Happy people

21 Habits of Happy People

“Happiness is a habit – cultivate it.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Happiness is one aspiration all people share. No one wants to be sad and depressed.

We’ve all seen people who are always happy – even amidst agonizing life trials. I’m not saying happy people don’t feel grief, sorrow or sadness; they just don’t let it overtake their life. The following are 21 things happy people make a habit of doing:

1. Appreciate Life

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

2. Choose Friends Wisely

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.

3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.

4. Learn Continuously

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.

5. Creative Problem Solving

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.

6. Do What They Love

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.

7. Enjoy Life

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.

8. Laugh

Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)

9. Forgive

Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.

10. Gratitude

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.

11. Invest in Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.

12. Keep Their Word

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.


13. Meditate

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.

14. Mind Their Own Business

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.

15. Optimism

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.

16. Love Unconditionally

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.

17. Persistence

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.

18. Be Proactive

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.

19. Self Care

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.

20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.

21. Take Responsibility

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.



Cindy Holbrook manages a blog that focuses on Overcoming Life’s Obstacles. She pulls from her personal experiences as well as through her 15+ years working in social services. Pick up your free e-book “Your Guide to Happiness” when you visit CindySense.com.

Images by Hamed Masoumi, A4gpa and ePi Longo.

185 Responses to 21 Habits of Happy People

  1. Gabriel says:

    Great post Cindy, hopefully I can try to develop as many of these habits as I can. Life is really wonderful, and I guess the best way to go through it is to be true to yourself and once in a while, to stop and smell the roses.

  2. Pete says:

    Great post indeed. Very invigorating to read through all of the things that make me happy in life. I love the pics as well.


  3. Pol says:

    Good, positive post. I agree with most of this except the bit about friends. How can we choose the friends who are there for us and make us feel best and avoid those who drain us? What is the effect on a workplace or small community when we all choose not to be friends with that one person who drains everyone? What is the effect on them? Quite frankly, depressed people are often no fun to be with and can be unsupportive when they are wrapped up in their own problems. I have a couple of friends who drain me at times. I could not abandon them. They are probably the friends who I mean most to.

  4. Writer Dad says:


    I’m a really happy guy, and these are the three most important for me. I need to be learning something new, consistently; doing what I love, especially in regard to how I make my living; and I have to have a little silence in each of my days.

  5. Peter says:


    Thanks for this article. It’s good to start the new week off on a happy and positive note :)

  6. Shanel Yang says:

    Fantastic post, Cindy! Love this list and will refer to it often. I’d like to share my own that was a guest post at Dumb Little Man called “25 Statements to Happiness.” These 25 statements gave me the clues to what it was I was missing in my life (how I thought about things) at a time when I was abjectly unhappy. Here’s the link: http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/04/25-statements-to-happiness.html

  7. Wonderful observations. I think being proactive is the most important one – happy people realize that happiness is a choice.

  8. Pol,

    Thanks for the comment. I understand what you are saying. And I would never say to abandon your friends when they are having a hard time.

    I’m saying it’s best to choose to not associate with negative people that bring you down. People who tell you you will never achieve your dreams, people that tell you that the things you enjoy are stupid .. etc

    We can not always choose who we work with – but we can choose how often and when to associate with them. We don’t have to have breaks with them – or associate with them after work.

    Your questions could really take up an entire post – I’ll have to get to work on that!

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  10. Tabs says:

    I am happy, I look at the list and think okay, here are a few more things I can do to keep the mojo running.

    Thanks for the list,


  11. I have found that people who would say they are “happy” are not in a temporary “state of being” but in a perpetual “trait of being,” which is called contentment.

    This is an inspirational list and I will not take away from it; however, I have observed that people who are content do not need external inspiration, such as a list of ways to be happy, to be “happy.”

  12. Thanks for all your comments!

    Gabriel – I agree the best philosophy is to be true to yourself.

    Pete – Glad you enjoyed the article.

    Pol – I agree with you, and your comments could actually lead to a whole new post! (Better get busy writing it. )

    I agree that depressed people aren’t fun to be with. I had a pretty bad bout of depression in the early 90s and just wrote an article about Overcoming Depression on CindySense. It is important for you to be there for them – but you also need to take care of yourself, and don’t let them bring you down with them. We all go through times in our life where we are so overwhelmed that we do drain those that we are closed to.

    I’m talking about choosing not to spend time with people who demean your dreams and goals; People who are constantly negative and in general like to bring everyone down around them. People who never give you anything – but demand everything in return. If you work with a person like this, you don’t’ need to have breaks with them – or go out of your way to spend time with them. Why would you want to?

    Writer Dad – I love learning too! Thanks for the feedback.

    Peter – We should begin every day and every week on a positive note 

    Shanel – Thanks for sharing that link!

    Michael – Being proactive gives us the edge on what goes on in our life.

    Tabs – There’s always thing we can do to keep the mojo running 

    Financial Philosopher – Thanks for your viewpoint. I agree with you. Unfortunately not too many people ever actually achieve the contentment you are speaking about.

  13. CG Walters says:

    Excellent list of tools for a more joyous life, Cindy. Thank you.
    Would you mind if I reference your article in my upcoming “Celebrate What’s Right”carnival
    http://kathmandau.blogspot.com/2008/08/call-for-submissions-celebration.html ? This is just the type of positive perspective that I am trying to put together.

    Many blessings to you and your dear ones,

  14. Stephen says:

    I especially liked point 14. Mind their own business and 21. Take Responsibility. So very many people lack the maturity to take responsibility for themselves. The conclusion of psychological studies is that many of us do not progress developmentally beyond the age of 11. Those who can’t take responsibility for themselves are still blaming everything on their big sister to try to get out of trouble.

    Good article.

  15. GG – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I have no problem with you refrencing my article. You may want to subscribe to my newsletter on CindySense to get my Free e-book “your Guide to Happiness”. It adds to this article.

    Stephen – So true, if people would mind their own business and take responsibility for them selves, the world would be a brighter place. And hey “What’s wrong with blaming my BIG sister – I like blaming her.” :-) – Just kidding, my big sister has really taught me a lot about life!

  16. Evelyn Lim says:

    Tip#21 is the best!! Once we decide to take responsibility for our own lives, we start to do things that will influence how we feel each day rather than blaming everything and everyone else!

  17. “Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.” – Aldous Huxley

  18. Alex Fayle says:

    Nice quick read, Cindy – and a good reminder as to why I feel I have a happy life. I practice all of those – and when I’m not happy, something’s slipped.

  19. Great post. These types of articles make me happy to be alive. Thanks a lot!

  20. Open Heart says:

    I would say that probably if you manage to do what you love (6), that is the biggest step towards a life of happiness and fulfilment – it just makes it easier for all the rest to fall into place.

    Thank you Cindy, a very nice post.

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  22. Gracielou says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for putting this list together, definitely grateful that i stumbled upon it and cant wait to start putting it into practice.

    cheers!! keep up the good work!

  23. Really great job with this – would have taken me years to try & narrow it down and you’ve done a wonderful job.

  24. I think one other item to add to the list is humility.

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  26. Ruth says:

    These are all great habits to have. My favorite is #7 and living life in the moment. I recently came across a really cool book called The Pink Forest. In it Dana Dorfman expounds on her concept of momentology and how living in the moment and being aware of those moments really does make life fuller and more meaningful.

  27. RaAr says:

    Given things are ok but happy comes from inside, outside circumtences hardly matters, just we have to think about positive in each thing. There may be many other habits which make us happy or the less than that above specified habit can also keep us happy. Don’t do bad or over things, be optimum in the things. Search the way in which you will be happy at present.

  28. darrylxxx says:

    Someone on twitter linked to this article and I read it with growing delight! I have an 18 year old son about to go to University later this month and I have been musing over what I could/should say to him (I know! I should have done that a LONG time ago! I have, to some extent, but this is a major moment for him and his parents so it felt like it needed something extra). I couldn’t have put it better so I just sent the link to him and hope we get a chance to discuss it! Thanks.

  29. anna says:

    what a an article
    i’m really amazed..
    i’m gonna do the things and i’m sure i’ll be one of the happiest people

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  31. Johnny says:

    Thats all true and good however, conditions can change and unhappiness sets in, like you may know what you want and that would make you have a happy life, but you can’t get the money to get in that position that would allow you to have the time to be happy. See some of us have to work and work long hours to make enough money for the basic in live, but life changes and the basic get boring and being bored without money. I know I could be happier than I am if I had the funs to bring me to that position. Happiness is a when a person can do what makes that person happy or group.

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  38. Fred says:

    #8 should be “too seriously” not “to seriously”.
    Oh I’m sooo negative!

  39. Great post! A great compilation of the kind of attitude one must keep in order to lead a truly happy and blissful life. Happiness in all situations and the art of living is not something that one inherits from birth, but one has to learn and develop these qualities in his/her lifetime.

  40. What a wonderful post. Happiness is definitely a choice that we make through our own approach to this beautiful thing called life.

  41. Halle Bose says:

    What a great list!
    It’s true that happiness so often isn’t dependent on what we think it is.
    Happiness, is a skill that parents should teach their kids. Each person has to ensure their own happiness.

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  48. Rich L says:

    Great Message and Great List… everyone should read the 21 Habits everyday!

    I will be Tweeting this message to my Followers!

    Tweet you later!


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  60. Great words to motivate, uplift and absorb.

    May I post the full 21 on my site please with full credit to yourself?



  61. Alex says:

    Pretty self-centered approach, especially regarding #21. What about everyone else??? We live in a cooperative society. Everyone affects everyone else. So quite often you have little control over what happens to you.

    This advice is far too new-agey for me.

  62. lol says:

    oh well this is so easy, all you have to do to be “happy” is not have any flaws. why didn’t i think of this before. thanks, whatever idiot wrote this article.

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  65. Gratitude, unconditional love and appreciation were the three things that touched me the most.

    If we can fill our lives with these 3 alone, I think life would automatically start becoming so so happy.

    Thank yo so much for sharing – because in reading these habits – I have in some way re-enforced and watered the seeds of these habits already present in me.

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  67. caliope says:

    you forgot narcissism.

  68. Mr. Tees says:

    Whom you choose as your friends is very important to who you are.

  69. Olga says:

    I’m happy and every person can be happy when want! Be happy this big work every day, but this happy work:) Every person be happy, we live one time and have one happy:)

  70. Ricky Powell says:

    I completely agree… lots of good tips here. Happiness is not just a habit, but a skill that always needs to be worked on and improved! We all have the ability to make the choice of happiness everyday! :)

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  72. glossculture says:

    Great Article, I like to always start my day with an inspriational quote. Sometimes I go to http://www.markamoment.com to look at their daily saying so that I can think positively at the beginning of my day and week.

  73. Delicious post! Thanks for the reminder!

  74. I was facing a ridiculous days for only one week but i felt like dying and came back out of it thinking when you are not wrong you dont want to feel yourself.

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  84. kathy says:

    Regarding #8: “Don’t take life too seriously–nobody gets out alive anyways”

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  91. BenC says:

    Got an assignment on this for English freshman year today thanks alot ……  .___.

  92. very good blog and very good article will help me thank you for all greetings

  93. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful post. Thanks! I’ll add a few to my growing list of highly effective habits of happy peeps :)

    Fiona @ http://www.BetterEdit.com

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  99. KloeK says:

     You forgot it.

  100. Ahudhaa says:

    ya very true….Thankxxx

  101. James says:

    I’d be an optimist, but I’m sure that wouldn’t work.

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  105. ofwnurse says:

    EXCELLENT! thank you very much for sharing your wisdom.. =)

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  107. Meenakshiraj_kumar says:

    Nice! Practice makes a man perfect:))

  108. Emery1125 says:

    Love this article. It should’ve been called “The 21 Laws of Happiness”.

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  110. Sheenarijwani says:

    loved this article

  111. I’m going to write these tips down and memorize it. Striving for happiness lately. 

  112. Shailendra says:

    Really the true rules for a happy and disciplined life.

  113. Underthelight_paladin18 says:

    The main problem with doing what I love is that… well let’s put it this way: I can’t make a living off of writing which is what I love to do. If the economy wasn’t bad, I wouldn’t do something that I don’t like. The best advice is to find a way to enjoy work. Let’s say with nursing for example, you could learn to love that job because you’re helping people get well. Plus, nursing is a fulfilling job.

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  115. Anwht says:

    Absolutely true working ideas. Here is one of my favorite websites that teaches other “happy”  habits:  http://importantcalendar.com/achievment/

  116. Asia says:

    Awesome, I already do all these things… But oddly I’m still kind of bitter…

  117. Krnjkks says:

    I liked the article very much.Actually,the 22nd Habbit should be to HAVE EXPERT ADVICE ON POSITIVE THOUGHTS EVERY WEEK BY NEWSLETTER.Morearticles expected pl

  118. Teenann969 says:

    Great post indeed,i wish to develop ,,,such  qualities..,thanks

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  121. Anapurva says:

    Very nice & inspiring article…
    I liked the last point very much…taking responsibility really works :)

  122. I am a WORK in PROGRESS!!!! HONEST!

  123. Andrew says:

    Thank you for a great post, all very true.
    I found a great books for teaching kids to be happy…… I loved it, see the link below.


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  126. Emperor_Bob says:

    Thank you very much for this.

  127. Great insights Cindy. I especially like the idea of practicing love. When you love yourself, others and the things you do, you tend to live a much happier life. It also puts out much more positive vibes into the world which have a way of coming back in one form or another.

  128. annierooney says:

    thank you for these great points. 

  129. taryn says:

    i am a positive guy,but i suppose i am loving a negative man,how can i deal with this facts?

  130. masoud says:

    its very good

  131. very interesting, some things did not know

  132. Hi Cindy,
    What a thoughtful and insightful post and I thank you for sharing!  Much love.

  133. Hi Cindy,
    What a thoughtful and insightful post and I thank you for sharing!  Much love.

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  135. Melmiller5385 says:

    Being happy is knowing how to keep things in balance, I also tried Self-help techniques  and I feel much happier now. 

  136. Maurinesiele says:

    wow i like it.

  137. For me, the biggest factor in being happy is recognizing that life is not random and there is a bigger picture that we do not see from our narrow individual perspective.  I can see that even things that seem “bad” are happening for a reason.  And that a happy outcome to all things is certain.  I never had enduring happiness until I got in touch with that big picture.  Thanks for the article :)

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  139. ravendvs says:

    These are good suggestions for life generally, but you may consider rethinking the way you introduce this as more inspirational and less condescending to those who are not currently happy. Doing these things aren’t necessarily going to instantly make you happy especially if you have any disorder which causes depression.

  140. John of Indiana says:

    “the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it.”

    Really? then how about the health insurance?
    Obviously you’re not an over-50 Insulin-dependent diabetic with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. That Durable Medical Equipment coverage comes in damn handy.

    Point 14 is spot-on, however. The WHOLE WORLD would be a better place if we would just MYOFB. Big props for that one!

  141. Wisdomizer says:

    Thank you for this. =)

  142. kia says:

    this advice is really helpful.. thanks 😀

  143. Venus Bahalla Morales says:

    I say amen to your post Cindy. For me all the 21 habits have a common denominator and that is attitude, our attitude towards how we embrace all aspects in life, how we interact with other people and how we carry ourselves in times of adversities will describe the level of happiness that we have.

  144. Ruchi says:

    :) … — the simplest way in which this post could be honoured with GREATLY! :) :) :)

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  147. Carmel says:

    Great summary. I especially like the bit about “be true to yourself”. We are all unique so let’s not change to all be the same. How boring! I found what makes me unique through reading this free article at http://www.happystudents.com.au/Free.php
    I now spend all my spare time developing my uniqueness and I love it, often having to push myself to go to bed and continue next time. check it out.

  148. slub89 says:

    isnt contentment a form/type of happiness?

  149. Carl Farny says:

    This is classical and I liked it. Contents are very positive and gives a nice motivation for being Happy that why one should be happy. I have also found a similar approach at 4froehlich.com which discusses the same issues.

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  151. Bob Cortez says:

    I’ve seen this posted in many places without giving the author credit. May I use this on my site giving credit to Cindy Holbrook and Pickthebrain.com?

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  154. iamjustbeingironic says:

    The list is good…but I would say that meditation is the least impactful prerequisite to happiness. There are a lot of happy people who do not meditate. However, as opposed to the other items on the list—there aren’t quite as many happy people who don’t show gratitude, or are optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, meditation is great for numerous reasons—but I don’t feel that it is a strong indicator of happiness.

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  157. gengar says:

    …..Sometimes I really don’t think people know what it’s like to be sad. You can’t just BE happy, or stop being sad just because you want to, no more than you can just stop having a broken arm. So that kinda renders most the suggestions on this list useless. Sorry to be a downer, I just don’t think the post’s that helpful. .-.

  158. Julie Guttridge says:

    Being a Christian, I have to add to add God into this.. Without Him & the love of Jesus Christ, the marriage would not be the same at all

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  163. NinthCrown says:

    I feel that you’re right in a way Gengar. It’s not easy to turn off our emotions. And we should acknowledge them before we can move passed it. We tend to think most things are very serious if we don’t take the time to analyze it. Let’s try to analyze our emotions and see if it’s something minor we can cry out and move on or if it’s something more serious that we need others to come in to help. Once we do that we can feel more in control of our emotions thus making us happy. What do you think?
    Esteban Nina (PersonalTreasureMap.com)

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  166. Patrick says:

    You know what? No. This post legitimately frustrates me. It was sent to me through e-mail from a co-worker, and it scares me how little people understand about depression. I understand that it comes from a good place, and you mean well, but this doesn’t help. Sure, it’s good for people who are experiencing some short term hardship in their life, but not for people who have been drowning in soul-crippling, mind-numbing, and spirit-draining depression, like so many of us who are looking for articles like these are. I hate to say this, but this post makes me feel worse, not better. I’ve done, tried to do, and still do the majority of these things, but none of them has helped. I’m not saying that there’s no hope, because a post by RosalindRobertson, entitled, “21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed” has helped, because it’s realistic to people with long-term, clinical depression (such as myself). I know that people who battle depression on a daily basis aren’t the most fun to be around, we can’t all be “Sunshine-n-daisy’s”, but we need people who are, to be around us, and understand depression. Telling someone who is depressed to, “Enjoy Life”, and, “Be true to yourself” doesn’t help at all. It’s like trying to get blood from a stone: in the end, the only result is disappointment. I know that this is rather long-winded, but I needed to let people know that I, as someone who struggles with depression on a daily basis, do not appreciate this post. It just upsets me.

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  169. Neelam says:

    Well i am reading this post six years after it has been written but still the essence remain same….only if we practically follow them…lets try… at least as it is matter of our happiness. Happiness is all we are looking for….not matter what happens…quest should b made for happiness.

  170. Matt says:

    If you always do what you have always done then you will always be what you have always been. Just remember life is not a rehersal.

  171. PhilosophyGirl says:

    So depressed people can’t be good friends? They’re just dependent on other people? I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to say here…

  172. plmcat says:

    those people are called psychic vampires and there are things that you can do. there is a lot about them on the web and having really strong boundaries is at the top of that list. saying no, not falling into there “mess” and having a “bubble” or armor if you have to around yourself. i know the people you are talking about and had issues with them until i learned how to deal with them. and you know what? you talk about not being able to abandon them but that is what they count on. and you can’t be victim to a vampire without some surrender. you have to decide if your sanity and happiness is more important than them sucking you dry.

  173. Paul Suhr says:

    Self-confidence is NOT a habit (meaning, something you can just decide to do/have), and thus your credibility is shot.

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  175. logical Indian says:

    I have 12 habits out of these and will cultivate the remaining ones after some time :)

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