Have you ever wondered why are some people are happier than others? Were they born this way or is it something that they do? It turns out that it’s a bit of both. In 2005, researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M. Sheldon, and David Schkade, found that happiness can be attributed to three main factors:
- 50% from genetics,
- 10% from life circumstances, and
- 40% from intentional activity
These percentages are approximate values. In reality, it’s probably a bit different, depending on the person and their circumstances. But the important point is that we do have some control over our happiness levels.
So, what can we do to increase our happiness? It takes work, but it can be done. To make it easier, make it a habit to be happy. Habits are the things you do every day, without even thinking about it. They are automatic and part of your routine. “Happiness can be successfully pursued, but it is not ‘easy’” – Sonja Lyubomirsky and Kennon M. Sheldon
So, which habits should we cultivate? I’ve created a list to help you out. Most of the habits on the list below can be applied to both introverts and extroverts. However, since I am an introvert, I have included a few habits that are specifically for introverts.
Here are 25 powerful habits that make people happy.
1. They find alone time
As an introvert, I am so happy to put this at the top of the list! Alone time is crucial for introverts to regain their energy. If we don’t get enough, we become stressed, annoyed at every little thing and we can’t think. If you need to, schedule alone time in your calendar. Pretend that it is an appointment that you can’t cancel or reschedule. After you have had your alone time, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and feel the calmness in your body.
2. They manage their energy
When you have energy, it is so much easier to be happy. Energy management is a delicate balance for most introverts. Too much social time can leave you feeling drained. Too much alone time can leave you feeling disconnected. A quick tip is to use a calendar – whether it’s paper or digital. That way you can easily see what’s coming up. Too many social events on your calendar will mean that you have to either cancel some events or plan extra alone time. Do what works for you and your life.
3. They savour the moment
Savouring is another way to say “be present in the moment”. Pay attention to the details of what is going on around you. Notice what is going right. Notice the beauty in everything you can see. What can you see? A smile on someone’s face, the wind blowing in the trees. What can you hear? Children laughing, music playing on the radio.
4. They practice gratitude daily
Daily gratitude is a simple practice. Start by grabbing a journal or a notebook that you can write in every day. Then write down three things that you were grateful for that day. When you are grateful, you appreciate what you already have. Daily gratitude increases positive emotions (like happiness and satisfaction with life), allows for better sleep and makes people more compassionate. The benefits are amazing!
5. They seek to find balance in life
Stay busy, but don’t rush. Speaking from personal experience, when I’m rushed to finish something quickly, I become very stressed. Research backs this up. Whew! Research also shows that if you aren’t busy enough, you become bored and unhappy. When trying to find that balance between boredom and rushed, ask yourself how it makes you feel. If it doesn’t interest or excite you, then say no.
6. They focus on what they can control
It’s important to recognize what you CAN and what you CANNOT control. When you focus on what you can control, you will feel more satisfied and empowered. That’s because you have more power to determine the outcome.
7. They celebrate successes – big and small
Learn how to celebrate your own and other people’s successes. There are two main benefits of celebrating success. One, it’s a powerful motivator because it rewards hard work. Two, the celebration is a way of showing appreciation for effort and achievement. So, how do happy people celebrate? They celebrate by telling everyone of the achievement/success, by rewarding themselves and others with play time, and by tracking success. Yeah!
8. They are kind
Kindness is contagious. Have you ever noticed that if someone in front of you holds the door open for you, then you are more likely to do the same for someone else? Imagine what the world would look like if everyone was just a bit more kind to everyone around them. When I picture this world in my mind, I can hear Louis Armstrong singing the lyrics, “What a wonderful world that would be.”
9. They have developed a positive mindset
A positive mindset doesn’t mean that you ignore or don’t talk about bad stuff. Instead, it means being realistic. Instead of dwelling on how bad a problem is, try focusing on solutions and what you can learn from the situation. Not only will you learn resilience, but over time you will improve your life and be happier.
10. They manage their relationships
Relationships take work; they don’t just happen. If you are thinking about someone, reach out to them. Keep the lines of communication open and talk about problems. It may be uncomfortable at times, but in the long run, your relationships will be healthier and happier!
11. They have meaningful conversations
Yes – another thing that introverts love! Conversations that have substance help to build an emotional connection between people. It’s this feeling of connection that leads to happiness. Having trouble getting the conversation started? Consider using some conversation starters. The best part is that they can be really fun, even with people you already know!
12. They help others
It feels good when we help other people. Plus, it fosters connections by supporting each other. One important point to note: helping others has to be done in a balanced way – one that allows time for others and for alone time for ourselves.
13. They get enough sleep
When we are well rested, it is easier to deal with everything that comes our way. But in a busy life, getting good quality sleep can be a challenge. To get a good night’s sleep it helps to avoid the following things an hour before bedtime: screen times (including phones, tablets and computers), exercising, eating or drinking and bright lights. Stick to a regular bed time and do something relaxing before going to bed, like meditation or reading.
14. They get outside in nature
Studies show that nature decreases stress, reduces fatigue and increases creativity. All of these things combine will, of course, make you happier. These studies compared groups of people – one group spent time walking in nature and the second group spent the same amount of time walking in urban centers. Both groups got the same amount of exercise at the same difficulty level. The outcome? The group in nature were less stressed and felt happier!
15. They exercise regularly
Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals endorphins and dopamine, which reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise also increases your strength, increases energy levels and improves your overall fitness. This makes it easier to do everyday activities. Of course, this leads to the question, are some exercises better than others? Not really. You will get different benefits from different exercises, but it’s more important that you do something you like. Go for a walk by yourself to reconnect to your thoughts or do a group exercise like tennis or baseball.
16. They view problems as challenges
Attitude makes a huge difference. If a person sees everything as a problem, they will only see the obstacles and why they can’t do something. However, if a person sees it as a challenge, then they will seek out solutions. They will be more open to trying different methods to accomplish their goals.
17. They know what is important to them
When you know what is important to you, it is easy to say no to everything that isn’t important. When you focus on what’s important, you will be more satisfied with your life. One tip is to write down a list of the top 10 things that are important to you – family, health, career, personal values etc. Examine your list to make sure you have included things that really ARE important – not what you think SHOULD BE important based on expectations of other people or your culture.
18. They are focused on personal growth
No matter what happens, they focus on the lessons that can be learned from that situation. What can you do better in the future? This mindset will leave you better able to cope and overcome challenges in the future.
19. They value experiences over stuff
Experiences can be anything from exploring a new town, joining a tennis club or even going to a concert. These experiences create happiness in three ways. One, during the planning stage we experience anticipation of the event. Two, we enjoy the event itself. Finally, experiences give you memories that will last forever. All of these items bring excitement and happiness to our lives.
20. They try new things
As the saying goes, “novelty is the spice of life”. It can be comfortable to stick with the things you already know and love. You already know what to expect, but repetition can get a little boring. So, try new things in order to add excitement and variety to your life. Give it a try. You never know – you might find something new that you really love!
21. They make time for fun
Having fun has many benefits because fun helps you relax. When you are relaxed, your stress levels reduce, your creativity and productivity levels increase and your ability to concentrate improves. Having fun doesn’t need to require a lot of time, effort or money. Open yourself up to being spontaneous and creative. What will you do for fun today?
22. They avoid making comparisons
Social media makes it very easy to compare ourselves to others. However, it’s important to remember that what you see on social media is curated. Often, people only show the happy moments and not the hardships. Everyone has ups and downs, joy and sadness. Therefore, it’s important to avoid comparing yourself to someone else because you aren’t able to see the whole picture of their life.
23. They are around other happy people
Moods are contagious. If someone is negative and grumpy, it’s hard to keep a positive and happy mood. It’s not realistic to only be around happy people. Not everyone is happy all the time. However, if you find yourself around a lot of negative people, then make sure to spend some time with happy people, even if it’s listening to a podcast.
24. They have learnt how to let go
Stop overthinking about past events or worrying about the future. Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect all the time. Be gentle with yourself. Learn from your mistakes, so you can avoid them in the future. One tip to help you let go is to refocus your mind by repeating a positive mantra to yourself. The next time you find it hard to let go, repeat to yourself, “Let the past go. Focus on where you want to go.”
25. They talk to their self with love
I love this piece of advice from Brene Brown, “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” So, stop being so hard on yourself. Talk to yourself with kindness and positivity. For example, if you make a mistake, instead of beating yourself up, you can say to yourself, “Self, listen up! Everyone makes mistakes. It’s going to be okay.” Repeat it as often as you need to help you get through the situation. When you are kinder to yourself, you will feel better and happier about yourself.
I’m curious to know which habits do you already practice? Which ones will you start practicing?
Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!