What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

5 Things Happy People Do Every Day

It is true that some people are born happier. About half of your happiness is genetic, attributable to your personality and temperament. But the great news is that only about 10% is circumstances. The rest is about the intentional choices that you make every single day. There are some habits that happy people have in common, and if you practice these habits, you too are likely to see a boost in how you feel every day. Here are five things happy people do daily:


  1. Spend time with people they enjoy.

When it comes to happiness, you are about as happy as your relationships. We cannot be happy without people. That’s because we were made for connection and love – and that happens through relationships. When you serve people, connect authentically and allow others to impact you, your life is richer and more meaningful. So intentionally stop to have that conversation, look that friend or co-worker in the eye and really listen. If your relationships are filled with turmoil, make a plan to calm the drama in your life. The stress is a threat to your health and your happiness.


  1. Focus on what’s right in front of them.

Happy people live in the present moment. They don’t dwell on the past or get overly focused on the future. Instead, they value the power of the present, which means they have fun. When working on a task, they get into “flow,” meaning they engage in tasks where their skill level matches the challenge in front of them, and time seems to fly by because they are so engaged in what they are doing. It is no wonder that people who love their jobs are twice as likely to be happy than those who don’t, according well-being research by Gallup.


  1. Do something that helps someone other than themselves.

Committing a random act of kindness isn’t just a trendy suggestion. It’s a way to be happier. Serving others is a happiness trigger. And it is the core of what we are all here to do – love. When we focus on helping others, it redirects our focus from our own problems or challenges, and helps put our lives into perspective.


  1. Express gratitude.

Gratitude is powerful. It keeps you from taking things for granted. It strengthens relationships. It feels good. So say thank you and mean it, even adding to your “thanks” an expression of why another’s gesture was meaningful to you. When you count your blessings, write them down or share them with a loved one.  And reflect on why you are grateful. It expands the positive emotion you feel when you are grateful.


  1. Redirect their happiness-sabotaging thoughts.

Happy people don’t dwell long on thoughts that make them unhappy. This doesn’t mean that they don’t acknowledge negative feelings. They do. But they are also less likely to dwell on them, wallow in self-pity or blame others for their misery. Instead, they ask, “What’s within my control to change?” They change what they can and do their best to work around the things they can’t change.


My challenge to you:

Pick one of these habits that you don’t currently do every day, and intentionally try it every day this week.


Journaling assignment:

Is there something you’re doing every day that might be making you less happy? What could you replace that habit with? Of the five habits above, which one do you most need to practice more?



For more support in your journey to more joy, I have these resources I think you’ll find really helpful:

Happy Women Live Better Coaching Program

Happy Women Live Better (book)

3 Questions to Journal Yourself Happy

Sometimes the best path to happiness is a very intentional one. There are many times when circumstances and stress sap your joy, and you have to find your happy on purpose. Journaling is one way to pause, reflect and shift your attitude in a positive direction.

In the 9th habit of my book Successful Women Think Differently, I talk about the research of Dr. Laura King, a professor at University of Missouri, who discovered that writing about “your best possible future self” actually has health benefits such as boosting your immune system. Apparently, writing about your life has a very positive impact on your emotions. Combine that with powerful coaching questions that prompt you towards happiness triggers such as gratitude, anticipation and savoring, and you’ll feel a shift in your emotions in a matter of minutes. Here are three of my favorite questions to do just that:


  1. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? (Or tonight/this week/this season?)

Anticipation – having something to look forward to – is a happiness trigger.  So think about it. Notice the stuff coming up, whether dinner with friends this weekend or a favorite show you’ll watch tonight or that vacation that’s 46 days away and counting, thinking about what you’re looking forward to and why creates positive emotion.


  1. What was your favorite moment of the day and why was it meaningful to you?

This question cultivates gratitude. It prompts you to sift through the moments of your day and find the shiny, golden nugget. To deepen the positive emotion created by gratitude, research suggests you don’t just identify what you’re grateful for, but also reflect upon why you are grateful for it.


  1. What achievement are you most proud of (in your relationship/career/finances/health) and why?

Especially if you have a tendency to gloss over your efforts or beat yourself up when you don’t do things perfectly, stopping to reflect on something you are proud of can give you an instant boost. Overachievers and people with high standards (and since you’re reading a whole column on personal growth, you might just fit into that category ;)) tend to take themselves for granted. And that can leave you feeling that you’ve never done enough, that despite your best efforts, your progress isn’t worthy of celebration yet. Hogwash. You push through obstacles and challenges every day and continue moving forward. That is worthy of acknowledging. Pick an area of your life and journal about what you are most proud of and why you’re so proud. What did it take for you to get there, what did you have to push through, and what does it tell you about your ability to handle the opportunities and challenges that lie before you now?


My challenge to you this week:

Journal yourself to a happier place by answering questions that prompt positive emotion.


Journaling assignment:

This week, answer the three questions I posed in this column.  What are you looking forward to? What was your favorite moment of the day, and why is it meaningful to you?  What achievement are you most proud of?


For more support in your journey to more joy, I have these resources I think you’ll find really helpful:

Happy Women Live Better Coaching Program

Happy Women Live Better (book)