10 Secrets Happy People Know (But Won’t Tell You)

happy people secrets

“It isn’t 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.” – Dale Carnegie

What’s your happiest memory?

When I was in my mid-twenties I suddenly became ridiculously happy. Everything seemed brighter and better than it had ever been before.

I delighted in the birds singing, the flowers growing, the blue sky, and the joy of being alive. I went on an amazing, natural high.

Nothing bothered me. The simple act of living was mind-blowingly good.

Maybe you think I’d fallen in love, but it was just the opposite.

I’d ended a relationship.

After surviving years of unhappiness, and physical and emotional abuse, I finally found the courage to fight my way out.

I was elated just to be alive. I knew this natural high couldn’t last forever, but I was determined that my new life would be better.

I was determined to be happy, and to live a happy life.

And I have. Twenty years have now passed and while the euphoria of that time gently evaporated, the lessons I learned about happiness carried forward.

From what I’ve learned, there are a few secrets that all happy people know. Some of them might surprise you.


1. It’s OK To Be Sad

You don’t have to be happy all the time, or even every day. Happy people know that it’s OK not to be happy some days. It’s important to process whatever feelings we have – sadness, anger, frustration or surprise.

When bad things happen, as they do to all of us, be gentle on yourself. Don’t past on a false smile.

The contrast of negative emotions can be beneficial, because they remind us how wonderful happiness is.

2. Being Happy Takes Work

There are things that we can do to increase our happiness every day, but they take a some effort. Things like eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest help keep our bodies healthy.

Searching out people and entertainment that makes you laugh or feel good, nurtures your soul.

Taking the effort to eat right and surround yourself with good people pays off. You feel good to your core.

3. Self-Appreciation Is Mandatory

You need to learn to love and appreciate yourself, just the way you are. You are just as interesting, unique and remarkable as anyone else.

Sometimes it’s hard to see our own best qualities. Or if we see them, we don’t always value them.

So make a list of the things you love most about yourself, and remind yourself of these qualities regularly.

4. People Must Be A Priority

We all need to feel loved and appreciated, and spending time with the people closest to us fosters warm feelings. Human beings have always been pack animals – we need to connect with people.

When we’re just hanging out, enjoying each other’s company, we’re sending and receiving subtle messages of love and appreciation.

Strong relationships help us survive the tough times, as well as celebrating the good times.

5. Comparisons Are Futile

Comparing yourself to someone else is always going to end in tears. It doesn’t matter if you compare body shape, bank balances, or boyfriends.

There’s always going to be people both ahead of you, and behind you, on any scale. The only person you have to satisfy is yourself.

Try to consider the things that people might envy you for, so you can value those things too.

6. Sometimes Memories Surface

Everyone has some unpleasant memories. They’re part of life, and trying to suppress them is futile.

When we work through the pain and learn to accept the past we’re able to close the door gently on those ‘rooms’ in our mind. We can choose to visit those rooms if and when we feel inclined. But we can also gently close them off, so that we can grow and heal.

Your memories are part of you, so carry them with grace.

7. Over Analysis Is Your Enemy

We’re all capable of analyzing a situation to death. Wondering whether someone else’s actions have deeper meanings than they do, or endlessly turning things over in our mind.

It’s fine to think about situations, and establish what you can learn from them. But sometimes our mind gets a little obsessed and repeatedly churns things over, on an endless, self-flagellating loop.

When this happens think, Thanks Mind, and move on to other things.

8. Attitude Can Be Chosen

Choosing your attitude is easier said than done. I never used to believe it was possible. But it is.

The key is to change can’t to can. Whenever you find yourself thinking that you can’t do something, it’s important to stop and force yourself to think about what you can do.

Try thinking, ‘If someone could solve this, how would they do it?” Distancing yourself from the problem in this way opens up new ideas, and pretty soon you’ll be capable of anything.

9. Living Happens Now

Don’t put off living. We tell ourselves we’lI happy when the kids are older, or when we get the next pay rise, or when we get a new job.

But when we get those things we put off being happy until we achieve the next great milestone.

Happy people live now. They feel now. They love now. This doesn’t mean they don’t have goals, but they appreciate what they have now.

No one knows how many tomorrows they’ll have, so make sure you live today.

10. Happiness Is Not For Sale

Sometime we don’t realize that all those little ‘rewards’ we buy ourselves are really a way of compensating for a lack of satisfaction in some aspect of our lives.

If you’re living for your next holiday, or wondering why the latest tech toys don’t make you happy, it might be time to look a little deeper.

Maybe you’re trying to buy yourself some happiness, instead of addressing a major issue in your life. Maybe – only you will know.

Get Happy Now

Wouldn’t it be great if happiness was a gift that we could go out and buy for ourselves, or give to others?

Imagine opening a gift of happiness, and letting it flow over you. All warm and cozy and pleasurable.

Imagine giving that gift to those you love. Watching them relax into gentle contentment.

Guess what? Happiness really is a gift you can give yourself.

And the truly great thing about this gift is that in making yourself happy, you make those around you happy too.

So, go and grab a little happiness today, and share it around.

You just need to think good thoughts. Not falsely happy thoughts, just good thoughts.

Focus on enjoying what you have. Practice choosing a positive attitude. Motivate yourself to live in the moment.

Pretty soon you’ll be much happier, and so will those around you.

What better gift is there?

Photo by Mateus Lunardi Dutra

18 thoughts on “10 Secrets Happy People Know (But Won’t Tell You)”

  1. I love this, Cate! And all so true. The one I’ve been working on lately is your number 7. Over Analysis Is Your Enemy
    I used to believe (truly believe!) that ruminating about a problem was the way to overcome it. Until finally, as you said, that I was just obsessing. And that never leads to getting over something!
    Yep, Thanks, Mind, works great!
    Thank you for this.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks, I’m so glad you like the post and the techniques. It’s amazing when something so simple (and relatively easy) works, isn’t it? “Thanks, Mind” is one of my favourites!

  2. Hi Teacher, well I prefer to call you by that name because your article has taught me how to be happy. For 3 years of existing in college and taking a course that I don’t really love made me a great pretender to those people I love the most. They don’t know that my passion is to become a writer, to inspire people. Again, thank you for writing this ! :) You’ve inspired millions of people in this cute chaotic world of ours.

    1. Hi Earl,

      Thanks so much for your comment. You’ve made my day! If I’ve managed to help you, or anyone else, find a little happiness then I’m eternally grateful. Take care, keep happy, and make the most of this one precious life.


  3. Thank you for this great post :-). I also would like to add this point: happiness and contentment are not standard issue. They need to grown, trained and nurtured .

    1. Hi Steven,

      You’re so right. Even the most naturally optimistic people need to work at staying happy and content. And also realise that they can’t necessarily be happy and content every day. Some days we have to deal with what life throws at us. (Sorry if I sound a little heavy, but I’m processing some sad news myself today.)
      Thanks for commenting and have a great day.

  4. Over analysis! YES! Something I really need to get rid of. I plunge in so deep that what comes out seems pretty much horrible most of the times. I recently tried telling my mind to ‘Shut up’ may be ‘Thanks Mind’ will also do. Nice article but one thing I’d like to ask. One point mentions we should surround ourselves with people who make us feel appreciated and loved. May be its just me but I don’t find such people in my circle or society for that matter. I have this thing for pointing out the darker edges to people around me and eventually I end up isolating myself. Any way I could work on this? I am sure there are people around me who do sincerely appreciate and love me. How do I convince my mind on this point?

  5. Hi Urooj,
    Thanks for your comment. I’m sure you can work on this, particularly as you’re aware of it.

    As a first step, try surrounding yourself – or spending as much time as possible – with people who make you feel good. People who have lots of positive energy are great, because it rubs off. You start to see the brighter side of things. If you want to reduce your tendancy to point out the darker edges, try spending time with people who see the lighter, positive side of life. It really is addictive.

    The saying that “You are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with” is true, so surround yourself with people that you’d like to be more like.

  6. I must say Cate-that I have learned a lot from reading this article. I was taught that obstacles like the ones you touched base on existed, however, non of which was given in a wide range perspective. I’m eighteen years old and although that’s pretty young, I have experienced some problems in my own life that has stifled my happiness. Thanks Cate for this article.

    1. Hey DeAndre,

      I’m glad you liked the article. You’re never too young to experience heartache or sadness, and never too young (or too old) to start practicing happiness. I wish you all the happiness you deserve, and then some. :-)


  7. Absolutely loved this piece! I loved the positivity here! I have learned so much after reading this. Most of the times I feel like I’m faced with lots of obstacles in life but now I know how I’m going to handle these situations! With a positive attitude! And when I forget I shall read this article to feel empowered. This was a phenomenal and incredible piece!

    1. Hi Aria,

      I’m so pleased you liked the post, and that it’s given you some great strategies for dealing with the challenges that life always seems to throw at us.

      Here’s to you, feeling empowered. :-)


  8. Love the post Cate. I think the focus on material things holds some people back from being happy with where they are right now. Focusing on lack rather than self appreciation as you mention.

    1. Hi Tim,

      I’m glad you liked the post. You’re right, we do focus on material things. The weird thing is that when we don’t have much stuff around us (like if we go camping for a week), we’re often so much happier. We just don’t recognise that it’s partly because we’ve got less stuff.


  9. Cate,
    This is a phenomenal article! I am a person who is naturally more optimistic, but I know that to stay in this frame of mind, it does take work. I appreciated you explaining that even those prone to be more optimistic still have to make the choice to stay there.

    My favorite points were that its okay to be sad and that memories surface. I’m still working on remembering that it is okay to be sad and remembering that sadness, anger, frustration are as much a part of the full experience of life as happiness. The idea that we need to remember that memories surface and that we can allow them space for a time and then decide to move forward is so well explained. I think it is a common misconception that when something happens that is unpleasant we need to shut it out completely.

    Excellent job!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      I glad you liked the article. You’re right that we think we have to shut out ‘bad’ or unpleasant memories. It just makes things worse. If we can accept what we feel about something – even if it’s not pleasant – we can be calmer and more accepting. That’s what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is all about, and it does work.

      Have a great day.

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