- Slow down – If you’re constantly at full sprint you can’t smell the roses. If you’re a workaholic, make time for yourself to do nothing. Take on a hobby that you enjoy. Enjoy time with friends and family. Learning to chill out on occasion is something happy people have learned to do.
- Realize there are no shortcuts – If you play the lottery and are honestly disappointed that you didn’t win, you are missing the point. Getting an education, hard work and determination, putting in time, pursuing your dreams, saving, giving, these things are always the way to go instead of relying on pure luck.
- Stop feeling entitled – Nobody owes you anything. If it helps, just assume you will not be getting any help from anyone. Go and make your life happen, If anything else comes along in addition to your hard work, consider it a bonus.
- Think significance – You achieve significance by leaving the world better than you found it. People who feel that their lives really matter are the happiest people of all.
- Forgive – When you forgive those that have hurt you, it breaks the power that they have over you. If you can forgive yourself for failures, it sets you free for future success. Ask the higher being you believe in for forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness from those you have hurt, resolve issues when you can, then move on.
- A positive attitude is a choice, not a disposition – You can control your feelings and not be controlled by them. People who are happy, choose to have this attitude.
- Speak life – Choose uplifting words when you speak, encourage and bring positive energy into every situation. Listen to your mother’s advice “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” People who speak life are like a breath of fresh air.
As you start a new week, you have the opportunity to invest in your own happiness, which is a much better option than making yourself miserable.
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Don Patrick is an amateur writer and sports enthusiast. He loves reading books, listening to the Huberman Lab Podcast, and spending time with his family and friends. Don is also a personal trainer and youth hockey coach.