While you might think that there are certain things that make you happy (or could make you happy if you had them), there are certain common traits among happy people –a different way of thinking about things and doing things. This includes the way you choose to think about and act on the past, present,and future.

Past. When thinking about the past, people who are happier pay attention to what was good about the past, rather than focusing on the unhappy times. They are grateful, forgiving, and don’t believe that the past will determine what happens in the future.
Present. The way you think about and act in the present is also essential in determining how happy you are (taking pleasure in life and your surroundings, building and being in meaningful relationships, and the way we react to things in life, good and bad).
Future. When it comes to thinking about the future, happy people are optimistic (in a realistic sense) about how their future is going to be, but if it doesn’t turn out that way, they know it’s not going to be the end of the world either.

Why is happiness important? (Why wouldn’t you want to be happy!) Happier people are generally healthier people—not only mentally, but also physically.

But does aiming to be happy mean you can’t be sad? Not at all. In fact, going through times where you’re sad can sometimes make that happiness all the brighter. Sadness is a part of life, and sometimes it’s even possible to feel happy and sad about something.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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