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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.