9 Habits of Happy People

habits Aug 22, 2023
9 Habits of Happy People

A while back, I asked what questions you guys had for me, and one question that I thought was cute was, “Mia, how are you always so happy?” 

So, here’s the truth- I’m not always a beam of light. I have moments of irritation and sarcasm and have been in some less-than-stellar life circumstances at various points in my life. All of that is to say that there are no rose-colored glasses.

But I’ve always been considered a generally happy person. I smile a lot, am quick to get over things, and can find and amplify the best in just about every situation (and I’ve been in some situations).

Don’t get me wrong; I am, by no means, “always happy.” I have a ton of frustrations and habits that contribute to me being less happy than I could be at times.

I sometimes lack patience- like when someone interrupts me or oversteps what I feel is an appropriate boundary. There are things.

I also have a history of anxiety and depression. There have been periods in my life when I didn’t feel happy. I don’t think that speaks to true happiness so much as a temporary loss of joy.

But overall, I’m a happy person. And I attribute some habits of happy people (and maybe even developed skills) to this happiness. I’m going to share those with you today.  

Big-Picture Thinking

Happy people tend to adopt a “long-term” perspective and focus on the bigger picture. They have a clear vision of their goals and understand that setbacks and challenges are temporary, making them more resilient- another trait of happier people.

Research has shown that having a future-oriented mindset enhances well-being and helps individuals overcome obstacles with resilience and optimism.

I don’t know if I’ve trained myself to do this or if I’m naturally inclined- but my default way of thinking is big-picture thinking. I want to know the overall goal, the grand scheme effects, and its meaning. I want the big picture. It keeps me from getting overwhelmed and cynical about the small stuff.

I remember sitting at the kitchen counter with my mom as a kid while she cooked and asking questions about how things worked. I wanted to know everything she knew about the universe, the beginning, the end, and the purpose behind why we do things the way we do in society. I was very inquisitive and wanted to know how it all worked and why-- the big picture.

This is going to sound weird, and it is not at all logical, now that I’m an adult with a better understanding of how things operate, but I remember as a kid pitching this idea to my mom that - what if all of the planets are like cells of a much larger mega-body?

I was learning in science that the electrons spin around the nucleus of an atom..and we spin around the sun…everything is so circular and spinning- it just made sense to me. And if that was the case, what was our purpose for these space atoms in the grand scheme of things? 😂

Relentless Optimism

This has always been a trait of mine, and it’s served me quite well.

It’s funny because Matt, my husband, suffers from relentless pessimism. It’s getting better, and we like to say that we balance each other out because I’ll automatically be inclined to say, “Of course, we can do this!” and his favorite phrase (that I FINALLY broke him out of) was “I’m skeptical.” I push him to open up to more possibilities, and he keeps me grounded.

Todd Herman, a performance coach and author, talks about WOW over OWW thinking- "Winning Over Worry," while OW represents "Overwhelmed by Worry."

By adopting WOW thinking, he says individuals train their minds to look for opportunities, possibilities, and solutions rather than getting trapped in a cycle of worry and negativity.

Matt asked me the other day how I’m handling my oldest daughter getting so close to 18, an age where she'll legally be in charge of herself. How am I not panicked? At that time, she was on her first solo road trip to the beach with a friend.

And I was like- idk, I think everything will be fine. I don’t need to worry unless I hear something to worry about. Even his mom was worried, and she didn’t even live in the same house.


Over the past few years, I’ve taken many business development classes and testing, and one test I took asked me what I felt my strongest trait is- I said Resilience. 100%. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

I talk about relentless optimism as an overall trait, but there have been low periods where I felt that I had just lost…those times rarely lasted more than a few days, though, because that resilience is strong. It POPS me back up.

In my mind, Resilience is like a close cousin of Willpower. Research has shown that willpower is like a muscle; it can be worn down and fatigued (like a finite resource) but can also be strengthened through habits. I like to think of resilience similarly; if you’re used to popping back up, it becomes your default.

This is a bit easier for me when there are outside forces at play- getting laid off, depression or burnout, rejection because I don’t feel like those are my fault, and I’m pretty good with rolling with the punches when it’s not my fault.

But one area that’s taken me years to build resilience is failure - seeing my failures as temporary and learning opportunities at best. I’m still working on it, but, like when I have a business failure, I still feel deflated initially, write down everything that went wrong and study it. Next time, I review those previous failures first.

Flexible mindset

So, if my space atom proposition didn’t indicate this enough, I’m pretty open-minded; I have a flexible mindset. Happy people tend to have a well-rounded perception of themselves, others, and the world around them.

A study by The American Psychologist found that the happier participants also had increased cognitive flexibility and openness to new experiences.

Happy people avoid extreme, rigid thought patterns and instead embrace complexity and shades of gray. Things are rarely black and white. There’s not always a good guy and a bad guy or a right side and a wrong side.

A flexible mindset allows you to have more positive and empathetic interactions with others, which amplifies happiness by helping you flourish socially. Being overly rigid in your viewpoint is a recipe for disappointment.

Now, if you’re someone who thinks that doesn’t matter and has an “I believe that I’m right and to hell with those who disagree with me” or “I would rather be around people who think as I do anyway”- you probably have a rigid mindset, and I’m guessing you find yourself irritated by other people a lot...

…like right now.

And that’s the point; having a more flexible mindset and being more realistic with the concept of who’s “right and wrong” can just make you a happier person.

Even if I disagree, I always WANT to hear other people’s viewpoints. I’m curious to know why they think the way they do because I know that very few people intend to be evil or wrong.


Call it a gratitude practice, but there’s no formality to it for me. I’m fully aware of what I have and am grateful for it every day. We’re not wealthy; we don’t have all of the luxuries that someone might have who’s feeling like they’re “living their best life.”

But, oh man, am I grateful. Like painfully grateful. I’m grateful I’m not lonely- I’ve been miserably lonely before, and it’s the worst. I have Matt, and with both of our flaws, I’m deeply grateful that we met by a total fluke of coincidences years ago.

I’m grateful I have a good relationship with my daughters and that they’re doing well- we do not have to deal with significant rebellion or drug addiction. They respect us, and we have a real relationship with them.

I’m grateful that I have a home that I love- a condo; it’s small. Would I like a house with a yard someday- sure, but thank goodness I have a place I can vibe with and like.

I’m thankful when someone does something for me; I always say, “Thank you, I appreciate that.” I want people to know they’re appreciated because it’s important to me.

IDK, I used not to be quite as grateful.

I remember watching movies with certain characters with these meek good qualities that I noted when I was a kid. And while I’m not meek, and I didn’t necessarily even see myself as good at the time, I found ways to practice at least being grateful, and now it’s become second nature.

Practicing gratitude has been linked to increased positive emotions, enhanced physical health, improved relationships, and greater overall life satisfaction. I won’t mention individual studies because there are so many. If you’re curious, you can google research on gratitude, and the sheer quantity of results will blow you away.


As a kid, whenever my mom got mad at my dad, she would get quiet and grit her teeth. If I saw my mom’s jaw clenched, I knew exactly what that meant. Occasionally, she would vent to me after I nagged her enough about why she was mad, and my response would always be the same-- “Why don’t you tell him?

She would go the passive-aggressive route, which always drove me crazy, but would never actually say what she was thinking, and I never understood that.

My approach was the opposite; you knew where you stood and precisely what I thought and felt at all times! To an actual fault. On the one hand, people learned to take what I said with a grain of salt, but on the other hand, sometimes I was bullying the world with my opinions.

(I hadn’t yet honed that flexible thinking into actual practice. Sure, I was toying with curiosity, which was a good first step, but it took me a while to apply that curiosity to an attitude and mouth that accepted that I wasn’t always right.)

I share that to say there’s a happy balance between all these habits. Just self-expressing all over the place isn’t necessarily a recipe for happiness, either.

But holding things in, not opening a dialogue, or releasing the gifts and bright ideas you hold tight in your brain isn’t conducive to happiness.

I have the strong relationships I have right now because of my willingness to be open and honest, now with a much more attuned flexible mind and active listening practice :).

Positive relationships

You really can’t put a price on positive relationships. That’s one external factor that can either make or break you. At least, that’s been my experience and why I’m so grateful for the true, solid relationships I have today.

Research has consistently shown that having positive social connections is crucial for happiness, and I’m here to say that I fully believe that research.

Watching how Chloe responds to me has made me think about the security we draw from our relationships and why rejection and betrayal are devastating.

Feeling secure and safe is vital for happiness. Most people attach money to this definition of security- having shelter, food, and a cushion of income. And while those 100% contribute, I would say that relationships matter just as much.

Happy homeless people exist- usually in a community of other homeless people. I’m sure you’ve also seen wealthy people surrounded by miserable vultures who are very unhappy.

This isn’t a “money doesn’t buy happiness” speech. Research has shown that money does contribute to happiness up to a threshold- that threshold used to be 70k per year, but with inflation, it is undoubtedly much higher now.

Regarding relationships, I’ve shared about Oxytocin being an often unspoken form of self-care. Oxytocin is called the “love” hormone, or you might also call it the “aww” hormone released when you see something incredibly cute, touch someone you love, or hold your baby.

This is something I would consider a happiness amplifier that is easily achieved in stellar doses when you have really good relationships.

In-tune body

Being in tune with my body is an over-the-top happiness booster. It brings me from being a generally happy person to feeling energized and occasionally elated with happiness for long stretches of time.

First of all, you’ve probably heard that physical exertion generally releases endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. It can immediately boost your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Becoming in tune with your body is the next level of physical alignment. It’s all about checking in and being aware of what’s happening. Everything in life manifests in your body in one way or another.

You’ve heard of having butterflies or heart palpitations when you’re in love or feeling like you’ll pass out from standing up in front of people. Of course, you get many symptoms from being sick, scared, or exhausted.

This, of course, includes an adequate sleep routine, which is crucial for mental health and well-being. Sleep plays a vital role in hormone regulation and mood balancing.

Being in tune with what your body is saying and needs can be the pivoting point for physical exertion or self-care: getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and engaging in relaxation techniques.

I’ve learned that the fine-tuning of my mood and overall outlook is swayed by prioritizing physical well-being.

Maintain an aligned environment.

I shared last week about how creating an aligned environment can be life-changing. Basically, when you create an aligned environment, you’re surrounding yourself with conditions and settings that support your happiness and well-being.

We’re talking about the mood of your physical surroundings, promoting social connections in your space, and supporting the flow of your daily functions.

I know I’ve shared this a million times, but research has shown time and time again that the physical environment can significantly impact mood and well-being. Just as with any animal, our homes are our habitats.

We need a positive habitat to flourish.

Your environment is THE most immediate way to create a happy trajectory for yourself. Building relationships takes time; getting in tune with your body is a practiced skill, and exercises to build on are ongoing. Mindset shifts are a work-in-progress, not a one-and-done…but your environment can be an immediate and simple adjustment.

I’ve found tremendous support and inspiration from tapping into what my environment offers, and that’s the foundation for this entire blog.

Those are the big ones for me. Sure, other things make people happy- like having purpose or contribution, being kind and altruistic- there are studies all over the place that could make this list super long.

I wanted to keep it real and in line with my personal experience. Do I think I could be happy living with my family on the beach somewhere, not contributing to society?

Yeah, I probably could- certainly, once I’m retired, that'll be a part of the plan. But the 9 things I shared today are non-negotiable for my happiness. Hopefully, you'll find something from this list that resonates with you. I wish you all the happiness in the world. 


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