Do you know someone who is always happy, no matter what? You probably think they don’t have any problems. I mean, look a their perfect life, right? Well, research shows that happy people actually don’t have better lives than unhappy people. They have problems like everyone else. The difference is, they learned some tricks along the way to help themselves choose happiness over unhappiness, every day.
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Here are some things I found out about those ever-smiling people and their 15 secrets to being happy:
1. Happy people have insight.
They work hard to identify the things that make them unhappy, and then take steps towards change. They are incredible self-aware, and don’t stay stuck in an unhappy emotional place.
2. They avoid stress.
Happy people avoid unnecessary stressful situations. They have learned to say no, and they avoid high stress situations that can lead to anxiety, and unhappiness.
3. They are not happy all the time.
They have their sad moments. They cry. They are human. They accept that this is okay, and don’t let it affect their overall joy.
4. Happy people exercise.
Whether it’s taking a walk, lifting weights, swimming or taking the dog to the park to play, happy people get active. Exercise helps keep down stress hormones, and boosts those “feel-good” hormones.
5. They know how to move on, and refocus.
Happy people don't let themselves get stuck with their feelings. They acknowledge when something sad happens, deal with it, and choose to move on and refocus on the positive that can come out of it. They know how to take criticism well, and focus on the task at hand without taking it personally and getting down on themselves.
6. Happy people do it afraid.
Being happy and optimistic doesn't mean you don't experience fear. Happy people fear failure just as much as anybody. The difference is they do it afraid anyway, and as a result, build their self-esteem and confidence. They have an indifferent, almost detached approach to failure - as though if it happens, it's not due to their limited ability or incompetence. They have the ability to attribute failure to factors other than themselves, for example it may not have been the right time, or someone else had more experience.
7. They don't hold grudges.
Happiness is easily poisoned by grudges and resentment. Examining negative feelings is important, as we can't simply repress them. Being mindful and calm when examining those feelings is a good way to process them, without letting them control you. The sooner we learn to let those grudges and negative feelings go, the quicker happiness will start to bubble up in our life.
8. They deal with their jealousy.
Happy people are not immune to the green-eyed monster. Jealousy is a natural human emotion, and happy people feel them too. Learning how to confront their jealousy head on, and have a chat with that little evil voice in their head, helps them move on from those negative, toxic feelings.
9. Happy people let go of control.
As difficult as this is, it's important to accept that you can't control every situation, and every outcome. Some things are out of our realm of control, and being happy is independent of that.
10. They don't make excuses.
Happy people say it's important to take control of their life. They don't give their power away, and allow others to make them unhappy and ruin their day. They take responsibility for every action of every day, and therefore choose to have a positive attitude no matter what. They don't blame others for their problems.
11. They stop keeping up with the Joneses.
It could be said that comparison is the enemy of happiness. Comparing yourself to others is the quickest way to get sad and discouraged. Happy people would say that they look to others for inspiration, but check themselves when they start to feel consumed by comparison and envy.
12. They are not materialistic.
The easiest way to become very unhappy, is to place too much importance on material things. Of course we all want certain things in life, but when your ability to be happy rests on if you can get the latest "thing", there is no amount of money that can satisfy that need. Happy people often opt for a simplistic way of life.
13. They stop eating junk food.
Now this one may seem silly, but we really are what we eat. Being healthy and fit directly affects your well-being. Happy people would say that taking care of themselves by eating healthy improves their quality of life, and boosts their mood.
14. They embrace their flaws.
Happy people are not perfect. Happiness is not a direct result of leading a perfect life, but a result of a good attitude and perspective about their flaws. Happy people keep the big picture in mind all the time.
15. They give themselves closure.
This is an important one. So often we tell ourselves that "if only they would apologise, I could move on". Or "if only they would take some responsibility for the pain they caused me". Happy people recognise that this is a form of giving your power away. People may never apologise to you and give you closure. Learning to let that be okay, and giving ourselves closure is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
What's your top happiness tip?
This post originally appeared on Society Letters.