1) They embrace their faith.
Having faith ensures a life filled with hope, a life filled with purpose and life that has meaning. When I say “faith,” I’m not talking about faith in a person, a government, a trust fund, etc. I’m talking about faith in something bigger than us; something amazing. In my case, it’s blind-but-now-I-see faith. As you may know, I’m a Christian, but I’m not even going there. I’m going with a scientific and medical approach: data indicates that people of faith cope with life’s difficulties in a more positive way. They tend to bounce back faster, they move forward more fearlessly. Don’t get me wrong, people who have no bigger-than-us faith can certainly be happy, but happiness without faith is circumstantial. Faith gives birth to an internal joy that circumstances cannot alter. Being a person of faith, it’s difficult for me to see the other side. I’m sure there are exceptions to this data set, as there are for most things. But if you read nearly ANY happy-people or successful-people articles, they all include faith as a factor. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough.
2) They dream big but work strategically.
Unfortunately, being hyper realistic doesn’t always make for the happiest of people. It normally doesn’t make for the most successful of people either. People who aren’t afraid to dream big tend to have fewer limitations and therefore achieve more. Where would we be without big dreamers? When was the last time you met a super happy person who didn’t have ambition? Moreover, they don’t apologize or make excuses for those big dreams – no matter how ridiculous a more “practical” person might think they are. HOWEVER, dreaming big doesn’t stop a happy person from working strategically – in the real world – toward the realization of those dreams. Everybody thought the Wright brothers were nutso, because they dreamed BIG – guess what though; they worked strategically, on the ground, long before they ever flew.
3) They LOVE and SERVE others.
There’s an old adage that suggests the quickest way to forget your own problems is to help someone else with theirs. It’s SO true. People who are solely focused on themselves are intrinsically less happy than those who have legitimate caring for others; selfless, loving care. Truly happy people are happy when others are happy. They’re happy just being happy that others are happy. It’s a beautiful circle. It doesn’t take a whole lot, and as someone who genuinely loves people, I can personally vouch for this one. Happy people smile at other people, they wave at strangers and they give off a really good ‘vibe.’ Happy people don’t want to be happy alone. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of sour-lemon eaters all the time? The happiest people I know are people who enjoy being around other happy people. For this reason, they do things to ensure the people in their lives are also happy. They try to use their successes and their talents or gifts to bless other people with reasons to be happy alongside them. Yes, misery loves company. But, happiness loves company too. The good news is that happiness is more contagious than misery. Don’t believe me? Check this out from WebMD:
“New research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego suggests that happiness is influenced not only by the people you know, but by the people they know.
The study showed that happiness spreads through social networks, sort of like a virus, meaning that your happiness could influence the happiness of someone you’ve never even met.
Sadness spreads too, but much less efficiently, says study co-author James H. Fowler, PhD, of the University of California-San Diego.
“We have known for a long time that there is a direct relationship between one person’s happiness and another’s,” Fowler tells WebMD.”
4) They take care of themselves.
Happy people usually feel pretty good. It’s difficult to feel happy or be successful when you also feel crappy. Yes, again, there are exceptions to this rule. But, let’s face it, people who are super bubbly usually feel super bubbly.
5) They view rejection and criticism from a positive point of view.
No matter how we try, we can’t change other people. We can only change the way we react to those people. If someone in your life is super negative, mean or harsh when they provide you with criticism and/or advice, or if they reject you outright, it’s up to YOU to spin that negative into a positive (this is true of way more than just rejection and criticism, but these two seem to be some of the biggest things people struggle to accept). The happiest and most successful people in the world can quickly turn a criticism into a learning experience and a rejection into protection from something worse down the road.
6) They practice positivity.
I say practice because this is a skill that anyone can learn and it certainly takes practice. A positive outlook on life is a CHOICE, just as your attitude is a choice. ** Disclaimer: I am not speaking to clinical depression or other legitimate mental disorders that result in altered brain chemistry. While I think practicing positivity is a good way to cope with depression, I fully understand the REALITY of brain chemistry and it’s impact on depression. I am talking to people who make the conscious choice to be life-long crab-apples. If you don’t make the effort to change your outlook, you’ll still be crabby ten years from now. Practicing positivity means making the CONSCIOUS choice to look on the brighter side of every situation. Happy, successful people DO NOT take themselves too seriously and they aren’t afraid to laugh, a lot, out loud. Laughter is great medicine.
7) They are DOERS.
This is an easy one, and pretty self-explanatory. If you’re doing, you’re not brooding. Happy and successful people are living in forward momentum. They want to get stuff done and have something to show for it at the end of the day – even if what they have to show is simply the memory of doing something memorable, like watching a great movie with their kids or even something more extreme, like hang gliding. In short, happy, successful people are not lazy people. Harsh? Maybe. True? Absolutely.
8) They live in the present and the dream in the future.
Past is past for a reason. Happy people do not try to live in the past. They remember the past, they learn from the past, but they DO NOT relive the past over and over. The stuff that’s in that baggage of the past won’t fit the person of today anyway. People who are truly happy have let go of their past baggage and they focus on what they’re doing today and they dream of where they’ll be in the future. It’s a bit of a challenge to let go, but again, much of being a happy person is having mental discipline. All this stuff takes some practice, but it’s so worth it in the long run.
9) They clearly, vividly, and purposefully define their goals and they BELIEVE they can achieve them.
Vague goals aren’t usually effective. You want to lose weight? Great, how much weight exactly? You want to go on a mission trip? Great, where to? You want a new car? Great, what kind of car exactly? When I started clearly defining my goals, I became much more focused on achieving them, and believe it or not, achievement came much faster. But setting goals isn’t enough. You have to believe you can actually achieve those goals. Whether you want to be a bestselling author or someday own a sailboat, you need to be able to see yourself in that future. This can be challenging also, especially when your goal seems very far removed from where you are currently. Yes, dream big, set the bar high – but not so high you don’t believe you’ll actually clear it. You can always set an even higher goal after you’ve cleared the first one. It helps me to actually visualize myself reaching the goal. What will it feel like, what will it do for my family? What will it mean for those I love? Will it help me help other people? What will it look like, smell like? I know that sounds hokey-pokey, but as sure as I sit here, it really does work. I know, because I’ve lived it. I close my eyes and clearly picture myself achieving it – it makes BELIEVING you can do it so much easier.
10) They understand that they won’t be happy all the time.
There’s a myth among mankind that happy people can’t be hurt, or that they don’t feel anger, pain, etc. Unfortunately, this means that happy and successful people are often left holding the short end of the stick in certain situations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I didn’t think you’d mind,” or “she’s more sensitive than you are so we went a different way” or something like “he needs this account more than you do.” People who are truly happy understand this fact. They also get that they don’t have to be happy IN EVERY MOMENT. But that’s not the important part. The important part is – they’re OKAY with it. Yes, they’ll look for the bright side, they’ll bounce back, and so on, but not every moment has to be a happy moment. Being able to effectively handle negative emotions is a sign of emotional intelligence (this is a real thing, look it up), and it makes for a well-rounded, healthy individual. And not only that, statistically and historically, emotionally intelligent people are more successful over time (as in, with longevity) than their counterparts. Intrinsic happiness INCLUDES an understanding of other emotions as well, which is exactly where we get the phrase, “I need a good cry.”
Now get out there and get HAPPY!