What do happy people do differently? There must be something that separates them from those who, well, don’t share the same viewpoint. I’ve spent a lot of time in my career studying the science of happiness. And I know many times people get into this big debate about the difference between happiness and joy. And I’m not saying there’s no validity to that because there certainly is. The big difference between happiness and joy is that joy is a lot more deeply seated whereas happiness is more situational. 

But either way, if you’re happy or joyful, chances are you’re doing a few things differently than your unhappy counterparts. And I have found that there are 5 acts that, as a general rule, separate the joyful from the downtrodden. Keep reading to learn more.


1. Honour Their Body

Can I just say this? Your body deserves your respect, don’t you think? Now, this does not mean you need to be crazy disciplined and completely perfect in your diet, sleep patterns, or workout routine. But it is important to think about and consider: What is your relationship with your body? A couple of years ago, I went through a major health transformation where I lost a bunch of weight.

But more than shedding the pounds, you know what I also did? I started listening to my body! I made a conscious effort to pay attention to the foods that were:

  • Taking my happiness away
  • Making me feel uncomfortable 
  • Creating a sense of irritability

And once I began noticing the types of foods that were creating these negative feelings in me, I stopped eating them. I then began leaning into foods that were actually making me more happy (this included the drastic reduction in alcohol consumption).

Why did I do this? Because I wanted to honour my body. 

My body was telling me this stuff was not good for me and I had to listen. And I’ll tell you what, if you listen to your body in the same way, it will listen to you. But if you eat bad foods and refuse to listen to your body, it will begin to shut down on you which can result in breakdowns, colds and cases of flu, overwhelm, etc.


2. Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care goes beyond just your physical well-being. Self-care, in my opinion, encompasses your mind, your emotions, and your spiritual being as well. You and I (and everybody we know) are spiritual beings; this is about religion or going to a temple, synagogue, church, etc. 

That may be what it looks like for you, but it doesn’t have to be that; it’s really about understanding self-care. Now, caring for yourself can include many activities, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Journaling
  • Hiking
  • Exercising, etc.

I wonder: How much time do you put into self-care? I’ll tell you what, many of us are trying to deliver in the world by getting things done “out there” but we’re not doing a lot of care “in here.”


3. They Forgive

Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like injecting poison in yourself thinking that it’s hurting the other person.” And that’s the crazy thing about holding on to resentment, you’re holding something against someone else and you’re thinking it’s harming them. In truth, you’re actually harming yourself. 

When you think about it, that’s not wise. Why? That person (whoever they happen to be) has already hurt you once! Why are you now—through your unforgiveness—giving them the ability to continue hurting you? 

There’s plenty of medical evidence that suggests unforgiveness produces negative chemicals and toxins within the body. This can eventually lead to illnesses such as cancer, gallbladder issues, digestive problems, and other unpleasant results. 

And it’s all because we’re hanging on to negative emotions. 

Letting Go So You Can Move Forward

Now, I know forgiving is hard. Moreover, forgiveness is not a one-time thing. Forgiveness is a journey, it’s a process. But if you start to make the decision to forgive right away, you will begin seeing a big difference in your levels of happiness. 

That doesn’t mean you’ll forgive completely and everything will be just fine. But it does mean that as you forgive, you’ll be letting that negative emotion out one door and letting happiness in through another. 

And that is the critical element of happiness. 


4. Gratitude

Happy people are grateful people. 

You know, it’s interesting; I’ve never met an entitled person who was genuinely happy. Here’s the thing. There’s an attitude associated with entitlement that pushes good things away from you. All the good things that Life, God, and the Universe want to give to you are withheld when you walk around feeling entitled. 

On the other hand, if you ooze happiness, gratitude, and joy, this causes more of the good things in life to become magnetically attracted to you. 

There’s been a lot of research on gratitude and how it impacts people’s mental health. And time and again, it has been proven that grateful people are happy people. 

What Does It Really Mean To Be Grateful?

Now, being grateful doesn’t mean that you close your eyes and ignore all of the pain, difficulty, and hardship in the world. As a matter of fact, real gratitude is the exact opposite. Gratitude is acknowledging that…

Stuff’s hard…

There are difficult moments we all face…

There’s betrayal, hardship, and really difficult adverse situations…

But in spite of that, gratitude says, “Where can I find the gold?” And that right there is the crux! The gold is just lying around waiting for you to grab it; you have to mine that gold! You have to dig for it! Sometimes you have to look hard for the gold in the situation. 

And here’s the deal…

Every cloud has a silver lining. If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. And gratitude is what allows you to have that. 


5. Happy People Know How to Cope

The world is full of things you cannot control. 

However, by acknowledging that there are many things you can’t control, you’re left with the realization of the only thing you can control: Yourself. This means that you need to learn how to cope. 

Coping skills are critical. 

A Quick Story of the Power of Coping

A part of what I do is lead workshops instructing people on how to share their stories as public speakers. After hearing story after story, one young man shared his of how 2020 during covid was a tough year for him. 

Not just because of the lockdowns or the pandemic itself, but because in that same year, he lost both his mother and older brother. 

And covid had nothing to do with it; they just passed away. 

And this was a young guy, he was 18 years old at the time. So here is growing up with his mother and brother, thinking he gets to face the world with the support of his family by his side. And then all that is taken away from him. 

He shared honestly; he said he got into emotional eating and gained about 60 lbs; he also began some practices with alcohol and substance abuse.

However, after living this way for a period, he turned a corner. 

And a shift took place within him where he started to learn how to cope. In other words, he learned that he can’t change the situation by bringing his lost loved ones back. But he learned that, in this moment, he could cope. And when he accepted this, he was also to tap into his happiness again.

And today, I’m thinking about that for you, me, and the rest of us. 

Happy people just know how to cope. Coping is a healthy mechanism because it allows you to adapt to circumstances that you can’t change. As a result, you become empowered to make the best of your situation, regardless of how bleak it may appear to be at the moment.


Are You Ready To Experience More Happiness?

Happiness is an inside job. It starts internally with you and then permeates outward. Once you get a handle on your own inner world, everything in the outer world will naturally fall into place! At And at Certified Flourishing Coach, we’re here to help with this process! Our team of expert coaches and facilitators can create the conditions for you to experience more joy in both your personal and professional life.

And with a science-based approach to our methodology, you can feel confident knowing our process is backed by evidence, not theory. So, if you’re ready, contact us today to learn more.

About the Author

Abe Brown, MBA, CMCT, CPHSA is the Coach’s Coach, and is an Entrepreneur, Professional Speaker, International Best-Selling Author, and High-Performance Leadership Coach. He is the founder of Certified Flourishing Coaching™, the Flourishing Life Coaching Program™, and Flourishing Workplace. Abe is also the author of the Certified Flourishing Coaching™ Programs.