How to Know If You're Truly, Genuinely 'Happy'

Relationships, holiday season, success, laughter… you get the idea—these are all things that make the majority of people (us, for sure!) so-called "happy."

But legitimate happiness is much more than the rush we feel when we see our favorite person or buy a fancy new handbag. It's reflected in the way we act toward others, the way we go about day-to-day ups and downs and our views on the future. There's also a lot that impacts genuine happiness, as research shows about 50% of our happiness is a result of our genes, 40% from daily activities and choices, and 10% due to life circumstances.

We reached out to licensed therapist Sarah Michael Novia, M.S., Ed.S., LPCC, BC-TMH, who breaks down what you need to know about personal happiness. Keep reading for what she had to say below:

girl with flower crown smiling

(via Unsplash)

Sweety High: What are signs that someone is legitimately an overall happy person?

Sarah Michael Novia: A genuine smile is generally a good physical indicator of a happy person! Happy people tend to be helpful, generous and considerate. They aren't usually interested in gossip, or tearing anyone else down. They derive pleasure from others being happy as well.

Happy people live in the present. They use their past experience to inform them and to make better decisions, but they don't get stuck there. And they plan for their futures, but they aren't living in a state of stress about what might happen. They take things one day at a time, and stop and smell the roses. Happy people wake up in the morning grateful to be alive and to get their day started, because something awesome is on the way.

Shutterstock: Happy couple man and woman posing wearing sunglasses

(via Shutterstock)


SH: What conditions make us think we're happy when we aren't?

SMN: The biggest happiness trick is probably material possessions, thinking "If I only had this, I could truly be happy." Once your basic needs are met and you aren't living in survival mode, happiness is really about liking yourself.


SH: What are some unexpected tips for improving our overall happiness?

SMN: Experiences create happiness far faster than material possessions. Go on a trip, hang out with friends, join a club!

Studies have shown that people are generally happier when they have something to which they can look forward. This includes a friend's wedding, an exotic vacation more than a year away, as well as a weekly bowling league, or walking around in nature. The key is that it's something you want to do, so it propels you through the more mundane parts of your week, job and so forth.

Another great tip is practicing daily gratitude. Feel free to start a journal. For what are you happy? What great things are happening or about to happen in your life? For whom are you grateful? Would you like to send anyone a thank you note?

friends play games at the beach during summer

(via Shutterstock)


SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add on the matter?

SMN: In the current political climate, it's important to recognize that there are legitimate reasons to feel depressed. Women's rights are at risk, many leadership behaviors have been abhorrent, and we are constantly being triggered by inconsistencies and sheer bullying of people we're supposed to be able to trust.

The ability to separate clinical depression from situational depression can make it much easier to process the constant stream of information being fed to us through social media.

Also, smartphones make it extremely difficult to live in the present. Put your phone down. Call some friends. Go outside!


Do you think you're in a legitimately good place in your life? HERE's how you act when you're genuinely happy, based on your zodiac sign.