9 personality traits of genuinely happy people

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Let’s start with the bad news.

Research shows that up to 40% of how happy you are may well be out of your hands. That’s because genetics do play a part in it.

Having said that, let’s quickly jump to the good news.

Because it still means that the majority of our happiness can be shaped. And both our environment and our actions play a role.

So what are genuinely happy people doing differently?

Even though everyone’s recipe for happiness will vary, happy people tend to share some specific traits.

1) They’re mindful and try to stay in the present

Mindfulness is more than the latest self-care craze.

It’s not about sitting still for hours on end meditating in order to reach enlightenment.

In a nutshell it’s simply about awareness.

The more you learn to pay attention to whatever is happening right now, the better you will feel.


Because when you think about it, many of our problems play out predominantly in our minds.

We agonize over past mistakes, cringe-worthy moments, heartbreaking disappointments.

We worry and stress about future events — what will or won’t happen.

It’s very easy to get lost with a world that doesn’t even exist.

That’s why being mindful — aka being aware and open to what’s going on — has been shown to helps us manage our emotions, understand other people’s, and reduce our stress.

Yet there is another often overlooked part of being mindful, and that is acceptance.

Because research has shown that mindfulness makes us even happier when we don’t just see what is happening, but simultaneously try to accept the realities we are faced with.

2) They’re sensitive and embrace all of their emotions

Being sensitive does not mean crying non-stop or having your feelings constantly hurt.

It means being alert to and in tune with your emotions. Recognizing and acknowledging them.

When we can do this, we cultivate greater self-awareness. That helps us to master our emotions rather than being held hostage by them.

Instead of getting carried away by negative emotions, happy people let them move through them.

Just like our above point about mindfulness — acceptance is key.

Instead of hiding from them or denying them, they let them be. They know that they are just a temporary state and they don’t allow themselves to be defined by them.

It’s a far healthier approach.

Because no one can be happy 24-7. Life doesn’t work that way.

Instead, it’s just about trying to find constructive outlets for processing our emotions.

3) They’re purposeful and find meaning in the things they do

A lot of people talk about “finding your purpose in life”.

But what if you don’t need to discover it, you actually just need to apply it to everything you do.

Let me explain:

Purpose is a state of mind.

Yes, it’s great when we find something we are good at, can enjoy what we are doing, and believe it is worthwhile.

But it may also be unrealistic to expect this to happen all the time.

Happy people look for things that give them a feeling of purposefulness. That may be work, hobbies, interests, or certain people.

But the most genuinely happy people also apply purpose to every task they set about doing.

They give something their attention and effort — which gives it meaning.

In many ways it is an act of service. Rather than an expectation to get something out of it, you do something merely for the sake of doing itself.

Taking this approach allows you to make your actions meaningful through giving them the power and energy of your full attention.

Of course, it’s not always easy to do. Which is why the next thing on our list is so important.

4) They’re focused and don’t get led astray by things that can rob us of happiness

There’s more discipline to happiness that we give credit for.

For a lucky few who won the genetics lottery, it may come naturally. But most happy people have cultivated it.

Not necessarily by hard work but certainly through some amount of regulation, repetition and routine.

Because being happy isn’t about looking for cheap thrills.

We have to turn towards the things that we know are good for us in the long run, and give up some of the things that don’t serve us.

The most genuinely happy amongst us stay focused.

They don’t look around and pointlessly compare themselves and their lives to others. It’s only a distraction.

Neither do they allow themselves to be consumed by things that carry them away from the here and now — whether that’s social media, too much TV, alcohol or overconsumption of anything.

Rather than chasing pleasant distraction after pleasant distraction, they go in search of a deeper sense of joy.

5) They’re optimistic and choose to see things from a glass-half-full perspective

One of the best ways to find a deeper sense of joy is this:

Shift your outlook to a more positive one.

So many studies have noted a strong link between happiness and being an optimist.

The more optimistic and hopeful you are, the better your overall well-being.

We don’t have to wait to feel happy to take a more optimistic approach.

Simply by trying to adopt more positive expectations about the future you can:

  • Tackle stress
  • Better deal with adversity when problems do arise
  • Reduce your risk of mental health problems
  • Become more flexible in your approach to life

Optimism is more than just an outlook — it’s a practice.

We can do it by reducing our habitual negative thoughts, being kinder (including to ourselves), praising and recognizing effort, and go actively looking for the good things all around us.

6) They’re appreciative and take a grateful approach to what they have

Happy people are grateful people.

Rather than try to find more, start noticing everything you already have.

Because the truth is that we don’t need great riches, impressive accolades, or the latest “must have” to feel good about life.

All that attentiveness makes genuinely happy people really good at stopping to smell the roses.

Here’s what happens to the brain when we are appreciative:

Neurotransmitters like dopamine (aka the happy hormone) are activated and it brings us pleasure. It also gives us a hit of serotonin which can help to regulate our mood.

Hence you feel pretty fantastic, simply from reminding yourself what you already have going for you, rather than think about what you might lack.

7) They’re courageous so they can live life to the fullest

Happy people still get scared. They have their fears, just like the rest of us. The key is that they don’t let them hold them back.

They accept that feeling and act in spite of it. This is the true definition of bravery.

Because whenever we let our fears get in the way, we end up missing opportunities.

We’re afraid to fail or face knockbacks.

But if we want life to be an adventure, we have to embrace these uncomfortable emotions and experiences.

As we’ll see next, the happiest people are able to go the distance, rather than give in. This is in part thanks to one very special trait…

8) They’re patient and don’t need to have everything on demand

We create a lot of our own suffering by wanting everything yesterday.

The whole point of life then becomes about the final destination and getting there as soon as possible. But as the cliche reminds us, it’s the journey that counts.

We increasingly live in times where our desire for getting things immediately is catered to. Instant gratification them becomes the norm.

Hungry? Order Uber Eats.

Lonely? Go on a dating app.

Bored? Head over to Instagram.

Whatever you need or want, you may be able to quickly have it delivered to your door.

But this can leave us with a slightly spoiled approach. We may forget that patience is a virtue for good reason.

Sometimes the best things in life take time. We may be required to put in the effort or the perseverance, or we may just be asked to wait.

The happiest people have the patience to do this. And in the process, that helps them to build resilience to tackle whatever life will throw their way.

9) They are forgiving so that they don’t carry around the burden of grudges

Life is always going to be a mixed bag of both good and bad.

Even the luckiest people in the world can’t escape getting hurt from time to time.

So our happiness will always be limited if we do not have the capacity to be forgiving.

Sometimes that will involve forgiving yourself, other times it will demand forgiving others.

People who have been able to forgive the most unforgivable of things, testify to it’s healing powers.

Bill Pelke’s not only managed to forgive the killer of his grandmother, but he wanted her to be able to start a new life when she left prison.

As he explained to the BBC, in doing so, it allowed him to let go of the pain he was carrying:

“When I was touched by compassion and forgiveness, I no longer pictured Nana dead but alive. Something terrific had happened inside of me.”

Forgiving people are happy people as they are not weighed down by the past.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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