We equate happiness as a state in which we are always happy. We allow ourselves to believe it’s not good to cry. It’s not good to feel pain. It’s not good to feel sad, or be down, or experience setback, or go through heartbreak. But true happiness and inner contentment happens when your heart is grateful for everything your life experiences – the good, the bad, the hard, the easy, the defeats and the victories. The gratitude you express – or choose to not express – spills over into everything you do and everyone you meet.
Some of the happiest people on the planet are those free of circumstantial happiness. Their surroundings tell them they have nothing to be happy about, yet they smile and live life to the fullest. In a society built on comparison, materialistic gain, selfish ambition and more, more, more, it’s inspiring to be around these types of people – the ones who aren’t clawing and fighting to step on anyone or anything to be the best or get to the top. It’s refreshing to be around people who appreciate what they have, love who they are and embrace where they’re going. These people are living. They’re fully present. They’re embracing the here and now, seeing every day as an opportunity to become a better version of themselves and enjoying the journey in the meantime.
So what do they do? Better yet, what don’t they do and how can we be like them?
1. They don’t compare their journey to anyone else’s.
It would be easy to fall into the trap of, “I wish,” “If only,” “They’re so lucky.” But what’s the point? Focusing on your faults and someone else’s strengths will not change one single thing about yourself or your situation. Instead, focus on what you do have, and carry on.
2. They don’t need to “feel” happy in order to be happy.
Happiness is based on always being happy. Contentment is a continual inner display of happiness regardless of life’s uncontrollable circumstances. See the difference? Practicing gratitude on a daily basis is the gateway for which both of these roads intersect.
3. They don’t run from their imperfections.
Every single human being on this earth has faults. No one is flawless. To assume people are perfect only proves how toxic our thinking can be. The first step to love your life is to admit (especially to yourself) you aren’t perfect but to move forward. Imperfections can be our greatest teachers if we see them as the catalyst for personal growth and change.
4. They don’t ignore rest.
It’s not hard to work 60+ hours a week. There is plenty of pressure to always perform, constantly compete, and continually keep up. But the people who approach life with a sense of gratitude and calm are those who make the time to pause. They create quality pockets of time in which they can kick back and relax. It becomes their safe place where they can recharge, rejuvenate and refresh before heading back into the rat race.
5. They don’t forget the importance of relationship.
You can’t do life on your own. We like to think we can – like we’re tough and impenetrable and that life won’t drag us down. But we’re human. To find people who you can be safe and real with is what creates a strong foundation you can stand on when the going gets tough. But in order to have quality friends in your time of need, you need to be a quality friend in their time of need. Important investments take time. Reciprocal relationships take work.
6. They don’t allow time to control them.
Everyone gets 24 hours in the run of a day. That’s it! There is no extra hour to be found hiding under a bed somewhere. Grateful people know this. They know how precious of a commodity time really is, and they respect it. They see every single day as an opportunity to take charge of what they can take charge of, and they purposefully, diligently and intentionally make beautiful use of it.
7. They don’t overlook the value in everyday people.
It happens over and over again – a cashier is dismissed, a homeless man is overlooked, an elderly lady is ignored, and a child is shrugged to the side. A grateful heart sees the value in every single human being. They recognize and appreciate that every person has potential to teach them something new and help them become a better person. We will never arrive. Our lives are on a continual journey of discovery and people are what matters most.
8. They don’t set pace to the rhythm of rush.
Speed up, so once you get there, you can speed to the next place. Why? What’s the rush? When you slow down to take in the scenery of your life, you notice the little details that lend subtle depth to what’s happening in the big picture. Big life moments would never happen without the little steps that have been taken to get there. Notice them.
9. They don’t give in to the pressure to have, be, and do it all.
Everything you have right now is enough. Everything you are right now is enough. There are people who could only dream to have the talent, the time, the money, the opportunity you have right now. Think about that. Ponder that. Appreciate that. Let that sink in. Then build a life around this mentality rather than the one that finds you never measuring up.
10. They don’t take life for granted.
You would never be where you are today without that math teacher, that music instructor, that football coach, your Grandma, your Mom, your Aunt. Your life at present is marked with achievement and success because of the people who helped you get to where you are today. It takes but a few minutes to compile a list stating all the amazing things you already have. Try it. You’d be amazed how much you have going on in your life at this moment.
Featured photo credit: Cuba Gallery Lighthouse Blog via flickr.com