Happiness, it turns out, is a 50/50 roll of the genetic dice: Half of us are born with a predisposition for it. Those who aren’t are left with a choice: Do you want to live your life grumpy and pessimistic, predisposed to anxiety and depression, or do you want to adopt the specific ways that happy people think and act, which, when followed, absolutely makes up for the hereditary piece.
Here are the nine things happy people do that you could do – and if you do these things for 30 days, you’ll see a spike in your happiness. So let’s make this fun: Measure your happiness today at AuthenticHappiness.org (a verified tool by University of Pennsylvania) and again at day 30. And let me know what your results are!
1. Meaning: They have meaning and fulfillment in their lives. They contribute to something bigger than they are, whether it’s through family, career or charity. They believe they make a difference in the world.
2. Connection: They know they need others, and they prioritize their relationships. They may be tired at the end of the day, but they still answer their friend’s call, and they commit to and follow through on social obligations because they know that if they don’t water their tribe, their tribe won’t flourish.
3. Imperfection: They’re not playing the perfection game. They accept their faults. And they’re likely to laugh at them, which brings me to the next point:
4. Vulnerability: They engage in it (which is what allows them to laugh at themselves), because they know that without it, there can be no emotional intimacy. They unzip emotionally a little bit around their tribe, around the people who have earned the right to witness their vulnerability, and this leads to deep connection and fulfillment in relationships.
5. Gratitude: They don’t have perfect lives, but they regularly focus on the parts of their lives that they’re grateful for. One of my favorite dinnertime rituals is to ask, “What was your favorite part of today?”
6. Strengths: Happy people find a way to regularly tap into their strengths. I’m not great at editing my thoughts. But I’ve found a way of channeling my propensity for authenticity (also known as the absence of an editing process) in my career as a therapist and a writer. I feel better when I’m being brutally honest, when I’m not choking on my truth. If you’re a creative, find a way to utilize your creativity on at least a weekly basis, if not daily.
7. Passion: Here’s another way of tapping into your strengths if they’re not being utilized in your day job: Pick a hobby that coincides with your strengths. Or one that you just absolutely LOVE. Happy people tend to have hobbies that they’re obsessed with. Who knows which came first: Their happiness or the hobby, and who cares! Stay active, play, get messy, sweat, finger paint. Do something that makes you smile. Also, hobbies are a great way of finding the members of your tribe.
8. Humor: Happy people use laughter to lighten things up. Life can feel very heavy and serious. One of the first things I do with my clients is give them permission to laugh at themselves. I like to say that we have a 2-1 ratio of laughter to tears in my office.
9. EQ: Happy people are emotionally intelligent. If I were to boil this down to it’s most fundamental element, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify one’s emotional state and control one’s responses to those emotions.
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