A pessimist sees the difficult in every oportunity an optimist sees the oportunity in every difficulty Not too long ago @jeffhilimire wrote a post about 15 things to give up to be happy. In the comments, he thought it would be a good topic for @kaitlyndennihy and I to do a blindpost on. While this isn't exactly a blindpost (I've read both of their versions), it's been long enough since I've seen their content that I'm almost starting from scratch. I'm sure there will be some overlap along the way.

So what does a happy person do?

They are empathetic

Whenever we are wronged or something doesn't go our way, we get frustrated. Some person is a bit snippier than what's normally looked upon as common courtesy. We didn't get something on time. We're inconvenienced or put out by the needs or decisions of others.

Getting wrapped up in these scenarios could put anyone in a bad mood very quickly. These little things will add up quickly on almost any given day. When we get frustrated, we are immediately taking the position - whether conscious of it or not - that the events of the world are all about us. That everything should impact me in a way that's the most desirable. Once we realize that there is more to the world than what affects us, the little things don't seem as big. Instead of being upset that a person snapped at us on the street, we wonder what happened to them that day to be put on the edge like that. Putting ourselves aside and in another's shoes in those little moments really lifts the burden of being in a bad mood all day. It's a burden not worth carrying. There's a great speech that talks about the power of empathy.

Aren't worried about others' opinions

Are you working for you and your goals or the artificial expectations you think are set by those around you? I think the happiest people are ones that stick to the task at hand. They know what they need to do and don't let the opinions of others drag them down emotionally. There's nothing anyone can do to please everyone. We'll always have critics. Not being concerned about what people think of me is liberating. Once I started doing what I thought was best for me and my wife, life seemed to become a bit easier, more enjoyable and I became way more content with what I did have and less worried about what others think about what I'm doing or what I have/don't have.

Enjoy the little things

It's easy to set our eyes on the big wins in life. We get a new promotion. A new house or car. A new child is welcomed into the world. I finally beat my high score on Angry Birds. You know, life milestones. Paying attention to the little things around you is a great practice. Maybe that cup of coffee you bought today was extra delicious. Your commute time was ten minutes shorter than normal. It's a nice sunny day outside. There's so much positive amazing things going on around us that we're often too busy to notice. Slowing down for a second and taking note makes the world feel like a slightly rosier place - and makes you more grateful for the good things we often take for granted. How could that not make you happy?

Get enough sleep

This is hard to do for a lot of us. We have work or home commitments that cut into our precious sleep time. That said, sleep is super important. The amount differs for a lot of us but it is necessary to get enough. None of us are Superman. We have limits. How many times have you seen a cranky person because they didn't get enough sleep? That's no coincidence. It's science. 


I know my wife and I can tell a huge affect on our moods when we don't work out. Exercise is a great way to zone out and relieve all the stress and problems the world has on your back. You know how you feel after a good workout? It's typically a great rush. There's happiness behind it.

Have a pet

When I have a bad day, sometimes the best thing for me is going home and petting my dog Theo on his head. It's proven that pet owners live longer and have a lower risk of stress and heart attack. Taking care of Theo is a form of therapy. He doesn't care what kind of day I had at work. He doesn't have an opinion of how I did at that client meeting or how many hits this blog post got. He just wants me to play with him. That's it. Theo is one of the best stress relievers I know.

Spend time with other happy people

It's easier to bring someone down than it is to pull them up. Intentionally being around other people that share an optimistic view of life will make you more likely to share that same positive outlook. Megan and I are blessed to have friends that are in many stages in life but are happy with whatever stage of life they're in. They are a group of people that are always trying to lift each other up, even in down parts of life that do happen. That type of mentality rubs off on a person over time.

Believe in something bigger than themselves

It makes work easier and more fruitful. If you feel like you are working for something bigger than your own personal ambitions, the pursuits you have in life will be more fulfilling. When I was running track full time in school, I often ran better - and enjoyed running more - when I trained for my teammates who depended on me than just training for what wanted to accomplish for myself. There's nothing wrong with having personal goals and benchmarks - they just shouldn't consume us. It's easier to let ourselves down than something bigger. Whether it's a larger team that depends on me or working in a way that I'm striving to honor God in whatever I'm doing, I've noticed that I get discouraged less and persevere more.

Try and find the light in any dark situation

Sometimes life sucks. That's just the way it is. When it does, it's very easy to have a laser focus on whatever is going wrong. There could be a million things going right in life but that one negative thing could ruin your day. It may be a life stage that feels frustrating. Sometimes those moments of frustration are actually moments that are leading to better opportunities for growth. Sometimes you have to look at a bad situation and remember that it could always be worse.

When I was starting my career in Chicago, I wanted to work in an ad agency something fierce. I had a LOT of doors close on me in just a year's time. I would think I was almost in the door at an agency and then something would always fall through. I did my best to not get discouraged and look at all the positives that were in my life. I did have a job, I was gaining good experience in other forms of marketing and had a home and food every night. I told myself agency roles were falling through for a reason. I studied what could've gone better in each failed endeavor and refined my approach. Ultimately, I ended up where I'm at in Atlanta, which has been the best situation for Megan and I. It was hard to see past the moment of failure then but finding the positives in the hardships made success in other areas more attainable.

What would you add?

That was a long post and I applaud you for sticking with me the whole way. What would you add to the list?