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Five Habits of Happy People

February 28, 2016 | by Debbie Gutfreund

We can train our minds to be positive just like we can train our bodies to be in shape. Here’s how.

When we think that happiness is a result of reaching certain milestones we make happiness elusive. Every time we reach a goal, we automatically move onto the next goalpost, and the success that we imagined would bring us so much joy ends up leaving us anxious that we won’t be able to continue to succeed.

We need to cultivate happiness while we are in the middle of our journeys, working towards our goals. While we are still single, unemployed, struggling to reach our goals, that is the time to create happiness from the inside out.

Based on his compelling research done largely through counselling stressed out Harvard students, Dr. Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, writes that we need to stop equating happiness with success while simultaneously recognizing that happiness is a work ethic. We can train our minds to be positive just like we can train our bodies to be in shape.

Dr. Achor presents five suggestions in his 21 Day Happiness Challenge: write down three new things you are grateful for each day, for two minutes a day describe in writing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours, exercise for 10 minutes a day, meditate for two minutes, and write a quick email thanking or praising someone.

In addition to these practical tips, there are some general habits of happy people that we can emulate.

1. They have a “why.” Happy people are clear about what they believe and how their lives reflect those beliefs. They feel like everything they do is meaningful and has a purpose. Their “why” gets them through the details and obstacles that drain us of energy because we aren’t clear what our core values are.

2. They surround themselves with happy people. Studies show that we pick up the moods and habits of the five people we spend the most time with, even if we don’t want to. Happy people tend to seek out other positive people. They will naturally gravitate to optimistic peers and find ways to interact with people who uplift and inspire them.

3. They love to learn. Happy people are curious. They love to learn about new ideas and explore. They find other people fascinating because they know that behind every face there is a whole life story that they don’t yet know. And they are constantly asking questions about the world around them and striving to increase both their knowledge and their wisdom.

4. They are grateful. Happy people appreciate the little things in life. They seldom complain because they are able to find joy in what they have. They feel like they have exactly what they need, and they frequently express their gratitude, both to others and to their Creator.

5. They find a way. Happy people don’t give up easily when they want something. They will keep looking, climbing and searching until they find a way in. And while they are striving, they stay far away from both blame and excuses since neither one helps them achieve the results they are working towards.

But even happy people need to work hard to maintain their happiness, like Dr. Achor teaches. Happiness, like so much else in life, comes from committed training and solid habits. But it is not a destination; it is a state of mind that we can all cultivate before we even begin.

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