How to Be Happy: 17 Things Happy People Do

Published by Deanna Yates on

How to Be Happy: 17 Unique Things Happy People Do

Do you want to be happy, but are not sure how to be happy? These 17 happiness secrets and habits of happy people will help you achieve more happiness and live a life filled with more joy. #9 is my favorite.

If you think about the meaning of life, lots of people say it’s to be happy, but do most of us really know how to be happy?

I actually think in our modern age, we have disconnected from what happiness really means. Most of us are not really sure what it means to be happy and what it takes to get there. 

So, looking at the research in the new field of positive psychology, I have compiled a list of 17 unique things happy people do differently. By implementing some of these things and looking at happiness as a journey rather than a destination, we can all learn how to be happy too.

So you know…Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting me, this blog, and our awesome mama community.

Happy people slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.

In our modern world, we are constantly busy. As mothers it’s even worse. Our lives include getting the kids ready, taking them to school, planning, shopping for, and making meals, picking them up, shuffling them to whatever activities we deem necessary for their development, serving dinner at a decent time, baths, stories, games. And all of this is on top of housework and a “real” job.

Instead of cramming more things onto an already packed schedule, happy people slow down. They enjoy the small things like sitting down to dinner with family or friends. They find goodness in their children’s laughter, their spouse’s smile, and maybe a hot bath for themselves. 

* A good book suggestion for learning to slow down is The ONE Thing. You can read more about this book and 10 others I recommend here

Happy people do things for others.

This concept may seem foreign at first, but I’m sure you’ve encountered it countless times in your life. It’s also the famous saying that it is better to give than to receive. You may also remember the Golden Rule of “do unto others”.

It’s true. When you give to others, you feel better about yourself, which increases your happiness. The other positive is that it increases the happiness of those around you too.

What can you do for a loved one today?

Happy people exercise.


Taking care of your health is so important and happy people know this. But exercising for happy people is not about how you look. It’s about how you feel.

When you exercise, you increase the endorphins in your brain. This leaves you feeling happier, more alert, and more focused. You can then use your increased energy to tackle more items on your to do list, play with your kids, or enjoy the trip to the grocery store just a little bit more.

This cycle continues to just make you happier the longer you’re on it. 

Happy people surround themselves with the right people.

Contemporary wisdom states that you are the combination of the 5 people closest to you. Studies show that the habits of those around you can affect you more than you realize. If your closest friends are overweight, you are more likely to be overweight. If your closest friends smoke, you are more likely to smoke. 

On the other hand, if your friends are always checking things off their to do lists, being productive, walking on lunch breaks, and seeing the positive side of life, you are more likely to too.

Remember, birds of a feather flock together so take a good look at the people you choose to surround yourself with. Not sure you’re surrounded by the best people? Don’t cut those people out. Instead, look to expand your circle if you need more positive influences. 

Happy people stay positive.

Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? While happy people are generally more optimistic and see the glass half full, they do work on being and staying positive. 

Even if your natural tendency is to see the negative first, you can train your brain to think otherwise. Next time you have a negative thought, try to see the flip side of the coin.

Maybe it’s raining outside, but that means you won’t have to water the grass today, which will save you time today and money on next month’s water bill.

Happy people get enough sleep.


The busier we get, the less sleep we try to survive with. It happens in school with all nighters before a test. And then as we get older we stay up late working on a big presentation for work. Then we might stay up just a bit too late to bing watch the latest show on Netflix because it was a rough day and you just need some time alone.

I get it. But, getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Arianna Huffington talks about this in her book The Sleep Revolution. She collapsed in her office, hit her face on her desk, and woke up in the hospital because she was not getting enough sleep. Now she sleeps a full 8 hours per night and is happier than ever.

Your children need you on your A game so do as the experts recommend and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

Happy people have deep conversations.

We live in a world of instant gratification, social media moments, and feigned positivity. Your day is probably filled with superficial conversations with school parents, colleagues, and the barista. These can leave you feeling trivial and unfulfilled.

Happy people understand that not everything they read is reality and not everything they hear should be taken for gospel. They also know that friends and loved ones desire to be real and share their true emotions. Having these deeper conversations with friends can help you feel whole and grounded.

Be sure you are connecting with friends and family members and having deeper conversations with them in order to maintain your well-being and theirs. 

Happy people make an effort to be happy.

Sure, we all could just go through our day and let anything and everything affect how we feel. For instance if you hit all of the red lights on the way to work, making you late, you are “destined” to have a terrible day. With this outlook, your day will probably go downhill from here. You let yourself become the victim of the circumstances. 

Happy people actively choose how they want the day to go. They set intention for how they want to act, how they will respond to situations, and what they expect to accomplish each day. 

In other words happy people put themselves in the driver’s seat of their lives and set the intention to be happy.

Happy people have a growth mindset.


You may have heard that we should live in the present. And while it is true that you should be fully engaged in whatever it is you are doing at the moment, happy people also look to the future. 

The have a growth mindset by envisioning what they want their life to look like and set out the steps they need to get there. Happy people work to make their lives better each day while still enjoying the journey. 

Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

Happy people do not let themselves get away with behavior that does not benefit them. If they set a goal, they work to achieve it and know that the outcome is theirs to gain. 

If something does not go according to plan (which is likely), they reevaluate the goal and corresponding steps instead of giving up. By taking control over their circumstances, happy people feel more secure and confident. This makes the finish line easier for them to reach.

Happy people engage in activities that fit their strengths, values and lifestyle.

Do you frequently find yourself doing things because you feel obligated to do them and not because you want to? 

Happy people do not do this. They make sure the things they say yes to align with their values, purpose, and the lifestyle they want. They know their time is limited and are very protective of it. 

They also focus on their strengths in order to better those and find ways to work around their weaknesses.

Happy people build a strong social fabric.


Having people you can count on is crucial for happiness. A Harvard study shows that close relationships are what keep people happy throughout their lives – even more than money or fame.

These relationships protect people from life’s sad times, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better at predicting life’s happiness more than social class, IQ, or genes. 

If you do not have many close friends, sign up for a club, find time to pursue hobbies, or reach out to old friends to reconnect.

Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

Happy people know that fear is an inevitable part of life. Everyday we are faced with decisions and challenges. Taking on a new challenge is a way to grow as a person and in life. Yes, we might fail, but we are sure to learn and grow.

Choosing to hide from a challenge or opportunity, keeps you small. It might be more comfortable in the immediate future to avoid the fear, but will generally lead to stagnation, discomfort, and a feeling of being trapped in the long run.

People who are happier do not live a life in which they never feel the fear of failure. Instead they learn to move forward despite this fear. What small steps or challenges can you take today?

Happy people accept their flaws.

No one is perfect and happy people are the first to admit this. They know that each of us has different strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, desires, and goals.

Instead of focusing on fixing their flaws, happy people focus on bettering their strengths. This is more fun because doing things you are good at makes you feel great. And it also helps you move up in your field and can even make you one of the best at what you do.

Happy people embrace the fear of the unknown.


The one constant in life is change. Tomorrow is guaranteed to be different than today. So happy people embrace this change rather than the certainty of where they are now.

This means happy people do not get complacent or comfortable. They enjoy the good things that come into their life (or that they create), but know that nothing will last in it’s current state. Instead of being frightened by this, people who are happier continue to push to be better.

Happy people practice appreciation

You may have heard that you should practice gratitude. This is a great place to start, but appreciation takes happy people to the next level.

It was explained to me once that a grateful person holds on to the things they are grateful for. In a sense they become a hoarder of good feelings and close themselves off.

An appreciative person, acknowledges the good things in their life and knows these things may only be there for a brief time while they are growing. This is a growth mindset and one of openness.

Try being more appreciative of the things in your life and foster a sense of openness so that you can invite more good things in.

Happy people choose to be happy.

Most people chase happiness. They think it’s a destination. That once they achieve their goals, make more money, check off their to do list, get what they want, they will be happy.

The truth is happy people know that happiness is a choice and part of the journey all along. You will not suddenly be happy once some arbitrary goal is reached.

Scientists believe that a full 40% of your happiness is a choice that you make. You can choose to see the happy side of a situation, choose to enjoy something about where you are right now, and choose to be happy while you still work on your goals and dreams.

The truth is that no one is happy all of the time. We are all human and life is full of ups and downs. However, the happiest people I know make the decision and choose to be happy every day. They work on the 17 factors above.

When something bad happens, happy people accept it (maybe take a few minutes for self-pity) and then get back to life. They either work to fix the issue or let it go. To wallow in self-pity or self-sabotage would be a waste of their energy.

In the end, happiness isn’t just a mood or a destination. It’s a lifestyle and an active choice.

Which of the 17 factors will you work to implement first? Leave a comment below so we can all help each other on our journey of happiness.

If you enjoyed this article, I would love for you to share it on Pinterest. Thank you!

Do you want to be happy, but are not sure how to be happy? These 17 happiness secrets and habits of happy people will help you achieve more happiness and live a life filled with more joy. #9 is my favorite.
Discover how to be happy with these 17 happiness secrets and habits of happy people. They are not as difficult as you might think. These happiness hacks and tips will help you achieve more joy and live a life filled with happiness. Tip #9 is my favorite!
How to be happy! Everyone wants to be happy, but we’re not always sure what that means or how to get there. These 17 happiness hacks and habits of happy people will help you achieve more happiness and live a life filled with more joy.


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