“Happy people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best out of everything” – Unknown

Right about now you may be thinking “Why would I need to cultivate new habits to become happier when I just need more money? With more money, ALL my problems will be solved and THEN I’ll be happy…

If this happens to ‘hit the nail on the head, fear not, you’re not alone.

Though most of us know deep down that having money does not automatically equal happiness, some of us still insist that we would *finally* become happy if we are able to attain more financial wealth.

Let’s think of it this way, if money directly correlates to happiness then theoretically, all financially wealthy people – with no exception – would be remarkably happy.

However, learning from my own experience, I found the opposite to be true. In fact, I found that quite a few of those whom we would regard as having a high net worth are often those who are most miserable.

In contrast, many of the happiest people I know are those who are not necessarily what society would view as ‘affluent’.

In my early 20s, I wanted to find out just what makes these happy people tick. So, I decided to pick their brains and find out their “recipe” for happiness.

Having done so, I decided to implement my findings in my own life – and the result?

While I do believe that money does give us a sense of security and freedom, I have come to truly understand that true joy and happiness are simply not something money can buy.

So, without further ado, here are the top 7 habits of incredibly happy people that have allowed them to not only become happy but also *stay* happy.

I hope you will find them helpful in maximizing & maintaining your own happiness!

1. They Practice Gratitude & Express Them Often

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” – Frederick Keonig

The happiest people practice gratitude as if it were their day job. That’s not to say that they think their life is perfect, rather, they appreciate who they already are and what they already have as they work towards creating their best life.

They recognize that in order to attract more blessings into their lives, it is essential that they do not take the blessings that they have been bestowed upon for granted.

Even on days that are particularly difficult to express their ‘Thank Yous’, the happiest people make a point of expressing their gratitude for the most basic needs such as running water, access to electricity, and good health.

And, of course, the most priceless gift of all, the fact that they are alive…

2. They Cultivate True Friendships

Research shows that when one increases his or her number of true friends correlates to higher subjective well-being. In essence, it found that doubling your number of (true) friends has the same effect on your happiness as doubling your income.

Additionally, it stated that those who have a strong support network are likely to live longer lives when compared to those who do not.

They say that you are not truly rich until you have something that money can’t buy and true friendships are certainly one of them.

It comes as no surprise that the happiest people are those who have at least two or more friends (in addition to their spouse and family) that they believe they can truly depend on – through thick and thin.

These people understand that true friends are rare to come by so they make the time and effort to not just establish real friendships but also the work, time, and effort necessary to maintain them.

3. They Make Time for “Me” Time

There appears to be a big misconception that making time for “me” time is perceived as selfish.

Happy people, however, understand that in order to be of the best service to themselves and others, they need to make sure that they put their needs first.

No matter how hectic life gets, they do their best to set aside some time where they can take time out to focus on themselves.

Though the amount of time set aside for “me” time varies from one person to another in general, happy people make a point that they set aside adequate time for themselves.

This way, they do not build up resentment as a result of consistently neglecting their own needs and pushing themselves off to the bottom of the priorities list while catering to everyone else’s needs.

Whether your “me” time takes the form of yoga sessions, taking an indulgent 20-minute bubble bath a couple of times a week, or going outdoors for a daily run, make sure that you do something regularly that gives you joy.

The more time and effort you invested in honoring your own needs, the happier you’ll likely be.

4. They Give Back & Help Others as Much as They Could

“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.”

– Buddha

There’s nothing quite like the joy of knowing that you’ve made a positive difference in someone else’s life. I find that the happiest people are often the most altruistic and kind.

Having spent a chunk of my professional life working in the non-profit industry, I was constantly awe-struck as to how truly selfless & generous people could be.

What is surprising is that though they invest much time and effort to better the lives of others, these people genuinely believe that those who they had helped and/or are helping are actually the ones who helped them.

These wholehearted groups of people grasp the concept that no matter how different we may appear on the surface, we are all human beings and are essentially one.

Thus by helping others, they believe that help themselves too. As Buddha so wisely said, “If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path“.

5. They Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The happiest people are those who are highly self-aware. They understand the value of self-reflection as a tool to get to know themselves as human beings and as a result, they truly know who they are, inside and out.

One of the most valuable things I learned from these happy people is that it is just as important to know your weaknesses as it is to acknowledge your strengths.

They believe that when we come to accept our flaws, no one can use it against us. They admitted that though it can be a painful process, once they come to terms and take ownership of their flaws, it becomes difficult for them to be offended or defensive when they are faced with conflict or confrontation.

They also recognize that life’s too short to be spent wasting their time on trivial and petty arguments hence they pick their battles and easily forgive others.

6. They Focus on the Present

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life” – Eckhart Tolle

Happy people recognize that worry and anxiety occur when we stray away from the present moment.

Many of us yearn to be calmer and more peaceful yet we insist on living either the past or the future instead of the present and I was certainly no exception.

When we take the time to look back on our lives, most of the anxiety and stress we experience were the results of us replaying the mistakes of our past or the worse scenarios of our future.

When we find ourselves plagued with anxiety, most of the time, it is because we decide to worry over circumstances, events, and situations that never actually happened or will ever happen.

The happiest people have learned to focus on the present moment rather than succumb to rehashing thoughts of the past or spend their energy anticipating the future.

They understand that now – this very moment – is all we ever have.

And that by focusing on what is happening in the present rather than allowing our minds to wander, we are able to let go of much anxiety and worry. In turn, we are able to become more at peace and happier.

7. They Collect Memories, Not Things

In this day and age of consumerism and rampant use of social media, it’s difficult to not get all caught up in the comparison game or otherwise known as “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

Remarkably happy people, however, understand that their self-worth does not rely on their net worth.

They do not see their value resting on whether or not they have the biggest house or the latest gadgets. They understand that things, no matter how great they may appear, could only give us a short burst of joy that does not last very long until we long for yet another set of newer, shinier, and (what we believe to be) better stuff.

The genuinely happy recognizes that when that day comes when our life is nearing an end and our life flashes before us as if it were a movie, the wealth we accumulated in our lifetime will be the furthest thing on our minds.

Instead of collecting material things they opt to invest their time and attention in making the most out of life by creating and collecting priceless memories.

Often, these come in the form of simple moments they spend with their loved ones. The best things in life, after all, are indeed free.