We are all seeking for something in life. Some people seek after riches and success. Some people seek after love and relationships. Despite the differences in what we seek as human beings, we all have one goal…. Happiness. Everything we do is centered on trying to be happy. I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know. However, after meeting with many clients who essentially say the same thing, “I just want to be happy,” I have observed seven things that happy people have in common and practice every day.
1) They don’t dwell on the negative
There are many things in life that we can see as a hole that needs to be filled, fixed, or covered up, but what if we could learn to be okay with having some holes here and there in our life. If you want to be miserable all the time, just remind yourself of all the problems you do have and all the things you don’t have. We all have problems we wish weren’t there and things we wish we had, but it’s not healthy for us to constantly dwell on them and the negative aspects of our lives. Happy people don’t avoid problems, they just learn to see the glass half full. They learn to practice gratitude for the things that they have in the center of life’s storms. Unhappy people avoid life storms as they would the plague and see them as a personal flaw. Happy people understand that there will always be storms wherever we go in life. They learn to look at the gifts that weaknesses or problems can give them by seeing an opportunity for growth and development as a person and not seeing themselves as a failure or innately flawed and one who belongs in the “exceptions to the rules” pile. Happy people don’t dwell on their problems or long for the things they don’t have.
2) They understand the value of pain and emotion
Our society teaches us that emotion or pain is weakness. We learn over time that if we experience pain or emotion then it means that something is wrong with us. We do this so well that it is often unconscious. Happy people learn that pain is a part of life, and emotion is a part of being human. They learn to accept the feelings and emotions that they have and manage them in a healthy way through self-acceptence and connection. Unhappy people use addictions, distractions, or isolation as a way to cover up what they are feeling. Unfortunately, it brings more unhappiness and the cycle just repeats itself. Happy people understand the value of pain and emotion.
3) They understand the importance of human connection
We weren’t meant to handle life’s problems on our own. We are hard-wired as human beings to connect whether we like it or not. Happy people understand the value of connection and leaning on people for strength and support. Leaning on people is not the only essential part of connection though. Giving and serving is just as important in fostering our connection with others. We feel a sense of value when we are trusted by others and are able to step outside of ourselves to think of their needs. Happy people understand the value of human connection by leaning and serving others.
4) They learn to surrender
Just as human connection is essential to our happiness, so is a connection with a higher power. We not only need to lean on people for strength and support, we also need to lean on God. Regardless of what or who they call this higher power, happy people learn to stop leaning on their own strength to accomplish the things they need to and learn to surrender to God for power and strength to live the life they are seeking. This process can be liberating for us if we can learn to trust that this higher power will have our backs. Many unhappy people fail to do this because they feel that they need to prove something to themselves and others that they are not weak. They want to believe that they can defeat their personal demons with just sheer will power. However, as Hermann Hesse says, “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” Happy people don’t feel they need to prove themselves and learn to surrender to a higher power for strength.
5) They have a purpose in life
Happy people don’t live from day to day just seeing life as a bunch of responsibilities or problems that they need to take care of. They find a purpose and meaning in life. They see their priorities as areas of personal fulfillment. Work is not just work or parenthood is not just parenthood for happy people. They feel that they have something special to offer others in their career or as a parent. It gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. They see their personal value in their responsibilities. They also regularly engage in activities that further develop their sense of value. This might be activities or personal hobbies that can further their sense of creativity and learning such as cooking, arts and crafts, or education. Happy people live their lives with purpose and meaning.
6) They embrace vulnerability and change every day
Facing our problems and embracing vulnerability can be difficult and quite exhausting. It can be easier to stay stagnant in life and spend our days in our comfort zones. We feel safe here. However, living life without consistent growth and change will make us miserable. Happy people understand that personal growth and change can only happen by embracing vulnerability with themselves and others and taking accountability for their actions. They don’t stay in their comfort zones. They face their problems with courage and faith. They recognize the misery that comes in being stagnant on a daily basis. They know when to work, and they know when to play. Happy people make a decision to change every day through vulnerability and accountability.
7) They forgive themselves and others
No matter how hard we try to live a perfect life we will always fall short. We end up making mistakes that hurt ourselves and others. We might not always be forgiven by the people we hurt…. but we can forgive ourselves, and we can forgive the people that hurt us. Happy people are able to have compassion on themselves for the mistakes that they make. They are also able to let go of the mistakes made by other people. They recognize that they sometimes have to bring up the past in order to learn to let it go and live in the present. Forgiveness to oneself and others is essential to moving on from past shame, hurts, and pains. Unhappy people carry the shame of their mistakes and the pains caused by others on their shoulders. They mistakenly think that they can leave the past in the past and not have to address those pains or feelings of shame. As they attempt to cover up their pains, the pains will follow them. It follows them into every relationship and gets repeated over and over again until they are ready to face what they are carrying. Happy people are able to face the shame of their mistakes and pains caused by other people. As they face these feelings, they forgive themselves and others and unloose the burdens of the past they have carried with them. Happy people forgive themselves and others by resolving the mistakes and pains of the past.