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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. Neely Plumb permalink

    In our society we are bombarded daily with countless advertisements, commercials, and television programs that are negative and filled with violence. The messages are clear, “buy this and you’ll be happy and the envy of your peers”, “Make more money because money will make you happy”, the reality is just the opposite and the more you have, the more you want; sadly it is endemic and ingrained in us. Sit back, breathe deeply, and realize the reality of your existence. I have had a lot of money and I have scraped coins together to buy food. Happiness is not in material wealth, never has been and never will be. Our relationships should bring us gappiness by unconditionally loving EVERYONE. Just think how wonderful the world would be if everyone had genuine unconditional love for one another instead of greed and selfishness.

  2. Irene Pike permalink

    I always think if I have a sense of humor God and Jesus must have one to so I’m looking for it in the Bible plus use it in my everyday life and I keep laughing all day long. When I go out I try to make people laugh I love it! Just wanted to say some positive happy thoughts! Irene Pike. 😊

  3. Jeff Gayan permalink

    Working on all things said, very well written!

  4. Kat permalink

    Thank you for sharing this important outlook

  5. Susan Warren permalink

    Forgiveness for a spouse who has always been absent, abusive, and emotionally not there is hard. Support groups really do help. Church has helped me more than anything!

  6. Peggy Brittain permalink

    This is wisdom!!

  7. Gwen Ball permalink


  8. Vicki Wilson permalink

    I agree wholeheartdly.

  9. Sylvia Anderson permalink

    This was so beautiful and so true, thank you! I loved reading this and could really use this right now. God Bless You Sylvia Anderson

  10. Man. Do you know how much I love THIS. I’ve been through so much in the past 4 years. Heroin addiction, house fire, homelessness, suicide, my Dad was BEATEN then passed away in his store, Village Pizza on CHICAGO and WESTERN 😫. KILLED. Maybe I can come off this nightmare 😈
    I’m surviving. I’m Recovering. Healing TAKES time 🙏❣️
    My son’s Dad committed suicide in August 😥. I just don’t know what to do.
    Smile and keep it moving 💪
    Live laugh love ❤️

  11. Dave permalink

    According to the Bible, if you know God and discover His plan for your life, you will find the happiness you’re searching for. It doesn’t come from seeking to be happy in and of itself. It comes from knowing and seeking the God who created you and discovering His plan and purpose for your life.

    C. S. Lewis said this about happiness: “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food for our spirits were designed to feed on. . . . God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
    The Bible says that if you hunger and thirst after righteousness, then you will be happy. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” The word blessed also can be translated “happy.”

    This world will promise us happiness, but it simply won’t deliver. That’s because this fleeting happiness that we experience ebbs and flows. It comes and goes, depending on what our life is like.

    If things are going reasonably well, then we are fairly happy. But the moment things get difficult, we are no longer happy. And that is not real happiness.

    Writing in a Time magazine article, Gregg Easterbrook said, “Love, friendship, family, respect, a place in the community, the belief that your life has purpose—those are the essentials of human fulfillment, and they cannot be purchased with cash.”

    Happiness is never something we should seek directly, according to the Scriptures. It is always the result of seeking something else. If you seek holiness, then you will find happiness as a result.

  12. Ann permalink

    Thankyou for this! I am a happy person BUT, allowed someone to take it away. No more! Getting he althy in 2020…AMEN LORD SPOKANE WA

  13. Anne permalink

    All these are great ideas and suggestions. But what if you have chronic disease that gives you chronic pain and being uncomfortable in your body. Decades..something always hurts. Deformity. Infertility.

  14. Sherre permalink

    Love #9 Significance. Thank you for making my day!

  15. Regina Seelinger permalink

    12 great steps! Thank you for pointing them out. I noticed where you are from, so I have a favor to ask. Go eat some delicious food at Lotawata Creek, my cousins’ restaurant. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

  16. Tonya Benassi permalink

    That says it all that is great. There is a lot of people that don’t ever think they got enough and have such a bad attitude. Now explain when ur boyfriend is bipolar takes his meds but still has bad depression. That’s my problem. I texted him what I thought I got no response back but he came in my room and got in bed with me and held me tight. How can u beat depression

  17. Jeannie Vaughn permalink

    Love this list. I need to read this every day. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Douglas Pirkey permalink

    Happiness is born of the understanding that, the life I’m living is God’s will for me, that it is His life, who He is and my high calling, that is the essence of the life I’m living. When Christ encompasses a man’s life, he sees that Christ is his life, and so he is happy despite circumstance and even experience, because Christ is become his happiness.

  19. douglaspirkey permalink

    Happiness is born of the understanding that, the life I’m living is God’s will for me, that it is His life, who He is and my high calling, that is the essence of the life I’m living. When Christ encompasses a man’s life, he sees that Christ is his life, and so he is happy despite circumstance and even experience, because Christ is become his happiness.

  20. Laurie Stoeger permalink

    Great New Year goals to work on!

  21. Diana Webb permalink

    Thank you, I really needed to hear this. I’m changing my life starting RIGHT now. I want to be happy, just didn’t know how to do it. Thanks again for the best advice that I’ve ever gotten.

  22. Dave permalink

    #1. Phil 4:8
    #12. Eph 4:29 (love this verse. I call it the Bambi verse cause Bambi’s friend, Thumper, who advised Bambi with it, was obviously a theologian! :0). Note that Thumper paraphrased it: “If you can’t say sumthin nice…

  23. Deborah Vlahos permalink

    Great advice! EVERYONE needs to read this to refresh each day of their life!

  24. Marcia Akin permalink

    I really appreciate your post and I have been mourning my deceased Husband for 8 years and I’m ready to come out into the world and go back to Church and take charge of my life. Please pray for me to be able to do this and I’m not looking for sympathy I’m looking for strength to help myself do all of these things. 2020 is going to be the best year of my life and with God’s help and guidance I will be back to my old self soon! Thank you so much for sharing this post with me my Friend!

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  1. Rev. Shane L. Bishop: 12 Things I See Happy People Do, That Unhappy People Do Not Do | For God's Glory Alone Ministries

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