7 Habits of Happy People

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
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Happy people forgive their friends for not asking before posting photos of them wearing funny hats on the Internet.

I’ve been reading the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s an old classic that I’ve read before and it teaches productivity as well as principle-centered living. It’s gotten me thinking about the habits of happy people and the principles that might be at the root of them. I’ve looked around at some of the happiest people I know and have observed a few similarities in their behavior.

1. Happy people say yes.

Happy people always seem to be doing something new and interesting. They’re visiting the zoo with their friends or taking a quilting class. They’re taking off for a weekend of journaling in the mountains or participating in a city-wide pillow fight. While the rest of the world is reading the recaps in the paper, happy people are seeing the fliers on the cork board at their grocery store and saying, “heck yes I want to go to an independent film festival this weekend!”

When invitations come my way, I want to cultivate the habit of saying yes.

The more I say yes, the more opportunities are presented to me.

2. Happy people say thank you.

Some happy people have an actual ritual of saying thank you, a regular gratitude practice that helps them to make note of their blessings. Others are just constantly saying thank you for gifts of any shape or size. They thank God before every meal and send thank you texts after every lunch date.

Gratitude is one of the best ways to spot and become a happy person.

3. Happy people speak well of other people.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that happy people also tend to be nice. Being nice feels better than being nasty, at least in the long-term. Sure, indulging in the occasional gossip fest with a friend is fun for a little while, but the end result is a residue of guilt and resentment. All of the markedly happy people I know are constantly saying nice things about people behind their back. They make you want to meet their friends and have dinner with their family.

I’m attracted to people who speak well of others, because I imagine they’re more likely to speak well of me.

4. Happy people laugh.

Happiness can come in the form of a quiet smile or a peaceful resolve, but it’s bound to bust out into a laugh once in a while. It seems to me that happy people appreciate the lighter side of life. They don’t take themselves or anything else too seriously. They laugh at silly pictures of cats and shallow TV sitcoms. They laugh when they see kids playing and when they realize they’ve had their shirt on backwards all day.

The nice thing about laughter is that it’s contagious.

Letting yourself laugh out loud is the best way to spread some of your happiness around, and I swear it will be bigger and richer by the time it comes back to you.

5. Happy people listen.

My favorite people are good listeners. They don’t rush to offer judgment or help and they might not even tell you that they know exactly how you feel – especially if they don’t. They just listen, openly without assumptions. It’s such a gift that they give to me, but it seems to also contribute to their happiness.

The best thing I can do to enrich my own life and my relationships is listen more.

Taking the time to listen helps us learn. It keeps our minds open to wisdom and new perspectives. When we focus on listening, we take ourselves out of the equation and are less likely to be hurt or offended by what we hear.

6. Happy people believe in… something.

I’ve met happy people from various religions and belief systems. It doesn’t seem to matter exactly what they believe in as much as the fact that they do believe in something or someone bigger than themselves. That might be God, or a Universe, or an invisible link between all of humanity. Maybe having faith in a higher power helps us let go of our illusions of control, or maybe it just makes us feel more connected to our fellow man.

Whatever the reason, embracing a hope in the unknown seems to help people be happier.

My faith in God and belief in a Universe that connects us all gives me peace.

7. Happy people accept imperfection.

The more I thought about the happy people I knew, the more I realized that they weren’t flawless in their day-to-day execution of life. They didn’t all get up early or exercise every day. Some of them were organized and some of them embraced the art of clutter. Some of them dressed beautifully and others had no qualms with going out in public in pajamas.

None of the happy people I know are perfect. They all seem to know that.

Even if they are constantly working on improving something, my happiness mentors acknowledge and accept that perfection is not the goal. They accept their own quirks and the weaknesses of others, which makes it a heck of a lot easier to be vulnerable and authentic when they are around.

I hope to make these habits part of my make up.

What habits do you notice in the happy people you know?

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  1. Audra says:

    I love this post Britt! 7 Habits of Happy People–I think this is a book YOU should write. With all you’ve shared about your physical journey across the country and your own journey through dealing with depression your book would be SUCH an inspiration to so many people. You are living proof that happiness IS a choice and does not come from perfection and constant success. Your willingness to take risks, then assess, give yourself credit AND admit what went wrong are what I love about your writing. You’ve come from a place where it would have been safe–but not healthy–to stay (and no, I don’t mean Florida) and you are very brave,

    • Miss Britt says:

      You know, I’ve been thinking about this, and I just might make this into an ebook or something.

      And thank you, so very much, for the rest of what you said.

  2. I’ve never read that book and I’m glad to say that I do all of these things in some form or another. In fact most of them are sort of philosophies that I choose to live my life by. Great, great post.
    Jill of All Trades’s most recent post: Garden Produce

  3. i opened my reader, saw that photo of me and burst out in a fit of laughter. ridiculously hard laughing is fun entirely too early on a fine rainy day! (sharing the strip section of pittsburgh with you made me wildly happy…thanks for that reminder.)
    :)

    i find all of these points so true. thankfully they come naturally to me…or my momma did a good job of shaping my outlook? (if so, thanks, momma!) anyhow, your sixth point about happy people believing in something is quite interesting. one of my theories about god is that he presents himself to people in different forms (the universe, one man, a cow, a woman, a tree, a holy trinity, etc.) and that so long as people love and respect their form of god things will be ok. the idea that just believing and respecting that unknown might make people happier just thrilled me to the point of wiggling. awesome!

    • Nanna says:

      The fact that you laughed out loud IS why you are a Happiness mentor, silly child. :) You should have been with me and Britt and Dood Man trying on hats this past weekend!

    • Miss Britt says:

      That’s pretty much my belief about God, too. I think there is one God, but several roads home.

  4. TwinMamaTeb says:

    thank you for immediately making me & the kids smile when seeing Miss Becky when clicking the link today. Honestly, she IS the happiest person I know, and makes those around her happy as well, its infectious. I’m going to work on one of those points today, thanks for the reminder!

  5. the muskrat says:

    Happy people don’t have a bunch of debt, I’ve noticed.
    the muskrat’s most recent post: at the georgia aquarium for world immunization week

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’m not sure if that’s universally true, but I can definitely see how it would be a factor. I certainly got happier once we paid off our debts. :-)

  6. Jennifer says:

    I love this list! The first one is so true – saying yes often involves lots of logistics with childcare or dragging them all with me, but I am almost always happy that I made the effort. Thanks for a reminder on some of the others.

    And if you need a poster child for someone that makes everyone around them happy, it is Becky…
    Jennifer’s most recent post: Future Offensive Lineman

  7. Carly says:

    I love this post! I hope everyone who breezes through here really takes it to heart, because I can corroborate just about every item on your list, both in my personal experience and observations of others. Now, I just need to figure out how I can spend some time with Becky ;) Love your outlook on faith/God, Becky…sounds very similar to my own :)
    Carly’s most recent post: Travel Tips, Part 1

  8. I love this post Brit, especially #3. I am religious/spiritual in my own way but never have been a literal interoperation of the bible. This Saturday I was in Synagogue, I don’t read Hebrew and a friend offered me an English translation and interpretation of the Parsha. Basically there was the standard stuff. I hope I am getting this right, because I love the lesson in it. You die and you sins and good deeds are weighed. But there was an interesting twist. You might find yourself being judged for things you never did, both positive and negative. She the idea is anytime you do/say something negative to another person, you loose credit for a Mitzvah (good deed) and they gain the credit. And the same works for you, if you are spoken about unfairly, wrong inappropriately they loose a mitzvah and you get credit for it. I loved the lesson and I think it speaks to number 3
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: TMI Q&A – my battle with Anxiety, depression and ADHD

    • Miss Britt says:

      Hm. I don’t personally like the idea of score keeping and trading points based on deeds or words, but I can understand where the principle or idea might come from, I guess.

      • No I agree, I’m not sure I buy the whole score keeper thing and I am not a literal interoperation kind of guy. But the lesson I got from it was, when you disparage someone else, you take something from yourself.
        Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Egrets first sleepover

  9. Marta says:

    I think those are really great qualities of happy people. I think the only one that I would add to is that I find that happy people know that pain is temporary. They are not always happy (no one can be) but when they are hurt or sad they have this really great way of knowing that it will all work out and accepting the pain and moving on.

    I’m so close on a few of them and so far on some of the others! I’ve got to work on my happy habits apparently!
    Marta’s most recent post: Call Me Beautiful

    • Miss Britt says:

      Ooh, that’s a good one! Happy people definitely seem to have a healthy perspective of the transient nature of… well… everything.

  10. Megan says:

    Happy people find the good in things. They choose a positive outlook.

    Happy people rarely watch the news. OK, I don’t know this for sure, but I know I’m happier when I don’t. :)
    Megan’s most recent post: Manifesto

    • Miss Britt says:

      You’re right. Happy people are selective about the influences they allow into their lives.

  11. martymankins says:

    Working towards happiness is something each of us do every day. Regardless of the strifes in our lives, we all have a level of happiness within us that needs to be shown more often.

    Which is why often visits to your blog are highly recommended.

    And more pictures of Becky smiling (and the bonus penguin hat)
    martymankins’s most recent post: TINTFA 2012 – 120 Day Update

    • Miss Britt says:

      I don’t think everyone does work towards happiness every day. I think there are a lot of people, sadly, who just go through the motions.

      Clearly everyone should be reading this blog!! lol

  12. fiwa says:

    I love this post. I so need to be reminded of #3.

    I’m going to give this some thought over the day and come back and comment again when I’ve really thought about the habits of happy people I know.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Gossip – or even just bitching – is such an easy habit to get into. I think I was almost 30 before I met someone who really didn’t do it much.

  13. Lisa says:

    I try to do all of these. I don’t always succeed, but that’s part of bein an imperfect human. I’m especially embracing saying yes lately. Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis, but if find I am more compelled to DO things instead of think about doing them lately. And it is making me happy. The doing actually saved my happy these last few weeks because I had something to hang onto during a really rough time.
    Lisa’s most recent post: Who Finally Published a Life List?

  14. Darla says:

    Blarg. Why did I have to read this today? Why??? WHY??!?!?!?

    Normally I’m HAPPY. Today? NOT HAPPY. Sigh.

    I’ll be back when I am happy. Which at this point may be next year.

  15. Michele says:

    I’m a happy person. The only thing I don’t totally agree with is that happy people also know when to say “no.” Besides that – great advice!

  16. mindy invited me over for dinner and games last night and at one point this post came up during conversation. we both agree that CONFIDENCE might need to be considered as another point. i mean, it is pretty incredible what an “i don’t give a fuck about whether you like me, but i like me” attitude can do. (so long as my actions aren’t hurting anyone else, that confidence and lack of comparing can be rather thrilling.)
    hello haha narf’s most recent post: Couldn’t Post This on the First

  17. one other thing. ever since i was little i realized that making someone else feel good made my own heart race with joy. so for me, i would have to add making a habit out of helping others / making others smile to this list.
    hello haha narf’s most recent post: Couldn’t Post This on the First

  18. Thank you for the post Britt. Have a great weekend.
    Sigrid Rogowski’s most recent post: http://docakilah.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/study-energy-drinks-rotting-teens-teeth/

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