Never regret anything that made you smile.
We all look for happiness in life but usually, it’s the very act of “looking” for it that’s the problem. Happiness isn’t an artifact to be found, it’s a state of mind. As such, it needs to be understood, worked toward, and achieved internally.
Happy people aren’t the ones who’ve just reached their dreams or have found what they were looking for – they are the people who’ve learned how to be happy, period. With that in mind, here are the 6 traits happy people have in common that might help you better understand what happiness means.
An optimistic realism
A lot of people mistake optimism with “blissful ignorance” as if optimists are just idiots who don’t understand how bad the world actually is. And some people are indeed quite ignorant and optimistic – that’s what it means to “wear rose-tinted glasses”.
We differentiate between happiness and blissful ignorance – the latter might be fun but it’s hardly something we’d wish upon anyone. Truly happy people who are aware of their state of mind are those who have a fully realistic view on the world but have learned to focus on the good in it, to strive for the good that’s to come in the future, and to draw energy from the good that has happened to them in the past.
A focus on the present
“Staying in the present” is a well-known piece of advice that we’ve all heard but few manage to put into practice. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t remember the past, nor that we shouldn’t have dreams or even fears about the future. It does mean, however, that we should be able to cast those aside when they’re not needed and focus on the present instead. There’s time to dream about your life goals, to prepare about possible problems in the future, or even to remember past regrets in order to learn from them. But those times are few and far between – most of the time happy people focus on the present and make the most of it.
A lack of remorse or regret
That does sound a bit psychopathic, doesn’t it? What it means is quite different. Happy people feel remorse and regret like everyone else – they feel sadness, they feel regret, they feel empathy and sympathy, and they also get anxious or depressed. What sets them apart, however, is their ability to put unhealthy and unproductive feelings behind them quickly, and move on to better things. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn to form your mistakes or that you shouldn’t care about others – only that you shouldn’t dwell on past errors. Never regret anything, especially if it made you smile, and as long as it didn’t hurt anyone else.
If you’ve ever heard an Eastern teacher, yoga master, or other philosopher talk about life and happiness, you’ve heard them talk about gratitude. People in the East, almost regardless of their cultural and religious differences, have always valued gratitude quite highly.
What they mean by gratitude isn’t just a vague sense of being thankful to the Universe or God for something – it’s a constant appreciation of all that’s good in your life. Practicing gratitude makes you more aware of the good things in your life – your spouse, your children, your work, the stable roof over your head, the technological marvel that brings clean water to your home every day, and the countless opportunities to make the future even better. And that brings happiness very easily.
Happy people’s lives are not perfect, far from it. But they know how to adapt.
They are kind to others
Life has a lot to offer but trying to fill your soul with nothing but personal goals and achievements always leaves one empty on the inside. It’s like cooking a meal with no spices – it never tastes well. That’s why every capable psychologist on the planet will tell you that the secret to fulfilling and long-lasting happiness lies in giving and not receiving. Empathy, kindness, and altruism – those things don’t mean that you should completely forget about yourself but they are the spice of life that truly makes one happy to be alive.
Life can throw everything your way – from minor professional inconveniences to full-blown health nightmares. Ever wonder how people like Nick Vujicic manage to stay so upbeat and joyful? How they manage to go on living with a problem that would make most people suicidal? It’s all about not only coming to terms with what has happened but being able to adapt to your new circumstances and make the most of them.