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Tricks of the trade: What happy people do differently
by Laurel |  Mar 28, 2013

Everyone wants to be happy, right? When we meet people who seem to be blissfully happy all the time, we usually assume one of two things: Either they truly have had a charmed life and have gotten things we will never dream of getting, or they're totally fake.

But what about the rest of us? It's kind of sad that we all feel that happiness is just out of reach. It's also kind of sad that we assume someone is being fake rather than consider something that could be entirely true: Maybe they've found a way of looking at life that actually has brought them inner peace and happiness! 

So, what are these smiling souls doing differently? Here are a few things that might be making a difference in their lives. These tricks might just have the power to change your mind, too!

Exercise your right to choose
First and foremost, it's important to remember that the ability to be happy really doesn't depend on anything - not your bus running on time, not the number on your next paycheck, not on a text from that guy you've been seeing. Happiness and contentment are choices, and as a grown-up, this is yet another aspect of your life you have control over. There's an anonymous quote that sums it up best: "Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means you've decided to look beyond the imperfections." 

With this quote in mind, here are some "imperfections" you can practice looking past. Remember - it does take practice to live in the moment like this!

Be nice (even to mean people)
You know the phrase, "kill 'em with kindness"? This is a good motto to remember, but it turns out you could actually save others with kindness - all while boosting your own state of well-being. Science has proven that being nice actually makes you happier, because every time you are, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and improves your mood. 

So maybe it's not totally selfless, but it's also nice to remember that happiness is contagious. Smile at the doorman. Joke with the train conductor. Let that person go in front of you in traffic. You might just make their day, which means they can then spread the happy vibes! This works even better with "mean" people - they probably haven't discovered the keys to being happy yet, but you can help!

Enjoy the peaks and the valleys
Happy people don't see the pitfalls and setbacks of life as such - "problems" isn't even in their vocabulary. Instead, negative-seeming things in life are "challenges." This takes something that could be thought of as impossible and turns it into an opportunity. What makes you happier, an impossibility or an opportunity? Next time life throws you a curveball, pay attention to how you're thinking about it - try to see it as an opportunity to try something new or learn a lesson as opposed to something that is trying to knock you down. 

Be grateful
This one is pretty simple, but it's something happy people make a conscious decision to do, rather than the rest of us. Gratitude is a powerful thing, and it goes along with living in the moment.  Maybe you're upset that your roommate didn't empty the dishwasher. You could stew over that, or you could think that this one chore is a small price to pay for the ability to live in a fabulous apartment in the city with a friend you truly love. Yearning for things you don't have is easy, but it's also draining. Try counting your blessings, instead. You'll be surprised at how rich you are. 

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