The way a person thinks matters. A person’s beliefs about himself, other people, and the world can critically influence his level of happiness.
These beliefs are what allow some people to remain calm and content, even during those inevitable occasions when life serves up some pretty miserable circumstances. Alternatively, these beliefs also have the power to make a person feel as if his world is crumbling around him if a stranger says something nasty or he gets a parking ticket.
An overall happy person sometimes feels frustration, pain, and discomfort, but he is able to shrug his shoulders and move on without getting caught in the trap of suffering.
These are common beliefs of overall happy people:
1. There are no “shoulds.”
Happy people believe that when it comes to situations and behaviors, there are no automatic “shoulds.” They genuinely accept, “No, it isn’t true that the police officer should have let me off with a warning, my neighbor should keep his dog quiet or I should get new shoes. And it’s definitely not a fact that I should not have gotten in that car accident, that I should always be kind, that I should have gone to law school…”
Happy people don’t invest energy dwelling on or fighting what “should” or “should not” have happened. They also think for themselves about whether doing something makes sense instead of relying on “shoulds” to guide their own behaviors and choices.
2. Everything is a shade of gray (and that’s okay).
Happy people accept (and can tolerate the uncertainty that comes with admitting) that the world is not “black or white”, “all good or all bad.” They can face the facts that they have some strengths and some limitations without shuddering; They accept that a person can be rude or show poor judgment in an instance and still not be completely selfish all the time. They truly know that just because something awful happens, their life is not all bad.
3. All relevant things are based on facts (not judgments or assumptions).
Happy people see themselves, others, and the world realistically, meaning they stick to the facts when they acknowledge the bad things and the good things. They don’t think to themselves, “I am such an idiot” when they forget to turn off the oven; They simply think, “I forgot to turn off the oven.” They don’t think to themselves, “Now my kid will never graduate college” when she struggles with reading in first grade; They simply think, “It takes more time and intervention for her to practice phonics right now.”
4. It’s not all about me, and that’s okay.
Content people believe: “I am not the best or the most handsome or the smartest or the most successful human being on the planet, and that’s okay; Not everyone likes me, and that’s okay; Often times people are focused on their own thoughts and perspectives more than they are focused on me, and that’s okay.
5. It is okay to accept that things are what they are (or were what they were), even when it’s painful.
People who are generally happy accept that people are sometimes irrational and hurtful, that obstacles and tragedies have occurred and there is no way to undo them, and that they will go through periods of pain and hardship in the future. They believe that it is okay to experience and ride-out that pain without fighting it, numbing it, or drowning it.
6. Even though I must surrender to some painful things, I am not completely powerless.
Happy people look at the world and situations with a sense of personal-accountability and control. They know that they are in charge of making their lives what they want it to be and being the person they want to be. And they feel capable of doing just that. A happy person bravely focuses on his own role in any problems (even if it is small), so that he is able to make positive changes. As for the happy person that forgot to turn off the oven in #3? He simply takes personal responsibility for making sure to set a timer next time he bakes.
7. This moment is worth enjoying.
Happy people aren’t telling themselves, “as soon as I get a better job, I’ll be happy,” or “When I find a boyfriend, I’ll be happy.” They truly believe that the small joys of everyday life are worth noticing and experiencing with enjoyment.
Featured photo credit: TheresaOtero via mrg.bz