Ten things happy people have in common | Women's Agenda

Ten things happy people have in common

Happiness makes sense at every level – on a personal, community, social, organisational, national and global level.

Yet happiness is often overlooked as a critical component in our lives. A new human resources manager joining a business that I know of questioned one of its values, ‘fun’, saying it didn’t make business sense.

We spend so much time at work – surely it is important to have fun, be ourselves and, as a result, benefit the organisation and society.

And it is not hard to share happiness, by showing a little kindness and saying an authentic Thank You.

Here are 10 traits happy people tend to share:

  1. Feel great

    Happiness is fun and it feels good. Waking up each morning feeling excited to discover what the day holds; going to bed satisfied that it was a great day; feeling gratitude for whatever the day presented; having truly been aware of those around you.

  2. Live longer

    “We reviewed eight different types of studies,” said University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, in a study that followed nearly 5,000 university students for more than 40 years.

    The study found that, for example, those who were most pessimistic as students tended to die younger than their peers. “And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being – that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed – contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations.”

  3. Are healthier

    Is it that happy people are healthier or healthy people are happier? “Everything else being equal, if you are happy and satisfied with your life now, you are more likely to be healthy in the future. Importantly, our results are independent of several factors that impact on health, such as smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and age,” said the lead author of a study on health and happiness, Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D, University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha.

    The researchers looked at data from two waves of an Australian survey conducted in 2001 and 2004. Nearly 10,000 adults responded to items about health indicators including the presence of long-term, limiting health conditions and physical health. To assess happiness, they asked: “During the past four weeks, have you been a happy person?” They determined life satisfaction by asking: “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life?” “We found strong evidence that both happiness and life satisfaction have an effect on our indicators of health,” Siahpush said.

    Professor Fiona Wood, head of Royal Perth Hospital’s Burns Unit and director of the Western Australia Burns Service, said that those with a predisposition to positivity are far more likely to heal well than those who are negative.

  4. Keep going

    Happiness and positivity work together. Positive people see that the ‘glass is half full.’ Their positive view that good things will happen helps them see and act on options and opportunities faster.

    Many studies have shown that people who are positive or happy solve problems better and faster. Their solutions are more inventive and they concentrate better. Happiness also improves people’s ability to learn and remember things. Better problem solving is another reason why happiness is important.

    “You get what you look for.” – Unknown

  5. Are in relationships 

    Many studies show that if you are happy you are more likely to be married, romantically involved and have multiple close friendships. Which came first though? Are you happy because you are in a relationship or are you more attractive because you are happy?

    Both could be true. Happier people are more attractive and being happier makes you more likely to be attracted to someone else.

  6. Have deeper conversations

    Findings from a University of Arizona study showed deep conversations contributed to happiness.

    “Those who reported higher levels of well-being spent less time alone and more time talking with others. The happiest also had about one-third as much small talk and twice as many substantive conversations than those who were unhappiest. Men engaged in slightly more meaningful conversations than women, contrary to the belief that women are more likely to discuss their deeper feelings.”

    Commenting on the research, Sonja Lyubormirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California says: “There’s lots of research showing that happiness is linked with greater social support. Happier people spend more time with others. Substantive conversations would be a marker that they are talking to closer friends.”

  7. Look for good

    Negative or pessimistic emotions spur us to ‘fight’ or argue by generating chemicals in our bodies.

    We experience a completely different outlook when we are positive. Happiness spurs us to discover, learn, develop and grow the same way. In short, positive emotions create a completely different way of thinking in our bodies.

    Happy people look for the good in things – and tend to find it. Happy people want to ‘make love not war’. The physiological state caused by happiness helps happy people see good and be drawn to avoid conflict.

  8. It spreads

    Putting it simply, happy people spread their happiness.

    The old saying ‘one good turn deserves another’ is true when it comes to kindness and happiness.

    There is a strong link between feeling good and doing things to assist other people. So when happy people ‘do good’, they feel good in doing this as well as making another person feel good. It multiplies – and is not linear. Happy people are more willing to share their good fortune, to help others, than unhappy people. Happy people are innately generous and, as a result, the world becomes a better place.

  9. Are productive

    Happy people = happy profits. Thomas Wright, professor of organisational behaviour at the University of Nevada, states, “employee happiness accounts for as much as 10% to 15% of the variance in performance between different workers”.

    In a 40-hour week, that could mean up to 45 minutes of lost productivity per day. Managers who don’t attend to the happiness of their staff are unlikely to be getting the best out of them. Gallup tells us that disengaged workers cost billions in lost productivity. Yet those organisations with a happy workforce also have 20% higher profits.

  10. Are lucky

    Happy people are luckier. There seem to be several factors that contribute to this. First, happy people are optimistic. Then tend to see opportunity more frequently and they are more likely to make lemonade when life gives them lemons.

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