7 Things Remarkably Happy People Do Often
Happiness can be a choice — especially when you take the right actions.
Happiness: Everyone wants it, yet relatively few seem to get enough of it, especially those in their early 40s. (I’m no psychologist, but that’s probably about when many of us start thinking, “Wait–is this all there is?”)
Good news and bad news: Unfortunately, approximately 50 percent of your happiness, your “happiness set-point,” is determined by personality traits that are largely hereditary. Half of how happy you feel is basically outside your control.
But, that means 50 percent of your level of happiness is totally within your control: relationships, health, career, etc. So even if you’re genetically disposed to be somewhat gloomy, you can still do things to make yourself a lot happier.
1. Make good friends.
It’s easy to focus on building a professional network of partners, customers, employees, connections, etc., because there is (hopefully) a payoff.
But there’s a definite payoff to making real (not just professional or social media) friends. Increasing your number of friends correlates to higher subjective well being; doubling your number of friends is like increasing your income by 50 percent in terms of how happy you feel.
And if that’s not enough, people who don’t have strong social relationships are 50 percent less likely to survive at any given time than those who do. (That’s a scary thought for loners like me.)
Make friends outside of work. Make friends at work. Make friends everywhere.
Make real friends. You’ll live a longer, happier life.
2. Actively express thankfulness.
According to one study, couples that expressed gratitude in their interactions with each other resulted in increases in relationship connection and satisfaction the next day–both for the person expressing thankfulness and (no big surprise) for the person receiving it. (In fact, the authors of the study said gratitude was like a “booster shot” for relationships.)
Of course the same is true at work. Express gratitude for employee’s hard work and you both feel better about yourselves.
Another easy method is to write down a few things you are grateful for every night. One study showed people who wrote down five things they were thankful for once a week were 25 percent happier after 10 weeks; in effect they dramatically increased their happiness set-point.
Happy people focus on what they have, not on what they don’t have. It’s motivating to want more in your career, relationships, bank account, etc., but thinking about what you already have, and expressing gratitude for it, will make you a lot happier.
It will also remind you that even if you still have huge dreams, you have already accomplished a lot–and should feel genuinely proud.
3. Actively pursue your goals.
Goals you don’t pursue aren’t goals, they’re dreams, and dreams make you happy only when you’re dreaming.
Pursuing goals, though, does make you happy. According to David Niven, author of 100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life, “People who could identify a goal they were pursuing [my italics] were 19 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves.”
So be grateful for what you have, and then actively try to achieve more. If you’re pursuing a huge goal, make sure that every time you take a small step closer to achieving it, you pat yourself on the back.
But don’t compare where you are now with where you someday hope to be. Compare where you are now to where you were a few days ago. Then you’ll get dozens of bite-size chunks of fulfillment–and a never-ending supply of things to be thankful for.
We’ll finish next week with tips 4 to 7.