What Do Joyful People Have in Common?

There are surprisingly common characteristics joyful people share.

Whether they're young or old, rich or poor, famous or not, here are the things most of them do.

1: They move and nurture their bodies

Moving our bodies, every day, and with effort, is a foundation for more joy.

It makes us more energetic, happier, and clearer. It burns calories It's good for the organs and systems in your body. It helps us live longer.

And, maybe the biggest reason: Moving our bodies makes us better for ourselves and for the people around us.

Learn more in Move.

2: They think "me and we"

The trouble with thinking about "me" too much.

Too much focus on "me" leads us to suffer. Our egos and our thoughts are evolutionarily wired for the negative. How does that show up? Something good happens and then you feel great. Something bad happens and then you feel terrible. It's a roller-coaster.

The trouble with thinking about "we" too much.

Thinking about (and working toward) the greater good can help you find meaning and joy. At the same time, you have to ensure that you have the fundamentals to keep you going: Rest, movement, nutrition, and love. If you don't fill your tank, you will run out of gas.

One more thing to consider: When you do something for someone, ask yourself which of these is more true?

  1. I'm doing this because I don't want them to be disappointed with me. Or I want them to like me more.

  2. I'm doing this because it is helpful to them, and helping other people brings me joy.

If the first statement is more true, you might be in "people pleaser" mode.

How do you find a healthy balance between "me" and "we"?

How do you create a "me and we" mindset? It starts with making deliberate choices about your attention, your time, and your energy.

3: They make and nurture good relationships.

Good relationships make us happier, period.

Connection focuses on the skills for making and nurturing good relationships.

4: They look for meaning bigger than themselves.


5: They are good at finding the good.


6: They find meaningful work.


7: They prioritize time for leisure activities.


One more: Doesn't money buy happiness? How about fame?


Resources and Citations

  1. "Empirical findings... self-reported happiness and life satisfaction... The consistent and perhaps surprising result is that most people in most circumstances most of the time score above the scale midpoint, whether they are multimillionaires in the United States or pavement dwellers in Calcutta... Robust correlates: Number of friends; Being married; Being extroverted; Being grateful; Being religious; Pursuing leisure activities; Employment (not income)... Having good relationships with other people is the most important contributor to a satisfied life and may even be a necessary condition for happiness. Having a "best friend" at work is a strong predictor of satisfaction and even productivity. A good relationship is one in which the amount of positive communication considerably outweighs the amount of negative communication." Sadock, Benjamin J., et al. Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry. United States, Wolters Kluwer Health, 2014.: