My column a few weeks back on the secrets of fit people who naturally love exercise got more than 800 shares on Facebook (thank you!). A very full inbox and lots of awesome comments show it resonated in a really good way. As ever, it was all about mindset - no calories in and calories out recipe plan, or advice on yogaboxzumbalates being the next big thing in exercise classes. Being a naturally fit person starts with the right mindset. It always starts with mindset. Once we have that right everything else falls into place. As it does with "naturally" happy people.
I love coming across "naturally happy" people. The lady in the shop who is thrilled to wrap the vase I have bought. The guy running past dripping in sweat with the biggest grin on his face. The friend who despite going through a time many would call tough stays relentlessly upbeat. How are naturally happy people so damn happy? What do they know? How do they dance through the fire, when most of the rest of the world lurch from crisis to crisis, stress to stress, and are perpetually trapped between the twin pillars of "busy" and "stressed"? What do they know?
Naturally happy people have generally figured out:
1 That they are responsible for their own emotional state. They don't expect someone else to create it for them or "make them" happy. They know that how happy, or not, they feel, is down to what they choose to think about stuff. So they think happy thoughts most of the time. They don't rely on outside circumstances lining up perfectly in order to feel happy. They choose happiness now.
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2 They don't sweat the small stuff. They can look at something and think "will this still bother me in five years' time?" and shift perspective quickly that drops the stress. They know most of what goes on is actually small stuff.
3 They don't complain. They keep their speech positive. And if they can't think of something positive to say about a particular topic they will switch to discussing something where they can.
4 They speak up. If something isn't working for them they will say what they need and speak up. If there is something that needs to be said they speak up without fear and with clarity. They don't emotionally manipulate, they just acknowledge what they need and ask for it. They don't stew on stuff, expect other people to be mind-readers or feel resentful. They take responsibility for voicing where they are at.
5 They know the thing about life is it's not about things. They know it's got nothing to do with the car they drive; the house they live in; the job they have. It has everything to do with what they think and feel about having or not having those things.
6 They know what connects them and brings them a sense of peace (running/ family time/birdwatching/sailing/whatever) and they make integrating time to do that a priority so that it actually happens, it's not just something that they "used to do" when they had "more time". They make it happen because their happiness is a priority.
7 They know "this too will pass". Everything in life is ultimately temporary. The lows will pass. That gives them courage to make it through. The highs will also pass. That gives them the motivation to enjoy and embrace them in the moment. They embrace the ephemeral temporary nature of the wild ride we call life.
It was hard to pick just seven characteristics of naturally happy people, so stand by for more over the coming months. At the end of the day it's super-empowering to know that happiness is a habit that anyone can deliberately create. Shifting our mindset to cultivate more happy habits of thought puts us in the driving seat of our own happiness levels. Pick just one of these to focus on and see how life starts to shift in your favour.