a woman wearing a hat and smiling for the camera.

17 Happy Person Traits and Habits to Help You Model Happiness

Rachel Sharpe

The life of a happy person is quite different from that of an unhappy person. A happy person has a set of habits, thought processes, and actions that help them lead happier lives. Fortunately, these habits of a happy person aren’t locked away in a top-secret box with multiple locks on it. If you’re currently feeling unhappy, all of these habits are doable. You can transform your life to become happier. If you’re a happy person and curious about which habits are making the difference in your life, read on. So, let’s investigate what the habits of a happy person genuinely are. 

17 Traits of a Happy Person

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1. They’re Optimistic

A happy person is generally an optimistic person. That doesn’t mean that things always go well for them. Sometimes, unfortunate events happen to them too. However, in most situations, they’re glass-half-full kinds of people. The optimistic person looks at negative events as temporary, fixable, and external. For instance, if a happy person lost a race, they’d think to themselves, “Sarah ran very fast today” instead of “I suck at running no wonder I never win.”

Happy people will praise other people for doing a good job. However, they also know that they too can get better with time. They aren’t defeated by defeat. The optimist knows that they can handle all of life’s challenges and hurdles. Since they don’t beat themselves up for their mistakes and they know that bad days don’t last forever, they tend to persevere longer than a pessimist. With an optimistic attitude, happy people often achieve more than pessimistic people. This achievement happens, likely because they don’t give up when things get tough. Plus, since they blame losses on external events, they tend to have higher self-esteem. 

2. They Help People

Boy helping a girl out with filling a form

A happy person goes out of their way to help people. Some studies show that those who volunteer at least 5.8 hours a month tend to rate themselves as very happy. There are numerous benefits to helping others. For instance, when you focus on helping those in need, you spend less time going over negative events in your head. You might also experience feel-good hormones from a neurological perspective for helping others. It’s called Helper’s High.

Helping people is also a social activity. And people are meant to be social, so there’s usually a happiness boost from being around others too. Helping people also creates a sense of altruism from doing a good deed that can ripple off to generate more good deeds. And that enables you to feel even happier. If you want to be a happier person, your act of kindness can be big or small, and it’ll still have an impact. 

3. They Don’t Chase Happiness

Chasing happiness isn’t on the to do list of a happy person. Often, people will chase bigger goals, new possessions, and more life experiences in order to feel happy. However, they always find that they go back to the plateau. That’s because happiness isn’t permanent. It comes and goes like a cyclical pattern. 

Many people make big life decisions during those dips that don’t equal out to happier lives. Think of the person who divorces their spouse due to an unhappy marriage only to end up in multiple unhappy marriages throughout their life. Or the person who buys a sports car during their midlife crisis, only to wind up with more debt. Happiness isn’t the addition of a new toy, the replacement of a person, or an experience your credit card pays for. It’s a state of mind, hanging out within you, when you shut off your left brain and live.

4. They Avoid Ruminating 

A happy person avoids going down that deep and dark rabbit hole in their mind. The one that makes them depressed. Studies show that men and women experience depression at the same rate. However, the alarming difference between the two sexes is their actions in managing their thoughts. After all, some say depression is a thought disorder. So, how do the two sexes act on their thoughts? Well, men tend to distract themselves. When an unpleasant thought arises in a man, he distracts himself – he might play video games, grab a beer, or watch sports. And by doing these distracting behaviors, he reduces the long-term effect of depression.

However, women don’t take action by distracting themselves. Instead, they ruminate on negative thoughts, which means that they take their thoughts to the next level. Say a bad event happens, a ruminator would ask ‘why do I feel this way? What’s causing this? Why did this happen to me?’ and try to dissect why the event happened in the first place. Thus, taking a bad event and making it worse with their thoughts alone. A happy person tends to distract themselves, comes up with alternative happy thoughts, and looks replaces toxic thoughts with evidence-based thoughts. The important thing to remember is that you are not your thoughts.

5. They Live in The Present

Woman living in the present and smelling roses

A happy person lives in the present moment. An unhappy person has a flashback to the past or a flashforward to the future. In the past, they recycle happy and sad memories wishing things were better right now. In the future, they’re fearing everything that could go wrong. However, a happy person knows that the past is behind them and the future can’t be predicted. So no, that bad dream you had last night was not a prophecy. If life worked like that we’d all be billionaires– or at least lottery winners.

You can tackle everything that comes your way in the present moment. You simply need to make sure that you’re in the present moment to begin with. To be happy, you need to live outside of the thoughts in your head and in the world around you. That’s what it means to live in the present. Your mind shouldn’t become your hideaway spot. 

6. They Spend Time With Others

The people who live the longest tend to be the most optimistic but also the most social people. Happiness comes from being with others. That’s what life is all about. So if you find yourself hiding out behind a screen, consider making plans to spend with other people. Introverted people who get drained by spending time with others, should consider spending time with people who don’t drain their energy. Maybe you have some friends or family members who are enjoyable to hang out with. They might even make time fly for you. Make it a plan to spend time with those people.

Happy people rarely experience loneliness. They keep their circle of friends and families large by devoting time to people each week. Even going for walks with friends in the evening can be a low key way to spend time with others without having to devote too much time with others. If you tend to be quite social, consider hosting dinner parties, surprise birthday parties, or weekend barbeques with friends and family every now and then. If you’re more shy than outgoing, you can learn how to be a good friend.

7. They Feel Grateful

It’s true, not every day is perfect. Sometimes things go wrong. However, a happy person always feels grateful for everything that goes well. They might appreciate that their vision is sharp. And you can feel grateful for the ability to walk with their legs. They express gratitude for all the loved ones in their life, all the amazing experiences they’ve had with loved ones they missed, and all the great things happening in their life right now.

Expressing gratitude is a great way to focus your thoughts and energy on positive aspects of your life. You can do this with a guided meditation for gratitude. When we focus on things that aren’t going well or things we miss, we fail to appreciate all the moments and beauties we still get to experience. Sometimes, things don’t go well because it’s leading us to something much better. At the moment the bad event happens, it’s impossible to see this. However, as time passes, you eventually see how the bad event led to something positive. If you want to be a happy person, compile a gratitude list of ten things you’re grateful for right now. 

8. They Have No Desire

Flowers moving in the breeze

A happy person typically doesn’t have desire. Ultimately, one of the ways to become unhappy is to desire something you don’t have. And the realization that you don’t have something can motivate you to want something better but also leaves you feeling unfulfilled. A happy person doesn’t desire money, tight abs, or a big promotion.

However, don’t worry too much if you still have desires. The reality is people were evolved to desire things and win. It’s what has helped us survive as a species. You can still attain the things you need to survive like food and good health. However, it’s important not to desire it. If you’re always looking for the next thing, you rarely appreciate or feel grateful for what you have. Plus, when you don’t get what you desire, it’s a total bummer. So limit your desires as much as you can if you… desire to be a happy person. Damn…

9. They Don’t Have an Ego

The easiest way to experience life as a happy person is to kill your ego. Your ego is what makes you jealous of your coworker who was promoted over you. It’s what creates those toxic thoughts in your head that cause you to feel superior to others, even when you’re equal to them. You can destroy your ego by remembering that there’s so much you don’t know, by ignoring toxic thoughts, and focusing on doing good work instead of the outcome of that work. 

Life isn’t a competition. If you believe you’re the best, you’ll never have a high impact in life. That’s because you’ll spend your life serving yourself instead of others. And that’s the exact cause of unhappiness. Like mentioned earlier, a happy person helps others and an unhappy person helps themselves. When you kill the ego, life becomes about others instead of you. And that’s what makes life wonderful, meaningful, and happy.

10. They Surround Themselves With Positive People

A happy person surrounds him or herself with positive people. They avoid spending time with people who bring them down or look at the negative aspects of a situation. They typically keep the environment around them positive. But funny enough, since they’re happy, they might find themselves seeing the best in people who lean negative. A happy person might find negative people amusing since it’s the polar opposite of their personality. Yet, still, they typically spend most of their time with other happy people attracting positive people towards them with their sunny personalities. Some say, you’re the cumulation of the five people closest to you. Are the people around you happy or unhappy? When it comes to understanding how to be happy, this can be a huge predictor.

11. They Tell Jokes

Group of women smiling and lauging on a park bench

If you like being around people who are funny, you’ll likely notice that they’re happy people. Some say that clowns are typically sad but that’s actually only a small group of people. On average, happy people love lifting up those around them, telling jokes to make people laugh. They have a sense of humor and are often light-hearted. A happy person might be funny not because of the joke being told but because of how it’s told.

Since happy people tend to be charismatic, they may tell a story in an engaging way that lights people up. And as they make those around them laugh, their story-telling experience grows. Thus, making them even more enjoyable around others. So, if you don’t know any good jokes, don’t worry, focus on your delivery of telling stories. You’ll lift yourself up by being more playful, you’ll boost the moods of those around you, and lead a happy life

12. They See the Best In Everyone

You know those judgmental people who gossip to everyone they know about others. Have you ever asked them if they’re happy? More likely than not, they’re superficially happy. Meaning they’ll tell you they’re happy to look good to you but really feel empty or miserable inside. A happy person sees the best in everyone. 

Happy people see the best in everyone. They know very well that people make mistakes but are defined by their mistakes. Mistakes are just things people did. They aren’t a reflection of who the person is. They see people for who they truly are. When someone behaves poorly, a happy person recognizes that the person is suffering instead of a bad person.

13. They’re Confident

Happy people are confident people. They aren’t feeling worthless, because they know their self-worth. Also, since they feel happier, they notice that positive events happen to them more regularly. For example, as we mentioned earlier optimistic people tend to achieve more than pessimistic people. A happy salesperson will likely sell more products than an unhappy salesperson because they’re confident in their ability to sell. They’re also confident in knowing that if they do something long enough eventually the sales will roll in. When a customer hangs up the phone on them, they think to themselves, “one down, one step closer to the next customer.” This helps them persevere despite rejection. Since they know that time and patience are required to succeed, they tend to achieve more, which only makes them even more confident, optimistic, and happy. 

14. They Meditate

Woman sitting in the dark, in a lotus pose, meditating

A happy person meditates daily. This helps them manage their thoughts, clear their mind, lower anxiety, and improve their mental health and cognitive functions. By practicing a guided meditation each day, they become better equipped at handling negative events as they happen. Meditation can help an unhappy person become a happy person by helping them notice when negative emotions are arising.

For instance, if someone upsets them, a person may notice anger arising in them. Thus, giving them time to help manage the feeling of anger instead of releasing a roaring rage. Since the anger is dealt with before magnification happens, it’s easier to resolve. That way you aren’t bottling up your anger but you’re also not exploding on someone for a hurtful exchange of words. Aside from that, there are many benefits of meditation that help contribute to a happy person’s wellbeing as well. Thus, making a happy person an even happier one.  You can even try a guided meditation for happiness to help you attain happiness.

15. They Do Right-Brain Activities

While most happy people don’t realize this, the main reason for their happiness is due to the regular habit of doing right-brain activities. The left brain is responsible for language. It’s also the side of the brain that’s the least connected to other parts of the brain. Your thoughts are a left brain phenomenon. Since it’s not as connected to other parts of the brain, you’ll find your thoughts will sometimes scream at you to get you to pay attention to it. 

However, happy people focus on developing their right brain to minimize toxic thoughts. Meditation is an example of a right brain activity. So is painting, drawing, scrapbooking, fashion design, crafts, woodworking, gardening, or making things. While writing or journaling can sometimes be called “creative,” keep in mind that it uses the left brain responsible for language. So, minimize your journaling if you’re struggling. Those who do right brain activities tend to get lost in their creativity allowing them to calm the mind.

16. They Don’t Compare Themselves

A happy person compares themselves to the person they were yesterday instead of to another person. The reality is, happy people know that they have a whole set of skills, life events, and experiences that led them to their current situation. Another person’s life story is wildly unknowable. Instead of expecting their life to mirror the best of someone else’s life, they focus on self-improvement. How can a happy person become a better, smarter, or kinder person? They focus on the elements in their life that they have control of. As long as they’re practicing kindness, patience, and love, they remain happy.

Happy people still focus on self-growth. However, they don’t compete with others. The grass is green enough under themselves. Like we mentioned earlier, happy people are grateful for everything they have. They don’t concern themselves with what others have. They know how to make the best with all they’ve got. If something was destined for them, they know it’ll come back to them. You can check out how to stop comparing yourself to others to learn more about this.

17. They Have Purpose

One of the traits of a happy person is that they have a purpose. Their purpose gives their life meaning. A lot of people spend their whole lives looking for their purpose. They think it’ll just come to them in an aha moment. When it doesn’t magically arrive, they feel like their life has no meaning and become depressed. Your life purpose can be anything. For instance, mine is to do a good deed every day. It brings me so much happiness and is quite simple. 

Your purpose can be tied to your job. For instance, teachers find purpose in helping educate children, teens, or even adults. A money blogger’s purpose can be to help eliminate poverty in the world. A construction worker’s life purpose can be to help create shelters for people in need by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in his or her spare time. A healthy person’s purpose can be to donate blood every 56 days to people in need. Your purpose can even be just to cheer people up by joking around with them, listening to them, or having a positive spirit around others. With a clear purpose driving you in life, you can become a happy person.


So now you know all the traits of a happy person. Remember, if you’re feeling unhappy, you can take some of the actions listed in this article to become a happy person. It’s not always easy to transform a pessimistic attitude and turn it into an optimistic one – especially with genetics at play. However, by stopping your mind from ruminating, not comparing yourself to others, expressing gratitude, and practicing meditation alongside the other suggestions in this list, you’ll inch one step closer to becoming a happy person. May you find happiness in everything you set out to do and remember that unhappiness is temporary too. If you want to see the habits of a good person, read on.

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