What are the differences between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it should be very obvious: happy people are happy while unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct. But, we want to know what happy people do differently, so I have put together a list of things that happy people do differently than unhappy people.
1. Love vs. Fear
Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.
2. Acceptance vs. Resistance
Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence.
When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it (they know that this will make the situation even worse), but they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? And then they focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full, no matter what happens to them.
3. Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness
Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha
4. Trust vs. Doubt
They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. Whether they are talking to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a billion-dollar company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel that there is something unique and special about them. They understand that beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies.
Because of that, they make sure to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect, and make no distinction between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
5. Meaning vs. Ambition
They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because it gives their lives a sense of purpose. They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” as Wayne Dyer says.
And they care more about living a life full of meaning than what, in our modern society we would call, living a successful life. The irony here is that most of the time they get both success and meaning because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart‘s desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
6. Praising vs. Criticizing
Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, rather, they know by praising the person and the behavior they wish to reinforce (even if it’s not often), they will actually encourage the positive behavior.
When a parent wants to make sure their 7 year old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, they make sure not to focus on the many times the child didn’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent praises him and his behavior and that is exactly how they reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end get the wanted results.
7. Challenges vs. Problems
Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lay many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.
8. Selflessness vs. Selfishness
They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness to the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.