Being around a truly happy person is like getting a big energetic hug.
Their enthusiasm rubs off on you.
We all want more happiness in life. But what’s the secret to cultivating it?
These are the habits that happy people adopt which spreads joy to others…
1) They actively look for things in life to feel happy about
The framework we choose to see life through is just that — it’s a choice.
I know it doesn’t always feel like it.
When a bad mood strikes it is for sure tricky to shake off.
We cannot always help the feelings we experience. But we do have the power to cultivate habits that promote happy feelings.
And one such habit that has been scientifically proven to increase positive emotions is gratitude.
In a world where we are always striving for more, it can be a useful antidote to discontentment when we consciously focus on what we already have.
We can incorporate it into our daily life by:
- Starting a gratitude journal to talk about the things we’re thankful for
- Leave little heartfelt notes to people thanking them for things
- Mentally list the things we’re grateful for each day
I find it can be almost instantaneous in shifting your mood.
So much of spreading joy to the people around us is leading by example.
It’s an energy.
We can just sense when someone is happy and it makes us happy too.
That’s why many of the habits on this list aren’t simply focused on how happy people behave toward others.
They’re also centered around how happy people create their own happiness within. They can then share this joy with others without even trying.
It’s almost like osmosis.
2) They’re non-judgmental so you can feel free to be yourself around them
The reality is that most of us wear masks that we hide behind.
We feel more compelled to do this around some people than others. And usually, it’s the people whose judgment we fear the most that we hide our real selves from.
Only when we feel safe in someone’s company can we dare to be vulnerable enough to be ourselves.
When we approach people with non-judgment we should never underestimate the gift we are offering them.
Because not judging someone instantly takes a huge weight off their shoulders.
They’re freer to show up exactly as they are.
Importantly, being yourself means being able to express all of your emotions, not just the so-called positive ones.
That’s why being a happy person doesn’t mean trying to eliminate sadness. They recognize that being human means experiencing the wide spectrum of human emotions.
3) They honor all their emotions, not just happiness
I have a confession:
Even though I’m a personal development writer, I sometimes have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the self-help space.
I believe in self-knowledge, self-awareness, and self-empowerment.
I think it helps us to lead healthier, happier, and more connected lives.
So far so good.
Yet occasionally I fear self-development can spill over into toxic positivity. Feeding into some kind of incessant desire to only feel “good” emotions and block out the “bad”.
But I don’t believe in “good vibes only” (even if it makes a great bumper sticker).
Because it’s unrealistic.
It encourages us to deny a very real and unavoidable part of ourselves and life in general.
And that’s the fact that life involves pain, suffering, grief, and sadness.
You can be an incredibly happy person, but you will still face these feelings at some point.
And that’s ok. It’s part of the richness of life.
I guess the key is not to get stuck in those emotions and try to navigate them.
But the best way to do that is not to deny them or push them away. Doing so just creates shame and isolation.
It’s important that we acknowledge, express and find constructive outlets for these sorts of feelings.
When we do so, we also give permission for others to do the same.
We show one another that it’s ok to have bad days. That it’s ok to struggle or suffer.
Sharing what we feel and being honest with one another helps us all to better deal with the darker sides of life.
Happy people who spread joy to others create an honest space where more difficult emotions can also be given a voice and brought into the light.
4) They’re mindful of their complaining and moaning
Hands up, sometimes I love a good moan.
Go on, admit it, It can be quite cathartic, right?
I think it’s natural to complain or grumble from time to time. But it can also become a habit that creates suffering for ourselves.
It all goes back to that framework that we choose to see life through.
And excessive complaining isn’t just venting our negative energy, it’s generating it too.
And it’s not just us that feel it, those around us do too.
I think we all know (or have at least met) a “negaholic”. That’s one of those people who non-stop complain.
It’s super heavy to be around.
Happy people consciously keep a lid on their complaining.
The reality is that there is always going to be something we can find to grumble about if we look hard enough.
Perhaps the key to avoiding it is to actively look for things to feel positive about instead…
5) They try to find the silver lining in every cloud
Ok, so we’ve already established that life can be a rollercoaster. It’s not always going to be sunshine, kittens, and rainbows.
But the fact remains, optimistic people often have better tools to deal with adversity in life.
As a consequence, optimists are healthier and happier, have less stress, enjoy better relationships, and even live longer.
Having a sense that good things are coming to you, and that everything will be ok in the end is unsurprisingly incredibly motivating.
Not just to you, but to others as well.
About 25% of being an optimist is genetic or based on factors you cannot control (like your upbringing and background).
But that means a whopping 75% is down to us.
I know this first hand.
I was an incredibly pessimistic teenager, and it made my life miserable. It took time, but over the years I worked to shift my outlook to an optimistic one.
And a huge part of that was by choosing to look for the good, even within the bad.
I don’t know about you, but even the hardest times in my life have brought some of the most useful lessons.
So in a way, they have been very valuable (even if they don’t feel good).
I guess my point is that life isn’t so black and white. Every cloud does have a silver lining. And optimists know that it’s smart to go looking for it.
6) They are kind and show compassion
Kindness can still be seen by some people as a weakness.
They worry it leaves you more vulnerable, or that people can exploit your kindness and take advantage.
But that’s got less to do with being kind, and more to do with having poor boundaries or self-esteem.
Because true kindness is a superpower.
Research has noted how showing acts of kindness makes us happy.
It boosts self-esteem, lowers your stress hormones, improves your sense of connectivity to others, and improves low moods.
Not only that, but kindness has been shown to have a ripple effect that spreads to those we extend it to.
People go on to pay it forward. So it really is a win-win and one of the best ways to spread joy.
7) They’ve learned to ignore their inner critic when it’s being an asshole
“But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head —the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember— was kind of an asshole”.
I’m sure we can all relate to the words of ‘10% Happier’ author, Dan Harris.
Humans are predisposed to a so-called negativity bias. That means we can have a nasty habit of looking for the bad.
And that includes about ourselves too.
That voice in your head can steal your confidence, make you doubt yourself, and tell you stories about the outside world.
Sadly, a lot of it is bullshit.
Happy people have gotten really good at calling this voice out. Rather than blindly believe everything it says, they’ll go:
“Hang on, is this a fact, or just a thought?!”
Because 99 times out of 100, it’s just a thought masquerading as an irrefutable fact.
They’ve just got wise to it and know when to call it out.
If their inner critic is being an asshole, they ignore it. They won’t let it steal their vibe.
Happy people aren’t eating magical pixie dust for breakfast
Sure, some people are lucky enough to be born with slightly happier temperaments.
But if like me, you weren’t one of these genetic lottery winners, the good news is happiness is something we can create too.
Even better, it’s not through anything remarkable. It’s through humble yet powerful choices around the happy habits we decide to cultivate.
It’s just as much about minimizing the negative in our life as it is about promoting the positive.
The point is that happy people don’t have a secret. They’re not eating magical pixie dust for breakfast.
They’ve just gotten good at being kinder to themselves and others.
They try to put their attention on what they have rather than focus on what they lack.
They’ve taught themselves to make space for their emotions, whilst giving more credence and emphasis to the ones that feel good.