It turns out, there actually are a few things you can do to be a happier person.
Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is the Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center and Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the Penn Department of Psychology. He is famously known as being “the father of positive psychology.”
More than 275 scholarly works, and 20 books have been published under his name, but we’re going to talk about one in particular today.
Seligman wrote an article that mentioned 21 qualities happy people seem to have in common, and today, Mystical Raven is going to share them with you!
1. They surround themselves with other people who are happy.
Misery loves company, and happiness is contagious. Researchers from the Framingham Heart Study found that being surrounded by happy people makes a person more likely to find happiness in the future.
2. They smile often.
Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try thinking of something that is cute, or will make you laugh. Then, try not to forget that thought. Seligman suggests the importance of not merely pretending to smile, but actually being cheerful. Smiling while you’re thinking unhappy thoughts can make things worse.
3. They work on and improve their ability to recover.
Psychologists hold a belief about our ability to recover from unpleasant news. They believe it is an effective antidote against depression. Happy people see a problem, acknowledge it, and know how to bounce back. Like the saying goes: ’Fall down seven times, stand up eight.’
4. They put effort into trying to be happy
And yes, this is as easy as it sounds. Just attempting to be happy drastically improves your emotional well-being.
5. They notice the little wins
Celebrating significant victories in your life is important, of course. Equally important, however, is the celebration of the small wins. Giving yourself a pat on the back every now and again for the smaller things gives you additional positive reinforcement, which in turn gives you more to be happy about. It’s a win-win cycle.
6. They are grateful for the simple things in life
Sitting in the park on a sunny day when a cool breeze envelops you, enjoying the sounds of the ocean after a long day at work, looking over at your dog and seeing a happy furball. Happy people see the value in those things that cost us nothing.
7. They give their time to others
Regardless of how busy they are, those people who are happy-minded are sure to commit some of their time to doing good deeds. And, surprisingly, those good deeds tend to go full-circle. Psychologists have even come up with the phrase ’giver’s high,’ comparing the joy of helping someone else, to a blissful state.
8. They don’t upset themselves if they lose track of time
When we become consumed with something, we experience a state called the ’Flow.’ Happy people actively pursue the ’Flow,’ because they know it will carry them to success.
9. They tolerate small talk, but love meaningful conversations
Happy people don’t mind sharing a few small words with their friends about the weather or a recent game, but let’s be honest, they prefer the substantial conversations that help make sense of life. Simply put, a real conversation is much more appealing and rewarding than mindless chit-chat.
10. They spend money on other people
The old saying isn’t completely true: money can buy you happiness. But only if you spend it others. It’s always better to give than receive.
11. They know how to listen to you
Listening opens your mind up to new knowledge and information. When you speak, your mind is closed. Listening to other people shows respect, and they will appreciate your friendship more.
12. They stay in touch
We’re not talking about texting or calling someone on the phone. We’re talking about literal touch. Happy people aren’t afraid to hug you, and they’re not afraid to show emotion. It’s been long been proven that humans respond to touching and being touched as an increase in our sense of happiness and comfort.
13. They see the good side of things
Optimism isn’t just a good habit, it’s beneficial for your health. If you have less stress, you will have fewer stress-related heart problems. By intentionally choosing to see the good in everything, you ultimately are choosing health and happiness!
Seligman shares one of the best characterizations of optimists and pessimists: “The defining characteristic of pessimists is their belief that the bad times will last long, that they will bring about the destruction of everything that has been achieved, and that all of this is their own (pessimists’) fault. Now, optimists have to confront exactly the same kinds of life’s difficulties, yet they tend to think of them in the opposite way. They believe that all misfortunes are temporary, that none of it is their fault (instead preferring to blame circumstances, bad luck, or other people). Such people aren’t worried by defeat. Surrounded by problems, they perceive them as challenges and simply try harder.”
14. They have an appreciation for good music
Music holds power, pretty much everyone knows that. The type of music you choose, is important- happy or moody songs can have an affect on how you perceive the world.
There was a study that asked participants to determine, by looking at photographs, whether the people in them were feeling cheerful or sad. It turns out that their responses correlated to the music that was being played in the background when they gave their answers.
15. They know sometimes, you have to log off
Digital detox is one of the most underrated ways to boost your happiness. Doing this gives your brain the opportunity to recharge and relax.
16. They partake in spiritual practices
In 2009, a study took place that showed children who believed their life held purpose and that there was a higher calling were happier than their peers who were living an “in the moment” life. Keep in mind, this isn’t just about religion- all spiritual practices are important. Whether it is meditating, praying, or simply taking a moment to reflect on your life, it doesn’t really matter what you do or how often you do it. What truly matters is that you find a way to give your life balance.
17. They get regular exercise
Getting physical exercise causes our body to release endorphins, which help our bodies to feel more alert and alive, and our minds to feel clear and positive. This helps to alleviate many psychological symptoms like: depression, anxiety, and melancholy.
18. They like to take walks, or sit outside
It’s true, nature can cure your soul. Just sitting outside next to some trees, or taking a 20-minute stroll in the fresh air can do wonders for your mental health.
19. They get enough sleep and stay in bed if they need to
If you wake up in a terrible mood, your whole day is affected. Happy people tend to get enough sleep so their bodies can recuperate and relax. And if they need a few extra minutes in bed to allow themselves to gradually wake up, then so be it. It seems to work!
20. They always have something to laugh about
You’ve heard it countless times throughout your life, and it’s true: laughter is the best medicine. Laughing causes hormones in the brain to be released. These hormones make us feel happier and reduce our sensitivity to pain and stress. And, by the way, it is believed that the brain responds similarly to frequent laughter as the body does to regular exercise.
21. They take great strides
Actually, this isn’t a metaphor. Happy people walk a certain way, with a carefree free, nonchalant attitude, taking wider steps. When we walk this way, a certain chain reaction in our brain is triggered.