post written by: Marc Chernoff

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

by Jacob Sokol of Sensophy

“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed.  I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live - that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.”
-Dan Millman

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.  (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)

I want to honor and discuss each of these 12 points, because no matter what part of life’s path we’re currently traveling on, these ‘happiness habits’ will always be applicable.

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
  4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
  5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
  6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
  7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
  8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
  9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
  11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
  12. Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

Jacob Sokol is committed to living an extraordinary life.  Today he released “Living on Purpose – An Uncommon Guide to Finding, Living, and Rocking Your Life’s Purpose.”  He also loves his mom dearly.

Photo by: Aurelio Asiain

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  • Honored to contribute here. Thanx so much Marc!

  • Oh Wow, I Love Your Site!
    I’m a pretty happy person and I agree with your list completely. I hang my hat on #2 as the key for me, personally.
    Sadly, I see many people out in the world who have a hard time getting through #7.
    Thanks for sharing this great list.

  • I loved this post. I think even one out of the twelve things listed can help SO very much!
    Thank you fir sharing this.

  • Saurabh Banerjee
    August 30th, 2011 at 2:18 am

    A good read as always. Many of these are great reminders for me. Much appreciated.

  • The last few articles have been on things that have I have been thinking about alot lately. To Marc and Angel and the guest authors, stop reading my mind! :) In all seriousness, thank you for these uplifting articles!

  • This is a fantastic article.

    I didn’t know that performing kind acts really releases serotonin in the brain. I have got to work on doing that one more. :P

    I think #3 is especially important. Constantly comparing ourselves to others will only result in unhappiness.

  • Can be stated the other way too…12 things that actually make you a happy person :)
    Good read…

  • Awesome as always :) Keep the good stuff coming.

  • I always find some inspiration from your posts, but today I was especially moved. Thanks for all of your hard work!

  • Always the right post at the right time. Expressing gratitude and taking care of the body have been the most profound for me.

  • Doing well on all but #3 where I nosedive–I’m an ambitious creative type and it’s like I’m back in school and want to be the best in the class. Could you explain the ‘compare yourself to an older version of yourself’ thing better?

  • Thanks for sharing such a great article. I love how practical this is.

  • #11 is actually the one that motivates me to act upon many of the others! :) awesome.

  • Yet another fantastic post! I feel like printing all of these out and posting them somewhere I can remind myself of them frequently!

  • This is an amazing article, full of exceedingly useful strategies to help all people live happier lives. However, as a person who has been diagnosed with depression and has struggled to overcome it, it seemed a bit unfair to me that you used the term pill poppers. I agree that there is a trend of over medicating and that people should actively seek other options, but from my experience, it was going on the drugs that helped me see that I COULD actively make positive changes in my life. Again, this is a fabulous article that I will be sharing. Thank you.

  • Thanks. Your web is an escential for me. Every week I hope your post. Congratulations

  • Forgiveness keeps me sane.

  • The tips above all have a similar trait. They are all things you do and are under your control.

    It’s taken a long time but I have finally learned that happiness is a choice. Happiness is about how you act and how you respond to a situation.

  • One of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. As Sean said, it was the exact thing that I needed and it happened upon me at the right time. Thanks for posting.

  • Love this! Thanks always!

  • Number three is the main thing I need to work on. I think it’s afflicting my happiness the most and causing me to feel stressed, anxious and depressed all the time. I didn’t realize that until I saw it written out on the screen. Thanks for this.

  • Thank you for this… #8 is an issue that I’ve encounter often- in this regard, I see a strong relationship to #3 and how certain social media platforms or ‘influence’ rankings inherently cause users to compare themselves to one another, ultimately inhibiting creativity and productivity. Great post!

  • Two thumbs up for this post! “When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.” This was very powerful for me. I’m going through a MAJOR growing process that will ultimately lead me to a higher place in life. However, growing processes aren’t usually that comfortable. I’ve been working on expressing gratitude for all that is going on in my life though. As I do this, I believe I will begin to see more value in this growing process that I’m in. Thanks for this post! Definitely needed it!

  • This is a lovely article with lots of great tips. However, I do want to take issue with the reference to “pill poppers.” There is a lot of evidence that exercise helps ease mild to moderate depression at rates similar to SSRIs. As long as you keep up the exercise, generally the good effects are also ongoing. However, a wider literature review also reveals that for people who are moderately to severely depressed, only 70% acheived full remission when adding exercise. Not only that, but antidepressants work faster, which is essential in cases of suicidality, or people who cannot attend work or to family life because of depression. Lastly, not every one is ABLE to exercise at the rates needed to replicate the studies. Recommended is 30 minutes of vigorous walking or cycling 5 times a week. Yes, this is what we should all be getting but there are those that are not physically able, those who have responsibilities that prevent this kind of exercise, and plus, people who are truly depressed will likely find this kind of schedule to be utterly overwhelming. So, yes, exercise is great but before we criticize those of us whose lives have more or less been saved by “popping” pills, please take a step back and consider what you are saying. Also, a citation or two might be appropriate!

  • Thanks for the list. If you want to be happy, start doing these things. Start living differently.

  • Great read. Thank you.

  • I’m guilty of overthinking & social comparison(#3)…Thanks for reminding me that it can be poisonous. You translated to the words what I’ve been feeling so splendidly.

  • Thanks for this. I do agree that exercise and a good diet can help with depression. Maybe not as quick, but it definitely helps.

  • I’m with Jayme. This was a great read, right up until the jab at “pill poppers.” Mental illness - including depression - is an illness: it’s no different than something like diabetes. Surely you wouldn’t tell a diabetic to replace his insulin with exercise?

  • @Jayme and Chibi: I agree with you both. And as the owner of this blog, I had the authority to remove ‘the jab,’ so I did.

    Otherwise I agree, Jacob wrote a magnificent article on happiness.

  • Great post Marc, especially point number 3, the times where i was sad the most were the times i used to over think about things i cant control. Thanks for the reminders :)

  • Thanks. As a dad to a 6 year old, I witness myself showing my son how to be happy. He loves fitness, we thank God for our lives, we do many of these things daily. Still, it’s a good reminder for us. I will show him this list and we will discuss it. He’s a very bright boy, and somewhere, on an important level, I know he can digest this article.

    Thanks again, I will make a link on my Facebook.


  • Gratitude & Acts of Kindness are my favourite.
    Thank you for sharing those amazing tips on being Happy.

  • I enjoy your blog very much and have learned a lot from it. I’m happy to say I already embrace much on the list.

    However, I take exception to #11, especially this: “When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.”

    As an atheist (since puberty; I’m 45 now) who embraces all the other things on that list, I wonder why those who believe in what cannot be proven want to think that those of us who don’t believe think we are “the mightiest thing ever.” I have never thought that. The universe is so vast, and life came together with such happenstance on this one little planet at just the right time–we are specks in the universe! Interestingly enough, so many believers seem to think that humans are “special” because of some creator. I think that’s more hubris, actually.

    I choose to live my life without belief in the supernatural, and I am very content. I know that research says believers are happier, and that may be true simply because 1. they are greater in number and 2. giving your cares over to someone else will surely make you feel better (ignorance is bliss?). I know religion and spirituality are helpful to a lot of people, but millions of us are good (and quite happy) without god(s).

    Just thought you should know.

  • @Jayme and Chibi: No offense intended - my apologies if you were left with a sour taste in your mouth.

    I know what it feel like to be depressed. I mean, if i stop and think about it, that’s exactly why I’m living my life the way i do and writing articles like this. And granted, I’ve had it nowhere nearly as bad as many others, but i do sympathize with the everyday struggle to sustain a seemingly bearable life.

    I only wish the best for everyone.

    My allergy to all this “pill popping” is that it’s such big business and when corporate interest is involved, our best interest is often times not. America is a magnificent country - one that has supplied me with an endless stream of things to be ridiculously grateful for - and i am - but there’s no denying that much of it’s economy is built on keeping people sick (by instilling poor health habits into us) and then charging us a fortune to get better (with quick fixes and “pill-popping” solutions).

    My issue is with the system - not the person. I did not do justice in expressing that. Hopefully this comment will make up for it. If you would like to talk personally, feel free to call me at (347)398-2814. Virtual hugs.

  • Hi Jacob,
    I really enjoyed reading this post - as I do with all that you share.
    ‘Compare yourself to an oldeer version of yourself’ in point number 3 really stood out for me.
    Yes I can sucumbe to comparison to another, which I agree can be a destructive negative stance, it has been for me.
    I also find that if I compare myself to the me of my past then I also am open, on ‘bad days’ to seeing how I may be ‘less or worse’ than I used to be. So again a negative effect can ensue.
    But after reading your post if I think of comparing myself to my older self in my future then I am more able to see how I potentially will have grown, connected, emersed myself in my life.
    I will continue to look at this & journal on it too. Thank you for opening up this to me. Bless you & All good things to you. x

  • Laura Sullivan-Nelsen
    September 4th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I like this… Everyone should read it; I intend to show this to my kids too.

  • I am 64 years old and for a large part of my life I lived opposite of your list. When I pulled myself out of it (with the help of good friends) my spirits picked up.

    Now I am 58 lbs lighter without trying. I am going everywhere with so much to do. A lot of friends and I am doing things most my age can’t.

    And I feel great.

  • This is one of the best articles I have read in a while.

    Definitely #1, gratitude, resonates with me the most… too often I think about how my life could be much better than it currently is. But then I realize that I have excellent health, a great job, 3 beautiful kids, and I live with the woman of my dreams… that always puts a smile on my face.

    And #2, optimism, is so important as well. Last week my friend passed away from cancer at the age of 33. He was so accepting and optimistic to the very end, despite his pain and suffering.

  • Your site is a haven for relaxation. I agree with this list as I can relate to it. The only things I still am working on are 10 and 12. But anyway, I’m happy.

  • #10 and #12 - these two, IMHO, are the most important parts of any successful, well lived life. Stray from your goals and you will start losing respect - your friends’, your parents’ and most importantly, your own.

    #12, of course, is without doubt THE most important ingredient of a happy life. You really can’t be happy if your knees are hurting and you can barely walk.

  • I love this post about increasing happiness. Very inspiring with lots of easy to use tips that we can all use each day. I am going to print it out as a useful reminder.

  • Hey guys,

    Great article! Not only notes about how happy people handle situations differently, but also a great guide for how to work on the tools for creating happiness on demand.

    Personally I find that happiness is the default state, and that we only stray from that to the extent that we are driven by unquestioned habits and/or unexamined assumptions about what we truly are. However, that requires some digging into, and there is no reason why you can’t use a therapeutic method to get more happiness in your daily life at the same time.

    Well done!


  • All 12 things are great, but what struck me was #1. Gratitude, this is actually the meaning of my name, and I have not be showing much it lately. Thanks for reminding me.

  • This is one of the best blogs.
    Most happy folks can relate to at least one or more points. It feels like — we are reading our own minds! Great summary!

  • I have been suffering from mild to severe depression for a little over 3 years now. Looking back at the old me I can see that I practiced all of the above & was a happy fulfilled individual. But then I let #6 #10 & #12 get to me & once that was lost I developed all the other negative actions & ways of thinking that kept me down in the dumps for so long. Basically everything spiralled out of control & until I read this post I couldn’t pinpoint my own sabatoge. Now that I know what to do I will begin slowly rebuilding myself until it becomes second nature again. Thank you & g-d bless!

  • Awesome tips, more than half of these tips define why I LOVE running marathons! For those looking for a new goal and a greater perspective on life I highly recommend Jeff Galloway’s run/walk approach, start with a 5k and progress to a marathon, it’s addicting but so fulfilling!!

  • Great read. I have been having a lot of personal battles with some of these things especially number 3. Its nice to no that these problems are normal and that they can be overcome. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Wonderful article, though I agree 100% with Troglodyke on #11.

    If anything, being free from religion and, especially, a belief in an afterlife has only made me happier. Believing that this life is all we have, why would one choose to spend it being anything but happy?

    If this is all we have, let us all make the most of it…and be kind to each other for the sake of spreading happiness, not because it’s something we’re “called” to do.

  • “Learn to forgive” for me is similar to “Learn to let go”. I think happy people have the ability to see when they need to fight for their happiness or when they need to “let go”.

  • Hi,

    Kudos to both you and your blog material.

    I am a Structural Integration body alignment specialist and would love to share your work with my clients because I”d like to raise their awareness on the premise that nurturing their psychoemotional health is just as vital as maintaining physical health.

    Thank you!

  • Jacob,

    Great post! :)

    I would like to add to this list that happy people are also productive and passionate about something.

    They have found their true purpose and that fuels the productivity.

    I guess you kind of touches this topic already in point #10, but still wanted to bring that out.


  • I recently quit my job because I was so unhappy. In a down economy when every newscast has a segment about unemployment it was probably crazy to quit without a plan.

    Since nobody is going to pay my mortgage for me I do need to find a job but I am doing some serious soul searching about why I was so miserable at work and what I need to do to be happy. I don’t seem to do a good job of weathering the storms of life. In the past I have had success in work and I have a good family, wonderful friends and a partner who loves me dearly. Intellectually I know that life is up and down and the downs are inevitable but I find myself frustrated with this overstressed, overstimulated world I have created. So what is the answer? Change it! Being at crossroads in my life I am forced to change it but the path is not clear to me. Every cell in my body is telling me to not take a job in corporate America yet my financial obligations are such that it does not make sense for me to change careers and start over. Life is short and I know how bad stress is for my health but my real estate is under water and it would require some big decisions for me to dial down my life- creating more stress. One of my bigger struggles is with image. What will people think of me if I walk away from my career or give my house back to the bank? When I told some people I quit my job they looked at me like I had two heads.

    Any advice would be welcome….

  • I love this blog along with the others. It is so true and inspiring. Happiness comes from within. As a single person, still working, and recovering from heart disease and being alone is difficult. I try not to focus on that but focus on what is real. Peace and serenity have no price.

  • In response to Seeker… Two years ago wife and I did exactly what you describe. We quit our corporate jobs, let our house go back and moved to cheaper part of the country. Scary… Absolutely! But it was the best decision we ever made. The stress level is now far less, I have a lesser-paying, yet more fulfilling job, and we are able to live off only one income. Life is short my friend… Don’t buy in to the system, as I did for so many years!

  • For the #2.
    You can learn optimism:

  • An impressive list! And I hear you about taking care of the body. Big pharma has its own agenda and it isn’t one of curing ills or taking care of our health. But we can forgive them and help others toward more natural solutions–like you said, “exercise.”

  • This is great, I need to print this out and post it, as a daily reminder. Thank you.

  • I have started practicing these tips in my life and am already noticing a difference. Thank you.

  • Well done on a practical and grounded article. It is absolutely consistent with my own experience.

    I would only add that having an external locus of control (I am responsible for my own happiness) over an internal locus of control (you are to blame for my unhappiness) is very powerful. Nobody can make you - or me - think or feel anything. Truly embracing this is essential for leading a happy life.

  • Great article, I can’t wait to share this with my massage clients! I love committing random acts of kindness like paying for the cup of coffee for the person behind me in the drive thru. Thanks so much.

  • Beautifully written and VERY inspiring… Thank you!

  • Wow! I just “stumbled” onto your website and love, love, love it!! :)

  • My Grandfather (97) has the same points taped to his fridge, it was printed in the Oregonian, in a different form, about 20 years ago and he liked it. It must be working, he still live independently and is as healthy as a 97 year old can be.

  • Amazing read! Concise and packed with wisdom. It was like a morning dose of motivation to keep me going strong.

  • Today my friend sent me this link to read because earlier I declared that I was overwhelmed with life and stressed out. Being proper friends they kicked my butt, and I’m glad I have real friends like that! Being a naturally happy person, I have not cultivated enough mind control when things are overwhelming, but this article is just awesome and I am going to use it, read it, and practice it. Thank you for writing it and posting it! :)

  • @Chibi: I just wanted to reply to your statement of “Surely you wouldn’t tell a diabetic to replace his insulin with exercise?”. That’s actually how my aunt got off insulin. So it is possible. My thought is that if someone needs pills initially to fight their depression, by all means take them. But the goal, in my opinion, would be to get past that need and move on to something that would, from all I’ve heard in ads for anti-depressants, have far fewer posssibilities of, if any, negative side effects.

  • Great post, especially about gratitude and about personal health - without your health you will really have nothing. Thanks for the wisdom.

  • Nice :) So much positive change occurs when a saddened individual makes the decision to adopt even one of these practices. Thanks for putting them all together.
    Dr. Puja Wentworth, DC

  • Big smiles at all the comments. Thanx so much everyone. Honored, blessed, and having a blast watching this explode and touch your lives. Cheers to good times and purposeful paths.

  • Thank you for being you and sharing this insight. This is my first time to your site, it is fabulous. I look forward to exploring the rest of your articles.

  • Thank you so very much…
    I am at the beginning of a spiritual path… I have been sent a few posts about positivity and this one has definitely hit home for me.
    I now realise that I was not dealing with all life has to throw at me in a positive way.
    I will print and share these points with my kids…
    Life is a blessing which we should share with each other. Being nice to one another has a ripple effect. Think of the humble “smile”…
    This is my daily good deed. Wishing you all happiness and fulfilment.

  • Very inspiriational. Thanks to all those who made me feel part of the group. We are all just human.

  • Very thought provoking post - I do feel like you’ve outlined things I was better at before life felt so frustrating. Thank you.

  • For those railing against #11, realize that the point separates ’spirituality OR religion’. Everyone has a personal spirituality; atheism and agnosticism are spirituality, just like mono- or polytheism (or just theism generally). If your connection to the wider universe is through science or politics or empathy with your fellow life forms, great. If your connection is through structures of religion (the institutions, not the personal beliefs), and that works for you, that’s great too. What that point really means is, know in a deep way what, for you, it’s “all about”.

  • Thank you for this amazing article! I’m going to print it out and carry with me at all times. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

  • Your wonderful words of wisdom just came my way and just in the nick of time when I was loosing faith in people during this Holiday time, After reading not just your article but the comments that followed-it renewed my inner spirit and I realized there are amazing, kind spirited, generous, and beautiful people all around us everyday, just hard to see through the masses sometimes. Happy Holidays to all,
    Much Aloha,

  • Beautiful! I am inspired.

  • Wish I could find a way to practice #8 in a way that would make time ACTUALLY stand still. Every time I get “in the flow” I look up and hours have passed, and the day flies past seemingly in an instant…

  • My partner (who really needed this bit of advice) read your statement: “If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an older version of yourself” — and he thought you meant literally an older (future, more aged) version of yourself. Which is, if all goes well, a version of yourself that you are not as good as yet. Might wanna tweak the verbiage to “an earlier version”. I assured him that that’s what you meant. :)

    Update by Marc: Awesome suggestion, Jadam. I made the change you suggested.

  • Great post. I think you’ve got all the points there. I do all that and I’m a very happy person no matter what is happening in my life, the only problem I have is that my daughter sometimes accuses me of being too positive.

  • This is such great advice and I love the way you were able to simplify happiness is 12 simple steps. The steps that hit home to most to me was 12, taking care of yourself physically and not comparing yourself to others. I think comparison is such a small thing in which most people don’t pay attention but can be so draining. :)

  • Fantastic - will post for myself and print for clients (with credit). Will be coming back, too. Thanks!

  • I just went through a really difficult period and your article has helped me back from a low point. Thank you.

    Brian Mcfarlane

  • Being steadfast in Number 1 will bring you all the rest. Gratitude is the most powerful energy source for the manifestation of all good.

  • I’m just discovering you thanks to Twitter. Thanks for the good advice.

  • Truly an enjoyable read. Thanks very much for this article.

  • Love it!

  • I’d like to add another one to the list (similar to #3): being genuine. In a world that is increasingly fake, and you have to pretend you’re someone you’re not in order to get out, being yourself can give you tremendous joy and free yourself from social chains.

  • Yeah, I agree with everything said here. Our hearts must always be open and beautiful to attract good things in life. Speaking with a positive tongue is golden.

    Warm regards for this post.

  • this post is really worthwhile. we dont need to buy hundreds of voluminous books about happiness. these 12 things enough to achieve happiness in all our lives.

  • # 13: Sing!

  • Love this list! I learned to forgive when I was around 22 years old and it has served me well since then. I’ve never had to “learn” optimism, I’ve been optimistic my whole life. Even through bouts of depression I KNEW there was something better than the way I was feeling. #9 esp. resonates with me; I’m the one in the family who really sees that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. #11 Practice spirituality. Why? We’re all spiritual whether we, like Troglodyke, dismiss the notion of universal intelligence or whether we are “religious”. To me, spiritual means treating myself well so I can treat others well. I don’t need to practice, either. Filling yourself with “good feelings” through religious practice is okay, if that is what you feel good doing. Spirituality is also about self-growth rather than worshiping something “out there”. So that’s what I take it to mean. I am going to copy and make several copies of this for the people in my life who look at the downside of life.

  • Thank you. What a concise list! I shared it on Twitter!

  • thanks so much for this post… needed to read this today, especially #1, #7 and… oh heck, the whole darn thing! Merci bien!

  • Great post. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use it with my ESL students. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • Great list. If only we could all practice these tips on a regular basis the world would be even more amazing!

    I personally find living in the moment something that makes me very happy. It allows me to do all these things because I’m not stressed about the future or regretful about the past – instead I’m just going with the flow and taking it all in stride. It allows me to be kinder and more aware, among many other things.

    It’s a personal goal of mine this year to live in the moment as often as possible.

  • Discovered this site through a retweet that appeared in my Twitter timeline (@delightfulrepas). Am loving it! I like to dwell on positive things, and a site like this serves the purpose well!

  • Thank you so much for your inspiring articles.
    This list made me smile :)


  • Thanks Jacob,

    I just noticed the note at g+ and posted a comment there. Let me copy it and paste it here the same with a slight change.

    Thanks +Ed Fernandez for the share. +Brynn Evans Hey, only #9 & For me all are equally important and in my list # 11 will come as # 1, Yes If a person is Spiritual, I firmly believe that rest all will fall in line with it. A Wonderful New Year Resolution!! :-) Thanks, Jacob,Ed, Brynn.

    Nice to be here, also I just noticed that there are many valuable thoughts spread around on this blog. I will come back again to check them out.

    Best Regards

  • Great read! I am a bit happier now :)

  • Nice Rendering! Great post!…Reading articles like this reminds us the habits that we have to nurture to live a happy life!

  • Thank you for sharing that information with a nice touch of humor!! Enjoyed your article. Will check out your site.

  • what a great post! going to repost this on my blog. thanks for sharing! ;)

  • This is a great post and loved all of the introspective tips provided. I also liked the book. I also just finished reading Unchain The Pain by Bob Livingstone. The book (a nightstand go to) gave me the tools I needed to be less agitated, more aware and simply happy. Thanks for the GREAT tips! :)

  • Wow! Glad I got to read this inspiring post. I will definitely be sharing this. Thanks for putting it out there!

  • Hey ladies and gentleman :)

    Firstly, i wanna thank ALL of you for the incredible feedback. Seeing your comments and watching this article spread like wildfire (to over 100,000 FB shares) let’s me know i’m living on purpose.

    Secondly, i want you to know that there are actionable which you can apply to each of the 12 things. All of the above means nothing if we don’t find ways to apply this wisdom on a regular basis.

    You can see specific steps for applying the 12 things in this sweetly formatted PDF i put together:

    Enjoy and if you have any questions or just wanna chat, feel free to email me or call my cell. Jacob At Sensophy Dot Com. 347 - 398 - 2814. :)

  • That’s so funny, I too interpreted it as “compare yourself to a an older version of yourself” which really was a “hook” point for me. Though I loved all the “hooks”in your article, comparing myself to what I would want to be as I aged was just enough of an excellent challenge to take my mind off of all the silliness of camparing myself to my peers.
    I started focusing on being strong, healthy, open minded, flexible, wise, smart….all the traits I want to evolve into . This is probably what I shouldn’t do, but I started looking at older people I admired for some reason or another!

  • I would like to add, don’t be a victim to yourself or others. Being “too nice” can really bring you down and lose self-worth. I used to be a doormat, constantly being available and kind to people who didn’t reciprocate. Becoming fair to myself through becoming more assertive has made my life a lot more fulfilling and it’s a lot less repressive.

  • “Savoring life’s joys” is one of the things that has kept me happy for so long! It’s like seeing the world from the mind of your inner child: all is new, and all is exciting.

    Looking wide-eyed at something new isn’t bad or embarrassing, it’s enjoyable!

    Loved this list, I’ve learned from it (and I’ll put it into practice), and I hope other people will, too.


  • I have been reading the articles on your website for awhile now. I just wanted to thank you. They are really inspirational, and I read them anytime I feel low. I went through a very hard time in my life and I did not handle it as well as I could have. Anytime I feel myself straying off the path of happiness, I come here. I have shared it with those I love as well, hoping it helps them just as much.

  • Great article… thanks for sharing. These 12 points are so helpful and true.

  • I LOVE this, thank you for sharing such wonderful tips. A great reminder in all of them to live like the happiest person… to be the happiest person.

  • Melanie, well said. Do not let your giving and generosity be taken advantage of.

  • Thanks for sharing these. I believe life has a purpose and humans of goodwill are somehow connected. I experience growth and realize that we need lots of inspiration through such sharing in order to succeed at our work and also aid others in their desires to overcome challenges in life. Many thanks again.

  • This is awesome! I plan on printing this out and keeping it in multiple places as I am committed to being positive and happy with everything that I do in my life. Thanks for this Marc! I am personally going to redistribute this as much as I possibly can!

  • I think #11 should just be to realize that the world is bigger than “just you”. Other than that, this is a fantastic article.

  • 8 & 9 are the reasons my life is slowing down for the better while the rest of the world exclaims “HOW TIME FLIES!” Thank you for your wonderful blog.

  • As a response to Troglodyke and those who agreed with her, I think that part of being a “spiritual” person is thinking about the big issues in yourself and in the world. Most of the atheists that I know call themselves atheists not because they just don’t care or that they are against the good qualities that churches (hopefully) promote, but because they have thought about the subject and have come to a different conclusion than those who belong to an organized religion. I respect that choice and agree with many of their conclusions, in spite of the fact that I attend church. I started going when my children were small because I felt that it was a part of their cultural education as well as a way to “fit in,” but when they were old enough to ask questions I was honest about my reservations on the subject. They now choose what they want to do with that upbringing (which is generally to not belong to an organized church), but they have the knowledge to make that decision, as well as comfort in a church setting, which we all have contact with, even if just for weddings and funerals. Not surprisingly, the church I belong to is a place where I feel comfortable talking to the ministers about anything and know that they will not have a knee-jerk reaction to any doubts that I have. One of the main benefits of belonging to a church is the sense of community and belonging it bestows. Studies have shown that people feel more accepted for their flaws (being overweight has been specifically looked at) in a church.

    Unfortunately, there seem to be a large and vocal group of church-goers invading the political arena who want to tell everyone else what they have to believe and do and I think their influence on society is negative. If you actually read the Bible you will find that the Christ came to replace all that came before him, not to promote intolerance and prejudice. Intolerance is not acceptable to me, whether it is based on moral, religious, or personal grounds and any person whose beliefs do not actually infringe on the rights of others is free to believe what they want with my best wishes.

    I enjoyed the article and the discussion - very refreshing to read a civil and reasoned discussion online.

  • A couple of comments:
    10 . Commit to your goals:
    there is a danger that you become a perfectionist and you may then never be satisfied with the goal which becomes a moving target.
    Sometimes good enough is … perfect

    There is a suggestion from Prof Tal Ben Shahar which goes like this: every evening, think about 5 good things that happened to you during the day.
    Even better, and that’s what I do, share it with your family members over dinner.

  • Formerly Depressed
    May 20th, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    A lot of these are really good tips, but I’d like to add one. For me what really worked was allowing myself to feel bad. I think we are put under so much pressure in our society to be perfect, not only in what we achieve but also in how we feel. So for me what really worked was giving myself permission to feel like crap some days, to admit that and to not feel like I have to be invincible or pretend that I am.
    I also find it helps to focus on process rather than results - so when applying for a job I gave myself credit for the applications I wrote and firms I researched, instead of focusing on the fact that I hadn’t actually had any interviews. When I looked over all the effort I had made, it was easier to think “the next one’s mine” and keep going.

  • Wow, I’ve been looking for a way to feel better from my trapped mind and this has helped me sooo much. Thank you for posting this. I know this can help sooo many people.

  • This was an amazing article. Thank you!

  • Great article. Just be smart and open about how you apply #10 regarding goals. Sometimes we just need to let things happen. Acceptance and being mindful is something that compliments what you stated here.

  • Wonderful! I have had depression most my life, but coping with it in ways like this, For me I had to start loving things I do doing things I love like painting, and now I take fish oil and oilive oil on foods, Its amazing I can always cope now, I wanted to share that omegas have changed my life, and after I started taking better care of that It seems I find it fun to try a little harder to do better on the rest, Its changed my life, wanted to share hoping someone else can see if it helps them, <3 and peace,

  • so true!!!! very inspiring. new to your blog and I am loving it.

  • This is what I needed to read right now,
    I’ve been very sad and troubled… And then, suddenly I felt I need to pull myself back and start things over.
    Thank you so much!

  • great list! I am a happy person and can attest that all of these are true =)

    - Maria Alexandra

  • This makes a lot of sense. Thanks a whole lot! Am gonna try to read this everyday. God bless you!

  • What an extraordinary read. I really enjoyed this and so full of insight. Thank so much for sharing these amazing words. You are a tremendous person.

  • Thank you Jacob for this incredible list! And thank you Marc for posting it here!

    I came to your blog after having yet another terrible fight with my boyfriend. I am going through some very tough times but I didn’t want to just passively accept the pitfalls of life again. This list really helped me regain a perspective on life. It reminded me I have control over my happiness, no matter what life decides to throw at me.

    Not subjecting to social comparison was especially pertinent to me. In a digital age where Facebook and instagram pervades so many of our lives, sometimes we focus too much on what others have and forget to be grateful for what we do have.

    To those who are hurting in relationships, “never insist yourself to someone who consistently overlooks your worth.” (A memorable quote from another great article on this blog.) It’s hard but sometimes letting go is the right thing to do. This is what I am striving to work on - learning to let go.

    Once again, thank you for the great article. Will definitely share this with loved ones!

  • Supercool and so very true!

  • Words to live by.

  • This is such a perfect post to read in January. Simple, thoughtful inspiration for a New Year. Happy 2013!

  • I love the article, but one thing stood out to and for me. It was the use of the “Kanye West” comment. No less in a subject regarding avoiding comparisons. I was wondering if you personally know Kanye West or if you are using his persona as a way to create a laugh response? Or was the comment made in judgement on the way you see him? I was just curious. I like the bullet points! I like to add to that avoiding criticism and judgment of others. I think when I do that, I am not judging them I am appearing as one who thinks he can judge. That my friend, I am in no position to do! Have a beautiful day!

  • Yes, happy people normally do things differently.

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