All of us have highs and lows on a daily and weekly basis.
But a deeper sense of inner happiness and the way your life is going is a lot different.
Even when the road gets rough you feel a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your life.
So, how can you separate the peaks and valleys of life from the true signs you’re happy with yourself and your life on a deeper level?
Here’s a guide.
11 signs you’re happy with yourself (and where your life is at)
1) You feel a sense of belonging and acceptance
Inner peace can be hard to find.
But once you discover a sense of belonging and acceptance of yourself, the outer world tends to follow suit.
You notice those around you who you can feel comfortable and challenged by. You’re drawn to people who you can work together with and collaborate with.
One of the top signs you’re happy with yourself is that you’re happier with other people.
The annoying ones don’t bother you quite as much, and people you used to find boring now seem not so bad, or even unique in certain ways.
You begin to prioritize relationships: romantic, friendship, and professional.
As blogger Sinem Günel puts it:
“Once a baseline of income is met, our happiness varies more based on the quality of our relationships than our income.
“That’s partly due to a phenomenon called belongingness hypothesis, which states that we have a fundamental need to feel connected to other humans.
“From an evolutionary perspective, belonging to a group of people was not a nice-to-have but essential for survival.”
2) The opinions of others don’t determine your self-worth
Another of the biggest signs you’re happy with yourself is that you don’t seek external validation.
In other words, what other people think stops getting to you very much. You take feedback kindly and absorb praise with gratitude, but you’re not overly swayed by it.
You don’t care about someone who doesn’t care about you.
This person may love you and that person may hate you, but it doesn’t define who you are or the decisions you’ll make.
You are secure in who you are and your foundational values. You certainly care what others think, feel and say.
But you don’t let it determine your underlying position or sway you on something you’re sure about.
You’re guided by a mission, core values, and trust in your own perceptions and ideas. The observations and opinions of others are interesting, sure, but they’re not in the driver’s seat.
Your self-worth is rock-solid and built on your own self-assessment, not the judgments of others.
3) You practice self-honesty at a very high level
One of the most important signs you’re happy with yourself is that you are extremely honest with yourself.
Even the hard subjects don’t make you resort to lying to yourself. You have an honesty policy with yourself which includes admitting to yourself when you fall short or fail.
It also means acknowledging tough things like:
- When to put your foot down and confront someone
- When to seek help for problems you’re having
- When it’s time to pull the plug on a relationship
“You face the harsh realities you may be tempted to avoid. You’re self-aware when faced with hard choices — like whether or not to leave a relationship that doesn’t feel right—so you can get to the root of your fear,” writes Lori Deschene.
When you’re honest with yourself, you save time and energy.
Even when you’re not 100% sure about something? Fine, then you admit your confusion to yourself and let it simmer for a while instead of grasping at the nearest easy answer.
You skip all the years of wasted time and lies to yourself and others.
You practice honesty because in the end, even the hard parts of it lead to superior outcomes.
Ultimately, you’re happier.
4) You say no when necessary and do what’s best for you
One of the top signs you’re happy with yourself is that you’re decisive.
You do what’s best for you and say no when you need to. You are thoughtful and care for others, but it’s built on caring for yourself.
This means that as much as you love to be part of things and serve others, you also are not shy about saying no.
Whether it’s a thoughtful invitation or a request for assistance, sometimes you simply have to decline.
And this self-respect greatly increases your happiness and inner contentment. The power of saying no is often underestimated.
People who are too nice find it hard to do.
Actually, being too nice can make life harder and more frustrating in many ways.
If you want to be happy with yourself and your life you need to learn to be a bit brutally honest sometimes.
Start with saying no to small things you don’t want to do and work your way up to eventually saying no to something big like:
- A marriage proposal you don’t want
- A job that you don’t want
- Pressure to change who you are or what you believe
- You give more than you take and it feels great
In a way, giving is getting.
You give your time, energy, money, or advice, but you get fulfillment and a feeling of deep connection to others.
This isn’t just mumbo jumbo, it’s science.
Leadership coach Marcel Schwantes advises:
“Science confirms that giving makes us feel happy, is good for our health, and evokes gratitude.
“One Harvard Business School report even concluded that the emotional rewards are the greatest when our generosity is connected to others, like contributing to a cancer-stricken friend’s GoFundMe Campaign.
“And before you restrict your giving to financial generosity to something or someone, consider the positive impact of giving of your time, mentoring others, supporting a cause, fighting injustice, and having a pay-it-forward mentality.”
Schwantes makes a great point here.
Giving isn’t just about dollars, it’s about your attention. When you give your energy and attention to cause that matter to you, you get a feeling of fulfillment that’s unmatched.
5) Your intuition speaks clearly to you
Intuition is that inner voice that guides you through decisions and uncertainty.
When you have a strong link to your intuition it’s reassuring and clarifying.
You avoid jobs you would hate and stay out of relationships that would move your life backwards.
You’re drawn to where you’re supposed to be and have an intuitive grasp of what to do in life.
“Listening to your intuition helps you avoid unhealthy relationships and situations.
“Throughout your life, many people will have ideas about what’s best for you, some held with good intentions and some coming from a place of deceitful, harmful, selfish intent.
“It’s sometimes hard to tell which category someone falls into, but if you put aside all of those external opinions and instead listen to the advice of your own intuition, it will guide you to what is truly best for you.”
This intuitive connection is one of the strongest signs you’re happy with yourself.
Because you know what you really want and don’t want. That’s more than many of us!
6) Minor inconveniences don’t throw you off
When it comes to the biggest signs you’re happy with yourself this one is extremely key.
It’s that annoyances and minor problems don’t get to you.
Have you ever seen someone go ballistic over missing a bus or have a depressive meltdown when their favorite cafe is closed?
Trust me, it’s not the missed bus or the closed cafe that’s the real problem: it’s their underlying unhappiness with themselves and their life.
When you’re happy with yourself and your life it’s the opposite. You absorb small things that go wrong without paying them a second thought.
“Just miss the train? Spill your coffee? It doesn’t matter. If focusing on what’s important and not obsessing over minor annoyances is a priority of yours, it may be a sign that you’re in a good place.
“Research has shown that those who swap focusing on the small, everyday negatives for emphasis on brief, joyful moments tend to be happier overall.”
7) You do what you love and follow your bliss
The biggest signs you’re happy with yourself on a deep level all revolve around self-actualization.
When you’re truly happy with yourself there’s no gap between the activities you do and your work and what brings you fulfillment and meaning.
Even if your job is difficult, it makes you energized, fulfilled and inspired on a daily basis.
Doing what you love doesn’t mean every day is a home run.
It just means every day is at least a chance to step on the baseball diamond and play the game you love (to extend the baseball metaphor).
And it’s also not always about your career.
If your main identity is volunteering or being part of an agricultural cooperative or caring for your partner who’s sick, something about it is just exactly what helps you contribute to the world.
“If you find satisfaction in the things you do, then you’re well on your way to living a happy life…
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be linked to a career,” writes Meredith Dault.
8) You can leave the past in the past
There are many different ways to find inner peace and become happy with yourself.
But all of them, to some degree, requires making peace with the past.
You may have a difficult past that’s hard to move on from, but you’ve found a way to let the pain be what it is and live your life anyway.
That strength and forward momentum makes you strong and fuels the inner sense of contentment and joy that you bring to life.
The past is hard for everyone, but it doesn’t have to dominate.
The shadow of the past doesn’t loom as large for you as it does for some people, because you’ve left it in the past.
You focus on what you love to do and don’t let the past overshadow you.
As health writer and yoga instructor Carrie Madormo writes:
“When you’re not consumed with worrying about what others think of you, you have a lot more time for the things that matter to you. Happy people use that time to pursue the activities they love.”
9) You’re not dependent on others for happiness or love
Nobody is “always happy.”
Being happy with yourself is not the same as a good mood or temporary state of euphoria.
It’s an underlying baseline of wellbeing that lasts through the ups and downs. It’s waking up and being more or less glad you’re alive! It’s being single and being happy anyway.
It’s being in a relationship and appreciating it despite its faults and your partner’s frustrating imperfections.
You aren’t trying to prove anything, you’re just happy to be you and live your life.
Deep down you appreciate companionship and love, but you’re also truly OK with doing your own thing and being alone.
This draws people to you and gives you a real sense of inner contentment.
10) You don’t bother comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is easy to do.
After all, there’s one of you and millions of them. It’s very tempting to look at what other people have accomplished or their behavior and actions and feel like crap.
You’re nowhere near that, get real! You don’t even deserve to be in a good space after seeing how far behind you are in the race.
Except when you’re happy you know that it’s not a race.
The only competition you have is with yourself. And many of the most important things that change in life can’t be measured, such as learning to be more patient or treating others with a bit more kindness.
Comparing yourself to others begins to become…boring.
Who cares? It’s not about some hierarchy of you vs. the world.
You simply don’t compare yourself to others.
Rebecca Wojno explains this well:
“You stopped comparing yourself to other people. While it’s great what they’re doing, it has nothing to do with you and what you’re capable of.
In the end, it’s about focusing on yourself and where you are/want to be.”
11) You feel at home in your physical body
Many of the problems we have stem from being trapped in our heads.
A big part of the reason is that we don’t breathe deeply enough and connect to our bodies.
Learning to breathe and connect to our body can be powerful: our autonomous and somatic systems form a bridge.
Being happy with yourself isn’t always so much of an emotion as a state of being. And it includes a physical aspect:
- Deep breathing and sleeping well
- A feeling of your muscles and body being well used and exercised
- Feeling physically calm, stable and having upright posture
- Making eye contact with others and approaching life with power
The feeling of contentment and wellbeing in your physical body is powerful.
Many people get their “mental” and emotional side very tidied up only to feel like something’s still just not right.
They feel lost, unmoored, dissipated. The reason is clear: they’re disconnected from their living, breathing body!
And when you’re disconnected from your body, you’re disconnected from the wider natural world and other people as well.
When you’re connected to your body, you feel empowered, energized, and ready for what life throws at you.
When life’s already great, what’s next?
If these signs you’re genuinely happy with yourself are all lining up, then you might wonder what’s next.
You could just sit back, save up more money, enjoy your life and eat deluxe cheeses on a lovely yacht.
Or you might enjoy your time with your loved ones, apply your skills and happiness to your job and do your best to continue winning at life!
Those both sound quite good.
But I would also suggest that one of the best options, when you’re really happy with your life, is to share the joy.
Find ways to help out in your community and give back to others. Not because of any imagined or real reward, not for recognition and not to be a “good” person.
Do it because you can and because it’s useful and gratifying for you.
Being genuinely happy with yourself is a gift.
The more people we have in our world who are genuinely happy with themselves the more we can work together proactively and accomplish great things together.
As Brianna Wiest writes, one of the best things about being content in your life is being able to then focus on being a positive presence for others.
“You offer guidance to those who are in the shoes you were in.
“It means you have the knowledge to share. It means you have actually gotten through something and now retain some kind of clarity or wisdom from it.
“It means you are able to see in retrospect and to be far enough away from it that you want to help others who are still there.”