What do happy people think about the world and life in general? This is a question that’s occupied the minds of many philosophers, psychologists, and everyday people for centuries.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But there are some common themes that emerge when we look at the perspectives of happy people.
In this article, I’ll discuss these common themes. Hopefully, they can help you shift your perspective and develop that enviable mindset of people who always stay upbeat and positive.
Let’s dive in!
1) Happy people see the world as a good place
Is the world getting worse? Are there more bad people than good people these days?
It certainly might feel that way, what with violence, crimes, war, discrimination, and many other disturbing events happening everywhere.
But despite all of these, happy people still see the world as a good place, or at least a place where there are more good people than bad.
Remember what Mr. Rogers said about helpers?
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
If you ask me, that’s incredibly hard to do. It’s natural for our brains to focus on the bad instead of the good. We tend to give more weight to negative experiences, emotions, and information than positive ones.
But happy people are able to bypass this “negativity bias.” Which means they have a more positive outlook. Where a negative person sees disaster, a happy person sees hope.
Happy folks also tend to have a more compassionate and empathetic view of the world. They understand that everyone has their own struggles and challenges, so they try to see things from other people’s perspectives.
This empathy can help them form deeper and more meaningful relationships with others, and it can also help them feel more connected to the world around them.
For example, a happy person might volunteer at a homeless shelter or donate to a charity that helps disadvantaged children. This act of kindness can help them to feel more connected to their community, and it can also give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
In short, they are the helpers!
2) They think most people are honest and have good intentions
When you’re a helper, or at least someone who focuses on the good instead of the bad, you’re naturally more inclined to think that people are well-intentioned.
You know the saying, “What you think about people says more about you than them”? That certainly applies here.
When you’re anxious and unhappy, you’re more likely to see others as untrustworthy or deceitful. But when you’re a happy person who wants to do the right thing, you believe most people do, too.
This trusting attitude makes happy people feel happier and more satisfied with their lives. In fact, according to research, there’s a strong correlation between happiness and trust.
3) They expect good things to happen
Still on the topic of positivity, another way that happy people see the world differently is this – the expectation of good things.
I admit that this has never been my strong suit. For years, I adopted the mindset of “Don’t expect anything; that way, you’ll never be disappointed.”
But that kind of mindset made me a cynical person.
Whenever bad things happened, I would smirk and say, oh well, that’s life. I was indeed never disappointed, but I noticed that little by little, I was becoming a bitter person, someone who believed that life would never go the way she wanted it to go.
And that’s not who I wanted to be.
So I tried the opposite thing – I dared to hope.
And the beautiful thing about daring to hope is that you put positive energy out there. That’s bound to attract positive energy as well.
Do I still get disappointed? Of course, life is full of ups and downs. But it’s something I’ve learned to deal with.
And you know what? That occasional feeling of disappointment is still a thousand times better than feeling jaded and cynical!
4) They accept pain as a natural part of life
This is what I mean when I say that I’ve learned to handle disappointment.
See, that little shift in perspective has taught me that yes, there will always be people who hurt me, goals I fail to reach, and all that…but it’s all good because, well, that’s life.
And this time, I mean it in a good way. As in, that’s life – it’s full of lessons to be learned.
Do you see the difference? Where I used to say, “That’s life,” in a downcast, weary way, I now say it with an expansive mindset. I now embrace life with all its pain and hurt and disappointment because it all helps me grow as a person.
This way of thinking has increased my happiness exponentially.
5) They feel a sense of control
This is another natural effect of accepting that life is a rollercoaster. Yes, it might be a wild ride, but once you accept that, you’ll feel an amazing sense of control.
Happy people have nailed that balance between positivity and acceptance of things they can’t control. Strangely, that makes them feel like they’re in charge of their life!
Let me share a quick story to show you what I mean.
When the pandemic hit, I had to close down my business that I’d painstakingly built for nearly a decade. That plunged me into a state of anxiety and depression, which I’m sure many people around the world shared. I had no idea how to cope – my life was suddenly thrown into disarray, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Or so I thought.
Once I accepted that I couldn’t do anything about the pandemic and the fact that my business wasn’t going to make it through the lockdown, I started looking at other things to do.
That acceptance put me back in the driver’s seat. If I’d stayed in my bed refusing to accept what had happened, I would probably still be there, weeping and wailing about how life is so unfair.
I would not be the happy person I am today, who sees every day as a gift, a chance to explore what else I could do to grow.
6) They think the present moment is a gift
Do you have a lot of regrets? Feeling stuck in the past? Or are you always worrying about the future?
Take your cue from happy people. They are firmly grounded in the present, knowing that every moment is a gift.
How does this kind of thinking affect your level of happiness? Well, focusing on the present moment allows you to savor positive experiences and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
You’ll also be more mindful of how you interact with other people, and that leads to stronger and better relationships.
7) They think meaning, not material things, is more important
With the whole world associating success with achievement, wealth, and recognition, it’s no wonder many of us think this way:
- “I’ll be happy when I can afford to buy that designer handbag.”
- “If only I could get that promotion, then I would finally be happy.”
- “Once I can afford that big house, then I’ll be truly happy.”
- “I’ll be happy when I can go on a luxury vacation to a five-star resort.”
- “If only I could upgrade to the latest iPhone, then I would be satisfied.”
- “Once I can buy that expensive watch, then I’ll feel like I’ve made it.”
But not happy people. Sure, they may appreciate and enjoy the trappings of success, but they aren’t attached to them.
That’s because they prioritize meaningfulness – things like great relationships, personal growth, purposeful work – over external (and fleeting) symbols of status.
Research shows that happy people have a stronger sense of personal identity and self-worth, and that makes them less prone to seeking validation or status.
They live life according to their values, which gives them a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment.
8) They view the world through a spiritual lens
That focus on meaningfulness instead of material things only happens because happy people have a sense of spirituality.
They view the world through a spiritual lens – which means they believe that they are connected to something larger than themselves.
This might include a spiritual belief, a sense of connection to nature, or a feeling of interconnectedness with other people.
So instead of seeing the world as a harsh place where every man needs to fend for himself, they see it as a place of interconnectedness, meaning, and purpose.
Whatever their spiritual inclination is, it allows them to see the world with a sense of awe and wonder, feeling grateful and appreciative of the world around them.
9) They are grateful for both good and bad things
Does this sound like some namby-pamby BS? Hmm…I see how it might, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Remember when I said that happy people have a positive outlook and a quiet acceptance when things go wrong? This is connected to that. That’s how they can have an attitude of gratitude no matter the circumstances.
Here’s an example of how a happy person approaches the good and the bad:
Got a promotion? “Yes, I’m over the moon – let’s go and celebrate!”
Didn’t get the promotion? “That sucks, but it’s a good time to see where I need to improve.”
See how the positive and grateful tone stays constant even under opposing circumstances?
That doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a conscious decision. Which leads me to my next point…
10) They believe that happiness is a decision
Finally, we get to the overarching worldview of happy people, and it’s all about choice.
Happy people choose to be happy, period.
This is one of the things I learned in Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.”
But if you browse through other happiness-themed books, you’ll find that their common thread is this: YOU have to decide to be happy.
Here’s the truth: bad things happen often, and you can choose to be miserable about them or find a way to be happy despite them.
I know it’s easier said than done. We’re human beings after all – we have moods and emotions that can be difficult to identify and navigate.
But when we make conscious choices to develop positive habits and attitudes, we can grow to be happy people, even in the face of adversity. We can learn to see the world in a softer light, appreciating the diversity and beauty it has to offer us.