7 Things Happy People Do

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Are you a happy person? If someone had to describe you to another person would they use the word ‘happy’?

I ask this because someone said this about me recently. I caught up with a friend I used to work with on the weekend. When she left the office saying she was having lunch with me, another ex co-worker of mine said ‘Oh Happy Carly? Tell her say Hi!‘. I was totally chuffed. I am lucky in that I am a natural optimist, so I do tend to see the bright side of most situations. However that doesn’t mean that I leap out of bed every morning, with a to-do list as long as my arm, and go ‘Yay! I have to do four days worth of work in three hours! Sunshine and Unicorns! Fairy Floss!‘. I still need to work at my own happiness everyday. I know that lots of people struggle with having a positive attitude and feeling happy. I’m not talking about clinical depression, I’m talking about your everyday, garden variety, got-your-knickers-in-a-twist cranky pants days. So I thought I’d write a little list of things that might help you feel a little bit more chipper about life. 

7 Things Happy People Do

1. They Get Rid of Things That Make Them Grumpy

This includes people, possessions, jobs and partners. No one expects you to be ruthless or reckless but if you feel sick with nerves driving to work everyday, if you avoid going home to your partner in the evenings, even if it’s something simple like your travel mug spilling coffee on your shirt every morning, you need to start recognising the negative effect these things are having on your life. Happy people pin point the source of their annoyance and take steps to change or remove those sources from their lives. It’s not easy to quit your job or cut out a toxic friend but your attitude will shift the moment you start making changes to improve your situation, so start immediately. I guarantee your mood will improve. 

2. They Start The Day On A Positive Note

Every one has to do something that they don’t want to do every day. It might be going to work, going to the gym, cleaning the toilet, having an awkward meeting with your boss or dropping the kids at child care. Every one has to do this stuff, even happy people. The difference is that happy people start the day on a positive note. They just get in there and do the nasty tasks that they don’t want to do, by faking being happy about it. Vacuuming the floor or suffering through a work meeting with a less-than-lovely colleague will be much easier to face with a deep breath, a smile and a glass-half-full-attitude. Suffering through a tough spin class will only be tougher if you have a shitty attitude about it. Another great tactic is to off-set your unpleasant tasks by thinking about your fun ones. For example ‘Right. I just have to run on the tredmill for 30 minutes and then I get to go and meet my friend for dinner!‘. It’s all about putting a positive spin on it.

3. They Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Happy people don’t let small things ruin their day. If the cafe runs out of their favourite sandwich, instead of rolling their eyes and complaining to the cashier, they simply smile, order something else and look forward to having something different for lunch. If you let every little bump in your day have a negative effect on you, it will add up and you’ll just feel awful all the time. Try saving your cranky-pants moments for things that really matter, rather than wasting them on something small like someone else using your coffee mug at work. 

4. They Make Other People Feel Good

Happy people love to do things for other people. They’ll grab a coffee for their co-worker, they’ll watch the neighbours kids and they’ll make a cup of tea for anyone who asks. They aren’t door mats but they know that the most pure form happiness comes from making other people happy. If you make the effort to improve the day of the people that surround you, I guarantee you’ll get an instant happiness boost. 

5. They Know When to Say Yes…

… and they also know when to say no. If you’re feeling a bit down, try getting involved in more stuff. Join a book club, go do some karaoke on the weekend or go to a pub trivia night. Humans are social creatures and sometimes loneliness masquerades as sadness. Try surrounding yourself with uplifting people. It almost always works. However happy people also know when to pull back and decline that dinner invitation, because they need some time to themselves. Try this – whenever you get an invite for an event, sleep on it before you answer. If you give it 24 hours you’ll know whether or not you want to go.

6. They Take Care of Themselves

Happy people know that they’re at their best when they’re taking care of themselves. They’ll put time aside in the day to go for a run, properly blow dry their hair, read the newspaper, take their dog for a walk or do some messy finger painting with their kids. Whatever it is that makes them feel good, they take a little time for themselves every day and they don’t feel guilty. Read a trashy magazine at lunch time or have a little power nap in the park after work. Happiness and contentment go hand in hand, so make sure you take some guilt free time for yourself whenever you can.

7. They Aren’t Embarrassed to Be Excited About Stuff

Happy people own their pleasure. A happy person will tell you how excited they are about their favourite musical coming to town or gleefully show you the awesome salad they made for their lunch. Somewhere between being a kid and becoming a teenager, it tends to become uncool to be enthusiastic, but happy people don’t give a crap. When something great happens, let your enthusiasm show. Excitement is delightful, so just go with it.

Are you a happy person? How do you maintain a positive attitude?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Ashley Carr 2 years ago

    I agree wholeheartedly! I know what sort of people I’d rather spend time with! Did you know you have a doppelgänger? One of my besties Kirri-Mae Sampson looks a wee bit like you and definitely shares this philosophy. She has guest posted on my blog today (it should’ve just popped up actually!). http://www.thesquee.com

  2. cilosophy.blogspot.com 2 years ago

    Love this Carly! xxx

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I’m so glad… thank you!

  3. Happy Carly. This is what I’m calling you from now on! Great advice girlfriend. x

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Thanks Nikki and thanks for the retweet! xxx

  4. Harlow 2 years ago

    I wish it was that easy to get rid of people that make you grumpy, if that was so then I would be happy as a clam 100% of the time! Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Tony Abbot is going anywhere, and there isn’t a button that I could press to make my sister in law (aka Bitch From Hell) disappear :(

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh no how awful! Tony Abbot will go away eventually… how much can avoid said nasty sis-in-law??? Family is always so difficult. Friends, you can ditch but family is pretty permanent.

  5. love this post! AndI think Happy Carly is going to be a nickname that sticks xx

  6. These are all SO true! And I’m with @HairRomance:disqus, Happy Carly is a great nickname (and what a fantastic way to be remembered by others).

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh thank you that’s so lovely! I never really thought about it until someone said it but it was really lovely to think that people percieve me that way. :-)

  7. Vanessa 2 years ago

    I love this post. I am a pretty happy person most of the time and this post resonated with me. Big time. A lot of my happiness is the direct result of a decision I have made or continue to make, not just good luck or natural optimism. I’m a big believer in taking care of myself, cutting out the toxicity and being kind to others too. I agree that by doing the things you have suggested, life can be a lot more fun. Love your work. xx

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I totally agree! People complain about feeling flat and miserable but they eat like crap, have terribly attitudes about life and generally just complain all the time. Viva la happy life!

  8. Bec 2 years ago

    This is excellent! I am a very happy person, but I’m bookmarking this for when I’m feeling low.
    My Dad is the most enthusiastic and excitable person I know and thankfully a lot of it has rubbed off on me. Last night I went for burgers with a boy and I think he was
    fairly amused by the ridiculous display of unbridled joy when my crumbed chicken burger with creamy garlic sauce arrived.God it was good.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Food excitement is HUGE for me! I sometimes clap when my dinner arrives in a restaurant. Love it.

  9. Tahlia Meredith 2 years ago

    Yep yep yep! I’m pretty much like this, and it really makes a difference. Similarly to point 7, I embrace my easily-amusedness – yeah I’m a dag because I laugh at the lamest Dad jokes but it means I giggle many times a day, and who doesn’t love that!

    (Plus, one of Manfriend’s favourite things to tease me about was that time I found a sneaky last chip under my parma and was SO excited :p)

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I actually lol’d at that. I was at my cousin’s house for a BBQ on the weekend and she was eating and sale and goes ‘YES!!! I got a pinenut!’. I just think enthusiasm is really underated.

  10. I’m a naturally pretty optimistic person, but I definitely agree that these things can only help! I like to share my enthusiasm with those around me too, I’m that person that skips when they’re happy and gets more than a little giddy about food, which luckily my boyfriend find endearing rather than just plain weird!

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh that’s gorgeous! Mr Smags is the same, he thinks my excitement happy dances are cute, not deranged! We’re lucky ladies!

  11. Trudi 2 years ago

    I love this. I feel I could share this with a few people (a lot) to help them reconsider their grumpy pants.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Oh you should! I was half tempted to tag my grumpy brother in here!

  12. I love this. Makes you analyse yourself and others around you and to validate real happiness. It can be the little things that add up to total happiness.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      It really is. I notice it a lot when I have clients that I have to visit in offices. So many people are just negative balls of nasty. I’m like ‘Calm down! So someone took your stapler… it’s not that big a deal!’

  13. swimgirl 2 years ago

    Nobody wants to spend time with unhappy grumpy people. Put a smile on your face and watch the difference it makes to other people.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Totally, that’s where I think the saying ‘no’ part is so important. If you’re just going to be a no good grump it’s better to stay at home! :-)

  14. yes. Yes. YES! I am a happy person by nature but can sometimes get bitten by the Grumpy Bug (which is usually started by his mate, Stress). It’s at those moments I redirect my thoughts to something happy and positive or something I’m looking forward to. Or I look at a photo of my puppy! I do however really need to work on # 6…

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      That’s a huge one! It’s so hard to find the right life/work balance and stress just eats happiness.

  15. JessB 2 years ago

    I just love this! I am a happy person, and love to be thought of as a happy person. A lot of the things here I love and already do – especially #7 – but I need to work on #6 and looking after myself. I’m really not prioritising getting to bed, and it’s just not working for me. I need more sleep! So I’ll have to make sure I get it, so I can keep smiling.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I need more sleep too! Always! I actually was a bit naughty this morning – I was up late working on a deadline so I only had about 5 hours sleep before I got up at 6am for Barre class. When I got home, I had a shower and hopped back into bed for a few more hours sleep! I’m trying really hard not to feel guilty about it! :-)

  16. Nicole 2 years ago

    Having clinical depression my whole life, being happy is a very big struggle for me. But as I’ve gotten older and have been through some things, I discovered little tricks here and there to help with that. Sometimes those things are the harder route, but I think it helps me and others in the long run. One of the things that had me wanting to make a change was being around other people who are negative most of the time. Whether it be about other people, about themselves, or life in general they will always have something to publicly nitpick. It gets dull and sadly, sometimes irritating. I used to be that way and can sometimes still fall into those patterns, but I fight it (especially expressing it publicly as I think that spreads the negativity). I want people to understand that I have mental disorders, but I don’t want to have them think of me as “the one who’s sad and complaining all the time”.

    It’s not always easy, in fact some days it’s close to impossible for me to feel anything but numb. But I’ve learnt that when I’m like that, it’s only worse to feel guilty and try and fight against it. Instead I take time out and do only things that are absolutely comfortable. Watching four hours of House Hunters International, eating gummi candy for lunch…that sort of thing. And that usually allows me to get out of the hole much quicker than I used to.

    I think a lot of your points are great. Especially not sweating the small stuff and making other people feel good.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      It sounds like you’ve got it sorted there love, and these tips aren’t nearly enough to even start with helping clinical depression. That’s a whole different kettle of fish. It’s good that you have your coping mechanisms and also that you have awareness. That’s a big one! xxx

  17. I’m happy, for me, happiness and good health go hand in hand. I really loved this post Carly, and I’d like to think I have all my 7 bases covered (most of the time!) I like to fill my time with people that I love and doing things that I enjoy. And when negativity does come and bite me on the butt, I take immense pleasure in looking on the flip side. Because there is always a flip side! I also find that physical exercise puts a smile on my face. There’s nothing like an endorphin party to get the happy vibes going! And, did you know, it’s International Happiness Day tomorrow? Well timed!

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      I actually didn’t know that when I wrote this so I’m putting back up on all my social media channels! Physical exercise is THE BEST! Sometimes when I’m doing it I’m like ‘Why am I DOING this???’ but when I’m done I have all these endorphins. It’s the best. I’ll never, ever not exercise!


  1. […] gave us a list of 7 things happy people do … which I pretty much copy/pasted to my to-do […]

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