When the Dalai Lama once said that the key to being happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go, he likely resonated with millions. This sums up one crucial trait of people who are genuinely happy: the power of choice.
But what are the other traits that set happy people apart? Is it their unwavering optimism? Their ability to find joy in the simplest things? The answer is yes, and then some more.
If you’ve ever wondered why some people seem to be perpetually cheerful, let’s dive into these twelve personality traits they usually share. Who knows, you might discover you have more in common with these gleeful souls than you initially thought.
1) They practice gratitude
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
People who exude happiness seem to understand this to their core. They’re often seen brimming with appreciation for the good in their lives, and they don’t just stop at feeling grateful—they express it.
Genuinely happy people maintain a gratitude journal, thank people for their contributions, or simply take a moment each day to acknowledge the good around them. From the first cup of coffee in the morning to the moon’s silver glow at night, they find joy in the ordinary, turning their daily lives into an extraordinary experience.
Their life may not be devoid of obstacles or grief, but their attitude isn’t dominated by these hardships. They have an incredible knack for turning their attention toward their blessings, rather than obsessing over their burdens.
2) They cultivate positive relationships
You may have noticed that genuinely happy people have a knack for surrounding themselves with other positive individuals. They understand the importance of a good support system and the role it plays in their overall well-being. This doesn’t mean they only hang out with those who are constantly happy—after all, life has its ups and downs. However, they choose to be with people who inspire, motivate, and uplift them.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Healthy and Social Behavior, the quality of your relationships has a significant impact on your happiness. The study found that “adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers.”
Happy individuals also understand the importance of reciprocity in relationships. They know that giving and receiving are equally important and they strive to contribute to their relationships just as much as they benefit from them.
3) They pursue their passions
Genuinely happy people have a zest for life that is deeply connected to their passions. They engage in activities that ignite their spirit and satisfy their soul. Whether it’s painting a landscape, running a marathon, cooking a gourmet meal, or simply curling up with a good book, these activities bring them immense joy and fulfillment.
One thing that sets happy people apart is that they don’t merely dream about their passions—they actively pursue them. They carve out time from their busy schedules to immerse themselves in what they love. This pursuit is not about monetary gain or social recognition, but rather about personal satisfaction and growth. It’s about living in the moment and celebrating life in all its glory.
When people engage in an activity they are passionate about, they experience what psychologists call ‘flow’—a state of complete absorption in the task at hand, where time seems to stand still. This state of flow is closely linked to happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned psychologist who extensively studied this phenomenon, found that people who regularly experience flow are more likely to report higher levels of happiness.
4) They embrace imperfection
In a world that’s often obsessed with perfection, genuinely happy people stand apart by embracing imperfection—both in themselves and others. They realize that to be human is to be flawed, and they’re comfortable with that.
They do not set unrealistic standards for themselves or strive for an unattainable ideal. They understand that mistakes and failures are not setbacks but opportunities for growth and learning. They don’t beat themselves up over a misstep; instead, they analyze what went wrong, learn from it, and move forward with newfound knowledge.
The same acceptance extends to their perception of others. They refrain from passing harsh judgments and cultivate an understanding and empathetic outlook. They don’t expect others to fit into a perfect mold but appreciate them for their unique qualities and individuality.
5) They find joy in the journey, not the destination
Happy people understand that life isn’t just about achieving goals or reaching the destination – it’s about the journey. They enjoy the process just as much as, if not more than, the end result. They take pleasure in the small victories, the learning experiences, the path itself.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t have ambitions or that they don’t strive to reach their goals. On the contrary, they often have clear aims and objectives. However, they don’t hinge their happiness solely on the accomplishment of these goals. They find joy in the steps they take towards these goals, in the progress they make each day, in the growth that comes along the way.
They live by the philosophy of “present moment awareness,” fully immersing themselves in the here and now. They don’t postpone their happiness to some future event or accomplishment. Instead, they relish the current moment, be it a conversation with a friend, a walk in the park, or even the act of working towards their dreams.
6) They embrace change
Life is a constant cycle of change, but while some people resist it, genuinely happy people embrace it. They view change not as a threat, but as an opportunity for growth, learning, and new experiences. They understand that change is a natural part of life and that it can lead to exciting new possibilities.
Happy people are adaptable and flexible, willing to step out of their comfort zones when required. They don’t cling tightly to ‘the way things are’ or ‘the way things were,’ but instead remain open to ‘the way things could be.’ They’re not afraid to let go of the old to make way for the new.
According to Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University, people with a “growth mindset” – those who believe that they can improve and grow with effort and experience – are more resilient and adaptable to change. They’re more likely to take on challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and view effort as a path to mastery, leading to greater happiness and achievement.
7) They show compassion and kindness
Another common trait of genuinely happy people is their capacity for empathy and kindness. They have a strong understanding of the interconnectedness of all individuals and exhibit compassion towards others. The joy they experience is often a direct result of the joy they bring to others.
Whether it’s helping a neighbor, volunteering in their community, or simply listening empathetically to a friend in need, they cultivate happiness through their acts of kindness.
They don’t do these things for recognition or rewards but because they genuinely care about others and want to make a positive difference in the world. They realize that their actions, no matter how small, can create a ripple effect of kindness and positivity.
An unconventional approach to happiness
Check out Ideapod founder Justin Brown’s unconventional approach to happiness in his YouTube video below. In the video, Justin explains that pursuing happiness makes it difficult to achieve. Instead, what matters is creating the conditions in your life for happiness to naturally follow.