When you think of happiness, what comes to mind? We all have experienced hardships in life but when you step back and evaluate yourself, are you truly happy?
True happiness is not just a temporary state of mind, happiness becomes an enduring part of who you are. Happiness is not just being able to laugh once or twice on a daily basis, but being able to face adversity and still feel like your world is a happy place to be in.
“Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do
with struggling and enduring and accomplishing”.
Many people question whether or not they are happy on a daily basis. With this list that I have compiled, I’m asking that you evaluate your core level of happiness. The part of you that only you truly have access to, not the part that you show the world…
1. Do not remain stagnant. Happy people realize that whether they want it to or not, life changes. And instead of fighting change, happy people learn that adaptation and mental flexibility are two predictors of success. Something that I tell my clients is no matter what, life is going to keep moving on with or without us. How we handle our hardships and changes that life brings is ultimately up to us. Happy people do not sit still in the face of adversity, instead they choose to move forward and pick up the pieces.
I can’t help but compare the process of picking up the pieces and not remaining stagnant to recovering from the aftermath of a hurricane. Being born and raised by the Gulf Coast of Florida, in certain months, the threat of a hurricane is very real and I have witnessed one that took out a large part of my beautiful hometown. I observed how several people that I know, despite having their homes completely abolished by the storm-simply stated “this is a downfall of living by the water” and slowly began to rebuild. The rebuild certainly didn’t happen overnight and many tears were shed in the process, but ultimately these folks knew what they had to do and did it. They did not stay still. They moved forward with life because no matter what, life was going to move on without them.
2. Do not compare themselves to other people as a measure for what it means to be happy. Happy people have a sense of who they are as individuals, a high level of self-awareness, and they know that the real measure of happiness can be found by looking internally. Not to external measures. Happy people realize that they must be their own barometer when it comes to how they feel. Happy people have the self-awareness to realize what in life makes them feel content. They do not feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses” because they have discovered their own self-worth and inner happiness.
3. Accept themselves for who they are, faults and all, and take responsibility for making things right if they are wrong. Happy people are not perfect people, but they know this. Happy people realize that although they have a lot to contribute to relationships, there will be times that they are wrong or that they unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings. Happy people love themselves, but they accept their imperfections. And much like #1-they do not remain stagnant, and constantly seek to be a better person. Happy people are still okay with who they are as a person because once you accept your flaws, the societal or self-induced pressure to be perfect is off of you. Instead you can become empowered to work towards becoming a healthier version of yourself.
I think of the person that wants to lose 50 pounds. They acknowledge that they want the weight loss to occur and choose to feel happy and empowered that they have made this decision to be healthy. The unhappy person would just complain about the weight loss and either not make changes, or just settle for being overweight. Do you see the differences here?
Check out this excellent article on the 15 powerful things that happy people do differently:
4. Are okay being alone. Happy people do not have to receive constant validation from others. They are able to lean on their own inner strength. Even when we have relationships with other people, we are ultimately responsible for how we feel. Friendships and romantic partnerships can benefit our lives in so many ways, but happy people know deep down that if they do not possess that core level of happiness, it will make it more difficult for others to truly be happy with them.
I think about men and women that I have either known personally or worked with clinically that jumped from relationship to relationship. I always sought out to understand this constant need for companionship. There would be a horrible breakup and within a week or so, they were on to the next. Or in the worst-case scenario, they would leave one partner for another thinking that they had found the next best thing. One, there was never any time to heal, and two, the common denominator in most of these situations is that these were people that were not 100% happy with who they were and literally needed another person to validate them in order to feel okay. The issue with using people to constantly validate ourselves are that people are inconsistent. No one person is able to make you happy all the time, you must be happy with who you are first.
I can speak to this because in my late 20’s there were some things that I was not happy with about myself. I decided to take a hiatus from relationships and dating and did so for 8 solid months. I look back now and realize that that was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself! I read, I exercised, I cultivated healthy friendships, I got to know myself, and I did things that made me happy. I do not believe that I would have been in the healthy place that I was when I met my husband if I had not had that breathing room.
Happy people can stand alone and realize the value of being alone and not lonely.
5. Make healthy choices because they care about themselves. Talk to a happy person and they’ll tell you. When they have had enough of something, they’ll tap out! Happy people set boundaries with others and maintain those boundaries. Instead of constantly being the “yes” person, happy people are okay with saying no when they know their mental health may be comprised if they add another task to their plate. Truly happy people often times do not abuse substances, engage in risky behaviors, and or anything else that could put them at risk of harm. Why? Because they care about themselves and take pride in staying happy and healthy.
Consider this: I’ve never met an addict that was truly happy; however, I’ve met a ton of recovering addicts that are exuberantly happy and have found their joy! People in recovery have often times gone to therapy, rehab, or done some intense soul-searching on their own and realized their self-worth. They also realize that true happiness is found (with hard work) through sobriety. The realization that using substances is a masked form of happiness becomes a key turning point in finding happiness.
6. Don’t hide behind a façade. Truly happy people are their real, authentic self. There are no pretenses about them and they realize that true happiness is found when you are being your authentic self. Happy people don’t hide behind their good looks, educational achievements, and or sarcasm. I’ve met plenty a person that was the picture of humility, and yet they were very successful, and highly educated. On the contrary, I’m sure that we could all think of some folks that use their good looks to get ahead in life, perhaps talk of their success incessantly, and or insert whatever pretense you can think of that people use to hide behind!
I think about one of my uncles whose intellect and vocabulary is off the charts. Every time I read something he writes, I have to look up every other word to fully understand! He hob knobs with major art critics in St. Louis and is so knowledgeable [read wise] about art, culture, and social interest issues; yet he is the most down to earth man and makes you feel special in any interaction that you have with him. He is kind, gentle, and totally authentic. And people love him for it. And that, my friends, is a truly happy and secure person.
7. Find meaning in their lives no matter what they do. Happy people understand that no matter what, they will make meaning out of what they do on a daily basis. Whether that person is a surgeon, a janitor, a librarian, whatever! A happy person finds and creates meaning through their work. I know that we all know this person. The happy person that smiles at you despite being overloaded with work to do, the person that cheerfully says “I’m good, just working for the weekend!” and merrily goes about their way—think about someone in your life that is like this. Sometimes the natural inclination is to roll your eyes and think how can they be so happy?! When instead, I think we should ask them-what is the secret to your happiness?
Happiness is our choice. There are hardships that a person must overcome, but in the end, the choice in how you handle something is yours. Happiness can become a stable, enduring part of who you are.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln
The choice is yours.
Empowering you to be happy today and always,
P.S. I really enjoyed these two articles on happiness-check them out!