We all want to be happy. And almost everything we do, from working at our jobs to raising our families to cooking our meals, is directed at finding happiness.
But happiness can be elusive. Some of the greatest minds in history have struggled with the concept.
The thing about happiness is that it is a feeling. And feelings change.
So if you really want to be happy, you need to build a habit of cultivating happiness each and every day.
That will give you a sense of happiness that is not based on achievement or temporary pleasure, but instead comes from the deepest core of who you are.
The daily habits of happy people can show you how to get there.
Here are some of the things happy people do every day without even realizing.
1) They get outside
Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make us happy.
And if you want to be happy, you have to acknowledge the kind of creature you are.
Humans weren’t made to sit in offices and heated homes all day. Like other animals, we were meant to be outside under the sky, breathing fresh air and taking in the world around us.
And the longer you go without doing that, the more your happiness levels will decrease.
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research found that even 20 minutes in an urban park can be enough to boost your feelings of happiness and well-being.
And the participants in the study didn’t even need to exercise while they were there. Just being in the park was enough to make them more happy.
There are lots of reasons from this, ranging from psychological to physical effects. But the bottom line is that if you want to be happier, you need to go outside.
And I’m going to take my own advice and head outside the minute I’m done writing this article.
2) They sleep
Sleep is one of the most underrated factors in both mental and physical health.
We all need different levels of sleep, but eight hours is often suggested as a reasonable amount for most people.
Unfortunately, very few people actually get enough sleep.
Psychologist David Dinges is just one of the experts who has found that sleep can have a major effect on our happiness and sense of well-being. Dinges’ study showed that people who routinely get fewer than eight hours of sleep suffer from lapses in attention, memory impairments, and a reduced ability to make decisions.
Not getting enough sleep is also a factor in mood disorders including depression.
Sleep is something we do every day – or should be. But getting good quality sleep can be tricky, especially if you live a busy life.
On the other hand, it’s vital to increase your level of happiness.
3) They tell the truth (most of the time)
I’m not talking about little white lies. Sometimes, we are less than truthful because the truth can hurt people without having any other benefits.
There’s no need to tell someone that their baby is ugly or that they look terrible in those pants, for example.
But lying to people consistently is a good way to decrease your own happiness.
That’s because when you lie, you are presenting a false impression of yourself and of the world around you.
And the longer you live in that false persona, the less honest you feel you’re being with everyone else around you, not to mention yourself.
It’s impossible to feel good about yourself if you’re constantly lying to everyone.
4) They focus on gratitude
When you suggest gratitude to some people, they get upset.
“I have a hard life,” they may say. “So much has gone wrong for me. Why would I be grateful?”
But those are exactly the people who need gratitude the most.
You don’t need to be rich and famous to be grateful for what you have.
When you look at the way most people live in the world today, and the way almost everyone lived in human history, it’s hard to shake the feeling that we are some of the luckiest people to ever be alive.
I have access to luxuries my grandparents never dreamed of, including fresh running water out of my faucets, a car and a house of my own, and medical technology that was a distant dream for them.
Being grateful for what you have doesn’t mean ignoring the areas where your life isn’t all it could be. But it does mean taking some time every day to appreciate what you have.
It could be something as simple as good weather or something tasty for lunch.
Focusing on what you have to be grateful for will remind you just how much you have.
5) They exercise
You’ve heard this one before. That doesn’t make it any less true.
Psychologist Art Kramer points out that there is no debate that exercise has a powerful and positive effect on your brain and mood. The only debate is just how much.
Exercise helps to oxygenate the brain, which can lessen the effects of anxiety and depression. It also releases endorphins, powerful neurochemicals that lessen feelings of pain and make you feel happy.
Often, happy people don’t consciously realize that exercise is part of what makes them happy. They just incorporate it into their daily lives, taking walks when they can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and staying active in other ways.
6) They help others
We are social animals that are fundamentally made to live cooperatively. And so by helping others, we come closer to what really makes us happy.
It could be something big, like volunteering at a homeless shelter. It could be something smaller, like donating money to a good cause.
It could even be something as inconspicuous as receiving mail for a neighbor or bringing a coworker a cup of coffee.
But these tiny acts of kindness not only benefit the recipient. They make the person who does them much happier.
7) They stay positive
There’s always something to be upset about. We live in a world full of brutality, tragedy, and injustice, and our 24-hour media brings everything that’s worst in the world to us every moment of every day.
But happy people don’t let it get them down.
That doesn’t mean they are blind to the problems of the world, or the problems in their own lives. It just means that they take a positive view.
Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring the truth. It’s just a question of what you focus on.
Do you want to focus on everything that’s wrong with the world and everything that can go wrong in your life? Or do you want to focus on the good things you already have and the happiness the future may bring you?
If you want to be happier, the choice is clear.
8) They let things go
Part of being positive is not dwelling on the past.
No one has a perfect life. And if you’re waiting until everything is perfect before you allow yourself to be happy, you’ll never get there.
Instead, happy people know that part of being happy is letting things go.
That includes past trauma, regrets, and all the times you might wish things had gone differently.
None of us can undo the past. But we can rob it of its power to harm our present and future.
9) They make time for themselves
Giving to others makes us happy. But it’s also important not to lose sight of yourself.
Every day when I finish work, I go out into my tiny yard alone with something tasty to drink. I’ll sit there for maybe 20 minutes, not doing anything much. I just sit and listen to the wind and watch the birds in the sky.
It’s a great way to draw a line between my working hours and the rest of my day. But it’s also an excellent way to take just a few moments for myself that aren’t devoted to being productive.
Happy people know that making time for themselves is key to staying that way.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. It could be a morning cup of coffee, a jog, or your favorite TV show.
And while they may not realize that’s what they’re doing, there’s no question it makes people happy to take some time for themselves.
10) They stay present in the moment
This may be the biggest one of all.
Mindfulness is a key concept in several major religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. But quite simply, it means being present in the moment and accepting it without judgment.
It sounds small. But actually, mindfulness has been proven to have significant benefits for your mood and mental health.
Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, carve out some time each day to be fully present in the moment.
It’s just one of the ways happy people stay happy.