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13 Things Happy People Choose to Do Every Day

13 Things Happy People Choose to Do Every Day

Many of us have met someone who exhibited a positive attitude, but how many of us have met someone who chose practical, concrete steps to maintain it each day? If you have met someone who fits the bill, don’t feel alarmed or surprised. They do not follow a wizardly badge of honor. In fact, there are numerous heartfelt lessons and fascinating tricks that we can learn from happy people. Learn how to choose to be positive from these 13 things happy people do every day.

1. They choose to exercise.

It’s common knowledge that exercise can rejuvenate organs such as your heart and skin. But according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, your brain may greatly benefit too. In this study, researchers tracked 180 college-age students for eight days and discovered that those who were more physically active reported greater general feelings of enthusiasm and excitement than those who exercised less. Some people may not enjoy exercising, but happy people try to dedicate at least a small portion of their day to staying in shape.

2. They choose to use positive self-questioning.

The ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus was quoted as saying, ”Men are disturbed not by things, but by they view which they take of them.” If that’s true, what’s the support structure for erroneous perceptions?  Perhaps it may lie in the negative questions that we ask ourselves. Maybe the actual problem is how you investigate the issue, rather than the actual problem itself. Happy people may not always notice it, but they make a deliberate effort to steer their self-questioning into an enlightening experience rather than bringing them down. They also choose to use positive language, like ”What can I do?” over ”I can’t do this.”

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3. They choose to get enough sleep.

Has someone ever encouraged you to stay up all night in order to study for an exam or watch a late night show past one in the morning? It’s probably not a good idea to listen to them. In fact, a good night’s sleep is not only crucial, but linked to happiness. According to a 2013 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, out of the 100 participants studied, those who experienced more positive emotions had better sleep habits. In turn, happy people don’t waste time playing video games at midnight when they could be snoozing, and they don’t toss and turn worrying about something beyond their control. Instead, they make a full effort to get a good night’s sleep every night, and remain rested throughout the day.

4. They choose to be grateful.

Someone once told me that being grateful is like stopping to smell the roses when there is more work to be done. But gratitude is a highly beneficial practice that anyone can adopt. A 2003 study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the participants who wrote in a gratitude journal on a weekly basis felt better about life, and were more optimistic about the coming week than those who didn’t. They may think some things are bad, but happy people make a timely effort to appreciate things like life and their home as gifts worth respecting and paying attention to.

5. They choose to contribute to their communities.

Although it may be wonderful to have close connections with your family and to strengthen relationships with a group of friends, sometimes nothing else compares to contributing to something beyond, like your community. Joining a community can give you an opportunity to find a purpose, regardless of how lost and confused you might seem at the moment. Whether it’s joining a community club, volunteering at a shelter, or becoming part of a local organization, helping your community can make you truly happy.

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6. They choose to focus on their families.

Looking for a reason to hug your child, compliment your spouse, and help carry groceries for your mom or dad? Published in 2003, a study in the journal Child Development studied 1,703 high-risk adolescents. The researchers found that the participants who had parents involved in their lives exhibited fewer mental health problems than those who had less developed relationships with their parents. What does this imply? Dedicate at least a small portion of your day only to your family. Though they may be busy at times, happy people choose to put in an extra minute (or hour!) devoting only time to bonding with their families,

 7. They choose to be polite.

People deeply appreciate it when you are polite. All you need to do is hold the door open for someone, or even respond back with a ”hey” when they greet you. Do you notice how their mood perks up a little? The truth is, presenting yourself with courtesy can help make someones week, day, and even month, better. Happy people don’t want to miss the opportunity to enhance positive relationships with people, while feeling good about themselves. Being polite is a great way to achieve that.

8. They choose to make time for friends.

Friends are the type of people who walk besides us, rather than ahead or behind, as the author and philosopher Albert Camus once said. Grabbing a coffee, going to an exciting new movie, or simply doing something interesting with friends more often just might be the key to a happier life. It doesn’t matter if they have one friend or twenty, interact online or in real life—happy people value relationships, particularly the friendships in their lives, and are willing to spend a portion of their day exploring the world with them regardless of how many difficulties or setbacks they may face in other areas of their life.

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9. They choose to dream positively.

Contrary to popular opinion, dreaming isn’t an unproductive use of time; rather, it’s the exact opposite. Dreaming, specifically visualizing relaxing and calming places, things, and events, or guided imagery, may help reduce and manage stress, according to a 2008 issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. It also suggested that guided imagery can help with tension before surgery and coping with headaches, among other things. Happy people aren’t afraid to dream of wonderful, pleasant things—and believe that they will happen too.

10. They choose to spend time outside.

If you aren’t already motivated to go outside, read this: a 2010 issue of Harvard Health Letter declared that spending time outside, especially engaging in physical activity, can actually make you happier. Go outside for a bike ride, kick a soccer ball with your kid, or even sit out on the patio. You’ll be glad you did. Maximize the benefits by combining time with family or friends, and you’ll likely be happier. It might seem like staying inside the comfort of your home is the best way to relax, but happy people tend to agree that spending time outside is the way to go if you truly want to embrace the world, and yourself.

11. They choose to eat a nutritious diet.

Can you eat your way to happiness? Perhaps so. The University of Warwick studied the eating habits of 80,000 people in England. The 2012 study concluded that mental well-being apparently increased with the number of daily portions of vegetables and fruits that the participants consumed. Well-being peaked at seven portions per day. It’s a no brainer that a healthy diet can equate to a healthy body and mind. The point is, healthy people are happy people, and they focus on eating nutritious foods, but still allowing themselves to indulge in delicious alternatives to unhealthy treats and snacks.

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12. They choose to help others.

Being willing to help others may make you happy. A 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science monitored participant’s brain’s in an MRI scan while they contemplated charitable decisions. When the participants donated money to the charity, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions and producing feel-good chemicals was activated. Choosing to help others such as participating in your community, helping friends or family, or finding a purpose in work may go a long way. Happy people choose to help others, because they know it will help themselves.

13. They choose to embrace their positivity.

At every moment, there is a lot of negativity occurring. But there is also an innumerable amount of beautiful, warm, amazing, things to do, people to meet, and places to go. You don’t have to be always smiling and laughing to be happy, just so long as you embrace the upbeat spark within you and choose to make it grow into something greater. Happy people, if they are truly happy, aren’t afraid to smile in uncertainty, and remain hopeful in serious times.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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