One of the greatest desires of the human heart is to find true and meaningful happiness. Maybe you've grown cynical in your quest for happiness, and you've convinced yourself that it's an illusion or a delusion. I'm convinced that happiness is very real and very attainable, but it's NOT the result of luck, circumstances or even personality traits. Anyone can find happiness because it's the result of our choices, not our circumstances.
The simplest and most effective way to improve your own happiness is to learn from truly happy people. In my experiences and interactions, the happiest people I know consistently do the following things (in no particular order). If we'll implement these disciplines into our own lives on a daily basis, I believe happiness will follow.
Seven things happy people do every day:
1. Encourage others instead of criticizing them
When we criticize others, it bends our minds towards criticism, but when we choose encourage, we find ourselves being encouraged in the process. When we consistently criticize, everybody loses. When we consistently encourage, everybody wins.
2. Be at peace with not having everything "figured out."
When I'm most stressed, it's usually when I'm trying to figure out everything out on my own. When I'm most at peace, it's when I remind myself that God is in control and He's got everything figured out already. I'm not saying we should flippantly approach life's problems as if we're always powerless to resolve them, but I am saying that worrying accomplishes nothing and faith accomplishes much.
3. Prioritize people over possessions
The happiest people I know don't base their happiness on their possessions or their pursuits. They have wisely realized that relationships are what matter most. They gain strength from knowing that they're loved by God and their friends and families and they consistently invest into those relationships.
4. Take time to unplug and rest
In our world of constant connectivity, we're tempted to run at an unsustainable pace to accomplish all we can. The happiest and healthiest people I know fight against this frenetic pace by intentionally "unplugging" from their electronics and making time to rest and recharge. Work is important but so is rest! When we make rest a priority, we'll recharge the body and the soul.
5. Use struggles to become better and not bitter
We all go through hard times. We can't always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we respond to what happens to us. The happiest people I know have worked through their struggles with faith and perseverance even through their tears and pain. They refuse to give up, so the struggles only make them stronger.
6. Do good for those who can't repay
Selfless service to others is countercultural in our success-driven, self-focused world, but the happiest people I know are the ones who serve others. As a follower of Jesus, I see this principle as not only a path to happiness but as a God-given mandate as well.
7. Choose to be thankful
Thankfulness isn't a result of having more; it's the result of choosing gratitude for what you already have. The happiest people I know choose an "attitude of gratitude" each day, and as a result, they find true contentment whether they have a little or a lot. You can't put a price tag on that kind of happiness!
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.