Since time immemorial, people have thrived to be happy, with the “pursuit of happiness” even engraved in the American Declaration of Independence. While there are several definitions to the term happiness, it is widely understood as a positive state of mind, bringing feelings of joy and contentment.
As it is, the science of happiness has become increasingly popular over the past 20 years, with the emergence of positive psychology aiming to define which factors make people happy and the benefits such happiness provides.
According to research, around 40% of individuals’ happiness is under their own control, the rest being determined by genetics and external factors (illness, war, etc.). According to scientists -and before them to many philosophers and wise men-, happier people share common traits, outlined below, alongside some of my favourite happiness quotes.
Happier people live in the present, being aware that life should be enjoyed in the here and now, without regretting past mistakes and worrying about the future.
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach: a wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” Seneca
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
Happier people are content with what they have, and tend to be less envious of others, less regretful of missed opportunities.
“It is not what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy: it is what you think about it.” Dale Carnegie.
“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” W.P. Kinsella
Happier people have realised that happiness is first and foremost a mindset , made only possible when they are being true to themselves and their values.
“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” Confucius
“Happiness is when you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Gandhi
Happier people know that happiness is an active decision, rather than a passive state of mind: they make a conscious choice to see the glass half full.
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make, makes you: choose widely.” Roy T. Bennett
Happier people cultivate close relationships through a network of close friends and family members that are mutually supportive and who they trust. They know that happiness can only exists if shared.
“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness: it has no taste.” (Charlotte Bronte)
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy: they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust
Happier people tend to be more altruistic, with acts of kindness bringing them in return more happiness and life satisfaction, in what seems to be a very virtual circle.
“The way to cheer yourself is to cheer someone else up.” Mark Twain
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to be good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour- such is my idea of happiness”. Leo Tolstoy