Editors note: This is a guest post written by Judy Belmont (www.judybelmont.com) a mental health and wellness media expert, author and speaker.
“True wealth comes not from having more but in wanting less.” – The Augusta Chronicle
“When I finish school I’ll be happy.”
“When I get married I’ll be happy.”
“When I get divorced I’ll be happy.”
“When I move I’ll be happy.”
“When I’ll get a new job I’ll be happy.”
“When my kids finally get settled I’ll be happy.”
The list goes on and on. There is no shortage of enticements that give us the illusion that our happiness depends on something outside of ourselves.
We are constantly barraged by advertisements and commercials that support the notion we need what they have to be more popular, prettier, cooler, and successful. It seems as if our happiness depends on it!
The irony is that we are all too often looking for happiness in all the wrong places, just as singer Kenny Rodgers laments that we do for love.
In fact studies have shown that people are notoriously bad at predicting what makes them happy. After the initial “high” of having achieved what they thought would bring them happiness, the level of satisfaction levels off when they become habituated to the new norm.
While many of us can not help but be tempted to look outwardly for our happiness, hinging so much on money, success, status and acquisitions, research has repeatedly shown that as long as basic needs for food, shelter, and loving relationships exist, happiness depends more on what goes on between our ears than anything else.
So, instead of looking “out there” for positive feelings start looking at what’s going on “in here,” between your own two ears.
One way to do this is to learn some common habits of happy people.
Here are the lessons we can learn from the healthy habits of happy people:
1. Have a sense of control
They focus more on changing what they can rather than feeling stuck and immobilized trying to change the things they can’t. Rather than being like a fly banging repeatedly against a closed window, they accept what can’t be changed and focus more on what they can do about it. They refuse to live in the land of “If Onlys,” What ifs,” and “Woudla Coulda Shouldas.”
2. Be optimistic
Happy people are optimistic. They do not defeat themselves with exaggerated or irrational thinking habits that immobilize less healthy people. They stick more to the facts, and less to interpretations and judgments that lead to self-labeling with derogatory terms, such as “loser” “lazy” “bad” or ”selfish.”
3. Be a “victor” not a “victim”
They have healthy self-talk, and think in “victor” language and not “victim “ language. Instead of blaming others for “pushing their buttons” they take responsibility for their own reactions and realize their buttons are their own business and in their control.
4. Build and Grow Social Connections
As they age, happy people widen their social network instead of having it shrink. They continue to meet new people, make new friends, share interests with others, experience new things, and reach out to others for support. As people in their life fade and transition, they never stop making new connections and opportunities for sharing. They refuse to be “rocks” or “islands” separate from others.
5. Live in the moment
Happy people tend to be present focused. They are mindful of life around them in the present, and do not live in their yesterdays or hold out for a better tomorrow. They learn from the past, and use it as a guidepost and not a hitching post. They know what is done is done, and reworking the past will not change the outcome. They prefer to focus on making today count.
6. Accept what cannot be changed
Happy people accept the fact that life is not fair. They realize that no one ever promised them a rose garden, and if they did, they were wrong. Instead, they focus in sowing the seeds of their own happiness without a sense of entitlement.
7. Seek out meaning and purpose
The habit of proactivity, rather than reactivity, sets the stage for an involved life in which happy people feel a sense of importance and commitment to things outside of themselves. They want to help the world be a better place and don’t leave it up to chance or “wishing and hoping” to make a difference in the world.
8. Forgive and let go of negativity
There is no place for bitterness and grudges in the habits of happy people. They realize that forgiveness is a gift they give to themselves by not having negativity and bitterness take hold of their attitudes. They love themselves too much to want to be harboring such negativity.
9. Have respect and compassion for self and others
Happy people tend to be self-confident and communicate tactfully and assertively. They express their feelings and thoughts honestly without undue fear of being critiqued or being judged as “wrong.” They respect themselves and others, and their goal is not to change others, just themselves.
10. Know you are worthy of happiness
Happy people like themselves. They feel good about themselves, are proud of who they are and accept themselves, flaws and all. They are not too embarrassed to think of themselves as just totally awesome and remarkable.
11. Be hopeful and resilient
Happy people keep hope alive. Rather than be defined by their mistakes, failures and disappointments, they hold hope that they can learn from these setbacks and do not keep their negative thoughts on life support. No matter what, there is hope for a better day. They make every day a new beginning and a fresh start, using lessons learned to start anew, wiser than the day before.
What about you? How many of these habits do you have? I would love to hear! Do you possess these habits of happy people? The more of these habits you have, the more you will find happiness in your life!
This is a guest post written by Judy Belmont (Twitter @judybelmont). Judy is a mental health and wellness media expert, author and speaker. She is a licensed psychotherapist and the co-author of the newly released “The Swiss Cheese Theory of Life!” On www.judybelmont.com she offers tips and resources for creating a positive life, including original pictorial quotes called Daily Positive Inspirations.