What signs do you look for? What indicates to you that someone is truly content with their life and themselves?
Genuinely happy people:
- Feel gratitude. Happy people appreciate all of the good things in their lives, rather than focusing on what they perceive they lack. Happy people have a “glass half-full” mentality.
- Express gratitude. Happy people don’t keep their gratitude to themselves. They let others know how appreciative they are, with a quick note, thank you, hug, or pat on the back.
- Live in the moment. Happy people let go of the past, including their triumphs and mistakes. They realize that the only moment they can truly inhabit and do anything about is the present, so they don’t get caught in thoughts about the future, either.
- Are kind. Happy people are warm, considerate, respectful, helpful, and pleasant to be around. They do not indulge in envy, jealousy, or gossip, nor do they waste time complaining.
- Use positive rather than negative language. Happy people focus on what has, is, and can work, rather than on what is problematic.
- Smile often. The smiles of happy people are authentic, including their eyes and body language.
- Have a good-natured sense of humor. Happy people are not cynical or sarcastic. They can laugh at their own foibles and the absurdities of life. They do not take things too seriously, knowing the value of lightening up.
- Can be spontaneous. Happy people recognize and seize opportunities for new experiences, adventures, and fun. They are not rigid; not locked into meaningless routines.
- Have self-confidence. Happy people have a realistic (not arrogant) faith in their abilities. As a result, they feel equipped to deal with life’s challenges.
- Are adaptable. Happy people have a “I bend but do not break” attitude. They look for ways around an obstacle rather than lamenting the obstacle. They may even see the obstacle as a stepping stone for growth and additional opportunities, accepting that sometimes we need to choose a different path. They know the wisdom in the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting different results.” Happy people can go with the flow and modify their behavior and choices as needed – they learn from their mistakes.
- Are optimistic. Happy people are positive thinkers, hopeful about the future, and believe that things will work out for the best in the end. Such an attitude is associated with lower stress levels.
- Are energetic and enthusiastic about life. Happy people consider life an adventure to be lived rather than a problem to be solved.
- Value cooperation over competition. Happy people have an “us” and “we” rather than a “me” and “my” mentality, knowing that victory can ring hollow if we aren’t sharing it with anyone.
- Show enthusiasm for other people’s successes. Happy people realize that there is enough to go around and thus aren’t threatened by other people’s triumphs.
- Are curious about life. Happy people have a large number of interests and are continually learning and growing.
- Do not feel “entitled.” Happy people know the difference between wanting something and demanding it. In fact, they don’t expect a lot from life, as their focus is largely on what they can give. Ironically, as a result of this attitude, happy people often end up receiving quite a lot, as humble and helpful people usually attract a lot of goodwill.
- Accept life’s uncertainties. Happy people are willing to go with the flow and make the best decisions they can, based on incomplete information (which is generally all we have).
- Prioritize spiritual/non-materialistic values. Happy people are not concerned about keeping up with the Joneses, nabbing a prestigious job, buying a massive home, or hitting a certain financial plateau. They prioritize relationships with family and friends, enjoying themselves, laughing, and having fun. They value experiences over possessions.
- Get sufficient sleep. Happy people realize that without adequate shut-eye they compromise their outcome, energy level, cognition, physical health, and ability to deal with stress. Thus, they make sleep a priority, which for most people amounts to between seven and nine hours a night.
- Have a strong social support system. Value quality over quantity when it comes to relationships. Communicate in deep and meaningful ways, rather than engaging in shallow conversation. Do not have a need to have thousands of “friends” on social media.
- Are loyal to their loved ones. Happy people will stick up for and go out of their way to help those close to them.
- Spend time with other happy people. Happy people know that the traits of our frequent companions tend to rub off on us.
- Are willing to ask for help. Happy people recognize the importance of standing on their own two feet but also realize that they cannot do everything themselves and do not hesitant to turn to their personal and professional community for assistance. Asking for help is a sign of humility and honesty.
- Are good listeners. Communication is not a one-way street. Happy people take the time and exert the energy required to really pick up on what other people are telling them verbally and non-verbally. Happy people recognize the importance of hearing different perspectives on an issue and are willing to be influenced and to learn.
- Are honest with themselves and with others. “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” (William Shakespeare) Happy people know who they are, are comfortable with themselves, and feel free to show their true selves to other people. They do not feign emotions, beliefs, or attitudes that aren’t consistent with their personal truths.
- Have a sense of purpose. Happy people apply their skills, efforts, and energy to projects and causes within their family, community, and world – they do not live for themselves alone.
How many of these attributes can you recognize in those close to you – and in yourself? Remember,through practice, all of these traits can be learned and strengthened.