9 ways to walk in your own shoes
looking to the past to find the present

5 things happy people do


Got my dreams, got my life, got my love
Got friends, got the sunshine above
Why am I making this hard on myself
When there are so many
beautiful reasons I have to be happy?

People lie, people hide,
people cry, people fight
And they don't know why
If fear is all that we should fear
Then what are we so afraid of?
'Cause fear is only in our heads

Someone please tell me it's okay now
What are you worrying about?
What are you worrying about?

During my stressing
I'm blinded to the lesson
That could be a blessing
if I'd be confessing that the enemy
I'm trying to beat
Is hiding inside of me

Got my dreams, got my life, got my love
Got friends, got the sunshine above
Why am I making this hard on myself
When there are so many
beautiful reasons I have to be happy?


Often we make happiness hard on ourselves. As Natasha Bedingfield's song "Happy" implies above, we all have reasons to be happy. (The beginning of the song starts out with how her life is a mess so don't think she's being too cheery. I just picked out the best parts, but you can listen to the whole thing here.) I want to be happy, I really do. But it's not always easy. There have to be some tricks, right? How are some people so happy and some are so miserable? 
Over on Oprah's website the other day I came across a link for an article titled "5 Things Happy People Do" by Gabrielle LeBlanc. Obviously, I clicked on it as soon as my little cursor could get there. As I'm making my way through this life in search of happiness, it's no big surprise that I was curious about these five happiness tricks. I'm going to tell you a little about each of these things and then I'll fill you in on my take of them (which, I know, you are just dying to hear). Here they are, courtesy of LeBlanc's great article:

5 Things Happy People Do

  1. They find their most golden self.
  2. They design their lives to bring in joy.
  3. They avoid "if only" fantasies.
  4. They put best friends first.
  5. They allow themselves to be happy.


Before I expand any further on these points, I want you to stop and think. How many of these do you do? Think about it. Really think. No, no, don't go skipping down to the next part just yet. Take a moment to consider this. Do you do any of these? Do you do them all? If you do, are you happy? (If you can, post your responses in the comments section as I'm sure the other readers would love to hear more than just my take on these.) I bet your wondering right now what my answers are to those questions. First, let's go over what it says in the article and then I'll let you know what I think (and what I think I'm doing or not doing).


  1. They find their most golden self.

    According to the article...finding one's golden self is basically the same thing as seeking to develop yourself personally. The article notes that people should recognize their strengths, take on new challenges, and work to fulfill their goals in life.

    Personally, I'm all about this one. It's so important to figure out who you are, what your strengths are, and put them to go use. Of course, this isn't always easy and it's an on-going process, but it's so totally worth it. Personal development, as I've mentioned before, sometimes sounds selfish, but it really does bring joy not only to you but to the world around you.

  2. They design their lives to bring in joy.

    According to the article...people don't take enough time to figure out how they really want to live their lives. Analyzing your life won't be easy because it may force you to question things that you've thought were givens (your career, your marriage, etc.), but it is well worth it. A lot of small changes can be made to create a joy-filled life.

    I'm also pretty on board with this one. We have the power to control and design our own lives (though it might not always feel that way). If you don't like something in your life, change it. It's not easy, but it is that simple. You have the power to take control of your own destiny. No matter where you are in your life, you still hold the reigns.

  3. They avoid "if only" fantasies.

    According to the article...happy people don't buy into the idea that their lives will be better "if only they had a better job..." or "if only they lost ten pounds..." or "if only I had more friends..." Apparently studies have been done that suggest we are actually pretty bad at figuring out what will make us happy (as in getting that new job probably won't bring you the joy you think it will). You may be initially happy when something changes, but that will fade.

    You've probably heard this before, but I'm a big believer in the idea that happiness comes from within. You can be in the most God-awful situation and still be joyous. You can be at the top of the world, have all of the money, love, etc. you want, and still be miserable. You determine your happiness.

  4. They put best friends first.

    According to the article...social engagement ties in a great deal with personal happiness. However, not just any social interaction will do. You gain more joy from spending long periods of time with a close friend than you do from having short encounters with lots of friends. Just hanging out with a best friend can do wonders for your happiness.

    While I do agree with the arguments made in #4, I would clarify this by saying "put best friends before other friends" because, to me, "put best friends first" could mean putting your friends before yourself. And, while I believe that friendships are vital, you have to be careful not to put the needs of others before your own.

  5. They allow themselves to be happy.

    According to  the article...many of us are convinced that it's wrong to be too happy and feel guilty if we're having too much fun. You should pursue your personal happiness and the happiness of the world simultaneously. Happy people, research has shown, tend to b e more open to helping others. One famous study found that nuns who expressed gratitude and optimism lived 7 to 10.5 years longer than other nuns (giving them more time to help more people!).

    For a long, long time I've felt that I shouldn't be happy, that I wasn't supposed to be happy. I felt like I was a writer, I was artistic, and those types of people -- the successful ones anyway -- weren't happy. This is not true, and, day by day, I'm learning to have the courage to embrace happiness in my life.


I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure these are five things that happy people do. I don't know if I have them all down yet, but I'm working on them every day. Here are my five goals related to these: #1. I want to develop myself personally which I'm doing through blogging, researching, soul-seeking, and going to therapy. #2. I'm working on designing a life that brings me joy which I'm doing by writing every day, spending time with people who love and support me, and feeling fulfilled at work. #3. I try my hardest to focus on the present and not think in "if only..." phrases which I think is working because I realize that I won't be happier if only I had a different job/apartment/salary/etc. #4. I do my best to be a good, supportive friend and to spend time with others who really bring positivity into my life which isn't always easy for someone as anti-social as me, but I'm working on it!. #5 I'm working hard to realize that happiness is not something to avoid and to remind myself that happiness isn't stupid, weak, or cheesy which is a lot harder than you would think for someone who has spent most of her life living under a sad, gray cloud of woe-is-me.

Every day I'm making progress. Every day I'm taking steps to live a happier, more positive life. One of the things that really helps me (and maybe this should be #6!) is having supportive, awesomely positive people in my life that remind me why I'm doing what I'm doing. One of these stellar supporters has been Lisa from The Sassy Minx. Today I was featured on her site as "Girl On Top" (which I love!) and I feel honored to be on her site. You can check out the interview here. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lisa, for writing about me on your site. I'm feeling very sassy right now and I love it!

Be happy! Be sassy!


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I liked this article a lot and agreed with your interpretation of its five points. The hardest, for me, is allowing the happiness, because I was punished when I was too happy as a kid. Sounds hard to believe, but it's true. Also, I try to focus on little things that are great, even when the big things aren't. I can be joyful over a sparrow, for instance, pecking in the grass.

I enjoyed this post a lot mostly because of your commentary on your own life. It's nice to get more personal stories about such advice.

I don't know who coined the term, but I've heard of the "if only" fantasies called the "arrival fallacy". I like that term, it's short and to the point.

I try to do all of those 5 things. I think I focus mostly on #1. I feel that I've gotten over #3, so it's a non-issue now that I don't need to work on. As for #4, yes friends definitely matter. I don't think you should put anyone in front of yourself, but I agree with the spirit of the advice. And lastly #5 reminds me of a post I wrote recently entitled, Are you afraid of happiness? I think that I was and maybe still am.


Dot - I definitely agree with your point about it being hard to allow happiness in. Even though we have trouble doing that for different reasons, it seems like it's something we both struggle with. I love how you mentioned being joyful over the small things. Sometimes this is just as important!

Vi - I'm so glad you liked the personal commentary. I like the idea of "arrival fallacy" too (though I'd never heard of it before now); it's nice and succinct. Thank you so much for sharing your own insights on these 5 things. Like you said, it's great to have personal thoughts to relate to. Definitely going to check out that post on your site!

Quoting something from Abraham Lincoln, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." It is so easy to decide to be happy and yet so difficult to achieve right?

BK - Absolutely! It's so easy to decide to be happy but it's far more difficult to implement it in our lives. Thanks for the comment and for sharing the quote!

I love this statement re: They design their lives to bring in joy.

"It's not easy, but it is that simple."

so true!

I am currently working very hard on all of these things, though I do feel I've got number 4 down. I will put my best friends and lovers (who are often best friends as well) before other friends, but never before my own needs. It may feel selfish at times, but it's truely the only way you can live (in my opinion). What good are you to others if you can't take care of yourself? Right now I'm really focusing on 1 and 3. To find my golden self I meditate, journal, read a lot, and spend some time doing creative projects. I've come a long way in the past few months of doing this and I feel I'm getting close. My biggest problem is number 3, I always feel that something else will make me happier (mostly more money). I know that happiness comes from within, but when you don't earn enough to afford rent and utilities there's a lot of stress, which can drastically change how happy you are. I'm trying not to let it get to me, and assume that it will work itself out, but boy is it hard!

Great article, I really enjoyed reading this. I always tell myself that there's nothing wrong with being happy. It's always my choice whether I want to be happy going through the day or worrying about the things that might never happen.

Lovely post! I agree allowing is so important! Not letting past experiences get in the way of being happy now.
A friend told me once that even when she was crying over having her feelings hurt, if she looked up and smiled, it switched her brain to think happy thoughts- just this action helped her to experience happiness. I think it helps to have little tools like this when we feel stuck in a rut as well:)

That's a great set of guidelines.

Unless you're predisposed to happiness (research says some people are), then happiness is a decision and you drive from it. I think knowing the patterns of happiness (thinking, feeling, doing) go a long way.

Shannon - That's the truth! It's important to remember too, so we can go easy on ourselves as we're working towards happiness. It's okay to struggle a bit when designing your ideal life.

Ia - That's great that you're good to go with #4 and it sounds like you're making a lot of progress with #1. Personally I think #3 is really, really hard because we are constantly told by society that if we have this or that or look a certain way we will be happy. There's a constant pressure to be, have, want, do more so this is definitely a hard one. I think we can both overcome it though!

John - That's great that you tell yourself that. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that being happy is a good thing. I'm still getting used to it, I guess!

Angie - I've heard that, that we can impact our emotions through our actions. For example, if you smile you will feel happier, just as when you feel happy you smile. Thanks for mentioning that!

I feel that #4 is the hardest for me. While we have many friends and acquaintances, my husband and I struggle to find and keep what we'd consider 'best friends.' Aside from each other of course!

J.D. - You're so right about that. Some people are more predisposed to be happy, but others have to choose to be happy. For a lot of people, it really is a choice.

Michelle - At least you and your husband have each other! It's often hard for me to be social. I prefer to spend little bits of time with a lot of people rather than long periods with one person, but I do think it's important to really connect on a deeper level with some people and it sounds like you're doing that with your husband which is great!

Perfectly stated - so much of this I need to work on - thank you for posting this!!!

Cat - I'm glad the post spoke to you. I have a LOT I need to work on too so, don't worry, you're not alone! :)

I really love the description of our "golden self". Because, when we get look past the illusion of our fears and insecurities and failings that is what we are. Beautiful!

Hayden - You're absolutely right! When we look past all of the other "stuff" we are all beautiful and golden! :)

Hey PP,
Great post. It was a bit of an eye opener for me. I thought about it and found that I actually do 1, 2, 4 and 5 quite well (with number 4 I'd include family in there as well though).

What struck a chord was number 3. I do tend to be future focussed and play the "if only" game. Another great reminder to be present and I would also add, grateful, for what is already in my life. Thanks PP!

I think it's difficult for many people to embrace happiness. It's almost like people are scared of it. I'm not sure why, but I have a few ideas. As for me, my arms are wide open, and I do agree with all five things that happy people do.

I like the idea of a "golden self." In some ways that says that happiness is connected to who we really are, and if we can get closer to it, happiness would fit in with us, rather than us trying to fit in with happiness. These are some interesting ideas and I enjoyed this post!

HI :-)
I love this song and I love the artist.
There are so many reasons we have to be happy.
Thank you for the reminder.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Sami - Glad you enjoyed the post! I think a lot of people struggle with #3. It's hard not to think things would be better "if only..." It's a hard one to let go of, but I do think it's possible to focus on the present and recognize that everything is unfolding as it should.

Melissa - For whatever reason (and probably for a lot of reasons) people are scared to let themselves truly be happy and they are really missing out. It's great to know that your arms are wide open to happiness!

Amanda - Love what you wrote about "happiness fitting us" rather than "us trying to fit happiness. So true! The happier we are with ourselves, the happier we will be with the world.

Giovanna - Natasha's great, isn't she? So many of her songs are positive and uplifting. I used to find them irritatingly happy, but now I embrace them and realize that it's SO much better to focus on the good in life!

I love this! Reminds me of a workshop I taught on the same subject. (The points were similar) Thanks for giving it some light on your wonderful site!

Another thing I've added to that list only recently is "Don't take things personally." I've found that it helps A LOT!

Megan - Thanks for the comment! I completely agree with your point about "not taking it personally." It's SO important to do this and that should definitely be on the list. Have you read The Four Agreements? You might enjoy it!

What great ideas you present here. I know I'm not afraid of happiness, but someones it proves to be illusive. Every issues just seem to get in the way, sometimes. But, life is a work in progress, so right now, I'm happy.

Thanks for sharing the five point - all very well described.

I think that we're often told, by the media in particular, that happiness is found everywhere else but in ourselves - kind of like happiness by association. Doesn't work. Unfortunately, most of us spend years going through this before we realize that happiness is an inside job and we have to choose it, then work for it.

Thanks for the post - love your blog!

Lisa - I know what you mean. At times, happiness can seem very illusive, but it's something worth searching for all the time. Keep looking for the happy!

Laurie - You're completely right. All we ever hear is that we need to do this or have that to be happy when really the only way to be truly happy is to create the happiness within yourself. I'm just starting to learn this and I think it's REALLY helping my life head down a much better path. So glad you like the blog! :) That makes me very happy!

Yay, Oprah! :) Thanks for the reminder that being happy might take work, but it's worth it. I like this list a lot!

Janet - So glad you liked it! :) Yay Oprah is right! She has a lot of great ideas on her website. You should check it out if you haven't already.

These are great ideas! I definitely need to work on this. Today seems like a great day to start. :)

Meream - Thanks for the comment. Today is always a great day to start happiness! :)

First up, I identify as "moderately happy". I also suffer from depression.

Without reading the explanations, I decided that I do 4 and 5 only.

After reading the explanations, I decided I probably do "personal development", but I would revolt strongly against calling that "being my most golden self", because my self isn't "golden", and I find that term to be demeaning and limiting to who I really am, so in fact I would find that concept to be counteractive to my happiness.

Designing my life is really not within my power; if it were, I would by now have a job, I wouldn't be dependent upon antidepressives. Yes it's simple, if you have the tools you need; if you haven't got the tools, then it's impossible. Like for some people going to the loo is simple, but for others it's a major exercise; for some people climbing stairs is simple, for others it's impossible.

As for "if only..." fantasies - how else do you find direction? You need to have goals, although it helps if they're achievable ones (incidentally, "if I had a better job..." for me translates to "if I had a job", and that really would make me happier because job = paycheque = not worrying about debt collectors and able to spend more time with friends and family and a lot of other things that really do make me happy). If you don't have "if only..." fantasies, how do you design your life to bring in joy? You need to have the fantasy in order to have an idea about what the design should be, surely? I suspect that the article really wants to think about unachievable fantasies rather than achievable targets or goals.

I am convinced that the happiness I have is really because I learned how to give myself permission to be happy, and that's the key element to this. Despite my depression, I am mostly able to be happy anyway (severe attacks do blot out happiness, but I know what's happening and deal with it).

SnowdropExplodes - You make some GREAT points here, especially in relation the "if only" part, but I do believe that your happiness level -- moderately happy in your case -- will be the same regardless of what you have/don't have in your life. I believe that you could have the most perfect job in the world and be miserable. That being said, it's obviously very difficult to be as happy as you want to be when you're worried about bills/payments/etc. Nonetheless, I do think this is referring primarily to things that won't necessarily make you happier, but that you think will make you happier (like losing a few pounds or getting raise -- things you don't need but want). I think it's great that you've given yourself permission to be happy. That's actually a very hard thing for a lot of people to do (me included) and I commend you for being able to do that!

I think I do all five of these more or less. I would add:

6) Make enough money that they know they'll be able to make rent and buy some good food. Then spend within your limits.

7) Don't work overtime.

I would bet that a lot of people's unhappiness comes from where they work. I am currently unemployed and living off student loans and while I miss the money, when I'm not worrying about finding a job, I'm quite content at least. Why wouldn't I be? I can do whatever I want that is cheap. Perhaps #8 could be happy people exercise more. I've been biking everywhere and it makes me happy.

Lyndorr - You make some GREAT points here. Having enough money not to worry is really important to happiness, but, equally is important is not making your whole life about work. Balance is really important when it comes to work. And exercise is an important one too (I need to work on that one!). Thanks for the comment!

Thanks for your post,

Looks like some great points that can get you walking into the right direction. Especially point nr. 1, Talking about
point nr. 1.....,

You might like to have a look at the Video from Russell Simmons (author of 'Do You!') You can find the Video in my Saterday, May 16th 2009 Post at: http://hpshappy.blogspot.com

Today I actually really had 'the Sunshine above', and enjoyed sitting in the Sun. Tomorrow I possibly will be writing on one (or more) of my Blogspots, because I like writing and there still
is a lot 'Unwritten' :)

All the Best,
To your Happy Inspiration,

HP - So glad you enjoyed this post and thanks so much for the suggestions. I will check them out for sure!

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