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?