We ought to start giving happy people a little more credit.
Incessant culture wars, actual wars, a global pandemic, and high-interest debt–the state of the world makes it incredibly easy to be cynical and bitter.
The genuinely happy person has to actively overcome all this, something that may not always come automatically or naturally to them.
They put the work in to stay happy–through daily habits and maintaining optimistic ways of thinking.
In this article, I’ll outline the things genuinely happy people say “yes” to in everyday life.
If you want to start being more joyous, it’s in your interest to start developing these behaviors.
Let’s jump in!
From my experience, comparison is the thief of joy (or at least one of them.)
We live in a social media-dominant world–one almost tailor-made for comparison.
Think about it: with everyone posting their best lives online, it’s difficult not to juxtapose our own situations and long for better circumstances.
If we’re not careful, we can end up in a perpetual loop of discontent.
The genuinely happy person doesn’t typically have this problem.
They make it a point to regularly prioritize and express gratitude.
Maybe they keep a gratitude journal or simply mindfully acknowledge the things they are thankful for in life–whether that’s as basic as having food on the table or a roof over their head.
By staying grateful, they stay grounded, with their priorities largely in order.
Unlike many of us, they tend to consistently focus on what they do have in life rather than dwell on what they perceive to be lacking.
2) Acts of kindness
Did you know that one of the more significant contributors to human happiness comes through being generous?
Yet feeling good is by no means the sole motivator for the genuinely happy person’s willingness to help others (neither is gaining likes on Instagram.)
Genuinely happy people want to help because they can; they have a built-in sense of empathy and are able to tap that energy frequently.
They have a humility about them–something that manifests as a compassion for humanity and easing people’s burdens.
They’re not holed up at home, suspicious of everyone on the outside. They believe in the inherent good of people.
So whether this means volunteering at the local homeless shelter or going out of their way to give someone a lift home, the happy person seems to often locate opportunities to express kindness towards others.
3) Healthy eating
You aren’t just what you eat. You’re how you eat too.
If you frequently gorge yourself on junk, processed, and fast food, this will gradually erode your well-being.
Happy people make conscious choices about what they put into their bodies. They seek sustenance that can feed their body, mind, and soul.
This means a balanced diet–and rarely eating to excess.
The people of Okinawa, Japan have the longest median life spans in the world.
For centuries, they have adopted the practice of ‘Ikigai’, which essentially means staying on top of their life’s purpose and cultivating the things that bring them inner contentment and peace.
In relation to eating, the principle of Ikigai is about savoring each bite, nurturing the body, and appreciating the connection between food and overall well-being, both physically and emotionally.
It means eating only until you’re 80 percent full and not giving into the all-too-easy habit of stuffing yourself into oblivion.
I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that the quarterpounder with fries is not a staple item in the Okinawan diet.
So if you want to get happier, making the appropriate dietary adjustments is an ideal place to start.
4) Regular exercise
In addition to eating right, happy people also tend to live physically active lives.
It’s no longer a state secret: exercise releases endorphins and contributes significantly to your overall level of health.
Earlier this year, I was in a bit of a funk.
Since I worked remotely, I didn’t urgently feel the need to leave the house much.
Hence, I lived an exceptionally sedentary life for a good three or four months.
My routine consisted of work, strolls to the fridge, and Netflix binges.
Being predisposed to things like worry and stress, this monotonous lifestyle exacerbated my anxiety considerably.
Also, being so physically inactive, I began developing random ailments and pains.
For instance, I started getting excruciating heartburn for the first time in my life.
To combat this sudden onslaught of discomfort, I instinctively knew what I had to do: get moving.
So, I renewed my gym membership.
Within minutes on the treadmill, I started to feel good. My anxieties began to fade shortly after. And over time, so did my heartburn.
Moral of the story? If you want to be truly happy, exercise and physical activity will almost always point you in the right direction.
Just this morning, as I rolled out of bed, I almost immediately opened up my laptop to start working.
But then I realized, I was still drowsy. I looked and felt disheveled, my eyes were still struggling to fully open.
I consciously told myself that it was too early to work; that I had to start prioritizing myself first thing in the morning, above all else.
So I decided to get fresh air in the park with my two dogs. Then I fixed myself a nourishing breakfast.
Once I completed all that, only then did I finally commence my work routine.
Self-care is a big deal.
Setting aside time for relaxation, self-reflection, and activities and hobbies that bring you joy should always be encouraged.
Sure, it’s admirable that you want to meet a deadline–but at the same time, if work obligations come at the expense of “me time” expect that to slowly chip away at you, whether consciously or not.
6) Quality time with friends or family
While being the lone wolf might sound cool in theory, this isn’t a sustainable practice.
The truth is, as far as your health is concerned, it’s far more beneficial to have loved ones around us than being routinely stuck in solitude.
Nurturing relationships, loving, and being loved–all of these things are major boosters for our overall happiness levels.
And the happier we are, the healthier we are too.
Do you know what areas with long life spans have in common?
Whether in Okinawa or a tiny retirement community in the Mediterranean, one parallel is that there is almost always a powerful sense of community present.
Now nobody is saying you have to find a suitable mate and start a family in the next six months.
Simply having family or friends whom you care about enough to reach out to every now and then is far better than being endlessly alone.
Take it from the late literary icon C.S. Lewis: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
If you aren’t naturally an upbeat and cheery person, that’s fine. It really is never too late to change.
But don’t expect to turn into a member of the Brady Bunch overnight.
With dedicated, consistent, but simple alterations to your daily habits, you should notice a tangible difference sooner or later.
And when you do become genuinely happy, a whole new reality will open up to you–you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the shift sooner.
You got this.