“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” – Martha Washington, wife of George Washington
This quote by Martha Washington is incredibly powerful. Notice that she disregards her situation while mustering the inner resolve to be happy. Undoubtedly, Martha Washington had every reason to feel otherwise.
Martha’s husband, the first President of the United States, was on the battlefield risking his life for the first eight years of their marriage. When not on the battlefield, he was debating and negotiating the Constitution of the United States…no small task by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t until 18 years after the Washington’s first married that they were finally able to live a normal life. Indeed, Mrs. Washington epitomizes happiness in the face of extreme difficulty.
While probably not as distressing as the Washington’s, your own unique journey through life is likely to have its own ups and downs. Even people that seem to have a naturally happy disposition will experience very difficult times when this natural trait is challenged.
The difference lies in how happy people overcome these difficult times, namely through their inherent ability to focus on the positives in their life.
Here are 6 key reasons why happy people are able to stay happy.
1. Happy people make a habit of focusing on the positives.
Instead of focusing on everything that could go wrong, happy people focus on what could go right. They don’t fret or stress nearly as much as others. Without question, happy people realize that while not everything is positive; they can at least learn from the negative.
A good example of this is the workplace. Most people, about 70% of the population, despise their jobs. The happy among us, while they may not truly embrace their work, are thankful that they at least have a job, and do the best they can to fulfill their responsibilities. Happy people are notorious for taking the opportunity to be a difference maker in their jobs and become a positive influence to their coworkers.
2. Happy people turn problems into opportunities.
Happy people also manage to achieve success by taking advantage of opportunities that arise. They don’t just think about the problem; instead they think about what is to be gained from that problem. This is truly about being able to shift focus. What can you do that will enable you to accomplish something out of this “problem”?
At the very least, a difficult situation will enhance your inner strength. There are times when you cannot think of something tangible to be gained out of a situation. While this may be the case, you will gain inner strength, fresh knowledge, and a new outlook.
3. Happy people understand the importance of self-care.
Regardless of how much we may hear about the importance of taking care of ourselves, most people don’t do it enough or very well. Positive people not only realize the importance of self-care, but how this applies to them as individuals. There is no universal prescription on how to take care of yourself; in other words.
That being said, self-care usually involves something that you enjoy. Whether this is exercising, meditation, sleeping, writing, or something else, it must involve relaxation and enjoyment. Self-care can only work when you listen to your mind and body without experiencing resistance.
If you already know what you enjoy the most, do those things. If not, experiment and find at least one thing that makes you feel happy and recharged.
4. Happy people enjoy the simple things.
Ah, yes…the simple things. These are pretty easy to forget when you live in a world of instant gratification, credit cards, digital downloads, and dollar menus.
But the simple things are still there for your enjoyment. The key is being present in whatever simple thing you happen to be doing. Drink your morning coffee or tea while taking in the aroma; read a book thinking only about the plot; listen to your favorite music without missing a beat; or talk to a family member or friend without multitasking.
As Charles Dickens once wrote, “He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.”
5. Happy people live in the present.
At first, being present is a skill to be attained. This is normal, as we have become accustomed to multi-tasking while being barraged with distraction after distraction. The good news is that we can practice present-mindedness while cultivating our own happiness and strength!
What does it mean to live in the present? It means that your focus and awareness in centered on the here and now. Literally, this can be everything that you are doing – from cooking breakfast, brushing your teeth, or making your bed to reading a book, creating a spreadsheet or writing a letter.
Being present is the sane, enjoyable way of living; not handling three tasks at a time while adding to your mental and physical stress. Don’t buy into the notion that you always have to have multiple balls in the air to be effective. In fact, we work more efficiently when our brains – which are hardwired to do only one thing at a time – are focused on whatever task we may be faced with.
6. Happy people are resilient.
Happy people are also strong by nature. Some of the happiest people in the world experience tremendous obstacles, yet still maintain that resilience that allows them to smile and face these obstacles head on.
There are a few elements of cultivating and practicing such resilience. They keep company with other positive people, practice acceptance, devote themselves to self-care (#3!), and make a habit of disconnecting through meditation, prayer, reading or some other method.
Here’s the takeaway: you are stronger than you think, and you can become stronger. Resilience is often built through the adversity that we deal with in life. Even if you may not feel happy now, look forward to tomorrow and what gifts life may have in store for you.