Happy people
Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
March 30, 2024 ·  8 min read

22 Things Happy People Do Every Single Day of Their Lives

Many people spend their lives waiting to be happy.  You may think, “if only I had more money,” or “could lose weight,” or you fill in the blank, then I would be happy.

Humans are always searching for the next thing, or next achievement, that will make us happy. The problem is, very shortly after we get that “thing”, it stops making us happy. Psychologists refer to this as “hedonic adaptation”. Essentially, once we get what we want we return back to our original emotional baseline [1].

The truth is, happiness doesn’t come from wealth, perfect looks or even a perfect relationship. Harvard lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar refers to a concept he calls “the arrival fallacy” in his book, Happier. He describes this concept as “The false belief that reaching a valued destination can sustain happiness.” [2]

Instead, he suggests that it is the journey toward a destination that brings about true happiness.

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.” [2]

You may be tired of hearing it, but the truth is happiness often comes from the little things. The good news is that there are small things you can start doing right away that will help you feel happier.

22 Positive Habits of Happy People

What’s the secret to being happy? You can learn how to do it, just as you can learn any other skill. Those who are happy tend to follow a certain set of habits that create peace in their lives. If you learn to apply these habits in your own life, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy too.

Check out these habits of happy people, and start applying them to your own life today:

  1. Let Go of Grudges

Forgiving and forgetting is necessary for your own happiness. Holding a grudge means you’re also holding onto resentment, anger, hurt and other negative emotions that are standing in the way of your own happiness. Letting go of a grudge frees you from negativity and allows more space for positive emotions to fill in [3].

  1. Treat Everyone with Kindness

Kindness is not only contagious, it’s also proven to make you happier. When you’re kind to others, your brain produces feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and you’re able to build strong relationships with others, fostering positive feelings all around.

Numerous studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between giving our time, money, and other resources to a cause we are passionate about, and our own wellbeing. People who volunteer report better health and happiness than those who don’t, so help others to help yourself [4].

  1. Regard Your Problems as Challenges

Change your internal dialogue so that anytime you have a “problem” you view it as a challenge or a new opportunity to change your life for the better. Eliminate the word “problem” from your mind entirely.

  1. Express Gratitude For What You Have

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health [5].

  1. Set Goals

Research shows that making progress on our goals makes us happier and more satisfied with life. Again, the key is to enjoy that process. Even if you haven’t achieved the goal yet, if you can enjoy the journey you’re on to get there, you will derive happiness from that experience [6].

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

If the issue you’re mad about will be irrelevant a year, a month, a week or even a day from now, why sweat it? Happy people know how to let life’s daily irritations roll off their back. Dwelling on the negative contributes to stress and unhappiness [7].

  1. Speak Well of Others

It may be tempting to gather around the office water cooler to get and give the daily gossip, but talking negatively about others is like taking a bath in negative emotions; your body soaks them up. Instead, make it a point to only say positive, nice words about other people, and you’ll help foster more positive thinking in your own life as well [7].

  1. Avoid Making Excuses

It’s easy to blame others for your life’s failures, but doing so means you’re unlikely to rise past them. Happy people take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps, then use the failure as an opportunity to change for the better.

  1. Live In The Present

Allow yourself to be immersed in whatever it is you’re doing right now and take time to really be in the present moment. Avoid replaying past negative events in your head or worrying about the future; just savor what’s going on in your life now.

Meditation is a powerful tool for learning to live in the moment. When you meditate regularly, activity in the areas of the brain associated with negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression appears to decrease [7].

  1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Your life is unique, so don’t measure your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you. Even regarding yourself as better than your peers is detrimental to your happiness, as you’re fostering judgmental feelings and an unhealthy sense of superiority. Measure your own success based on your progress alone, not that of others [2].

  1. Nurture Social Relationships

Positive social relationships are a key to happiness. Invest in quality time with the people you care about. Make a conscious effort to stay connected with friends and family, and have meaningful conversations.

It’s also important to seek out happy people. Research shows that happiness is contagious, and spending time with happy people can improve your mood as well [7].

  1. Live Minimally

Clutter has a way of sucking the energy right out of you and replacing it with feelings of chaos. Clutter is an often-unrecognized source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction and even guilt. Give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, knick knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment but also in your mind [8].

20. Be Honest

Every time you lie, your stress levels are likely to increase and your self-esteem will crumble just a little bit more. Plus, if others find out you’re a liar it will damage your personal and professional relationships. Telling the truth, on the other hand, boosts your mental health and allows others to build trust in you.

Committing to telling the truth can also motivate us to become all the good things lying helps us pretend we already are [9].

21. Establish Personal Control

Avoid letting other people dictate the way you live. Instead, establish personal control in your life that allows you to fulfill your own goals and dreams, as well as a great sense of personal self-worth [10].

22. Accept What Cannot Be Changed

Everything in your life is not going to be perfect, and that’s perfectly all right. Happy people learn to accept injustices and setbacks in their life that they cannot change, and instead, put their energy on changing what they can control for the better.

A Healthy Lifestyle Naturally Enhances Happiness

One of the easiest ways to start feeling happier is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. This will help keep your mood elevated naturally even in the midst of stress. Happy people tend to be healthy people, and vice versa, so in addition to healthy food and exercise, the following lifestyle strategies can also help to support emotional wellness:

  1. Proper Sleep

Sleep deprivation is linked to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and bipolar depression while getting the right amount of sleep has been linked to positive personality characteristics such as optimism and greater self-esteem, as well as a greater ability to solve difficult problems [12].

2. Eating Omega-3 Fats

Low concentrations of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are known to increase your risk for mood swings and mood disorders. Those suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood, compared to non-depressed individuals. More research is needed, but omega-3s are a promising natural treatment for mood disorders [13].

  1. Regular Sun Exposure

This is essential for vitamin D production, low levels of which are linked to depression. But even beyond vitamin D, regular safe sun exposure is known to enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins [14].

The Pursuit of Happiness

All of these small habits work together to create a healthier, happier you. This is a long list, but is by no means all-encompassing. Everyone is different, therefore certain things that are unique to you will make you happy. 

If you are struggling with feeling happy, perhaps starting with one or two of the items on this list will help you feel better. Of course, if you are having depressive or suicidal thoughts, reach out to a professional right away. They will be able to help you find the source of your unhappiness, and work with you toward a more positive future.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/hedonic-adaptation
  2. https://www.becomingminimalist.com/how-to-live-a-happy-life/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/teen-angst/201701/achieving-happiness-helping-others
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier#:~:text=In%20positive%20psychology%20research%2C%20gratitude,adversity%2C%20and%20build%20strong%20relationships.
  6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/dont-delay/200806/goal-progress-and-happiness
  7. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/cultivating-happiness.htm#:~:text=Give%20sincere%20thanks%20to%20others.&text=Not%20only%20will%20it%20make,that%20what%20you%20do%20matters.
  8. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190515-can-decluttering-your-house-really-spark-joy
  9. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201402/why-be-honest
  10. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tame-your-terrible-office-tyrant/201901/can-more-control-in-your-life-mean-happiness
  11. https://www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys-to-happier-living/be-comfortable-with-who-you-are/details
  12. https://www.apa.org/action/resources/research-in-action/sleep-deprivation
  13. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/omega-3-fatty-acids-for-mood-disorders-2018080314414
  14. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651