Three Things Happy People Consistently Do

Matt Lillywhite

Implement these daily habits if you want to create a better life.

Photo: Courtney Cook/Unsplash

It’s impossible to be happy.

At least that’s what I used to think. We often dream of living each day with a sense of optimism and fulfilling our potential in every aspect of our lives. But for one reason or another, most of us have no idea how to start.

Right? We think “If I can buy a new phone… go on vacation… or have a million dollars in my checking account, then I’ll finally be happy.” But sooner or later, you realize that none of that will actually help you to create the life you desire.

Without knowing you, I can tell you’re ready to change your life for the better. You want to escape the never-ending cycle of negative thoughts, and begin living each day with a sense of optimism.

Listen, I know how you feel. I’ve found myself in the same position as you many times. But I’ve learned that a lack of happiness is often caused by a desire for things to be different.

So instead of worrying about everything you can’t change, a much better solution is to focus on what you can. In the words of the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius once said:

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

I’ve recently been thinking about how we can use philosophy to live a happier life in the modern world. In other words, how anyone can live with a sense of gratitude and feel optimistic about what their future has to offer.

So if that’s what you’re looking for, these insights will help you to be much happier. All you need to do is implement the following habits of happy people, and every aspect of your life will quickly change for the better.

1. Practice Gratitude.

Epicurus says, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” When you’re grateful for what you have, you spend much less time wishing for something you don’t.

Over the years, I’ve learned that we cannot control what happens to us.But in any given situation, we can always choose how we respond to any given set of circumstances.

For example, I cannot control the fact that we’re in a global pandemic. But I’m grateful that I have a lot more time at home to be with my family and focus on other aspects of life that matter to me.

Similarly, I do not have power over what other people do, think, or say. After all, a great truth of life is that you can’t please everyone. However, I can always do my best to act with integrity, honesty, and other characteristics that will help me to become a better person.

The Stoics called this concept Amor Fati (a love of fate). Because when you take a moment to accept what you can’t control, it allows you to focus on everything you can. The author, Ryan Holiday, said it best:

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself, and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

Worrying about things outside of your control won’t change the outcome. So what’s the point? There is none. Instead, a much better solution is to accept the circumstances you’ve been given and then find ways to use them as opportunities for growth.

So whenever you find yourself wishing for things to be different, remember that those negative thoughts are unlikely to make you happy. Instead, practice gratitude for the present moment, and both your life & mindset will quickly improve for the better.

2. Surround Yourself With Positive People.

Epictetus once asked, “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” It’s easy to live in a perpetual state of complacency and mediocrity. But unless you start making positive changes in your life, it’ll always remain the same.

Why? Because you’re not doing anything to improve your life and become your ideal self. Change only comes when you take action. It happens when you make the conscious decision to identify where you want to be, and then do whatever it takes to make your dreams a reality. Bill Phillips said it best:

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be, is what you do.”

My friends used to be a bad influence. I’d often surround myself with lazy people who blamed everyone else for their problems. They never took any steps towards changing their life and got drunk every night merely to escape the pain of reality. As you can imagine, hanging out with them made me negatively perceive the world.

I was unhappy with my life and desperately wanted things to change. The only problem? I didn’t know how to start. So I began reading dozens of books and watching hundreds of videos in an attempt to figure out the formula for a happy life.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic secret that will give you an immediate sense of happiness & fulfillment. But I’ve discovered that if you can surround yourself with positive people, you’re 95% of the way there.

Because positive people inspire you to have a positive mindset. And if you’re optimistic about life, it’s easier to take the necessary steps towards creating a happy future.

3. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.

Let me guess: you have a regular habit of overthinking everything that happens. You’re often kept awake by thoughts that make you wonder if you’re ever going to live a happy life.

I know exactly how you feel. For many years, I struggled with social anxiety. I found it incredibly difficult to become the type of person I wanted to be. For example, I thought that people were always judging me, so I never made an effort to speak to new people.

But here’s the thing: I’ve recently learned that our energy and time are finite. We only have so much of it to spend on family, relationships, and many other aspects of life that genuinely matter. So will you allow yourself to be consumed by negative thoughts, criticism, and judgment from people you’ll never meet again? Or will you let go of everything you can’t change and focus solely on what you can?

The choice is yours. But if you want to start living a happy life, letting go of the small stuff is an excellent place to start. As Marcus Aurelius once said:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

So whenever you find yourself worrying about small things in life, give yourself some time to think. Stop what you’re doing, and ask yourself if worrying will create a better outcome. If not, there’s no point in wasting your time & energy wishing for things to be different.

Happy people know this. They accept that worrying about the small things in life has little benefit. Instead, they focus solely on the things that matter, so it’s easier to make progress towards creating the future they desire.

I’ve discovered that it’s entirely within the realm of possibility to improve your mindset for the better. All you need to do is take daily steps towards becoming the type of person you want to be. Do that, and every aspect of your life will change forever.

Starting now.

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