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10 Things Happy People Are Doing Differently

10 Things Happy People Are Doing Differently

We all want to be happy.

But have you ever noticed that some people seem to have a knack for being happy in any situation compared to the average person? Do you have a friend that seems to be always up no matter what?

We’re all genetically and psychologically (through our life experiences) pre-disposed to a certain level of happiness, but here are 10 things that happy people are doing differently which help them crush life:

1. They understand that everything is impermanent – emotions, events, and even themselves

In Buddhism there is something called the Law of Nature, which states that everything is impermanent and arises just to pass away. Think about it – you’re never angry forever, that vacation to Hawaii isn’t infinitely long, and you yourself (spoiler alert) will die one day.

This doesn’t mean that they refuse to do anything saying “What’s the point, it’ll just end?”. They just realize that they should enjoy what they have while it lasts to the best of their extent, and that when something bad happens, it won’t last forever.

2. They set internally guided and controllable goals

In his book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, William B. Irvine says that the happiest people set goals that are completely within their control. Those that become deflated by their goals are people who set them and rely on external items outside their control.

So for example, you can’t control if you get a promotion, but you can control how many hours you work, asking your boss for the promotion, and taking on extra tasks.

You can’t control when you will find a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you can control how many people you talk to each day, whether you ask for their contact information, and if you follow up with them for a date.

You can’t control when you lose 10 pounds, but you can control how many times you go to the gym a week and how many doughnuts you eat (well… unless if it’s a cheat day).

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By setting goals that you have complete control over, you can become happier because you know that there is only one person you rely on to make those goals a reality: you.

3. They understand that life is a journey, and they focus on enjoying the process and grind versus the results

Speaking of goals, many of us get too focused on achieving something and don’t enjoy the build up to it. Or we get so focused on one thing, and then don’t see all the little things that added up to make the goal a reality. Or, maybe we get so focused on achieving something that we highly under-estimate the amount of work that we have to put in.

Many of us fail at goals we set because we don’t realize the amount of work that needs to be put in. Getting a 6-pack takes hours in the gym. Becoming a writer takes hours at the keyboard. Becoming a surfer takes many, MANY crashes face first into the sea.

The happiest people are those that find joy in the process of attaining the goals, so that even if they don’t reach them, they are happy throughout the entire time. This also lets them enjoy what they are doing right NOW, versus waiting for happiness to come later (hint: hitting that goal NEVER makes you as happy as you think it will).

As Mark Manson said, “If life is a hamster wheel, then the goal isn’t to actually get anywhere, it’s to find a way to enjoy running.

4. They take full responsibility for their lives and everything that has happened and will happen to them

This is the difference between feeling powerful or like a victim, and one’s happiness is directly proportional to the amount of control you feel you have over your life.

Are you single? It’s up to you to learn how to talk to people, get over your anxiety, and set up dates.

Are you overweight? You can look up work out routines, sign up for a gym, and get a personal trainer.

Do you not like your job? You can find others or find the resources you need to create your own business.

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When you take responsibility for everything in your life, you know that you can change whatever you want – you can create any life you want as long as you’re willing to do WORK and change your priorities.

5. They focus on what is good about any situation

Cue the trite “looking at the glass half full vs. half empty” saying. In a world up to interpretation, you can look at things however you want. And because your thoughts determine your emotions and mood, this can lead to drastically different lives for people who have the same thing happen to them… but they interpret it differently.

For example compare someone who is reasonably happy to someone who is frought with anxiety:

They have a lot of phone numbers for potential dates

Happy: Oh my God this is awesome! So many people I could meet!

Anxious: Crap, too many numbers. How the hell will I ever have time to meet them?

They are free to travel wherever they want for work

Happy: I have so much freedom and can see so much!

Anxious: Argh I need to make the right decision and what happens if I can’t see other stuff? I mean this is probably SUPER important and I need to make the perfect location selection. I should probably collate library resources and do a week of research…

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The anxious stuff is from personal experience, and it’s a bit funny I admit, but some people aren’t aware of how they think! Your view and interpretations creates your life.

Be careful.

6. They understand that their mind is like a computer or screen creating the reality they see, and what you put in is what you get out

Continuing on from #5, happy people understand that if they always think negatively, they will always be negative. Your mind is a computer and all it knows is what you put in to it: Garbage in, garbage out.

Hence, happy people are very careful about what thoughts they focus on. If you have ever meditated (if not, start NOW), you will know that a billion thoughts are always coming and going, but we don’t have to grab on to them if we don’t want to.

The thoughts you focus on create you mood and reality, so happy people consciously aim to discard as many negative thoughts as possible. You can read more about this in the classic essay “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen.

7. They are grateful for what they have and what happens to them

In his TED talk, David Steindl-Rast focuses on how it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness/gratitude that makes us happy.

Happy people purposely practice gratitude for everything they have and anything unexpected that happens to them: from the fact that someone offered to pay for their dinner, to moments with a significant other, to even HAVING a significant other, to just being able to see, hear, or breathe.

By doing this, they are always filled with joy and wonder about the world, and they are deeply happy. It also helps them get out of negative moods quicker.

8. They are empathetic and caring, but not to their detriment

Volunteering our time or helping others gives a deep sense of happiness. Happy people are empathetic and understanding of the issues of others, but they limit their time and boundaries – they take care of themselves and their needs first, and then they take care of others next. They understand that they can’t help anyone if they are in a state of disarray or are pre-occupied.

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9. They know that they are responsible for creating their own happiness, but understand that others play an important role

While happy people know they must create the circumstances that result in their happiness (a specific job, the means to live in a certain place, financial support,…), they understand that other people play a role in their happiness: their family and friends who support them in tough times, intimate relationships for sex, intimacy, and love, and clients or bosses who pay them for work.

While they know they have to go out and get what they want, they understand that other people will always be a part of their happiness.

10. They understand that they can only control so much in life, but they can always control their reaction

Those that are deeply afraid of the world try to control and micro-manage everything, but in reality, we are only able to control so much in life. Happy people realize they can’t control things that are external (other things, people, or events), but they are 100% in control of their reaction to whatever happens.

So, they are in control of setting boundaries or saying “No” when people are being rude.

They are in control of finding more work when a client leaves them.

They are in control of not reacting on their impulse to punch through glass windows when they are angry.

And as such, they can continuously move forward despite what happens in life.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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