When we think of people consuming toxins, we don’t often associate their lifestyle with happiness. But when we see a studious young woman who runs marathons and who has received a $40,000 scholarship to Harvard, happiness seems inevitable.
But to truly be happy, no matter what our life conditions yield, no matter if we’re world travelers or on death row, we need to learn to control our mind—such that we’re always happy.
But what defines a happy person?
The Positive Trait Thesaurus outlines some key traits of happy people, which I’ve placed in bold font below. I’ve added what I believe to be pathways to such happiness, at least according to my own achievement of greater happiness.
With that said, here are some secret routes to happiness:
Being optimistic about the future; focusing on the positive. No matter what twists and turns may lead us astray, we must always keep an eye on the best outcomes. If it rains, think of the rainbow. If it blizzards, think of ice hockey or snowboarding. If it rains bullets and bloodshed, focus on every possibility for a peaceful ending.
Feeling satisfied at doing good and helping others. It feels great not just to help the ones we love, but also to help the people we may disdain. Better still, turn that disdain into love, and seek to serve even our foes wholeheartedly.
Pursuing mental and physical health. Alcoholism and drug abuse do not bring us to a place of long-term happiness. But we can choose to be happy even in the most direst situations. The best happiness arises from healthy choices, such as fitness, healthy eating, meditation, loving-kindness, and a non-toxic lifestyle.
Looking at the bright side when something bad happens. If we get fired from our job or get kicked out of university, try not to take a victim mentality. Instead, try to focus on the infinite opportunities that still await us. For every one loss, there are countless potential wins. In one of Napoleon Hill’s book, he asks a businessman and scientist something like, “What would you do if your business or your lab burnt down?” If I recall correctly, the businessman would’ve felt distraught. The scientist would’ve immediately started rebuilding. Be the scientist!
Minimal stressing and worrying. Instead of worrying, consider how your soul is eternal: it can’t be killed, maimed, defeated, or made ugly. Your soul is infinite love and always will be. It’s just your mind and body’s drive for survival that suggests otherwise, according to The Marriage Foundation. So, in times of worry, feel joy instead, as your essence is infinite love.
Enjoying other people and the unique talents and ideas they offer. Just like our true essence is infinite love, so is everyone else’s. So, celebrate other people, even if they threaten or worry us. Just like a heavenly garden of flowers, every soul is innately beautiful.
Working well with others. When someone slights or mistreats us, respond with compassion. And try not to look at others’ flaws, just our own. We can’t change others, only ourselves. They may be striking out at us because they see us as threatening. Try to selflessly work well with others.
Friendliness and politeness. It’s great when we go out of our way to give a gift or do an act of kindness. And always use manners, no matter who we speak to: subordinate, family, or higher up.
Enjoying learning new things. Learning can bring us new knowledge, new philosophies, and great wisdom. The more we learn, say, spiritual tenets, the more we can discern which actions bring the best karma. And the more knowledge we accumulate around a topic, the more we can position ourselves as experts in the field.
Loving others unconditionally. Love everyone, no matter if they hate us or seek to harm us, but do protect ourselves from harm. The Bible says to love our enemies. The more people we love, the less time available for hard feelings. And the more time there is for love, the happier we ultimately feel.
Pursuing the things one loves to do. Do all the things that bring you true joy. Ski, swim, sing, dance, write, build, invent, travel—whatever you love, pursue it!
Not taking life or people for granted. In the media, I hear all this stuff about toxic people. I think this idea of getting rid of toxic people is wrong. We can keep a distance, but it’s always best to love everyone, especially family, friends, colleagues. They are in our life for a reason: to love. Giving love to other beings, especially prickly ones, is a blessing.
And last but not least: challenging oneself. Push ourselves every day. Try to reach higher, dream bigger, achiever greater, try harder. Nothing can stop us from becoming all we are intended to be, as our potential is limitless.