Once upon a time, I was a miserable sad sack who held everything in contempt, blew up her relationships, bemoaned her lack of success, and blamed everyone and everything for her problems. I never grew tired of concocting excuses for why I wasn’t as stellar as I’d hoped to be, and I found a strange sort of comfort in the false belief that there was nothing I could do about it.
One day, I woke up. I took stock of my life and decided to take responsibility for what I had become. I’d experienced trauma and adversity and misfortune, and most of it wasn’t my fault. Even so, I realized that the only way my life would change was if learned how to heal my pain, forgive those who’d had hurt me, and humble myself enough to find compassion for the imperfect humans I shared my life with.
On that day, I began the process of becoming a happier person.
Many people think that happiness is an endlessly blissful state where no conflicts arise and no hardships are born. In reality, happiness is a practice, one that requires us to become deeply aware of ourselves, to master our thoughts and emotions, and to see the best in ourselves and others even when it’s hard.
I’ve observed a lot in my 38 years of life, and quite a bit in the last two years alone. One thing I’ve noticed is that happy people live differently than unhappy people do. Their beliefs are different, their priorities are different, and their mindsets are different. They make different choices and they formulate different conclusions and they make different plans, and this is why they seem to navigate life so much better than the rest of us. The good news is that we can learn from their example and cultivate happiness for ourselves if it doesn’t come to us naturally.
8 Qualities of the Happiest People
The 8 qualities of happy people that I share in the latest episode of the Genius Garden Podcast is by no means a panacea: achieving inner peace and contentment is a lifelong journey, and one that often has many detours and setbacks. Instead, these qualities are a roadmap you can follow to get closer to a happier, more peaceful, more fulfilling life. In fact, if you choose to nurture just one of these qualities, I guarantee you’ll see a change (if you want to completely change your life, begin cultivating the third quality today)!
1. The Happiest People are Generous and Always Willing to Help
The happiest people always seem to lend a hand to someone in need, no questions asked. This is because they believe in the value of what they have to offer others, and they enjoy sharing that value. When they don’t have the time or energy needed to help, they say so and promise to show up when they’re healthy and available.
Unhappy people are much less willing to offer help, and they actively avoid volunteering their time, energy, and resources to those in need. This is most likely because they doubt they have anything of value to offer, or their poor boundary enforcement means that they’re always exhausted and spread too thin.
2. They Feel Part of Something Much Larger Than Themselves
The happiest people see themselves as a small, yet intrinsic part of a larger whole. They are integrated into their family, society, the world, and even the universe. They see everything as connected, and for this reason, they never feel alone.
Unhappy people feel disconnected from the world around them. They believe that they are isolated even when the evidence surrounding them suggests otherwise. They have a difficult time adopting a cosmic perspective, and so they often feel alone.
3. They Possess Mindful Awareness of their Thoughts and Emotions
The happiest people recognize changes in their mood. They understand that their thoughts are fleeting, and they know when their insecurities are steering the ship. Because of this, they can “course correct” before they stray too far from a healthy being state.
Unhappy people aren’t consciously aware of mood fluctuations. They let intrusive thoughts highjack their consciousness and bring them to a being state of fear and insecurity. They lack the tools they need to recognize their thoughts and feelings as something separate from the essence of who they are. For this reason, they often veer off course.
4. The Happiest People Intentionally Create Their Experiences
They take the time needed to think through their actions and consider the long term ramifications of what they do now. They create concrete plans of action that will eventually bring about the change they’re looking to create. They build things, and they sustain what they’ve built with support structures that they dutifully maintain.
Unhappy people often “let life live them,” refusing to think too far into the future or make long term plans. They go with the flow, but when that flow leads them somewhere they don’t want to be, they blame someone or something else for ending up there. They rarely take an active role in their lives, so their foundation is shaky. Because of this, they’re often stressed and insecure.
5. They Take Responsibility for Themselves and Their Lives
Happy people understand that although their misfortunes may not be their fault, they are their responsibility. They take stock of where they are and they consider ways to change that will improve their sense of wellbeing and stability. They apologize when they hurt others, and they acknowledge their mistakes readily and consistently.
Unhappy people blame their misfortunes on others and don’t feel that it’s their responsibility to change. They’re always looking for scapegoats so they never have to risk the pain of owning their mistakes. They abdicate their roles and live very selfishly. They burn bridges, and claim their relationships suffer because no one cares about them.
6. They Acknowledge and Work Through Their Problems
Happy people step up and address their problems the moment they arise. They make hard choices and move forward with their resolutions. They hold space for their difficult emotions and process them, and they don’t vainly wait for an act of god to magically resolve the situation.
Unhappy people ignore their problems and they suppress challenging emotions. Since they don’t take responsibility for themselves, they expect others to solve their problems for them. Slowly but surely, the issues they refuse to address begin dismantling their lives piece by piece. True to form, they blame others when their lives become unmanageable.
7. The Happiest People Seek to Accept and Understand Differences in Others
They don’t assume that others’ thoughts and beliefs perfectly mirror theirs, and they don’t become hostile and combative when they’re faced with a difference of opinion. Even when they disagree, they attempt to understand the other person’s position as best as they can. They realize that everyone is unique, and because of this, everyone has a unique perspective.
Unhappy people attack and malign those who don’t share their beliefs. They’re intolerant of difference in others, and they’re unlikely to compromise. They judge people mercilessly from a place of righteous indignation. They believe that their perspective is the only valid one, and they don’t try and understand why others might have different views.
8. They Forgive Themselves and Others
The happiest people have done the hard work of acknowledging and healing through the act of radical forgiveness. They understand that their grudges are hurting them, and that the only way to be free is to forgive and let go. They’re willing to acknowledge the many ways in which they’ve hurt others, and to cease punishing themselves for their mistakes. They understand that their refusal to forgive is ultimately harmful, so they do what they can to heal the wounds of their past and move on.
Unhappy people refuse to forgive. They hold onto grudges for a lifetime, punishing themselves all the while. They don’t grasp that their refusal to forgive is hurting themselves and the people they love. They don’t see that by holding onto their pain, they’re continuing to give the person who hurt them power.
In short, happy people take responsibility for themselves and their lives and take an active role in their experience of being. They seek to forge connections with others, and know that they are worthy of being loved and accepted.
If you’re seeking to know yourself well, to make better choices, or gain clarity or insight on a situation that’s unfolding in your life, a tarot reading with me could be just what you need to get back on track. Using the information you send me, I’ll craft a reading that addresses your specific inquiries and concerns from a psychological, intuitive, and archetypal perspective.