5 Tiny Habits Of People Who Know True Happiness

Finding happiness is a sweetness we all desire.

Last updated on Feb 12, 2024

Happy woman Dean Drobot | Canva

Life is a dish best served with joy, so learning how to be happy by practicing gratitude can help keep a positive attitude. Understanding how to practice gratitude helps us see the world through an optimistic lens. Gratitude and a positive mindset are essential tools to work through tough times. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, or how successful you are. Finding happiness is a sweetness we all desire.


​There are moments when we can find happiness, even when joy seems impossible. Everyone struggles with painful and unexpected events that can leave us reeling. Squeezing joy out of life’s hard times can be difficult. Yet, there are always opportunities to find happiness.

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Here are 5 tiny habits of people who know true happiness:

1. They know attitude is everything.

You always have a choice in how you react. Happiness can seem out of reach, but often your attitude impacts your sense of joy. In all situations, you bring your attitude, mindset, biases, and beliefs forward, which impacts your experience. When you feel tense or stressed, take a step back and observe what's happening around you. Decide where you can find happiness and joy instead of reacting to adversity.


2. They step outside of their perspective.

Joy is often found when you step outside of your singular perspective and open your mind to multiple perspectives. Changing your perspective changes your relationship to the situation. All situations have more than one side. When you are stuck in your perspective and don't consider another person's point of view, you're not attuned to the whole experience. The picture will be clearer the better you can see a situation from multiple perspectives.

Your happiness is often linked with the ability to see a situation from multiple lenses. Seeing the whole situation leads to confidence in making choices. Clarity slows you down, reducing your instant reactions and responses to take you to a more knowledgeable viewpoint.

3. They're grateful.

Holding deep appreciation while feeling the buzz of excitement in the depths of your being to savor life’s experiences is what gratitude offers you. These moments abound. The willingness to see the beauty around you is required to recognize moments of brilliance. It could be shared laughter with a loved one or a stranger, the beauty of a butterfly in a garden, or the feeling of the sun on your face. The joy you feel when you achieve a goal, cross a finish line,e or find freedom from past pain. These moments define you as much as your fears.


women hug gratefully

Photo: Sabrina Bracher via Shutterstock

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4. They have realistic expectations.

How often do you hold unspoken or unrealistic expectations? These expectations are rarely met and are the slippery slope of unhappiness. You create stories that support the idea of a world in which your unspoken wishes will be intuited, which rarely happens.


Just last week, I was chatting with a friend while my husband was out of town on business. I wanted company for dinner, so I asked her, “What are you doing for dinner tonight?” She responded she and her husband were keeping it low-key. I wanted to hang out. But if I'd left the conversation there, I would have been alone. Instead, I let her know I was hoping for some company, so we all had dinner together.

If I expected her to read my mind, I would have ended up on my own. (And I still might have if they'd been busy.) But by asking and being transparent about what I wanted, I was more likely to get it. You may have unrealistic expectations somewhere in your world. Maybe you expect something from someone they don’t understand, are aware of, or are incapable of giving you. I did this for years.

What was in my mind was a reasonable expectation, but because I didn't say anything, no one knew what I needed. This brings us to another way to be happy: Believe people when they show you a “no.” Let go and move on, or create a healthy boundary for yourself. I have found the degree of unhappiness or anger I feel is related to the quality of the healthy boundaries I set for myself.

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5. They have S.M.A.R.T. goals

Lots of things can squash happiness. Having realistic and attainable goals helps you focus on where you can make changes. S.M.A.R.T. goals are a way of breaking down a big goal into many smaller, more easily attainable goals by setting first, second, and third goals. Happiness is often linked with a sense of accomplishment and focus on what you can control. When you're scattered or frozen, you tend to feel helpless. And this is the opposite of finding more joy in your life.



Follow this metric and make your goals more achievable:

  • Specific: Clear goal that you are driving toward
  • Measurable: Your goal is trackable
  • Achievable: The goal is challenging and possible
  • Relevant: The goal is important to you
  • Timely: Your goal has a deadline

There are many paths to finding happiness. These keys can help you remember what will support joy as you navigate life. I invite you to draw on past experiences of happiness you've had. What was different at that time? What can you learn from these past experiences?


Then, you can pull your collective wisdom forward and consider what you need to shift your mood. Recognizing when you have a choice and acting on it is a powerful decision in finding your happy place.

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Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC, BCC is a Clinical Social Worker, life coach, and the author of StoryJacking: Change Your Inner Dialogue, Transform Your Life. She's spent the past 20+ years as a therapist and coach looking at the stories we tell ourselves and getting curious about the limiting narratives that keep people stuck.