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20 Secrets Genuinely Happy People Never Told You

20 Secrets Genuinely Happy People Never Told You

Happiness is a choice, and genuinely happy people make the choice to be happy, everyday! But what you may not know is that happy people face challenges, just like ordinary folk, but they challenge themselves, constantly, to live the wonderful life they know they deserve; filled to the brim with laughter and a positive outlook.

We don’t need to tell you that life isn’t all roses, and will often times bring you to your knees, but it is during these moments that happy people go to work on getting happy. If they look like they have it all together, they probably do, but that’s just because they’ve discovered the secrets to true happiness, and it lies within them.

So if you’ve ever wondered, “Why are they so happy all the time?”, here are a few reasons, and secrets, why.

1. They’re not happy all the time.

Let’s be honest, nobody is happy all the time, and with good reason. It’s the down that shows us the beauty of the ups. The genuinely happy individual knows this and allows themselves to feel sad or down, naturally. Trying to force happiness is, well, forced. So they embrace the sadness, the tears and the obstacles and give themselves permission to just be. They are human after all.

2. They have learned to say no.

It sounds strange, but saying “no” doesn’t come easy for some people. Especially if you’re the type who loves to make others happy. However, genuinely happy people don’t buy into the idea of keeping others happy if you’r always down as a result. This is a sure fire way to stress and anxiety, and it kind of defeats the purpose of the whole happiness thing. Instead, they exercise their right to say no, and do so in an assertive manner, that neither takes away from their relationships, or their own happiness.

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3. They haven’t led easy lives.

No genuinely happy person will tell you they’ve had it cushy! They may have been knocked down many times, but each time, they got up, refusing to stay down! The strength and gusto they mustered to get back up and keep fighting is what showed them the meaning of true happiness. If you can make it through the difficult times with a smile on your face, you’re winning, and who wouldn’t be happy with that!

4. They know what the bottom looks like.

They’ve been to the bottom more times than they can count, and they’ve worked their way back up. To mere mortals, landing at the bottom after great success would signal the end, but for the genuinely happy person, it’s just an opportunity to start afresh; to build a better and stronger foundation. They learnt a lot on the way up, and learnt a lot more on the way back down. No experience is wasted, and so they move forward armed with that knowledge!

5. They love their flaws.

For them, being perfectly imperfect, is perfect! They’ve come to terms with who they are and have accepted their flaws, warts and all. They know it is all just a part of what makes them special, and they love it! They understand there is no such thing as perfection, and have not only stopped chasing it, but discovered imperfections are just as brilliant!

6. They avoid stress in their lives.

Whether it’s through meditation, getting away, or through a creative outlet, genuinely happy people actively go out of their way to avoid any unnecessary stressful situations, and move on from them as quickly as possible. This is in no way avoidance, but a strategy which allows them to concentrate on the things that truly matter, and stops annoying little stresses from turning into something far greater.

7. They exercise.

What better way to get happy than to do something that releases those naturally happy chemicals from within. They have tapped into the world of healthy living and exercise not just to look good, but because it makes them feel even better! Whether they’re running outdoors, or getting in those reps at the gym, the happy person knows the benefits of those wonderful endorphins.

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8. They know they’re enough.

They don’t need the latest or the greatest, and they don’t attach their self-worth to external things. They’ve learnt that no one thing can make them happy or make them feel fulfilled. In relationships, they have a, “take me as I am” attitude. They may have battled with their self-worth in the past, chasing things they thought would make them a better person, but now they know they are perfect just the way they are.

9. They don’t judge.

They have no need or want in judging others, because they don’t like to be judged themselves. They prefer to let others live their lives as they wish. Worrying about what others are doing, or not doing, is unnecessary and time consuming, and only leaves the person judging with a false sense of superiority. The happy person has no need for that, and would prefer to use their time to uplift others rather than tear them down.

10. They know how to refocus.

Whatever problem they are facing, there is always another way to look at things. By refocusing, they can approach a difficult problem with fresh eyes. Refocusing offers new perspective, and with a new perspective comes a new solution.

11. They haven’t lost their childlike wonderment.

They are children at heart! They live, laugh and love with the infectious playfulness of a person untainted by a harsh world. It’s this approach to life that keeps them inquisitive and creative, and let’s face it, makes them so much fun to be around!

12. They deal with fear head on.

Fear has no place in the genuinely happy persons life. They are victorious in their quest for happiness and equip themselves with an arsenal of bravery, moving forward with happiness as their armour. Yes, it’s scary, but that’s all part of the dance. By facing their fears, they take back control of their lives, and nothing is allowed to come between them and their happiness.

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13. They take risks.

Risk takers are happier folk! They know that stepping out from your comfort zone and navigating new territory is not only thrilling, but a sure way to experience the new and wonderful things life has to offer. What drives them is growth and the potential to learn more about who they are, and what they can accomplish. They know there’s a chance they may trip up or fall, but for them, failure is just another lovely life lesson.

14. They bear no grudges.

The happy person does not hold on to past hurts or anger. Instead they prefer to let go of the pain, and move on with life. There’s no better way to destroy happiness than to carry around old baggage that inevitably weighs you down. The genuinely happy person knows this and so they acknowledge the hurt and pain, forgive and dust themselves off, and move forward, happier and lighter.

15. They encourage others.

They are genuinely happy to see others happy and living their lives to their full potential. It genuinely makes them happy to see others thriving, and so they do all they can to support and encourage those they love and care about. They are also encouraged by others successes, not jealous. It’s a win-win!

16. They love to laugh.

The happy person sees the fun, and funny side of life and aims to always look on the bright side. They are truly joyous in laughter and can make even the stony faced individual crack a smile. They know there’s no better healer, along with time, than laughter. It not only lifts their spirits but does a lot to make an otherwise stressful situation easier to manage.

17. They are honest with themselves, first.

They can lie to others all they want, but they are all too aware of that little voice in their head; the one that reminds them they aren’t being entirely honest with themselves. Having the courage to admit things to yourself is the first step in being honest and comfortable with who you, before you can be honest with others. It’s scary, but it must be done. The genuinely happy person knows this is what’s required if they are to be their authentic selves, because there’s nothing like dishonesty to throw your happiness compass out of wack!

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18. They ask for help.

They know that asking for help doesn’t make you weak, and so they don’t feel weak, or otherwise, in asking for help. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to get another perspective on an idea or a situation, or for someone to help share the heavy load. They realise they may not always have the answer, or strength, to do all things on their own and so welcome a helping hand, or friendly advice as though it were a gift. They know asking and receiving help takes nothing away from who they are, but can only add to their life and experiences.

19. They embrace differences.

There’s one thing all humans have in common: we are all different! Genuinely happy people are aware of these differences, be it race, religion sex, views or any other differences that may set us apart from one another. They do not try to negate those differences but rather, embrace them, and celebrate them. For the genuinely happy person, the world would be an utterly boring place if we were all the same!

20. They love life.

With all its ups and down, in and outs and highs and lows, life for the sincerely happy person is an adventure that we would all do well to appreciate. The scars and bruises makes us appreciate the smiles and glories more. Understanding this, they don’t fight life, but take it for what is. They do what they need to do to make life enjoyable, productive and worthwhile, but they know that to truly appreciate the journey, sometimes you have to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Featured photo credit: young beautiful brunette woman listening music with headphones in the city via shutterstock.com

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Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

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Last Updated on June 12, 2018

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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