Are you the kind of person who gets joy from life or who is irritated by life?

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. – Dalai Lama

I had breakfast with a friend this week where among other things, we talked about a simplified view of human nature: are you a person who is irritated by life or a person who gets joy from life?

Sure, I complain about things  but overall, I aim to get joy from life, so I loved this article headlined “22 Things Happy People Do Differently.” It speaks to the choices we make about how to live our lives, including where we put our energies.

Here are some highlights:

There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, walking around with a spring in every step. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

12. Choose friends wisely.Misery loves company.

That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

22. Accept what cannot be changed.Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself.

Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

I don’t know how scientific the analysis of what happy people do or don’t do is or whether it’s statistically correct — but these just feel like good advice. You can read the full article here.

Are you the “get off my lawn!” person? Or are you reveling in the happiness that life gives you?


Categories: health and well being, lifestyle

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5 replies

  1. A very good & inspiring list Colleen, thx for pulling some of the good ones from the article “22 Things Happy People Do Differently.” I can relate to several … & many are similar to those I included on a list I recently put together on my blog – “26 things I know for sure … in this half of life” after turning the big FIVE OH last month. On my list #12 says … Happiness is a choice. Not always the easiest choice, but worth it. 🙂

  2. So true, Colleen. I’d like to add one more. Ask for help. So often people try to deal with difficulties by themselves and it takes a bit of humility to say “I need your help.”

    My husband and I have learned a great deal about acceptance and asking for help since he was diagnosed with cancer last fall. Since it is terminal, we also had to look at what we have now, enjoy each day for what comes along, and locate all the good we can in life. We have had wonderful support from our family and friends and Woodland Hospice volunteers and nurses. We could not do this alone and we haven’t had to be alone at all. There is so much to be grateful for.

    Thanks for the column on this. We share updates on the CaringBridge site. I sent the link in the details. Our page is open to those who register. It allows people who are going through some health issue to post updates and get support from others. Illness is a humbling experience. You are at the mercy of so many providers and have to deal with emotional upheavals all the time. Help makes all the difference.

    • I’m so sorry to hear what you and your husband are dealing with, Pat. Thank you for using your difficult experience to pass along the great piece of advice to ask for help.

      I think in all manner of situations, from far more mundane ones to major life events like yours, we can benefit from opening ourselves up and showing our humanity. Admitting we need help, or that we don’t know something, or that we love something … whatever it is that’s sharing our real, true selves.

      When my mom died, many people made that typical general offer: let me know if there’s anything I can do. I was so deep in my sadness that I really did need help. I sent an email to friends asking for help weeding the garden and getting some other chores done. Not only did several people spring into action, but we hung out as they helped with those tasks, helping me feel loved and supported.

      That, as you say, is so essential when you’re dealing with something big.

      Thinking of you.


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