March 7

12 Steps to Joy – The Top Habits of Happy People


Smile! We’re talking about joy today, and mastering the art. When it comes down to it, there really isn’t an art.

Happiness looks different for people all over the place, and there isn’t some key that unlocks the door to a palace of pure bliss where everything is always rainbows and butterflies.

I’m certain I don’t have to explain that to you. Fortunately, if we want to turn happiness into something of a science, we can deduce a few habits of truly happy people as roughly the same across the boards.


Ask yourself: “Am I happy?” It’s a vague term with a lot of room for interpretation, but I encourage you to take a few moments to contemplate where your happiness lies and moreover if you’re indulging that enough.

Are you creating space to let joy in? We inherently set limits for ourselves, and we hold out on the daily practices that increase our fulfillment, our gratitude and our overall good spirit.

In fact, there are some key things that also tend to universally hold us back from unleashing our true happiness.

These habits don’t need to be put into force at full-speed and altogether, but just adding some mindfulness to your ethos can make a huge difference in where you find bliss and how much of it that you take away, hold on to and give back to others.

1. Get grateful


More importantly, make it a point to stay grateful. Gratitude is a simple practice, and all it takes is a moment each day to reflect on what you feel appreciative for.

In the big picture, it offers us perspective and allows us to make room for positive thinking. We can master the ability to focus on what’s good in our lives rather than dwelling on what isn’t going right.

Perhaps even more importantly, it gives us a new frame of reference on our past experience so that we can see the good outcomes of what we’ve struggled with and place value on to those things we’d otherwise feel resentful towards.

My favorite ways to practice gratitude include gratitude journaling and meditations focused on loving-kindness or thankfulness.

2. Move past the past


The past holds us down more than we realize. Our past experience establishes habit patterns in us which can even become addictive.

Our past relationships determine our current relationships if we’re still holding on to old grudges. Moreover, they can present us with big trust issues which harden us enough to impact the depth of our relationships with ourselves and others.

All of these things prevent us from tapping into happiness at its fullest. If you’re harboring anything that looks like anger, resentment, or unresolved pain, it’s time to work through it.

Dismantle habits that are so ingrained in you that you’ve stopped even giving yourself the choice to say yes or no.

One of the best tips? Realize that making amends does not necessarily require the other party, even if that party is an actual person.

Coming to terms with your gripes can be done on your own, and forgiveness can happen individually if that person is unwilling to participate or cooperate. Remember that if you’re trying to tie up loose ends with an ex, an old friend or a toxic family member.

3. Avoid gossip


It’s tempting, but it’s incredibly unrewarding and has some serious negative side effects. Happy people don’t find joy in talking down on others. In fact, it probably tends to bring them down.

Here’s a classic quote to sum things up: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Increase the meaning of your conversations!

Talking about other people doesn’t connect us to the people we interact with. Rather, it drives us apart further. More meaningful conversations will help us help ourselves, help others and learn more about the world around us!

It will help us to grow. When we get caught up in gossip and small talk, we never feel that social fullness that offers us contentment and gratification, plus deeper relationships overall.

If I’m in a group of people who are gosipping, I try to change the topic of conversation to something we can all easily talk about, or something funny and lighthearted instead of participating.

If I don’t succeed, I simply remove myself from the conversation! Like I said, gossip can be tempting. Rise above it.

4. Socialise (and prioritise it!)


If socialization feels like a frivolous expense of sorts to you, think again. Happy people have close friends and they speak with them often.

Happy people also tend to find themselves engaged in working groups, involved in the process of giving their time and energy towards a cause alongside a team. Volunteering is, after all, a key factor in longevity!

Having friends who we feel deeply, truly connected to is important to overall fulfillment, and getting to do that often enough is important. It’s fantastic to have one-on-one time as well as group gatherings.

Find people who can bridge the gap between silly conversation and intellectual conversation because laughing is the best medicine!

My friend group gets together 1-4 times per week for different reasons. Sometimes, it’s for community organization and “work,” while other times, it’s just for a potluck and board games.

Try organizing themed nights that tend to work for your friend group week after week, and use Facebook to create events where you can invite people – that way, they won’t forget! We know people get busy.

Lastly, if you’ve made big moves in your life or have friends and family far away, aim to use Skype or Facetime more often. It really helps the distance.

5. Quiet time and deep breaths


Sound familiar? I’m talking about meditation. I’ve touched on why meditation is so fantastic for numerous reasons on this blog, and there’s no doubt that happiness is one of the most convincing.

While meditation can be hard to “master,” letting go of the need to be perfect with it and just doing it every day can bring on the true joy you had no idea existed within you.

Deep breaths, quiet space and a platform to just accept and watch your thoughts come and go helps the individual to come to terms with what’s bothering them, background stressors and actual, physical surroundings instead of trying to control thoughts, push them away or become reactive to them.

My tip? Prioritize meditation. Put it in your planner, on your calendar or set an alarm. It should be as important as eating breakfast or brushing your teeth, and it’s easy to push to the wayside.

The happy benefits are too good to pass up, so don’t! Everyone has ten minutes per day to spare.

6. Sweat it out


Exercise is actually proven to make you happy. Runner’s high, anybody? It works, and you don’t need a whole lot of it to reap the benefits at all.

Many people exercise towards aesthetic goals, but keeping in mind that running, lifting, yoga, swimming or anything you really like to do will offer you a little break in the day for just you while releasing some happy chemicals in the brain is enough reason to keep hitting the gym, the mat or the trail.

See? It’s really for everyone, and we can all find a little way to sweat it out that brings a smile to our face.

My tip to you is to keep it interesting. Some days, running does not make me happy even though I know it will later. I find a balance, instead!

A walk can boost endorphins too, and you don’t need to carve out a whole hour in the gym to reap the benefits of that. 20 minutes can take your mood from a 7 to a 10, no problem. Our 30-day squat challenge might be a good place to start. Full disclosure: it BURNS.

7. Catch some real zzz’s


You don’t like yourself when you’re sleepy, and most other people probably don’t either. It’s hard to be happy when you can’t keep your eyes open.

We end up grumpy, treating people and ourselves worse and going through life putting forth a tad bit less effort because… well, it’s hard to go hard when you’re exhausted.

Moreover, it impacts our decisions and tears at our willpower, meaning we’re more likely to feel less inhibited to make good choices. Hello, snoozy sugar cravings! It might seem obvious, but if you’re doing everything right and you’re still dragging a bit, perhaps your sleep is suffering.

It’s a matter of quality and quantity, so it’s worth patching up the rough spots. Happy people’s favorite time of day is bedtime – but don’t quote me on that.

If you need any help catching up or feeling enthusiastic about sprucing up your sleep pattern, check out our free 7-day sleep challenge which is loaded with helpful and actionable resources!

8. Love yourself!


I hardly want to dig this cliche into anyone’s head today, but in order to love anyone else – or your job, the place you live, your art or your hobbies – you’ve gotta love yourself first!

Think back to a time when you were really down on your luck. Think of a time in which you blamed yourself for x, y and z even if those things had nothing to do with you. Think back to a time when you put ideas in your head because of your own inability to love yourself.

Can you remember how difficult it was to create space to let anything else in, let alone passion, affection and unconditional love for something or someone else? It’s quite the impossibility.

Love for yourself will wax and wane, but keeping it intact and practizing methods of self-care to cultivate love and compassion for YOU are such important habits to practice daily for happiness.

9. Grow your mindset


Adapting to a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset is a necessary part of keeping your happiness levels consistent and consistently growing – hence the name.

A fixed mindset allows us to grow complacent and ambivalent about it; we are where we are, and we may as well be happy there because where else is there to go? UP! That’s where!

It’s okay to sit back and relax sometimes, but generally speaking, we should always be seeking ways to improve ourselves. Humans aren’t designed to reach a point in which they’ve completed the process.

We are constantly growing and changing, and we have to be receptive to what that means. What can help you move forward? If you’re stuck, get unstuck. If you don’t like where you are, move. If you’re unhappy, get happy.

I personally like to keep tabs on my progress by writing a lot and bullet journaling, which offers me some perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise.

It can help me see how far I’ve come, and where I might like to adjust now. Beyond setting long-term goals and working towards them with short-term objectives, setting long-term goals and working towards them with short-term objectives, it’s all about taking inventory and seeing what you have more or less of now.

This is bound to change, and we have to recognize that in order to also change.

10. Be honest


Liar, liar, pants on fire… and who the heck is happy when they’re on fire? Nobody, and especially if the pants you were wearing were pants you really liked.

Beyond the sea of flames, lying tears away at our integrity, our relationships and other people’s ability to trust us. It never quite goes away, either. Many lies will turn into multiple lies over time, or grow in size the longer they extend.

It becomes a matter of keeping up appearance which is a pain. Being authentic requires us to also be truthful, noble, vulnerable and real. It helps us to establish a healthy relationship with ourselves and our own dialogue, which inevitably gets muddled  – especially in the day and age of sharing on social media.

Keep it genuine and watch your joy blossom. Truth brings us peace, acceptance and transformation.

Here’s a quote I really love that touches more on acceptance: “More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.” Owning up to our experience whether it is good or bad has amazing benefits for our wellbeing!

11. Say what you think – if it’s nice!


This is a simple and effective one. Happy people are the ones telling you that you look nice today, or that your work is really well done. If you have something nice to say, just say it.

We don’t go around just telling people what’s so awesome about them enough. You’re going to make someone’s day, and knowing that is going to make your day. It’s a simple equation.

This also extends to taking opportunities to help other people. If you can make a difference, it goes without saying that actions speak louder than words (and might even make us happier!).

12. Positive thinking


Think happy thoughts! Positive thinking works for obvious reasons. It allows us to turn negative thoughts into happy ones, generally approach things with a more optimistic outlook and see value in things we would otherwise deem worthless.

It helps us to cultivate compassion for ourselves and the people around us while also becoming solution-oriented. It’s a good sign of emotional intelligence and maturity which generally increases our ability to tolerate stress and conflict.

My number one tip for becoming a positive thinker would be to meditate regularly. That’s basically what it’s made for, or it certainly makes it easier to do! Once you make it a habit, it becomes quite second nature.

I hope you found a little smile in this article. Let’s hear from you – what’s YOUR key habit to happiness? Share this with someone who could use a boost. Share this article on Pinterest from here.

12 Steps To Joy - The Top Habits Of Happy People


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