10 simple traits of genuinely happy people, according to psychology

Funnily enough, happiness is a divisive topic. 

Some believe that chasing happiness is not a worthy endeavor, some believe it’s the only way to navigate life. 

Whatever you may believe in, we can’t deny that all of us experience happiness one way or another. For some, it could be fleeting, for others, eternal. 

What sets apart the genuinely happy from the rest of us? I’ve been wondering about that, and it seems you are, as well. 

What traits do they have? Is it for everybody? Can it be me? 

All valid questions. Shall we talk about it? 

Here are the 10 simple traits of genuinely happy people, according to psychology.

1) Happy people genuinely like who they are

There’s no shortcut to happiness and this first trait is a testament to that. Happy people genuinely like who they are. 

And we all know that the road to genuinely liking who you are is a tough one to travel. You need to be brutally honest about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your limitations, and all that you need to learn and unlearn.

Happy people know this, maybe even subconsciously. Happiness does not exist outside of our shortcomings, it exists within the acceptance of it. 

Happiness exists within our acceptance of ourselves.  

2) Happy people are resilient

It’s incorrect to say that happy people are immune to negative emotions; happy people, after all, are still people. They are made up of all these complex and beautiful emotions that make us human. 

If there’s one thing to note regarding this though is the ability of happy people to bounce back from these negative emotions. That resilience is earned, though, that resilience was fought for. 

And this is me just being sentimental but I believe that genuinely happy people knew sadness so deep and so heavy that there was no other option but to choose happiness moving forward

3) Happy people find beauty in everything

Happy people are optimistic people, they can find beauty and meaning in places where we can only find the mundane. 

They’re the type to find the brighter side or the silver lining. They’re the type that not only stops to smell the roses, they’re the type to plant them for everyone else. 

Psychologist Betty W. Phillips Ph.D. explains, “People with optimistic explanations of life generally feel happier and more energized to cope with obstacles, seeing them as challenges rather than failure experiences.”

“Optimists are more likely to analyze whether setbacks are situational, then are able to develop plans to remove obstacles to their goals. Pessimists are more likely to view life problems as personal failures, blame themselves, feel unhappy and give up trying to change.”

4) Happy people have close personal relationships

Happy people take relationships seriously, in whatever form it may be. They nurture these connections because they understand the value of having strong bonds.

In a way, they are selective about the company they keep and cannot handle shallow or fake connections. 

However, if it’s a genuine connection of equal exchange then they will take care of these relationships. 

5) Happy people are not materialistic 

“[The science of happiness] suggests that material things are unlikely to boost our happiness in a sustained or meaningful way. In fact, research suggests that materialistic people are less happy than their peers. They experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life, and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.” – How Gratitude Beats Materialism, Greater Good Magazine, University of California, Berkeley

Happy people don’t find their joy in material things. They are content with what they have and what they can get. 

Trends do not affect them, either. Keeping up with other people is not their way of life, they stay true to what is important to them—even if that happens to be unconventional.

In the face of peer pressure, they are unshakeable. 

6) Happy people practice gratitude

Harvard Health Publishing says this about gratitude.  “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

I have a few people in my life I consider genuinely happy, and one trait that they all share and is very apparent is that they practice gratitude

They are grateful for everything that comes their way. For every person who makes their life better. 

The trials that made them stronger. The people who love them. The opportunities they have and even the rejections that redirected them. 

7) Happy people live in the moment

Happy people focus on the present. They do not dwell in the past and they do not live in fear of the future.

The “now” is what’s important. 

And it does make sense, doesn’t it? Not focusing on what has gone or what will be allowed more time to focus on what’s happening. It allows for time to see all the good.

8) Happy people have a good sense of humor

They really got it right when they said that laughter is the best medicine.

A study on happiness and humor styles found that “happy people habitually engage in positive uses of humor and avoid engaging in negative uses of humor in daily life.”

Happy people have a good sense of humor, they don’t have the kind of humor that needs to put others down before it’s considered funny. They don’t do insults that masquerade as jokes. 

Which brings me to the next point: kindness. 

9) Happy people are kind to themselves and to others

Happy people are kind not only to others but also to themselves. 

They treat others the same way they want to be treated. They treat others with courtesy and respect. 

They do not discriminate or hate. They also don’t hold grudges.

In the same breath, they treat themselves with that same grace. Remaining kind in the face of making mistakes is a given. 

Why waste your time making yourself and others miserable when you can choose to be kind, right? 

10) Happy people live life on their own terms 

Happy people trust their pace. In life, they are neither too slow nor too fast, neither rushing nor delayed. They do not panic over the rat race we call life. 

They know they are exactly where they need to be. And happy people, in this assurance, don’t give in to other people’s pressure. 

They don’t conform, they don’t try to fit in. They do not try to be someone they are not. They don’t do things just because it’s ‘conventional’. 

Society’s standards are acknowledged but not automatically accepted, if at all. 

One last thing before you go

No matter your opinion on happiness, no matter where you stand in the debate of its worthiness to chase, we can’t deny that genuinely happy people exist. 

Happiness is possible. It is achievable. It may not be easy to do so, but it’s not an impossibility. 

So whether you wait to be happy, already are, or actively chasing it, I hope you find what you seek.

I hope you find what you deserve. 

Picture of Michelle Marie Manese

Michelle Marie Manese

M Manese is a part-time creative writer, illustrator, and full-time fangirl hoping to find her way within the Content space. She makes art here: @michellemmanese

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