I'm borrowing from Rev. Shane Bishop's blogpost on this topic, although I'd like to reword some of his points about "12 Things I See Happy People Do that Unhappy People Don't Do." We can all choose to be happier, and we can choose to be miserable. Decide what you want to be, and then take in hand your perceptions. If your vision needs correction, change glasses!
Eight Behaviors of Happy People:
1. Happy people are thankful. Unhappy people complain.
Do you spend time thinking about all the things you want but don't have? It'll make you unhappy. Focus on what you do have, and be sincerely grateful. Stop thinking about the "I wishes." Change your expectations.
2. Happy people are generous. Unhappy people are stingy.
Related to #1, people who don't feel they ever have enough are slow to let go of anything they do have. Practice giving things away.
3. Happy people forgive. Unhappy people hold grudges.
This is perhaps the hardest and most important. If you've been done wrong and you're holding bitterness against that person -- no matter who -- it will eat you alive inside and make you unhappy. The ONLY way to overcome this is to forgive the person. Don't ask me why; I only know that it works like a secret weapon. Nothing kills bitterness off like thoroughly forgiving the person.
4. Slow down!!
I can't emphasize this enough, for all you "doers" out there. Your "doing" is wearing you out, especially when you hit middle age. Try this: choose a simple task at home (sweeping, vacuuming, hanging out laundry, dishes, etc.) and attempt to do it as SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE. If you find this uncomfortable, you're probably a person who needs to slow down a lot.
5. Happy people look at others. Unhappy people are self-focused.
Rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy, no matter your gender or race, try to stop thinking the world is about you. Is your brain on a thought-loop about your troubles? When you enter a room, do you look around to find out who is looking at you? If you do, you probably need to work on this one. Again -- it's about expectations and perception, and you need to stop expecting everybody to be about you.
6. Happy people watch their words. Unhappy people don't know when to control the tongue.
Adam says that we all believe what we tell ourselves, and it's so true. Stop telling yourself you're unhappy, stop telling yourself what you don't have, stop telling yourself how you've been wronged and abused, stop telling yourself you are worthless (or conversely, that you are the most worthy), stop telling yourself you can't forgive, and stop telling yourself that you can't change. And stop telling other people all that stuff too.
7. Happy people are not self-pleasers. Unhappy people are greedy for their own happiness.
Happiness is a butterfly. You can't catch it in your hand but it will light on your shoulder if you leave it alone. Happiness is a side effect of other ways of living, not a goal in itself. Stop grasping at the air.
8. Happy people let go of regrets.
If there are things in life you feel you missed that you can go back and recover, do it. Stop whining about it. If you're not willing or able to get up and go fulfill those little dreams (travel, music lessons, more education, learning a skill) then let them go.
Most of the people out there you think are very happy are just struggling along like you are. They may be a bit ahead of you in the effort, but they're working on these things like you. Look at those happy, smiling people who are kind and thoughtful and uncomplaining, and remember they have chosen to be so. You can too.