Most of us like to think we are fairly happy people, but deep down we might not necessarily believe it or feel happy. When you look around and see people you grew up with making the most out of life while you keep going to a job you don’t like, repeating the same routine day in and day out, it is easy to feel less than grateful for the life you have. So what are the secrets of all those happy people? What are they doing to get the most out of life while the rest of us watch it pass by?
1. They give
Focusing on money is a sure fire way to end up unhappy. In fact, in studies of happiness, researchers have found that once you have enough money to satisfy your basic needs there are only two ways money can help you. One is by improving your social standing and the other is to give it away. By using their money to help others rather than needlessly hoarding it, happy people feel like they are making a positive contribution to the world.
2. They avoid drama
Happy people also tend to mind their own business. While other people get caught up in other people’s relationships or stress out about who said what to whom, happy people choose to focus on the things they have more control over. Paying attention to your own life and letting other people live theirs is a simple way to maximize happiness.
3. They are grateful
While they may not make a point of rubbing your nose in it, happy people are grateful for the things they have. They don’t spend all their time wanting what other people possess or daydreaming about a better life. Instead, they take a few moments each day to think about all the things that they appreciate and make a point of being grateful for them.
4. They look on the bright side
When the going gets tough, the truly happy are often unshaken. Dwelling on failures and imagining the worst case scenario may be the default option for most people, but if you truly want to be happy, you need to make a point of having faith that things will turn out alright. Maintain your perspective and know that, no matter what happens, you can bounce back.
5. They value relationships
Instead of focusing on money and relentlessly pursuing career advancement by working long hours, the happiest people focus more of their time on personal relationships. At the end of your life, you won’t remember a lot of the time you spent at work. Rather, you will value family meals and time shared with friends. Putting people before money is a powerful tool in achieving happiness.
6. They cultivate many different parts of their lives
While they may place a lot of value on relationships, happy people do not define themselves by one aspect of their lives. They maintain careers they enjoy, they have hobbies, and they love learning and growing as individuals. By paying attention to many aspects of their lives, happy people don’t get overwhelmed when one element of their day-to-day life goes off the tracks. If they get dumped, they still have a rewarding career. If they get injured and can’t play their favorite sport for a while, they still have friends to hang out with. Not putting all your eggs in one basket is a key to being a happy person.
7. They don’t focus on material things
While some of us may think shopping is a great way to relieve stress and that having things will make us happier in the long run, others choose to value experiences over material goods. New clothes are great, but it is hard to get as much enjoyment out of a sweater as you get out of scuba diving the Great Barrier reef and the stories you can tell about it afterwards.
8. They follow their passion
Finally, happy people follow their passions. If they wake up and realize that they are unhappy with their job, they aren’t afraid to leave it to pursue something they really care about. It might involve taking a risk. It might lead to a huge failure. But happy people aren’t afraid to stick their neck out and chase what everyone else is afraid to.
Featured photo credit: Craig Cochrane via flickr.com