14 Reasons Why Happy People are Happy

Why Are Happy People Happy

You may have read our article on 6 things you DON’T need to be happy. Well, here are some reasons why the happiest returned missionaries, (and most people) are the way they are. I’m not saying that you have to have all of these to be happy, but I am saying that applying any one of these will make you a happier person, whether or not you served a full-time mission.

1. They are Purpose Driven

Russell M Nelson Heart Surgeon - Happy Returned Missionary

Elder Russell M Nelson said that his purpose and mission was to become a great heart surgeon so that he could save the life of a prophet. Photo credit: lds.org.

They know that they are here for a reason. They understand that they received their “first lessons” in the world of the spirits and that they have a mission to accomplish.  That mission is different for every person, but it is just as important for each. Every person has something to contribute to this world that no one else can contribute. Each one of us is unique. The happiest people discover that mission and purpose and they spend their life fulfilling it.

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Think of the mission. You knew your purpose. You could memorize it verbatim. Every minute of every day you were striving to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” 1 You knew that this was your purpose and it was given to you by God, through a prophet. You will be happier when you discover your purpose and mission now that you are home from the mission. Elder Russell M. Nelson said that his mission in life was to learn how to become the best heart surgeon so that he could save the life of the prophet. He fulfilled that mission. I believe we all have a specific mission to accomplish just like Elder Nelson. What is your mission? Find it and live it and you will be happier.

2. They are Truth Seekers

Earth is Flat - Truth seeker returned missionary

To them, the earth is not flat. They know that there is more out there than what they see. They think outside the box. They seek to know for themselves and are not just carried by what others tell them. They are constantly learning and seeking truth. Just as President Dieter F Uchtdorf said:

“Latter-day Saints are not asked to blindly accept everything they hear. We are encouraged to think and discover truth for ourselves. We are expected to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to a personal knowledge of the truth.We seek for truth wherever we may find it. Yes, we do have the fulness of the everlasting gospel, but that does not mean that we know everything. In fact, one principle of the restored gospel is our belief that God ‘will yet reveal many great and important things.’ So we continually seek truth from all good books and other wholesome sources… As you accept the responsibility to seek after truth with an open mind and a humble heart, you will become more tolerant of others, more open to listen, more prepared to understand, more inclined to build up instead of tearing down, and more willing to go where the Lord wants you to go.” 2

The more we seek and discover truth, the happier we will be.

3. They are Okay with Messing Up

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They are not afraid to just get out and do something because they know that messing up is just a part of the process of life.

They get back up after falling.

I believe that the more you mess up, and then adapt, the better you are. I think that is why most older people are so happy. They aren’t just complacent and apathetic. They have gotten past their early bouts of atelophobia, the fear of not being perfect. They mess up and realize that they are still alive and that they can choose to be just as happy as they were before they messed up. And because of their series of mistakes, they have in their possession a certain elixer that causes them to smile more every day (even if that smile is more wrinkly and has less teeth included). It’s called wisdom: “The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” 3

Almost all good judgement comes from experience, which comes from making decisions based off of bad judgement. Feel free to disagree, but people who jump in, mess up, learn from it and adapt are much happier than those who don’t jump because they are afraid to mess up.

4. They are Teachable

Christ in the Temple - Heinrich Hofmann

Christ in the Temple – by Heinrich Hofmann

What if the doctors of the law passed by this small boy in the temple in Jerusalem? What if they would have said “We are learned men and we need not be taught by a boy! What does a boy know that we haven’t studied?” Well, if they did that, they would have passed up the opportunity of a lifetime.

The young boy just happened to be the Son of God and the Messiah that they had waited for generations to find. We may pass someone by because of their age or education or socio-economic status who otherwise could have taught us something that can change our lives. Henry Eyring was a world-renown professor of chemistry who authored over 600 scientific articles, received the Wolfe Prize in Chemistry, the National Medal of Science and his work in Chemistry led others to receive a Nobel Prize in science. 4 He was one of the most brilliant scientists to walk the earth and yet even he said that he could learn something from anyone. 5

Henry Eyring Chemist

Photo credit Wikipedia

5. They Like Themselves

Hug Yourself returned missionary

photo credit: vegvacious.blogspot.com.

Social scientists who study positive psychology have found that 90% of our happiness has to to with our general outlook on life. 6 We are the ones who control this.

Happy people have a healthy self-love. They know they are not perfect, but they chuckle about their imperfections and see the best inside of themselves. They accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative self-talk. They are their own biggest fan and they literally cheer themselves on. They do NOT sit and ruminate over what they could have become or should have done in life. They love themselves for who they are. No matter the size or shape of their body, they love themselves. If they don’t do something perfectly, they get over it instead of getting into a self-loathing fit. They smile at themselves in the mirror.

The happiest people are their own best friend.

6. They are Creative

Creativity - Returned Missionary

The happiest people express themselves in a creative way. They leave their creative mark on the world. They feel that they are unique and have something to create that no one else can. Consider these words by Dieter Uchtdorf:

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty. Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty… remember that you are spirit (children) of the most creative Being in the universe.7

It is a part of who you are and it will make you happy if you fulfill that desire within you. You have something to contribute to this world that no one else does. And you will be happy when you begin to create!

7. They know their Maker

They have the glow. They stay connected to God. Ezra Taft Benson said:

“Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God?” 8

Yes. There is.

And as we do, we find greater joy than we have ever experienced. Our relationship with deity is real. It is tangible. Those who are connected to God, independent of any other person, will find joy that cannot be substituted by any other person or thing. Once you taste this joy, all counterfeits for happiness seem dull. It is a very happy moment when one real conversation with your Maker blows your mind and enlightens your soul to the point where you would give anything to have it again. Lamoni, the king of the Lamanites had that moment. 9 Moses, a prince of Egypt, had this moment. 10 Oliver Cowdery had this moment when he saw John the Baptist and heard the voice of the Jesus.

“Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught…but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind.” 11

Truly knowing God will make you happier than any other thing in this list.

The happiest people know their Maker.

8. They are Jam-Packed with Gratitude

Gratitude Quote - Touch Heaven - Thomas S Monson - returned Missionary

There are so many things to be grateful for and happy about. The happiest people find things to be happy about every single day. If you are ever having a hard time, just read this post about 21 Things ANYONE Can Be Happy About. It will give you a good place to start.

9. They Have Moral Courage

Val Jean Who am I 24601

The happiest people stay happy because of their moral courage. They have the guts to stand up for what is right. They defend truth even when it is unpopular. I love the story of Jean Valjean becoming the wealthy Monsieur Madeleine after being prisoner 24601 for over a decade. After establishing his new name and reputation, he hears of a man who is mistaken for prisoner 24601 AKA Jean Valjean. Though he could have easily let the man go to prison in his stead, he turns himself in, forfeiting his reputation and all that he has built for himself, but saving his integrity. This required significant moral courage.

We become friends with God when we have moral courage and stand for the truth, no matter the consequence. As Brigham Young said:

“We must learn to be righteous in the dark – to be a friend of God.” 12

10. They Work Hard

Hard work quote - missionary work

They just do it. They get things done. It is a part of who they are. The sort of Idaho-farm-boy type of hard work.

Like in the mission, you probably worked harder than you ever have in your life. Get up early, study, prepare, work from sun-up to sun-down, for 6.25 days a week, non-stop for your entire mission. In the middle of it all, you sometimes feel like collapsing, but then at the end, you look back and you are filled with a satisfaction that can’t be found by anything but plain, hard work. Whether you served a mission or not, if you have ever worked hard, you know what it feels like to be happy at the end of a day of hard work.

The happiest people work hard.

11. They Scatter Sunshine

The happiest people lift others up. You can’t make other people choose happiness, but you can always contribute to the wellbeing of those around you by doing something to make their day brighter. Scatter sunshine, all along the way. Be the reason someone is grateful today. Be the answer to someone’s prayer. Be bright.

Be of good cheer. It will be contagious and then you won’t be the only happy one.

12. They are Optimists

Optimism Quote - The Returned Missionary

They are filled with optimism. Their glass is half full. They celebrate what is right with the world and they don’t complain about what is wrong with it. They celebrate what is right with the people around them and they don’t complain about what is wrong with them. They are always learning something and they know that they can get something out of every day if they just look hard enough. They are uplifters, not drag-downers.

These people know that they can teach themselves to be optimistic. If you haven’t read it already, here is a great post about optimism.

13. They Take 100% Responsibility for EVERYTHING in their Life


They live a life of responsibility, not a life of excuses. They are the creators of their circumstances, not the creatures carried by circumstance. If they have taxes to do, they do them. If they have skeletons in the closet, they dig them out and get rid of them. If they need to pay off a debt, they pay it off. They know that they are responsible for their own happiness. They understand that they are agents unto themselves.

There is only one person responsible for the quality of life that you are living: YOU. If you want to be happy, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life. This includes:

  • How far you go in school
  • How successful you are in school or in a job
  • The kind of relationships you have and their quality
  • Your nutrition and physical fitness
  • How much income you make
  • The debts you have
  • Your emotions
  • Your thoughts
  • The beliefs you subscribe to
  • Etc.

So many people blame others for their circumstances. They blame their parents, their bosses, their friends, the media, their coworkers, their clients, their spouse (or ex-spouse), the weather, the economy, their bishop, their lack of money, etc. They never quite see where the real barrier to their happiness is: Themselves. Until you take responsibility for your life (both the good and the bad), there will always be something lingering inside of you holding you back. You will not truly be free. Freedom involves responsibility. I think that is probably why many people hold themselves back from being free – they have to be responsible. So they hold back.13

Take control of your own life. Remember ye are free to choose for yourself.

Start taking 100% responsibility of everything in your life and you’ll be happier.

14. They Know how to Live in the Present

Being Present - Mt Sinai Sunrise

My friend Daniel Ash on top Mt. Sinai at Sunrise.

We all have thoughts, emotions and physical sensation. The more awareness we have of this, the more able we will be to step outside of our situation. We can then look at it without feeling out of control or victimized by the situation. The more we live inside the “awareness space” of what is happening to us, the less we will be affected by it. 14 I personally believe that it is in this “awareness space” or “the now” that we hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to us. This is, in fact, the space where God lives. In the now. In the present.

Consider these passages:

“In the presence of God…all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.” 15

All things are present before mine eyes.” 16

All things are present with me, for I know them all.” 17

And this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“We may be surprised at the turn of events, but God in His omniscience never is. He sees the beginning from the end because all things are, in a way which we do not understand, present before Him simultaneously in an ‘eternal now‘.” 18

If we learn to live in the present more often, we will be more aware, more able to make good decisions, less stressed and more grateful.

People who know how to live in the present are happier.


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  1. See Preach My Gospel, Chapter 1, Page 1 – “What is my Purpose as a Missionary?”
  2. What is Truth? – In the section “Our Obligation to Seek for Truth” – CES Fireside by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
  3. See Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of wisdom.
  4. Click here for a full bio of Henry Eyring.
  5. From the book To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses 
  6. See this article on WEBMD.
  7. From President Uchtdorf’s talk: Happiness, Your Heritage – CR, November 2008.
  8. Ezra Taft Benson: The Book of Mormon, The Keystone of our Religion – CR, October 1986.
  9. Alma 22:15-18
  10. Moses 1:10
  11. JS-H Footnote of Oliver Cowdery’s account
  12. Brigham Young’s Office Journal, 28 January 1857.
  13. This wisdom on taking 100% responsibility comes from Jack Canfield’s masterful book The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
  14. Read more about living in the now in Eckhart Tolle’s book: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment 
  15. D&C 130:7. See also 88:41 
  16. D&C 38:2
  17. Moses 1:6
  18. Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, pp. 37.


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