10 Habits of Happy People

Today, we’re channeling our inner Stephen Covey, although, as my father-in-law says, worldly success does not always equal happiness.

But I think Mr. Covey would agree with most of the points on this list. We all want to be happy, right? Duh.  But we want to be more than happy, don’t we? We want to be really happy. Deep down in our cores, in the center of who we are, we want to be happy.

So how do we get happy? I’m still in the learning process, but I’m an observer by nature and people watching is my favorite pastime outside of talking writing your ears eyes off, so I’ve formed my own little list of what I’ve found to be some of the top qualities of people who are truly, honest to God living happy lives.

ten-habits-happy-peopleThey wake up for their day, not to their day.

Almost every successful and happy person I know wakes up with intention. They have a morning ritual that sets the tone for their day, usually involving prayer/meditation, expressing gratitude in some form, some sort of exercise, and planning the day ahead; not included is checking email and pressing the snooze button (note to self).

They take time for what they enjoy.

Ahhh leisure – the never-ending balance. But it’s true: happy people take time each day to do something they love and find relaxing. For some, it’s reading; for others, it’s taking a walk or bike ride; for others, it’s spending time chatting on the phone with a friend or relative. Regardless of the activity, happy people do something each day that makes them feel alive. Our days are packed with responsibilities, duties, and other things we must do. We would be silly to neglect to include an activity that we want to do, right?

They are intentional about their life.

Not only do happy people wake up with intention, but their whole lives reek of intentionality. Happy people have sought the source of their existence and have discovered their purpose. They live with passion for that purpose and align their day-to-day activities with that purpose. They live in the present moment, searching for the beauty right in front of them. These are the people who, when in conversation with you, make you feel as though you are the only person in the world. They give you their full attention because it is their intention to know you, to be with you, and to learn about you. Everything they do, eat, watch, read, pursue, and accomplish has a purpose.

They are grateful for what they have.

This is a big one. While happy people are typically motivated people who are always setting goals and striving to be better, they are content with what they have. They do not compare their possessions with others’, they don’t scoff at someone else’s success, and they don’t wish ill on someone else out of jealousy. They don’t compare their beginning with some else’s middle. They begin each day with gratitude and remind themselves of their blessings throughout the day. They spend more time thinking about what they have and have been given rather than what they do not have. Not only are they grateful in their minds and hearts, but they are constantly expressing gratitude to God, their family, their friends, the cashier, their colleagues, their dog groomer, and everyone in between.

They give of themselves.

Happy people look for ways to serve others. They realize that true happiness and the most fun they’ll ever have comes from helping other people. Starting with their own families and communities, they look for ways to give back, to sacrifice their time, talent, and treasure, and to support those who need it most.

They don’t stir the pot.

Want to be happy? Avoid the drama. Steer clear of the water cooler and the teacher’s lounge. Happy people avoid drama like the plague. They realize that drama only creates chaos, mistrust, and disorder. So when drama comes knocking, they don’t engage. Happy people do not hold grudges because they realize that holding onto anger or resentment only hurts themselves more, and not the one who hurt them in the first place.

They take care of themselves.

Happy people know that in order to give of themselves, they must first take care of themselves. They make their mental, spiritual, and physical health a priority. They make time to move and pray, to read and learn. They make eating nourishing foods and forming deep and meaningful friendships a priority. They know that you can’t give what you don’t have; and if they wish to bless others, they must first be good stewards of their own life.

They look for the best in everyone.

My maternal grandmother is a supreme example of this. That woman is always on the side of the underdog, the misunderstood, and the sinner. When any scandal arises, her first instinct is to try to understand the perspective of the offender. She labors as much as possible to sympathize with even the most heinous of people, not to excuse their behavior or make excuses for their actions, but because she knows that, since they were created by God, there must be something good about them. And hell will freeze over before she lets herself not find what that good is.

They have hella fun

Happy people aren’t afraid to let down their hair and go dancing in high heels. They know that life is short and that our best memories aren’t the ones spent in the office or on social media but rather the in-home movie nights with our children, the girls’-nights-out involving The Melting Pot and bowling alley, and the vacations taken with the ones we hold dear. Yes, happy people are even intentional with their fun.

They live for something greater than themselves.

What’s the saying: Last, but not least? 😉 Happy people don’t live for their own sake, but for something they deem greater than themselves. For the happy Christian, that something is God. True happiness lies in communion with the One who created us, in walking in His ways and loving as He loves. Happy people realize that all their labor is not for this world, but for something beyond and bigger than themselves. In fact, we could say that this is exactly where their happiness comes from.

What are your thoughts? What would you add to the list?  


  1. Maybe it gets filed under living with intention or doing something you enjoy, but I would add “always learning something new”. I know I am always happy to meet a new person or learn a new idea, or even something as small as a new piece of trivia. I am nerdy like that, though.

  2. A couple of the things you mention help with this, but I would say that happy people tend to spend a lot of time cultivating relationships. Good friends, strong family ties, and a support network are so, so important.

  3. I’m doomed…I am NOT a morning person and it takes me forever to wake up in the morning!!

  4. I know that we’re nearly half-way through the month of January– but these serve as beautiful ideas for New Year’s resolutions. Thanks!

  5. Love this list, Olivia! Especially living with intention. Or as Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade would call it, the sacrament of the present moment. That encompasses so much!

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