Top 5 Secrets of Happy People

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By Stacey Rose, LCSW, PhD

Happiness is a funny thing; something we all want.  Yet, how do you know when you are really happy?  Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, writes that most of us don’t know what truly makes us happy.  He challenges people to figure out they had only ten more minutes to live.  He says most of us probably haven’t done that thing today.  What would you do if you had only ten more minutes?

Many people think they know what will make them happy.  “I will be happy when…”  I’m sure you can fill in the blank.  But would that thing actually bring happiness?  After talking to hundreds of people over the years about their joys and sorrows, I offer their “secrets” about what makes them genuinely happy.  

  • Their beliefs and behaviors are in sync.  When our actions match our beliefs, we are at peace.  If, for example, you believe in staying in shape but never go to the gym, you will likely feel conflicted, not happy.  But if you value staying in shape and work out regularly, you already know one of the secrets!

  • If you accomplish at least one task on your “to do” list each day; you have a better chance of being happy.  Make sure there are achievable goals on your list, at least take a step toward accomplishing one task.  Any movement in the right direction is better than no movement.

  • When you take out time just for self care each day, you will be happier.  This could mean meeting a friend for lunch, spending some time on facebook, getting a massage, going for a run, listening to your favorite music or even staying in the shower for an extra five minutes.  

  • Happy people are appreciative of others.  They stop to thank their friends, family, and co-workers for the little things.  Happy people are grateful for these little things and show that gratitude; even when life is challenging.  Actually, this is the most important time to be grateful, when life is not going according to your plan-stop and find what you appreciate, even in the midst of a storm.

  • Play!!!! Whatever “play” means to you; make sure you stop your routine and find time to have fun, laugh and relax.  Even adults need to play!

If you incorporate these “secrets” into your life you will definitely be happier than you are now.  So, if you had only ten more minutes to live, what would you do?  You might want to go do that right now…