Want to be that friend that’s thrilled to be alive and leaks sunshine out of their pores? Well, no guarantees this will help you achieve that, but this will help you to be happier.


stick figure with key, laughing at sad stick figure.

Do you ever see that one person who is just always so freaking happy? Like, they’re just so overjoyed to be alive that there’s nothing that can faze them? They could come into work or school and tell you that their car broke down that morning, and that their just grandma died…but they’re still being positive, saying something along the lines of ‘Well, it is what it is’, or ‘There’s no point in crying over spilled milk’ while just moving on through the day.

Well…maybe you don’t know somebody like this because I’ve presented you with a bit of an exaggeration, but I still stand by the fact that there are some people who just seem happy. It’s like they’ve figured out the key to life and are living in complete contentment. 

So. What exactly is this type of person doing to be so happy? What is the secret? According to multiple studies, it’s a mixture of things. 

One of the most obvious factors of being happy is being healthy. Exercise has been linked to increased happiness countless times, so it’s a pretty safe bet that happy people don’t just coincidentally find time to exercise. Now, I’m not saying you have to be ripped and go all ‘body builder’ to be happier, but I am saying being active makes a difference. Go out, go for a walk, a hike, swimming (maybe a jog if you decide that running is the best way to fight your demons).

Do whatever floats your boat. Just get out and move. You’ll feel better. 

In addition to exercise, maybe just go outside. Go spend time in nature. Have you ever realized that so-called “Hippies” seem to be so content that it’s not even funny? Well, part of that most likely has to do with the amount of time they spend out in nature, just appreciating it. The fresh air and the act of disconnecting from the world is good for us. So just go out – find somewhere beautiful and relax. Read, doodle, lay in the sun…just stay off your phone (that kind of defeats the whole purpose, folks). 

Another factor that plays into happiness is money. Remember all those people who have told you “money can’t buy happiness”? Well they’re wrong. Kind of. 

It’s all about how you spend your money. I’m telling you right now: buying a boat isn’t going to make you happy in the long term.

But buying a cat will. I would know. I have one and he’s great.

Ultimately though, buying yourself objects and belongings isn’t going to have a lasting impact on your happiness. The key to spending money to really be happy is to spend it on others and on memorable experiences. Taking a trip with some friends will be ten times better for you than buying yourself a cool pair of shoes. You aren’t going to care about the shoes long-term. You’re not going to look back two years later and think ‘Wow! Those shoes were so great! I’m so happy I bought them’. That’s just not how it’s going to go.

However, if you took a trip to Hawaii with your friends you’ll most likely look back on the experience and appreciate it years later. 

There is something to be said about finding happiness in things you can’t replicate. Even if you took another trip there with the same people, it wouldn’t be the exact same. Spending your money on those types of experiences can go a long way toward increasing your happiness.

Money spent on others also has a much larger impact on your happiness than spending on yourself. Buying a stranger coffee, paying the young neighbor kid to shovel your driveway despite the fact that he does a terrible job and it would be easier for you to just do it yourself…those kinds of things make us happy. It’s the act of giving that truly impacts us.

So money can buy us happiness, if spent on the right things. 

Lastly, and one of the most crucial factors to happiness in our lives is the strength of our social connections. Sorry introverts and antisocial folks!

Relationships and human interaction have a direct impact on our happiness. Outgoing people typically have a better attitude than most, and it is likely because they’ll talk to anything that breathes. Personally, when I worked as a restaurant server I found that I was significantly more positive and content with life. I have always said that my favorite part of the job was the people. The interaction with strangers, the bond between co-workers…I was there for all of it.  Anything that involved interacting with another person was what made me fall in love with the work – this makes sense considering social connections are a main player in achieving happiness.

Basically, ignore the whole “don’t talk to strangers” motto that your mother drilled into your head when you were young. (Well, maybe don’t completely ignore it, but talk to someone.) Start a conversation with someone from your class that you haven’t spoken to, or with the old lady you see waiting in the check out line. It’ll feel good, and you will think about it the rest of the day.

That being said, we’re not just born to be happy. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find happiness. Sometimes it just takes a little change, and a good mindset. So be that friend who has a great day despite waking up to find out their hamster died. I believe in you.