We all know one. Those eternally happy people. But what makes them able to stay in a good mood all the time? Surely it’s not just a positive outlook. Here’s 15 habits that happy people keep and why they work so well.
1) They live in the moment
Research refers to it as ‘savouring’. When you stop and appreciate each moment as it passes you enjoy it more and experience greater happiness within your life. If you need a crash course the film About Time is a good place to start.
2) They spend money on experiences
Going on a shopping spree feels great at the time, and empty a few days later. The secret money habit of happy people is to spend more on experiences and services. A University of British Columbia study suggests that spending money on time-saving services like house cleaning or dining out makes you happier. It’s both an enjoyable experience at the time and saves you from the dull tasks of daily life later.
3) They’re pro at sleeping
A proper sleep routine is the pinnacle of healthy habits. So how can you achieve it? Waking up at the same time each day is a great start. Our bodies biological clocks (or circadian rhythms) like to stick to a schedule. Having a sleeping/waking routine helps you to wake up feeling more refreshed. If you’re struggling to fall asleep it might be time to assess the comfort of your bed. A plush mattress or supportive mattress topper could be all you're missing to smile in your sleep.
4) They enjoy mornings
If you search the internet for the morning routines of successful people you can find out how everyone from Steve Jobs to Anna Wintour starts their day. The thing about mornings is if you use them wisely you can get a great head start on the day. Waking up late and feeling rushed is a sure-fire path to stress. So next week put in the hard yards to become a morning person and find out what all these happy people have been on about.
5) They keep fit
A lot of successful people start their mornings with exercise, funnily enough. Exercise releases endorphins which are basically chemical happiness. But more than this, keeping fit leads to increased self-esteem and better body image. It’s a win-win.
6) They get outside often
Once upon a time there were no cities; no urban jungles. Just the fresh, real, natural world at our feet. We’re not saying we should take back hundreds of years of industrial evolution. Just that the human and natural worlds are deeply interconnected. Studies have shown that just 15 minutes outside in a park or forest leaves people psychologically restored. Up 90 minutes and you’re fending off the risk of depression. So whenever you have the chance find some nature - parks, beaches, bushwalks - and soak up the benefits to your mood.
7) They live without clutter
Have you ever noticed how clean a happy person’s house is? That’s because the presence of clutter in our homes has negative impacts upon our mood. Looking around and seeing a mess causes embarrassment, guilt and anxiety at the thought of clearing it up. Living unhygienically or in messy surroundings is also a symptom of depression that creates a cycle; depression causing clutter and clutter creating a deeper depression. Set yourself up for continued happiness by clearing out the clutter and keeping all your necessities in organised furniture.
8) They have fewer friends than you’d think
Have you ever planned a party or event and found yourself saying it doesn’t matter who shows up as long as XYZ are here? That’s because having a few close friends is exponentially better than an abundance of meaningless relationships. People who engage in meaningful discussions regularly are shown to be happier than those stuck in a cycle of gossip and small talk.
9) They treat others how they wish to be treated
Dr Karen Phillip is a leading Australian relationship and parenting expert. Her key to happiness comes down to reaping what you sow.
“Happiness comes from within. Most happy people always treat others with kindness and respect every day, doing this is like the law of attraction as it comes back to us allowing us to feel good in giving and receiving. Being mindful in all relationships can make us enjoy the differences in others and learn how the other person thinks and what they need. It is our connection. Rather than regretting what we have missed, appreciate the small joys in life and all you have.
I know when I spend time with loved ones, enjoying nature and the beautiful world we live in, it releases those natural hormones within creating a feeling of contentment, joy and happiness.”
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10) They focus on love in their life
A healthy romantic relationship has always been associated with greater happiness. But research shows that love in all its forms is going to bring you increased happiness and health. A Harvard University study that spanned nearly 80 years has concluded it is our relationships that are the greatest indicator of happiness throughout our lives; outweighing social status, IQ and even genetics. Tending to your relationships from romantic ones to family, friends and even within your community is a sure-fire way to see you through even the most difficult times in your life.
11) They are in touch with their feelings
Deborah Fairfull is the founder of Blisspot, a personal development community where you can share skills to master your inner world.
“Happiness is your natural state, your birthright. Sadly in many cases stress and overwhelm are the new norm! To maintain a consistently happy state it is important to have to skill to monitor your inner world, your thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts and feelings are the same thing as what you think affects directly the way you feel. Mastery over your internal state is gained when you think a negative thought, validate and accept it and instead change it to a thought that makes you feel happy.”
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12) They accept failure (and learn from it)
Failure is inevitable if you want to try new things and reach new heights in your life. Happy people have found a way to embrace failure and learn from it. Having strong relationships (as in point 10) helps you overcome failure. But more importantly, recognising you have failed and not making excuses for it allows you to learn from your mistake for the next similar scenario.
13) They know how to forgive
Holding onto a grudge holds onto all the negative emotions associated with it like anger, resentment and pain. Being able to forgive and move forward with your life leaves more space for positivity and in turn happiness. Remember there’s a difference between forgiving and forgetting to keep yourself from falling into the same trap twice.
14) They count their blessings
You may groan at the sight of another social media post espousing all the things that person is grateful for but they might be onto something big. Being grateful for the good things in your life reminds you how many of those there truly are. It doesn’t need to be a public display either. Simply writing a note to yourself of things you are grateful for is shown to improve your mood and lower anxiety.
15) They know that happiness doesn’t just happen
If there’s only one thing you learn here let it be that happiness comes to those who seek it. You can’t sit around wallowing in negative emotions or experiences and think things would be easier if you were happier. You have to go out and find what makes you happy and turn it into a habit.
The secret to happiness is building up good habits that give you satisfaction in more than one area of your life. Don’t tackle all 15 at once or you’ll never stick to them. Pave your path to happiness one good habit at a time.