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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

Reference

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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 September 18, 2020

How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

Negative thinking can make us feel as though we are never truly good enough to change our lives. Whether we believe that we are not good looking enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, or something in between, we are always right.

We often tell ourselves the following:

“I’m not good enough to accomplish this.”

“They won’t like me. I’m too ugly to be around them.”

“I won’t ever be able to get out of this situation.”

How we see ourselves dictates how we lead our lives. This simple truth, while it is currently impacting your reality in a negative way, is actually good news. Why?

You can change your thinking, and when you can change your thoughts, you can change your reality.

Put simply, if you start to believe and feel like you are good-looking, intelligent, wealthy, or other things, you begin to see yourself in that light. If you tell yourself that you are capable of achieving greatness, you will eventually get there!

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That said, many find themselves wondering what to do when they get stuck in negative thinking. Are you tired of letting negative thinking run your life? Do you want to take control of how you feel and put yourself out there?

If you want to start writing your own narrative, let’s learn more about negative thought cycles and how you can change your own internal voice.

Where Do Negative Thoughts Come From?

You aren’t going to wake up one day and find that you are suffering from random negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are often a mix of ideas that we develop on our own, as well as ideas that we may have gotten from others.

For example, if you are constantly watching media where individuals are depicted as having thin bodies and perfect skin (and you do not have the same characteristics as those who are traditionally considered to be beautiful), you may come to the conclusion that you are not beautiful or deserving of love.

This is far from the truth, but your own take on how the world works can play into how you feel about yourself.

Equally harmful, the opinions of others can start to affect our self-perception. If several people tell you something negative about yourself, you may begin to take these opinions to heart, telling yourself the same things over time. This self-belief then becomes the model for how you live.

More often than not, the reality is that individuals who lack confidence and self-esteem are going to develop negative thought patterns.

This does not mean that confident people do not face internal crises of their own. After all, everyone is prone to experiencing a negative thought here and there. However, those who are self-aware and confident are able to bounce back from these thoughts and return to their truth.

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Those who do not think highly of themselves, on the other hand, are going to keep believing the negative thoughts that come into their mind. The issue? These negative thoughts turn into a repetitive cycle that becomes harder to break over time.

When you tell yourself something for months or years at a time, it can be difficult to transform that internal dialogue into something more positive and realistic. But is it possible? Absolutely!

The Importance of Quitting Negative Thinking

Beyond low-self esteem, there may be mental health-related causes behind your negative thought patterns, like depression. One of the major symptoms of depression is, you guessed it, negative thoughts. Depression can make us feel unworthy of love and life, even if we have everything we could wish for[1].

You may be struggling with anxiety disorders instead, which can paint uncertain visions of the future and leave you anticipating the worst long before the moment has arrived. Some people have anxiety about the present or will return to past moments where they felt as though they failed, which affects their feelings about who they are or who they will be[2].

Having mental health issues can make your situation more complex, but it is important to know that these types of health issues are highly treatable, especially with the assistance of a mental health professional. You are deserving of self-love, and getting help is the first, most important step of your journey!

How to Break the Cycle of Negative Thinking

In order to overcome your negative thought process, you are going to need two things: self-awareness and a willingness to love yourself. Once you are armed with these two tools, take a look below to learn more about how you can break free of the cycle of negative thinking.

1. Become Aware of the Thoughts That Are Affecting You

Negative thoughts are hard to catch because they have a tendency to become a part of who we are. These thoughts build our belief system and go unchallenged, even when they pop up daily.

All change begins with awareness. Whatever it is that you believe about yourself, take the time to pay attention to your own dialogue.

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What are you saying to yourself on a regular basis? How does it make you feel? Is any of it true?

 

When these thoughts are brought to your attention, you begin to notice just how often you are saying these things to yourself. Once you’ve cultivated awareness around these thoughts, you can begin to develop the change that you want.

2. Learn to Accept Them as They Come (and Move on)

A lot of people believe that you have to completely remove negative thinking patterns from your life in order to be happy. Not only is this not possible, but it’s also not true. You are going to experience negative thoughts regardless. It’s what you decide to do with these thoughts that matters.

Next time a negative thought comes into your mind, treat it like a passing car. Acknowledge it and let it pass you by. Don’t try to wave the driver over to you or continue thinking about once it has passed. Just let it go.

Giving power to your thoughts allows them to have control over you. You can’t stop a negative thought from entering your mind, but you always have the power to let it go!

3. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Our own beliefs play on a loop, telling us certain things over and over again. While it’s important to let go, it is also important to get to the root of these issues and figure out where they are coming from.

Let’s imagine that you are telling yourself you are stupid throughout the day. If you notice this pattern, ask yourself: Does this have any basis in reality? Am I really stupid or am I telling myself this unnecessarily? Is there any evidence to support this[3]?

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Challenge negative thinking by asking questions.

    Challenging your negative thoughts will help you realize that they are highly-exaggerated and untrue. This gives you the opportunity to transform these negative thoughts into positive ones that resonate with you.

    4. Replace These Thoughts with Kinder, More Realistic Alternatives

    Anything that is broken must be replaced. The broken record playing on a loop within you can easily be changed to a tune that you can actually sing to.

    Whenever a negative thought comes up, take the time to stop yourself and think of something positive to put in its place. If you find yourself saying, “I can’t do this,” try telling yourself that you are more than capable instead.

    Keep in mind, however, that you need to tell yourself things that you truly believe. If you start telling yourself things that don’t resonate with you and encounter a situation that proves your belief wrong, you may do more harm than good!

    Bottom Line

    Changing the way you think is a rigorous but rewarding process that will change your outlook on life. If you find yourself struggling with negative thinking, learn more about where they come from and how you can stop them for good with the guide above!

    More on How to Stop Negative Thinking

    Featured photo credit: Max Ilienerwise via unsplash.com

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