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12 Things I See Happy People Do (that unhappy people do not)

May 22, 2017

I have been thinking a lot about happiness of late, partially because so many people seem unhappy.  I think that was my first epiphany upon entering the world of Social Media; people are unhappy and there are a lot of them.  Now don’t get me wrong, we all know some people who wouldn’t be happy, were they not unhappy but I am not talking about them.  We will just let them be.  I am also not thinking theologically here (i.e. juxtaposing happiness and joy), today I am going to err on the practical and pragmatic side of things.  With that being said, let’s get going.

I think most people want to be happy; they are just not quite sure how to get there from their present location.  Many people honestly believe that happiness is a lucky bounce; a sunny disposition or favorable circumstances but I disagree.  Happiness is a choice.  I believe the best route to happiness is found by following the footsteps of those who have already arrived.

Here are my observations on the topic that have been formed by watching happy people for decades.

  1. Focus on what you have and not on what you don’t Unhappy people are unthankful people. The practice of counting your blessings is a great start.  Get out a legal pad and write down all the good things in your life.  Often unhappiness sneaks in when we lose sight of all the good things in our life and become focused on one or two difficult things.
  2. Question the sources of your expectations Most unhappy people want things they don’t have…and they want them bad. Are these expectations realistic?  Who is selling them to you?  I hope not the media.  Having a miserable existence because you are not living into a pipe dream, is really tragic.
  3. Be Generous Study after study has come to the same conclusion. Selfish people are miserable.  Happy people give of their time and resources to a cause greater than themselves.
  4. Remember happiness is not a destination The happiest people I know are those least conscious of their own happiness. Happiness is learning to enjoy the ride, not reaching your destination.
  5. If you don’t like your life, change it Take control of your own life. Do want to learn to play the piano?  Take lessons!  Do you regret not getting a college degree?  Get one.  Do you want to improve your spiritual life?  Start going to church.  There is really no one holding you back but you.
  6. Slow down You just can’t smell the roses at a full sprint! If you, like me, are a workaholic type, build time into your Outlook to do nothing.  Get a hobby.  Enjoy your friends and family.  Happy people have learned how to occasionally chill.
  7. Realize there are no shortcuts If you were honestly disappointed you didn’t win the billion dollar Power Ball, you are not getting it. Getting your education, working hard, putting in the hours, pursuing your dreams, saving and giving are always in style.
  8. Stop feeling entitled No one owes you anything. Just assume you are not going to get any help, that you will receive no inheritance and that no one is going to give you a break.  Now go make your life happen!  If anything else comes (and it probably will), it is all bonus!
  9. Think significance Significance is achieved by leaving the world better than you found it. People who feel their lives really matter are the happiest people of all!
  10. Forgive Forgiving those who have hurt you, breaks their power over you.  Forgiving yourself for your failures, frees you for future success.  Ask God to forgive you.  Ask those you have hurt to forgive you.  Make restitution where you can.  Move on.
  11. A great attitude is a choice, not a disposition We can control our feelings or we can be controlled by them.  Happy people CHOOSE to have great attitudes.
  12. Speak life When you speak, choose words that uplift, encourage and bring positive energy into every situation.  My mom was right, “If you don’t have something nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.”  People who speak life are like human air fresheners.

As you begin a new week, you have an opportunity to invest in your own happiness or to make yourself miserable.  If you choose the former, you will make others happy as well.  If you choose the latter…well, you know.

Shane Memphis

 -Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois and the author of the new book “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.” available on Amazon and Kindle. 


  1. I loved your phrase..” people who speak life are like human air fresheners.” Excellent post…well spoken, and much needed.. Attitude is’s the tide, not the destination. Jesus is teaching me that big time, and it’s great.. scary…wonderful..refreshing, and it’s a total surrender every moment of every day.

  2. Dene Peachey permalink

    Thanks brother, I appreciate the reminders.

  3. Kelly permalink

    Nicely stated.

  4. I LOVE YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE!! “The JOY of the LORD is my strength!”

  5. Gaye Maranda permalink

    WOW…Thanks for this! We just discussed this in out home team biblestudy last eve. And my “prayer request” was on “forgiveness”…the Lord works in mysterious ways! First thing I see is your “12 things”!!! Thank you again! Have a Blessed day.

  6. Mary Ann permalink

    Thank you for this message! I just love the ‘human air freshener’ metaphor….I plan to spray some happiness today 🙂

  7. Dee Swartz permalink

    Rev SHANE, well said and I totally agree with all your points! Yes happiness is a choice, not many have a perfect life. We all share the same challenges with family, work, financial difficulties, health issues, peer pressure,
    Addictions and even bullying. Please keep sharing your words.. Happiness is a choice. Changing begins with us..

  8. Michele permalink

    Awesome and uplifting!!
    Reading this today (sent by my sister!) on my 60th Birthday puts LIFE into perspective for me!!
    Thank you!
    God Bless You

  9. Glenys Nellist permalink

    “People who speak life are like human air fresheners.” I love that line! Great thoughts Shane..and if I were to add #13, it would be, Happy People….SMILE!

  10. Henri Drinkall permalink

    Lots to consider – thought provoking! Thank you.

  11. Trevor permalink

    What a lovely, positive article.

  12. Judy wood permalink

    So very, very true!! It’s a CHOICE!!!!!! 😊

  13. Jeff permalink

    Great list pastor!

  14. Michael Roethler permalink

    Why don’t you simply say “LAUGH”. Adults don’t laugh like kids do and kids are happy and adults generally are annoyed at something.

    Add “SMILE” and you’ve got life figured out.

    Just a thought!!

  15. Donna permalink


  16. Donna james permalink

    Great insight! I am a pastor as well here in Bend Or
    And often people just want problems to go away
    But we chose to give our doubts and stress to the God who can refresh our souls. Great job!

  17. Karen permalink

    LOVE this!!!

  18. The best article ever! Everyone on this earth needs to read. To many unhappy people!

  19. Annette Westling permalink


  20. K. Scott Brandenburg permalink

    Awesome words! Happiness IS a choice! 😊

  21. Geri Collins permalink

    Beautiful! Very well said. I wish for this to be read by millions. No, trillions!

  22. Michelle jarski permalink

    That was so uplifting. I really need to read that even though I do follow the 12 ideas. I just needed a reawakening. I am a Christian.

  23. Linda Warnock permalink

    Well said…….thank you …sometimes we need a reminder

  24. Ron permalink

    Line drive right down the middle good job

  25. Reblogged this on what's mama writing and commented:
    Fabulous points that ANYONE can utilize.

  26. Jennybrettelle permalink

    Thank you Shane. Reading this was like a cool breeze on a sticky Ga day.

  27. Jeff L. Anglesey permalink

    Dear Reverend, thank you for those great words of wisdom! I’m trying everyday to be happy and enjoy the things I don’t have and love the life I have. Thank you! Respectfully, J.L. Anglesey 🚀😎

  28. Nadene permalink

    Thank you for sharing. So true

  29. Louis permalink

    Well said REV!

  30. Mds permalink

    Thanks for the reminders to readjust our GPS!

  31. Thanks for these pointers! Most helpful.

  32. Thank you! You nailed it. For me, gratitude sets everything else in motion toward being genuinely happy, so I’m glad to see it at the top of the list. Growing wiser with age also helps. The happiest people I know are those who’ve weathered some huge storms in their lives. Experience and an open heart teaches us that God is trustworthy, even when things are dark and ugly. He carries us through and we have nothing to fear. Practicing these steps you’ve laid out are ways to let the light shine, first into our spirits, and then out to those in our sphere of influence. Darkness cannot exist where there is light.

  33. Dori permalink

    Love this! I shared to Facebook and many people have commented that this is great! Thank you for sharing! God Bless!

  34. Carmen Ropp permalink

    Mr. Shane, this is great advice on how to be happy! Most of them have God’s Truths from the Bible.

    As far as #8, I am thankful that as a child of God we are given a great inheritance on this earth as well as in Heaven that will never spoil or fade! Praise the Lord Jesus! 😍 And He is where our help comes from.

  35. Maria permalink

    Great advice thank you!!!

  36. Amen and again I say Amen.

  37. Judy permalink

    We also sing a lot.

  38. Dana permalink

    This was a fantastic read! Really true. It opened my mind and got me to be honest with myself. I could change a few things….😁

  39. Anne B Brown permalink

    Reverend, you have spoken to my heart and soul. I have been a glass half full kind of person my whole life. People often describe me as optimistic which I really hope I am. I plan to reread your post to keep me on my chosen path. Thank you.
    Anne from Iowa

  40. Kathy Hopper permalink

    Love this! Thanks for sharing!

  41. Reblogged this on Liz McLeod Musings on the Day and commented:
    Working hard at this every single day!!

  42. I agree with everything you said, sir. I’m not religious but a Humanist and care for people. Appreciation for life and what you have (whatever that is) counts for much. Happiness comes with love and friendship, and if it doesn’t, something is wrong somewhere!

  43. /Thanks Rev. for posting this! I found it on FB and passed it on. 🙂

  44. “The practice of counting your blessings is a great start.” It truly is. You don’t have to count them all at once, notice a few each day. Suddenly the world is brighter.
    I list Gratitudes many days on Facebook. I started as a way to remind myself to be thankful. Surprisingly I have had many people tell me that they look forward to seeing them.

  45. Pat Daniels permalink

    This is awesome! Very well put! I, for one, will share this article! Thank you!

  46. Savannah Johnson permalink

    Well put. And factual. Share for others to learn and gain. Thanks !

  47. Elsie Ross permalink

    Thanks form the Monday morning uplift!!!!!

  48. Reblogged this on Rev. Shane L. Bishop and commented:

    Published in the late spring, this one is nearing 2.9 million views.

  49. Bryan C. Swann permalink

    Thank you for the words or encouragement !

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