Ever since I fell victim to depression in 2008, happiness is a subject I’ve been much preoccupied with.
Why do people who outwardly have similar lives to me feel content and at peace, while I wake up every morning hating my existence? I used to think.
Part of the reason was because I was suffering from an illness that needed treatment. But I knew that another reason was because I, to put it simply, didn’t know how to be happy. For whatever reason, I didn’t know how to act, think or make decisions in a way that would lead me to enjoy my life.
So I dedicated myself to the study of happiness. I talked to doctors, therapists, my parents and my friends; I read self-help and personal development books; I analysed the behaviour of athletes, artists and entrepreneurs who lived successful, fulfilling lives; and I travelled to five different continents to talk to people from all walks of life to find out what makes them happy.
Need a smile? These quotes will do the trick.
Over time, I learned a lot, and combined with getting the treatment I needed, I managed to recover from depression, and these days, I’m blessed to be able to say that I live a very happy and healthy life.
In light of what I’ve learned over the years, I’ve put together a list of 15 things I believe that people who are happy do differently from people who aren’t.
The good news is that these qualities don’t need to come naturally. I can tell you first hand that they are skills that can be learned.
1. Happy people are aware of their core values and build their lives around them.
Happy people know exactly what makes them happy and exactly what doesn’t make them happy – and they structure their lives in such a way so that they maximize the time they spend doing things that make them happy and minimise the time they spend on doing things that don’t make them happy.
2. Happy people learn from their mistakes and from difficult times.
Everybody will make mistakes – in their career, in their relationships, with their finances, and in every other facet of their life. But happy people make sure they learn from their mistakes and from difficult times so they don’t continue to repeat themselves over and over and over again.
3. Happy people don’t care about what other people think of them.
No matter what you do, there’ll always be people who don’t like you, who will judge you, or who will criticise you. Happy people understand this, and what’s more, they understand that worrying about what other people think of them is wasted energy that could be better spent elsewhere.
4. Happy people are grateful for what they have.
This really hit me when I did volunteer work at an underprivileged school in Peru, at an orphanage in Cambodia, and in a slum in India. The majority of people I met were happy, friendly people – because they focused on and were grateful for what they had, instead of wasting their energy dwelling on and pining for what they didn’t have.