Self

10 Signs You’re Happy From The Happiest People I’ve Ever Met

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smiling woman

Are you happy?

It’s a surprisingly complex question because many of us get happiness wrong:

We think happiness equals “pleasure” and “excitement,” but those things are fleeting and just leave you wanting more. True happiness, however, is the peace of mind that comes from dropping the desires, cravings, and attachments that block your joy in the first place.

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

— Henry David Thoreau

I’ve had the privilege of meeting truly happy people and I’ve noticed they all share a number of similar traits. In this article, I’ll share the 10 most common ones and how they can reveal a lot about your inner joy.

You might not do all of these or you might not do them all the time, but that’s okay. (I sure don’t.)

But hopefully, they can show how you’re feeling inside and help guide you to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Here are 10 signs you're happy from the happiest people I've ever met:

RELATED: 35 Happy Quotes About Positivity That Will Put A Smile On Your Face

1. You can celebrate other people's success. 

When other people share good news (in a non-arrogant way), how you respond can reveal a lot about your happiness.

For example, when I moved to Europe, some people were spiteful—if I shared a story (tactfully), they got quiet and muttered, “Oh, that’s nice,” and then changed the subject. Over time, I could sense their growing resentment and jealousy and that their lack of self-worth made them feel threatened.

Happy people, however, genuinely feel delighted for other people’s successes — there’s no pretense or one-upmanship. It doesn’t make them feel threatened because they have healthy self-esteem and self-worth, know that they aren’t in competition with anyone else, and sincerely want others to succeed.

2. You don't tell everyone you're happy.

There’s a big difference between being happy and showing everyone you’re happy.

Unfortunately, many focus on the second one, not the first.

They try so hard to show themselves as happy — on social media, in conversations, etc. — but often, they’re lying to themselves or trying to create a fake persona, which makes them more unhappy because of their need for approval. (In my experience, the better someone tries to make their life look on social media, the worse they feel inside.)

Happy people don’t go around yelling, “I’m happy!” or write Instagram posts proclaiming their joy—they just are.

3. You accept negative emotions.

Don’t confuse happiness with “toxic positivity” where people force themselves and others to be positive during tough times. “Don’t be sad. Be happy. Always be happy. Happy, happy, happy.”

Yet this neurotic need to “act” happy often stems from being taught as a child that anger is bad. Yet unfortunately, bottling your emotions and smiling all the time, especially when mad, could create a serious level of repression and denial:

“Many people in pain tell me they aren’t angry. They often appear smiling, mild-mannered, polite, responsible, controlled, and cool-acting. This outward image hides a hellfire inferno lying just beneath their awareness — but deep within, they know it. It must be denied — OR, it has to be recognized — which ain’t gonna happen because ego won’t allow it.”

— Steven Ozanich

Happy people don’t always smile. They understand that life has its ups and downs and it’s okay to move with them. When they’re sad, they let themselves feel sad; when they’re mad, they let themselves feel mad. Eventually, the emotions will pass and life will continue as it always does.

4. You bounce back quickly.

Life happens. Sometimes, things randomly break, unfortunate events occur, or people let you down.

Unhappy people struggle in these moments. Any setback makes them explode or feel like the world is coming to an end. Or after it happens, they need a lot of “space” to “heal.”

Happy people, however, bounce back quickly. They don’t need to cry over every little problem; once their emotions pass, they get back on track and resume their lives. And even during a crisis, they can still stay calm enough to make good decisions and fix the problem.

“When your body is healthy, you don’t think about it much. It just is, functioning properly. But you spend a large portion of your waking hours concerned about your emotional well-being, always trying to ensure you feel good. What does that say about your emotional health?

Healthy emotions reflect a healthy body — you shouldn’t have to think much about them. When a problem arises, rather than burying it deeper, you mend it. You get over it. You let it go, so that it doesn’t have to plague your future.”

— Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D.

RELATED: 9 Ways To Accept (And Love) Your Life Today For Real Happiness That Lasts

5. You don't gossip.

I’ve never met a happy person who gossips, spreads negativity, or talks behind other people’s backs.

To do so, you’d have to take outside negativity, absorb it, and then spread it to others. Also, if you gossip, you’ll live in the fear that everyone else will gossip about you because you do the same thing.

“Men and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence; you can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons; the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things; the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas.”

— Henry Thomas Buckle

While you don’t have to like everyone, there’s no need to passive-aggressively talk trash about others, especially when they’re not there. (If you going to do it at all, at least say it to their face.)

6. You're grateful and humble.

Every happy person I’ve ever met is endearingly humble. Many have done incredible things in their lives, but they don’t think they’re one iota better than any other person.

They don’t let their accomplishments or experiences get to their head. They’re grateful for them, sure, but they don’t act conceited and egotistical or brag. Also, they give credit where credit is due: If people (or good fortune) help them, they’ll sing their praises more than they’ll sing their own.

Gratitude, after all, is one of the biggest factors in happiness. So give thanks for the blessings that happen each day and it will enhance your life.

7. You're living your best life.

Years ago, at a museum in Gdansk, Poland, and I chatted with an older couple bursting with happiness. As we talked, I realized they did more in their lifetime than 10 people combined — it felt like every day of their lives was an adventure.

That’s not to say that you have to sell everything tomorrow, pack your bags, and travel around the world to be happy. (Unless that’s what you want.)

The larger lesson is that happy people live their best lives in whatever way it means to them. If that means raising a loving family, that’s great. If that means being a chef, that’s great too. But they’re all dedicating their lives to something that brings meaning and fulfillment to them.

8. You're free.

Some people think they can’t be happy until they get certain things — money, possessions, etc. But they’ll always be unhappy because they’re stuck on the “hedonic treadmill:” Once they get what they want, they’ll quickly adapt, lose their happiness, try to get something else, and repeat the cycle.

If they can’t be happy without those things, they can’t be happy with them.

Happy people, however, don’t attach their happiness to other things. They don’t need approval or validation to feel good about themselves. They’re free from pressures, opinions, and the insatiable desire for more.

Do you feel free to be exactly who you want to be and do what you want? Would you feel okay if you lose everything or if everyone thinks you’re a loser, poor, ugly, etc.? If so, nothing will be able to steal your joy.

9. You don't live in the past.

The happiest people I know aren’t chained to their past. They focus on the incredible potential in the present to take action, do what they want, and thrive.

In The Time Paradox, Dr. Philip Zimbardo tells the story of Edie Eger, a 68-year-old woman who “exuded a joy for life.”

As a child, however, Edie was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp and endured horrifying experiences. Yet she learned to overcome her past, embrace her life, and encourage others to do the same.

The past always changes based on the present. So if you want to “heal” the past, the best way is to seize your life now.

“It is not the events of the past that most strongly influence our lives.

Your attitudes toward events in the past matter more than the events themselves. This distinction between the past and your current interpretation of it is critical because it offers hope for change. You cannot change what happened in the past, but you can change your attitude toward what happened.”

― Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D.

10. You can enjoy nothing.

Sometimes, when people do nothing, they feel anxious and worried because think they should be doing something, they should be productive, or they should be working. (This is inner battle is called the “tyranny of the shoulds” by Dr. Karen Horney.)

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with being driven and productive. But there’s a balance: It’s about, on one hand, making the most of your time and, on the other hand, remembering the only moment we’ll ever have is the present.

“If then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

― Leo Tolstoy

How much time do you spend fully immersed in enjoying the present moment? Are you able to be at peace doing nothing? As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

As you do that more, I guarantee you’ll be much happier in life.

RELATED: These 14 Quotes Will Help You Radically Accept Your Past (No Matter What It Was)

Anthony Yeung is an entrepreneur and full-time world traveler featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men's Health.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.