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Published on December 30, 2019

16 Good Habits of Happy and Successful People

16 Good Habits of Happy and Successful People

If you have ever battled depression – deep depression – you know that happiness is not to be taken for granted.

If you have had the experience of ever struggling to pull yourself out of bed and go through the song and dance of getting yourself together, you may analyze the days when you feel good. You think about what you did, what you ate, where you went, who you were with. You think about the conversations that rejuvenated you and those that seemed to zap the life right out of you. You study these things like you are completing a research project.

You understand that one day, perhaps one day not in the distant future, you will need to retrace your path and duplicate the very things that at one time brought you joy.

If this is you, or someone you know, this article is for you.

Many of us spend a considerable chunk of our lives on a happiness journey. We search for happiness thinking we’ll find it in relationships, in our kids, in our careers, in our life experiences, in our social media connections, in status, even in our homes and in our material possessions.

But happiness is so much bigger than our latest conquest or accomplishment. Happiness is a deep sense of ease and comfort. It is joy, and joy that isn’t fueled by external motivators.

In an interview with Business Insider’s Jacqui Frank and Sara Silverstein, Deepak Chopra said this in reference to happiness:

“Social scientists say that happiness depends on lots of factors, the first is do you look at the world as a problem, or as an opportunity? Basically your attitude toward life. Secondly depends on your financial resources, because lot of people are, these days anyway, very scared about health insurance, about retirement benefits, about their future. But that adds about 10-12%. Your attitude determines 50%. And then the last part, which determines 40% of your daily happiness and experiences, do you have the ability to make other people happy? That’s the fastest way to be happy.”

I loved the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” because it documented, for me, the journey to happiness and peace. Because I have been on my own journey to find happiness and some measure of success. I have reflected on when I am at my happiest. I have also studied people who appeared to be genuinely happy and successful to understand what they do and why.

Through this research and years of self-work, I have come to believe that happy and successful people maintain 16 habits that perhaps we should all consider.

1. They Have a Positive Outlook.

As Chopra inferred in the Business Insider article, people who have a positive outlook view the world as full of possibility and opportunity. Their inherent attitude toward life is one of possibility.

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Cultivating positivity is then linked to happiness. And happy people, according to Chopra and others, are optimistic.

2. They Know Themselves.

Happy people may enjoy other people, but they have also spent a considerable amount of time getting to know themselves. They know what makes them upset, and they know what brings them happiness. They know what they like and dislike.

Happy people, and successful people, are in tune with themselves.

3. They Rest.

I’m convinced that rest is an undervalued superpower. It is what enables us to heal and recover, yet many of us fill our lives with so many obligations that rest becomes illusive.

Even when we lie down to rest, our minds are racing with the commitments we have for the following day or the things we were unable to accomplish earlier in the day. This can lead to restless nights and an inability to get deep sleep.

But happy people and successful people value rest as much as they do productivity. They understand that they cannot bring their best selves to the work if they are tired, worn down and exhausted.

4. They Are Content.

When I was a kid, my father would say, “Jennifer, do you want to know how to save money? Learn contentment.” It was a marvelously simple explanation.

Being content solves a multitude of problems. It can help you save money by ceasing from continually wanting the next best thing. It can also help you to enjoy where you are at any given point in your life.

Content people are present. They do not live in search of the next big thing. They celebrate what they have and take pleasure in the here and now.

5. They Embrace Self-Compassion.

Happy people have learned the difference between guilt, shame and blame. They understand that the key to their happiness is being gentle and compassionate with themselves. They offer themselves the grace they would extend to a close friend.

When they make mistakes, as each of us do, they respond with compassion and grace.

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6. They Silence Their Inner Judge.

I once had a friend who was extremely difficult to please professionally. She seemed to find fault in everything.

As I got curious about how to please her, I committed to really listen to what she was saying and what was left unsaid. I learned that this person was highly critical of herself. She judged herself harshly, and therefore judging others harshly was second nature.

I learned, then, that judgmental people judge themselves first and others second. This is counterproductive and incompatible with happiness.

To be happy, we must silence our inner critic. One way to do this is to give our inner critic a name. When we hear the critic rising up to condemn us or others, we can call that part of ourselves by the name we’ve chosen and gently thank it and ask it to have a seat.

Another way to silence the inner critic is to develop as much self-love and compassion as possible. When we practice self-love, the love we give to ourselves will gradually extend to others. And when we walk through life without the need to judge ourselves or others, we can and will experience emotional freedom and happiness.

7. They Feel Their Emotions.

Happy and successful people understand that being present in their physical bodies includes being able to experience the range of emotions that come with the human experience.

Rather than running from unpleasant emotions and feelings, they allow themselves to experience and feel emotions. They give name to their emotions, and most importantly, they don’t judge themselves for feeling anger, sadness and hurt.

8. They Realize Their Chief Competitor Is Themselves.

Happy and successful people are narrowly focused on their own growth and development. Rather than focusing on others’ accomplishments, they focus on what they want and lean into that desire.

They are inspired by their peers, but they hold themselves to standards that they themselves create.

9. They Care About Their Mental Health.

Happy and successful people ideally understand that health is bigger than one’s physical body. It also includes the mind. They understand that they cannot give what they do not have, and they take time to care for their mental well-being. This includes going to therapy or counseling, and it also includes ridding themselves of toxic people and situations.

Caring for one’s mental health also means examining harmful thought patterns and working to develop a healthier worldview. It’s important to note that happy and successful people can still experience depression, anxiety and mental health disorders.

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The difference is that they have a plan to combat those emotions and work through them. They are not passive passengers when it comes to their mental health. They are working a plan and committing to continue investing in their mental well-being.

10. They Care About Their Physical Health.

Happy and successful people understand that they have one body and one life to live. While they may be on a journey to optimal health, they are mindful of the need to care for their physical health. This looks like making and keeping dental, doctor and mental health appointments. It looks like exercising, and it also entails a healthy and nutritious diet.

Happy and successful people aren’t chasing an ideal body but rather aiming for developing an ideal body for them. This means they are less concerned about beauty standards and more concerned about what they must do to look and feel good internally.

11. They Understand What Brings Them Joy.

If I am sad, I have learned that there are fail-safe things that I can do to get into a better mood. I have learned that being outdoors, namely being on a trail or someplace in nature, will automatically bring me joy. The smell, the terrain, the beauty of parks and trails conspire to snap me out of my circumstance and into a place of possibility.

Happy people have taken the time to research what brings them joy. They understand what activities bring happiness, and they make time to invest in those activities. They do regular internal work to understand how to be their happiest selves, and equipped with this knowledge, they make a plan to do more of what lights their souls on fire.

12. They Invest in Themselves.

Happy and successful people refuse to live their lives pouring into others without taking the time to pour into themselves. They know that with investment, they can be better and do better.

They make time to invest in themselves by returning to school, taking courses to learn or enhance a skill, learning a new language, taking a cooking class or engaging in a sporting interest.

13. They Disconnect.

Happy people and successful people are able to disconnect from social media and other distractions. They can focus intensively on their work, families and commitments and regularly take breaks from social media. They are not glued to their phones, iPads or other communications devices.

Citing a happiness study from Kent University,[1]

“Excessive use of even the best technologies reduces our happiness in meaningful ways.”

14. They Help Others.

One of the most rewarding activities is being in service to others. Years ago, as a noncustodial mom, I decided that when I would get down about not seeing my son on a daily basis, I would help my nieces, whose mom was a single mother. I would pick them up, take them shopping or out to eat or otherwise spend the day with them. Before long, the sadness I’d felt would dissipate.

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In serving and helping others, I am, in a sense, helping myself.

The same is true today. Happy people understand that giving is its own reward.

15. They Seek Help.

While happiness is elusive, it is indeed possible. The great news is you don’t need to have all the answers, you only need to know where to turn.

Therapy is an excellent resource along your journey to live a happier life. A therapist can help you get unstuck and discover strategies for living a happier more fulfilling life.

If you aren’t sure where to turn, start with a search on Psychology Today. If the cost of therapy is prohibitive, consider speaking with a counselor, faith leader or trusted friend.

16. They Live with Gratitude.

When you practice gratitude, you create a habit of identifying and celebrating the good. You train your brain to look for the positive.

An undeniable habit of happy and successful people is gratitude. They practice it daily, and the practice brings them happiness.

One of the biggest myths about change is that it is possible or impossible depending on your age. With age, it is thought that people are less capable of change. Alternatively, if you have lived with a condition for an extended period of time, it may be easy to assume that change is impossible.

Final Thoughts

Fortunately, anyone can change.

As Dr. Laurie Santos, professor of Yale University’s most popular class, “The Science of Well-being” and host of the new podcast, “The Happiness Lab,” said,

“Happiness is possible, even for people in serious psychological distress.”

More on Living a Successful Life

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

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Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and trainer specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on July 9, 2020

How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want

How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want

Have you ever wondered what keeps you stuck in a state of passivity each day? You tend to know exactly what you need to, but you never have the energy, motivation, or willpower to do it. You know you need to learn how to stop being passive, but how do you do that?

You are not alone. Being passive can leave you stuck in a bit of a rut that is difficult to escape from. This article will help to shine some light on your predicament by not just exploring the methods of how to stop being passive, but also the finer and very important details about what causes passive behavior, as well as an important distinction between positive and negative forms of being passive.

Let’s dive straight in.

What Causes Passive Behavior?

Passive behavior is often the leading cause of people feeling stuck either at work or in their life. It occurs when your life situation is unhappy, but the only thing you “actively” do about it is complain. This, of course, doesn’t change anything. Passive behavior in this sense leaves people feeling stuck, hopeless, and miserable for the vast majority of their life.

Passive behavior can emerge from a number of different sources, but there are three main ways that tend to be the most evident.

Lack of Motivation

Perhaps the most common and most obvious cause of passive behavior is the simple fact of being unmotivated. In the conventional sense, motivation gives rise to action. When you feel motivated, you go and do the things that you set out to do. When you don’t feel motivated, you don’t act.

You might wake up one morning and be eager to get a nice, long, satisfying workout in, so you head to the gym. On another morning, or for a number of consecutive mornings, you might not feel motivated at all. As a result, you don’t get a workout done.

Not being motivated and not always doing what you set out to do is fine. It is part of the natural ebb and flow of life and all of its contents. However, it is a myth that motivation needs to be preceded by action. The secret of successful and seemingly “always motivated” people is that they know that that is a myth. They also know that, quite often, it is usually action that leads to motivation[1].

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Don’t believe me? You have probably experienced it many times yourself. You have forced yourself into your workout gear and then suddenly felt ready to go. You forced yourself to begin writing a report and then all of a sudden you’re in full flow. You forced yourself to meet friends just for one drink and ended up having the time of your life. Action, and then motivation.

Motivation sometimes leads to action, but motivation only comes around every so often. However, motivation that follows action is always in your control. It may seem counterintuitive, but whenever you feel unmotivated and passive, just do something. Anything. And you will usually find that motivation and productivity follow closely behind.

Lack of Goals

Another common force behind passive behavior is the lack of any meaningful goals that you are striving towards. If your life consists of going through the motions, doing the same boring tasks every day, and eating the same sort of stuff, not only can it quickly begin to feel like Groundhog Day, but it can also begin to eat away at your life energy. Anyone with experience of these sorts of patterns will be able to directly relate.

When your only goal is to make it through another day or make it to the weekend, that is a massive portion of your life that you are throwing away. Discovering and creating meaningful goals in your own life can radically change all of that.

Ideally, because you spend large portions of your life at work, you will want to start by finding some meaningful goals within the work section of your life. You can strive towards creating something amazing and valuable for your customers or brainstorming ways that your business can become further integrated into the community. There are a number of ways to create meaningful goals at work. If you really cannot find any, then a goal might be to find a place or line of work where you can.

Thankfully, though, life doesn’t exclusively consist of work. Meaningful goals can be spread out across all areas and interests of life. Maybe you set yourself a goal of setting up a local football team in your neighborhood. Maybe you volunteer for a charity that means a lot to you.

Meaningful goals almost always involve other people, and this kindness, generosity, and good-will not only grows in others and your community, but it grows inside of you, too. The growth of these qualities in your life inevitably leads you out of passive behavior.

Analysis Paralysis

You might be shocked to realize that anything that involves analysis is one of the leading causes of passive behavior. Yet, it is this “analysis paralysis” that occurs to varying degrees in various people over time that is a big contributor to passivity and ultimately not getting what you want out of life[2].

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Analysis paralysis is so common in the modern era due to the infinite sources of information that we have available to us via books, websites, podcasts, YouTube, etc. Because of this, a child who didn’t know any better would probably spend hours upon on hours watching YouTube videos, studying textbooks, and analyzing different expert’s opinions on how to ride a bike rather than actually just getting on one and learning through experience.

It is common for you to slip into this same trap as the child in many other areas of life. You want all experts to agree on something before you take any action on it. You want to memorize the instructions front-to-back before you start on step one. You want a 100% guarantee that something will work from start to finish before you try it for yourself. Of course, that guarantee never arrives, and you remain in the same place.

Forget all of that. Your brain is great for many things, but it is actually more likely to keep you stuck in the same place than it is to move you forward towards your goals. It will give you ten reasons why you shouldn’t for every one that you should. This is where listening to your intuition is important. There are countless examples of people living extraordinary lives and accomplishing truly wonderful things after they followed their intuition and ignored their “intellectual impulse” to have all of the details figured out first.

Experience is not only the greatest teacher, it is the most direct route to experiencing, learning from and enjoying reality. Whatever goes on in your head is a projection. Whatever actually happens is reality. Spend less time reading about bikes (which is passive behaviour disguised as active behavior), and start getting on that bike for yourself.

Is Being Passive a Bad Thing?

As already highlighted briefly in the introduction, it is important to distinguish exactly what is meant by “passive” in this article. Here, we are talking about passivity and how it relates to things like boredom, frustration, unhappiness, feeling stuck, and all other connotations. The passivity that we are talking about is living a relatively unhappy existence and not really doing anything about it.

Passive is not always a bad thing, though, and while the positive meanings of being passive aren’t the focus of this article, they are worth pointing out so that you don’t avoid passivity altogether.

Passive can also relate to peace, contentment, and even things like creativity and inspiration. It is very rare for somebody who is in an active state all of the time to produce anything original and not completely burnout. Great individuals throughout history that put a lot of emphasis on stillness, reflection, and the “good” form of passivity include Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, and many, many others.

There is an important distinction to be made between the passivity that is causing unhappiness and the passivity that is to be used in intervals to take your life to the next level. In this article though, we are focusing on the former.

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How to Stop Being Passive

Now that we have established some of the causes of being passive and the different faces of passivity, it is time to explore ways in which you can stop being passive (in the negative sense) and start to find effective methods of allowing more happiness into your life.

1. Be Proactive, Not Reactive

One of the most effective ways to stop being passive is to stop reacting to other people and situations as soon as they unfold. Your knee-jerk reaction is rarely the best course of action to take, and yet, it is a deeply-seated habit of all humans to respond angrily to anger or to see an unexpected situation as much more of an issue and struggle than it actually is.

To stop being reactive, you can start being proactive. The best thing you can do in this sense, paradoxically, is to simply watch your reactivity as much as possible[3]. What feelings flare up and cloud your judgment in certain situations? How do you respond when things don’t go your way or to plan? The closer you can watch, and the more honest you can be, the less automatic your reactions become, and the more proactive and effective your responses to situations and people will be.

You can also try to imagine different scenarios about how things might play out in the future. Thing about what might go right and what might go wrong so that you can anticipate and plan your action ahead of time. However, it can be difficult to predict the future, which is why I always emphasize starting with yourself.

2. Consider the Future and Act in the Present

Closely linked to the point above, while you can never accurately predict the future, it is always useful to give some consideration to how it might play out. What goals do you want to achieve? What circumstances do you want in your life? What obstacles might arise, and how can you either avoid them or be effective in dealing with them?

Considering all of these questions and any others that are personal to you will give you an excellent basis for action.

From this position, you can now focus all of your attention back into the present moment. The future is important to consider, but don’t live there because it doesn’t exist. All that exists is the present moment. You can only ever take care of the things right in front of you. Focus only on taking care of them, one thing at a time, and you will find that your entire future and life will fall perfectly into place.

3. Address the Emotional Side of Passivity

As we covered earlier when discussing lack of motivation and its direct influence on passivity, the reason that you are being passive is probably because you are invested in the story that you need to be motivated before you can take any action.

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Being passive, unmotivated, uninspired, or any other great word that you want to throw an “un” in front of is often an emotional issue that needs addressing. For you, addressing the problem might simply mean taking action and letting the motivation follow. It might be attaching something emotionally rewarding (a treat of some kind) with action that you want to take that, for now, isn’t emotionally rewarding in itself.

There is usually some sort of emotional gap that needs to be bridged before you can truly step out of being passive and step into the life that you want to live.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has managed to shine a bit more light on being passive, where it comes from, how it keeps your life stagnant, and what to do about it.

As you already know, reading about riding a bike doesn’t teach you how to ride a bike. Even more sneakily, it is inaction disguised as action, because deep down you know you just need to do it.

Going from passive to active living is exactly the same. You have read this article, you know what to do… now go do it!

Your new life awaits you on the other side.

More Tips on How to Stop Being Passive

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