Turn on the TV at any given time and you will find a talk show or news segment giving advice on finding some type of happiness. Book stores are full of rows and rows of self-help books on how to find fulfillment and happiness. Social Media does the same with nice “happy” visuals or short clips to go along with it. I know all this because I read, watch, study and think of what happiness means. I’ve learned a lot more from happy people than any books or visuals could teach. Read on for the 5 things that happy people know.

1. They know what they have. Happy people are not constantly “looking at someone else’s plate” wondering if they have something better. They take inventory of all of the blessings that they have. They are also protective of what they have. This is very important because many marriages and relationships break up because a “passerby” in life from the outside is carelessly let in to do some damage. Happy people know what they know and do not give consideration to strangers or outsiders opinions or judgments about their lives. Happy people know what or who makes them happy and are protective of it.

2. They choose to be happy. Happy people have strong minds made up to be happy. They are accepting of changes, taking everything in stride. Part of choosing to be happy is always keeping in mind “Plan B”. As life goes on, we realize that most of the time no matter what happens, life goes on. The power is in choosing what to do with life’s circumstances. The questions every day for a person who chooses to be happy is, “how can I grow from this experience?” or “what good can come from this?”

3. They accept other people. No one lives in a vacuum. Though happiness does not depend on anyone else but you, people around us have an influence. The greatest mistake I have found in people who are not happy is that they try to control other people and other people’s feelings about them. Happy people are more accepting. They understand that their control lies in how they respond to others feelings or actions. Anthony De Mello, in THE WAY TO LOVE, says it best as he writes about other people’s choices, “I leave you free to be yourself, to think your thoughts, to indulge your taste, follow your inclinations, behave in any way you decide is to your liking.”

4. They understand happiness is not a feeling and plan accordingly. People often confuse happiness with momentary pleasure or a temporary ego boost. Happy people work consistently toward goals. They have a vision of the life they hope for. They know what they are doing before they do it. It is not fleeting decisions made up moment to moment. For example, when I moved into my home 7 years ago, it was like most new homes, empty. I stayed in my empty home for a few weeks. I put a great deal of thought into what type of home I wanted to make it. How would I fill it? The answer, with love. I created a plan in hopes to make my home the kind of home that people didn’t want to leave when they visited. After all, those types of homes have always been my favorite. People who choose to be happy, plan. They know what they want and work on it step by step. Happiness is a by-product. It is a result of a good plan, hard work and loyalty.

5. They do not spend a lot of time on the past troubles or mistakes. Happy people look forward while living in the present. Our past is gone no matter what happened or what we think of it. Happy people humbly accept that they made mistakes and move on. The only control we have to make any changes is right here in the present. Kathleen Driscoll once said, “If we are depressed, we are living in the past. If we are anxious, we are living in the future. The only way to be happy is to live right now.”

As long as we are alive we have a chance at happiness. The search goes on. Most of us will keep reading books, watching “experts” and sharing “the way to happiness” posts on social media. The search is part of the joy. Making the decision that you want to be happy is the most important step. Happy trails!

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