There’s a famous quote by John Lennon: “When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up – I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

What does it mean to be happy? What does it take?

Abraham Lincoln observed that “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

After reviewing the subject for a while, I’ve made up my mind that there are at least 12 common characteristics of happy people.

1/ they stand up for themselves.

2/ they’re honest and sincere with others and with themselves: they live their values.

3/ they enjoy listening to music.

4/ they recognize the good things in their lives and know how to show their gratitude and appreciation.

5/ they know how to give and also receive love, compassion and affection.

6/ they’re patient with people and things around them.

7/ they’re excited about life and look forward to learning, discovering and engaging in new and interesting activities and adventures – especially new thoughts, ideas, and creative pursuits.

8/ they want what’s best for the people around them as well as for themselves. They fully understand the significance of self-care and wellbeing and make sure that they constantly work toward strengthening their mental health and fitness.

9/ they are naturally optimistic

10/ they know they have a purpose on this earth and seek to fulfill it. They know how to live their passion.

11/ they understand the power of forgiveness, for themselves and others.

12/ they accept that there is a higher power in the Universe and enjoy the feeling of connecting to it.

These characteristics open a person up to the possibility of being happy even if the circumstances of life appear harsh or upsetting. Being happy is a state of mind, an inner process, rather than a product of the environment. And being happy doesn’t necessarily mean you walk around with a big smile on your face all the time. Happiness is an inner sense of peace, confidence, acceptance and belief in the possibility of good things in life.

How many of these characteristics do you share? What can you do now to increase your own sense of happiness and wellbeing? Being happy takes action, focus and the perception of optimism.

As I say many times in these posts a first step is to wake up – wake yourself up anyway you can, using whatever methods or processes are at your disposal. Wake up and then go out and wake up everyone else. In this way you can increase your own happiness and the happiness of the world.