Happiness is hard to find, and some people spend their whole lives winning promotions, earning money, and spending time with people only to find that happiness has eluded them. It's common knowledge that happiness is about more than objective wealth or what you do in life--it's about your perspective, and about how you react to things that happen around you.

There are seven critical traits that only genuinely happy people have, and if you want to find happiness and satisfaction in your own life, you'll have to learn to incorporate them:

1. Gratitude. Gratitude is essential for happiness. You have to truly appreciate everything you have in life in order to be satisfied with it. If you don't feel grateful, you're always going to be looking for more, no matter how much you already have. You could make minimum wage or a six-figure salary and still constantly lust after more instead of being grateful you have a job. You could resent your parents and wish that they were different instead of appreciating the fact that they're alive and well. Express your gratitude, openly and often, for all the great things in your life, and forget what you "could" have--focus on what you do have.

2. Present Focus. Happy people tend to live in the moment. They aren't preoccupied with things they've done in the past, and they aren't constantly thinking about the future. It doesn't matter whether these thoughts are positive or negative; you could think very positively about the future, but if you aren't focused on the present moment, you aren't going to be happy in the present moment. It's important to remember the past, but it's harmful to dwell in it, just like it's important to plan for the future, but it's harmful to obsess over it. Focus on being happy right now.

3. Humor. Humor is also important, no matter who you are or where you work. Truly happy people are typically able to find humor in almost anything. They appreciate jokes and aren't afraid to laugh out loud when they think something is funny. Laughing is shown to be beneficial not only for your emotional health, but also your physical health. It releases endorphins, helps you relax, and helps you manage stress better. Even the simple act of smiling can carry some of these effects, so if you want to be happier in your own life, start laughing and smiling whenever you can, and surround yourself with others who appreciate humor.

4. Self-Confidence. Confidence goes a long way. Having faith in your own abilities makes you less stressed--you spend less time worrying about whether or not you're good enough to accomplish something and more time actively trying to accomplish it. When you feel confident, your doubts and apprehensions don't weigh you down, and you can focus on what's in front of you. Confident people tend to perform better when facing obstacles and experience less stress overall, so it's no mystery why confidence is generally associated with happiness. Building confidence can be difficult, especially in adulthood, but it is possible to train yourself to be more confident by practicing positive thinking and remembering your skills instead of your faults.

5. Adaptability. Life changes far more frequently and more unpredictably than most of us would like. New obstacles range from a closed road on your normal commute to a natural disaster that destroys your home, ranging from the irritating to the devastating. But the happiest people in life aren't the ones who focus on the interference or the obstacle, they're the ones who focus on finding the best way around the obstacle. Because they're adaptable, they don't have to worry about life's unpredictability, and they aren't as stressed when something major comes up. They simply find another way forward, and proceed.

6. Optimism. The power of positive thinking cannot be overstated. Simply believing that things will work out in the end will help you manage your stress on a regular basis and think more positively about your current situation. Optimists find the best in everything and aren't ever consumed with the need to search for faults. Constantly viewing the world through a positive lens will make the world seem more positive, and you'll be happier to live in it as a result. Fostering optimism can be tough, especially if you're used to a cynical line of thinking, but with practice, it's possible to change your outlook.

7. Intangible Values. Finally, happy people aren't obsessed with tangible rewards or destinations. They aren't worried about getting to a certain position, making a certain amount of money, or having certain material things. They're more concerned with the intangible parts of life: friendship, fun, and family. They prioritize experiences over possessions and don't try to measure their lives in terms of how much wealth they have. In a way, they prioritize their real feelings of happiness over what they perceive to be linked to happiness, so consider your values carefully and examine how you really feel about them.

Happiness isn't about reaching a destination or achieving a goal; it's about enjoying the journey that is life. Staying grateful for what you have, focused on the present, and positive no matter what comes at you can help you finally unlock the happiness you deserve. You're in control of your own emotions, so maintain a better attitude and a better outlook, and happiness is sure to follow.

Published on: Feb 26, 2015