What is “success” anyway?
Do you have to have a gazillion dollars in the bank or own a 100-foot yacht you travel the world on?
Well, OK, that sounds pretty nice, but aren’t there other things that can bring you happiness outside of blowing lots of dough?
We all know that there are, and now’s the time to focus on them.
Rather than worrying about that big promotion or getting your side hustle off the ground, let’s look instead at the things that really give your life meaning and satisfaction.
To that end, here are nine signs you’re truly happy in life, even if you’re not “successful” in the conventional big-money, big-power sense.
1) You’re doing what you love.
One of the biggest successes in life is doing something with your time and energy that you truly love.
Many, if not most, people spend their employed years working away at jobs they don’t particularly like or care about.
Trust me; I know all about it because I’ve been sucked into the rat race before and only just barely managed to get out.
Most people get pulled in by the promise of big chunks of cheddar, money that initially sounds big but that they soon become accustomed to. Then, it’s just the fear of losing out on that money that keeps people running on their wheels.
But think about it. Most of us spend eight hours a day working, five days a week or more.
So if you’re one of those lucky people who truly loves what you’re doing, no matter what it is, for this huge part of your life, I’m sure it’s bringing you happiness.
2) You have a great relationship.
The great French writer George Sand wrote, “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”
For some people, that’s true, but let me make it clear that not everyone needs to be in a relationship to be happy in life, that’s for sure.
Some people are just as happy single as they are in a relationship and have rich, fulfilling lives on their own.
But if you’re the kind of person who wants to be in a relationship, a really great one can bring a huge amount of happiness into your life.
What makes a great relationship?
That’s a whole other article or even a whole book, but let’s distill it to this: it’s a relationship that’s open, honest, caring, and supportive.
It’s a relationship that, no matter where your life is at, brings you happiness.
3) Your family life is fulfilling.
Whether or not you want to have a romantic relationship in your life is up to you.
But there’s one thing that you can’t really choose, and that’s family.
You’re born into whatever you’re born into, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it except try to do the best you can with what you’ve got.
Some people have the lucky opportunity to be born into a loving and supportive family. Others work hard to change theirs to become this way.
That includes starting your own family, meaning a partner and children – something you can control, at least somewhat!
Even if you’re not successful in terms of money or career, having a great family in which you love and support each other is a very different type of success. Some would say it’s a whole lot more important in terms of your happiness.
4) You’ve got fantastic friends.
Can you measure happiness by how many friends you have or how solid your friendships are?
I think so.
When you have a great friend group, you have people to go to for support, socializing, fun, and, yes, even love. These are people who, unlike family, choose you while you choose them.
They’re people who spend time with you because they like you and want to support you and share their lives with you.
Brazilian author Paulo Coelho said, “Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.”
This is a very lovely way of expressing how the small things that friends do for each other day in and day out add up to a lifetime of help and positivity.
No matter where your life is at, if you have great friends, that probably contributes a whole lot to your happiness.
5) You have time for your hobbies.
The statesman Benjamin Franklin left a great legacy, including this question:
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
We’ve all heard the saying that “time is money,” but it’s clear that Benjamin Franklin knew better. He knew that you could use your time to make money, but you couldn’t just go out and use money to buy yourself more time.
That makes time far more precious, and that’s why he extolls us to use it wisely.
If you have time to do the things you love, like your favorite hobbies and activities, you could even be a lot happier than a billionaire who has to work and worry about money all the time!
6) You’re optimistic.
Do you remember Mary Lou Retton, the American gold medal-winning gymnast who became a superstar in the 1980s?
She was known for her incredible athleticism, but even more so for her smile and positive attitude, which always shone through regardless of whether she won or lost at her events.
While this was probably a natural characteristic for her, it grew into a philosophy. In her words, “Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.”
Even if you don’t have a great job, a nice car, or even one thin dime to your name, you can still find yourself happy. It might just take an optimistic attitude toward the future to keep you smiling your whole life long.
7) You’re not jealous.
Well, maybe the word is envious, but we seem to use them interchangeably these days.
What I mean is that when someone else has a great house or a cool gadget, you don’t turn green with envy, wishing you had it and not them.
Being envious or jealous is not the way to happiness by any means.
French writer François de La Rochefoucauld had this figured out in the 15th century when he wrote, “Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.”
In other words, envy is a dead-end that you can get trapped in.
But if you’re not jealous at all and can instead be genuinely happy for other people and celebrate their successes rather than begrudge them, it’s a sign you’re truly happy in life even if you’re not successful yourself.
8) You’re enthusiastic about life.
Do you bound out of bed in the morning, throw open the curtains, and whistle happy tunes to the bluebirds on your windowsill?
Are you excited about every new day ahead of you and the promises the future brings?
If you are, you’re likely a very happy person.
Because most people are actually not as enthusiastic about life as this.
So many of us wake up with a groan and a grumble of, “Another day, another…” whatever the case may be.
This is even more common in older people who’ve seen a lot and think they’ve seen it all and have little to get excited about or look forward to.
But people who are enthusiastic about life are really loving it whether they’re sick or healthy, old or young, poor or wealthy.
9) You feel gratitude.
You’ve probably heard about “practicing gratitude,” and it’s something many experts recommend to improve feelings of depression or dissatisfaction.
Practicing gratitude is actually taking time and consciously thinking through all the things you feel you should be grateful for in your life.
As German philosopher Eckhart Tolle puts it, “Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
You can achieve these feelings of gratitude in two different ways.
You can practice gratitude, which is essentially telling yourself again and again that you should be thankful for any and all good things in your life, however minor or trivial.
This is a sort of fake it ‘til you make it exercise, but it does work.
Or you can simply feel gratitude.
You might be a person who just naturally feels grateful whenever you notice something good comes into your life. And if you’re one of these people, I’m sure you’re truly happy in life regardless of your wealth or station.
It seems like most people measure success by where you live, what you have, and how much money you make. They expect these things to make their lives happy.
But as you can see from these nine signs, you’re truly happy in life, even if you’re not successful, that’s not the only way it works. Anyone can attain true happiness in life, no matter who or what they are.