Why are some people happy most of the time?
Over the years that I lived and worked in some of the world’s poorest countries, I saw many times that happiness is an inside job. Possessions, relationships, even good health do not guarantee happiness.
The happiest people have attitudes that greatly increase the chance they will feel happy each day. Because these attitudes are habitual, they are motivated to engage in the behaviors that lead to happiness.
On the other hand, unhappy people often act in different ways that result in less desirable feelings.
It’s possible to be happy even when facing economic hardship, illness, discrimination and other challenges
Yes, having our needs met is important and it can be tough to be in a hard place. Still, happiness is possible in hardship.
It can truly be as simple as having the attitudes that foster happiness.
If you’re not as happy as you’d like, look at your current attitudes and perspectives that have become habitual. Since these are habits and a usual way of being they are likely outside your conscious awareness.
Bring them into awareness and examine them. Consider how they are helping increase your happiness.
Here are some attitudes that – when they are habits – are likely to lead to happiness. (And, they feel good to implement, too.)
If you believe good things will happen, it’s much more likely that you’ll be happy. Even if the worst eventually happens, spending energy expecting bad things to happen in the future does nothing to improve your mood.
Realistically, it’s not even important to expect a positive outcome, only to believe that everything will work out okay in the end.
Optimism can also boost your self-esteem and confidence. If you believe that you can handle whatever comes along, then you can be optimistic and have the emotional freedom that comes with happiness.
Being helpful to both strangers and friends provides many benefits. When you help someone less fortunate, you can easily see what you can be grateful for.
Helping others can help you feel good about yourself, too.
It doesn’t have to be anything big. Helping others with small things like holding a door and smiling or giving directions to a lost stranger can be meaningful too.
Do you realize how many wonderful things and people you already have in your life, If instead you keep your focus on the things you don’t have, you’re more likely to be unhappy.
Gratitude is one of those things that once you get started feeds itself and can lead to feeling happy more often.
It’s much easier to be happy when you have something positive to look forward to.
This could be a big goal like graduating from college, getting a new job, having a baby or moving to a new city. Or it could just be looking forward to a nice evening with friends or enjoying a hobby.
If you want to be happier, ask yourself what you’re enthusiastic about. Create some goals that give you a reason to be excited. Ideally, have some goals that are both short-term and long-term.
5. Focus on your strengths
Spend some time doing things that you’re good at. It feels good to do well at something.
It doesn’t have to be a competitive event. You can play the guitar, write stories, draw or cook for friends and feel great about yourself.
Make a list of the things you excel at and try to spend at least a few minutes each day doing one of them.
It’s impossible to avoid challenging times. Sooner or later, something will happen that threatens your progress, success, or happiness.
Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” or continue forging ahead when difficulties come along. Some people have a knack for making obstacles seem bigger than they really are. Others can maintain their composure and continue making progress even when they feel sad and discouraged.
Rather than comparing yourself to others, look for small ways you can build your inner strength and resilience.
7. Reasonable expectations
When your expectations are overly optimistic, you’ll routinely experience disappointment.
When your expectations are consistently too low, you often won’t enjoy things because of anxiety about how they will turn out. Or you might not even participate in them.
Neither is a recipe for happiness. Instead, find some balance by creating realistic expectations of yourself and others.
How can you be happy while holding a grudge, Forgiving others makes happiness more likely.
You might feel that some people don’t deserve forgiveness. Sometimes that’s true.
Forgiveness is about letting go of the grudge or resentment. Forgiving does not require you to say that what happened did not hurt you or does not matter. You can let go while still acknowledging that what happened was not fair or right.
It can be easy and tempting to go too far in putting our best foot forward. Of course, it’s natural to want to impress others.
Taking this too far, though, can backfire when people discover the “real” you is different from the person they thought you were.
Explore your motivations for holding back and presenting yourself differently than your really are.
Happiness is elusive if you don’t feel comfortable being yourself. It may take some time to be more comfortable being yourself.
In the long run allowing your uniqueness to show will enhance intimacy, confidence and self esteem.
Being distracted with thinking about the past leads to regret. Focusing your thoughts all on the future leads to anxiety.
Real intimacy and happiness both happen when you place your attention on the present moment. You need to be fully here right now to enjoy them.
When you’re not distracted by your thoughts, people will feel more connected to you. They’ll appreciate you more. And you’ll be more likely to be happy.
11. Priority of Relationships
The happiest people put relationships before wealth and possessions. Interestingly, it’s often true that poor people in the poor countries are happier than wealthy people in the wealthiest countries.
This is not because being poor leads to happiness. It’s because relationships are often valued more highly in those cultures.
Imagine how you will feel when you are very old and looking back on your life. Will you be happier about having worked extra hours to get a luxury car or a bigger home, or about having spent extra time taking your daughter hiking in the woods,
Of course, everyone needs reliable transportation and not everyone likes hiking. The question, however, is about choosing priorities based on what will lead to long term happiness and fewer regrets.
In the long run, relationships and spending time with people you enjoy will bring more happiness than status or possessions.
Creating more happiness
Happiness is simple and not very complicated. It might mean changing your thoughts and attitudes.
Be yourself, help others, let go of grudges, and be grateful for the things and people you already have.
Believe good things are coming your way and have a positive vision for your future.
By making these attitudes into habits, it will get harder and harder to not be happy.