Unchecked, it could take hold of your upbeat mood and plunge it into darkness.
I’m talking about social media.
A double-edged sword if ever there was one, social media gives us connection with one hand and takes away contentment with the other. We hold up our lives in comparison to these sanitized images and needlessly find our own lives wanting.
To keep a cheerful perspective, it’s important to remember that nothing on social media is ever the whole story, that the messy and chaotic part of life is usually hidden from public view.
For instance, that joyful photo of your friend with her new baby won’t reveal that she’s suffering from postpartum depression, and the photos of your coworker’s active social life won’t reveal his painfully low self-esteem.
Comparing your life to others’ lives is always risky. But to compare it to the “Photoshopped” version of others’ lives is downright dangerous and could sink you into a funk for no good reason at all.
It’s time to do a reality check. Below are 16 signs that genuinely happy people can’t help but show. You might very well be happier than you think you are.
1. Happy people celebrate others’ success
The concept of degrading others in order to elevate themselves is not in their repertoire. In fact, watching the people they care about succeed lightens their mood. Happy people like seeing other people happy.
2. They use a variety of coping strategies when they’re stressed out
Whether it’s calling a friend, writing in a journal, going for a walk, hitting the gym or simply meditating, they have more than one tool in their stress-relief toolbox.
3. They are content with what they have right now
The Buddha teaches that wanting is the source of all suffering. Happy people are able to accept their lives as they are in this moment. They might wish for something, they might be striving to obtain something, but if that something never materialized, they know they’d be fine without it.
4. They problem solve instead of worry
Worry is a gerbil wheel—it requires lots of energy but gets us nowhere fast. Positive, happy people feel empowered to effect change; they may still feel the fear, but it galvanizes them to action.
5. They forgive easily, especially themselves
They don’t spend time berating themselves or others for normal screw-ups. Happy people are able to feel compassion; they can see the big picture and understand human frailties.
6. Happy people sleep well
That gerbil wheel of worry is quiet, and their bodies are centered; they are able to fall asleep naturally. Good sleep is not only a sign of happiness—it’s also critically important to becoming happy. Sleep is so crucial to health and happiness, it should be everyone’s #1 priority (with a special dispensation for new parents, who should be napping every chance they get!) Only when we’re deep asleep does the “sanitation crew” come out and do all the daily maintenance and clean up, invigorating us for the next day.
7. They laugh easily
Laughter flows effortlessly out of them when they see a child giggling uncontrollably or when someone makes an especially ironic observation. They are able to experience spontaneous moments of joy.
8. They hang out with other happy people
They have a circle of predominantly happy friends. Gone are the whiners, the critics, and the cynics. In their place are optimists and enthusiasts—people who love life and nourish their optimism.
9. They truly and deeply love someone
It doesn’t matter who—it can be a child, a grandchild, a lover, a parent, a best friend from high school—but whoever it is, they genuinely love and accept that person. Happy people gladly take the risk of being vulnerable that comes from loving someone with their whole heart.
10. They’re looking forward to something specific
We’re not just talking a cruise or tickets to a Broadway play. Happy people look forward to all kinds of smaller events, too, like the sound and smell of brewing a fresh pot of coffee every morning, a dinner date with an old friend, or just having a whole day to binge watch a favorite show. Having a positive sense of future is the hallmark of a happy person.
11. Happy people are able to smile, even when they’re alone
No social mores at play here, no one to win over. Just a private moment of pleasure. Happy people can feel joy even when there is no one else around.
12. They have a sense of satisfaction from something in their lives
Maybe it’s something they wrote, created, painted, or constructed. Maybe it’s the success they’re having within their business, family, or studies. Or maybe they tackled and survived a major health issue. Whatever it is, it brings them a lasting sense of satisfaction—a sense that they have done something they’re proud of. Happy people take stock in their accomplishments without guilt or shame.
13. They frequently experience gratitude
This is not just being able to see the gifts they’ve been given in life—housing, clean water, a working brain, life itself, and so on. It’s also seeing the infinite ways in which things could have gone horribly wrong in their world, but didn’t, and being grateful for having been spared. Because of this, they have a rare sense of perspective that keeps them grounded.
14. They rarely get angry at small stuff
They pick their battles. They get angry over injustice or violence or narcissism, but not at a waiter who has forgotten their water.
15. Happy people are rarely bored
Happy people have both energy and curiosity. They have little trouble finding ways of engaging their brain, body, and spirit in the world around them.
16. They take care of their bodies
People who have a positive outlook on life take care of the vessel that carries their soul. Even if they’re not the picture of health, they haven’t given up and deserted their bodies. They might be in pain or have a chronic illness, but they still care about their health and do things that support their own version of wellness.
So, the next time you want to catch up with friends and family via social media, take a moment to ground yourself before logging in. Think through all of the signs that prove you really are happier than you think. It’ll help you keep the social media blitzkrieg in perspective.