What Is The Difference Between Happy And Sad People And Can It Be Observed
Just By Their Traits

I have always been interested in people.  The way they look, the way they dress, the way they walk, the way they talk, their temperament, the way they laugh, their moods, the difference between happy and sad people.

Now I am not a trained psychologist but I believe that the traits of people determines whether they are happy or unhappy, and the observable differences are like chalk and cheese.

Interesting also is that the traits between the two, that is happy or unhappy vary little between young, middle aged or old.

The way we live, think and act is largely influenced differently by happy and unhappy people, remembering that aggression is triggered by being unhappy.  Some of us, when being unhappy, reach for drugs or alcohol which can fuel the aggression even more.

Daily, casual observations of people stimulate questions in my brain as to why this or that person are like they are and because I don’t know them I will never know, but I can’t help wondering why the difference between happy and sad people.

Let’s start with kids, after all they are going to become adults, leaders, and have families one day relying on an income to survive.

I see a lot of kids who walk to and from school hunched over, looking at their mobile phone giving the impression that they are extremely unhappy and have had a woeful day or are about to have one.  Their dress is unkempt, they display no energy and I wonder what is going through their minds – happy thoughts or negative thoughts?  Is this a daily ritual, what are their grades, what is their future?

Compared to traits of happy people, other kids walking quickly, dressed smartly in uniform, throwing a ball around smiling, laughing, looking as if they are keen to get to school.  Many happy thoughts, few negative thoughts and therefore do they have a brighter future?

Observing the adult generation going to work, either in trains, buses, cars and then waiting at pedestrian crossings is certainly not heart lifting given their expressions, rushing (running late), staring ahead but not really seeing anything.  I wonder if they are having happy thoughts on life, looking forward to a productive day, a promotion, maybe, or just fill a space and pass the time, lamenting about having to work for a living.

I’m not sure about you but where I really fire up my observations of people is when I am purchasing something, either retail or eatery.  My mood really turns to the good, the happy when I am greeted by a smiling face(s) and I am really appreciated when leaving the store by the same faces of the staff who work there.  What about the opposite reaction when I am greeted by scorn, ignored and if on the rare occasion, where the staff don’t give a damn if I buy or not, I actually purchase something.  No thank you, no smile, just take the money.  The problem I am experiencing is the latter is occurring more and more particularly amongst the younger staff members.  Are these people who give poor service happy or unhappy?  What about the ones who smile and give great service – they certainly look happy and they make me happy.

Which ones will have a successful day and climb the ladder of success – easy answer, hey.

What’s Age Got To Do With Happiness?

I live in a town where there is a propensity of retired people.  In our region we have the largest percentage of retired people in the Country.  Nothing wrong with that, old people, young people can live where they want but are they happy living where they are and how are they living?

To cater for many of these older people, large retirement enclaves have sprung up in various parts of the town. Why did these people rush into retirement, presumably to be happier than they were when working and living independently.

Was it because they wanted an easier life, lots of time of their hands, a government paid pension and a much smaller place in which to live, surrounded by similar aged people wanting the very same existence?  Are these people happy, much happier than their previous existence?

I see many of them riding motorised scooters going to the supermarket or just going for a spin only to see them park the thing just outside their destination and struggle to walk inside.  Have they given up on their exercise and mobility because in their minds they are old and this is the way it is?  I suspect many have succumbed to this thinking/belief but have they discovered how to live happy life?

Personally I never want to retire, I am determined never to need a government pension, I want to be busy, accomplish heaps of more things, be independent and most of all be happy.

Are People Living In Poverty Happy, Are Wealthy People Happy?

What about poverty, what is poverty?  In developed countries it is far different than undeveloped countries.  I have watched many documentaries of people living in undeveloped countries in slum conditions, scraping out an existence doing menial tasks that many of us in developed countries would refuse to do.  

However these people appear to be happy, probably because they know no different.  For us, poverty can mean many different existences.

The level of poverty is often determined by governments using statistical information providing some benchmark level.  This level can, and is manipulated to suit political ends of governments, opposition parties and trade unions.  Rich people would more than likely judge people who have basic human rights, secure food, shelter, meaningful activity, quality enriching relationships as living in poverty.  This may be so but many of them are happy and quite contented with their lot in life.

On the other hand there are those who earn considerable money, live in opulent houses, but are constantly striving to keep up with the Jones’s whoever they are.  These people are not happy; there is a constant nagging element in their lives that enough is never enough.  Bet you travelling first class everywhere will soon have you complaining about the lack of first class service or amenities.

There is nothing wrong with poverty if you have all the necessities of life and are happy.  Likewise there is nothing wrong with wealth, however there comes a point where you can only spend (or waste) so much and then it becomes a lump of wealth in the bank just getting bigger and bigger and not doing you or anybody any good.  Does the lump of growing wealth make these people happy or happier?  Not likely, however if they used it to bolster other peoples’ happiness in some way they would more likely experience happiness and a great sense of achievement.

My greatest dislike of wealth is when wealth brings power – to individuals who are inept, corrupt or cruel and through their short cut to power, create poverty, trash economies or creates wars.  They might be happy but they cause massive unhappiness to the world’s population often with dire consequences.

To Be Unemployed Is To Be Unhappy? 

For millions around the glove this is the case.  To others, sitting around doing nothing and being paid by the government makes them happy.  Some move to towns and cities where unemployment is so high there is virtually no chance of getting a job so a group pools the unemployment payment and they live out a happy existence.  But is their future happiness assured – very doubtful.

The unemployed who struggle to find work over months, years are quite often desperately unhappy.  They can be school leavers with all the certificates or seasoned, trained workers who can’t seem to break the unemployment cycle no matter how hard they try.  It creates much unoccupied time as opposed to planning and filling time because their unhappiness is fuelling the subconscious mind with doubt and low self-worth.

Having been in this situation in the latter part of my working years I can empathise fully with you if you are one of these unemployed people.  I was desperately unhappy, I could not get a job – and I tried dozens from both ends of the spectrum of skills and remuneration.  Self-esteem drops along with confidence and the Achilles heel is the stupid notion by agencies and employers is that the longer you are unemployed the more unemployable you are!

I am not going to lecture anyone on how to get a job, get a happy mindset because it is an individual thing and we are all affected in different ways.  My attitude was ‘well damn the lot of them, just because I’m considered too old to be employed (over 45-50 years) you can stick your ‘jobs’ and I am going to create my own’.  And so I did – still planning, goal setting, getting there but I am happy and my mojo is coming back thick and fast!

So in a world of rapidly changing fortunes, bad economic managers, mediocre politicians, how will young school kids who are unhappy, lack drive and ambition going to get jobs?  In a classroom where 50% of the students are go-getters is the teacher going to make a special case for the other 50% of lack lustre pupils?  What about the home life of the lack lustre group – is there little interest or care from the parents?  Maybe they are unhappy and like a disease their kids emulate the parent’s disposition.

What about the retail assistants, eatery waiters and other customer service employees who are unhappy?  As they make more and more customers unhappy and those customers go elsewhere, the business slowly dies (many business owners who do not mystery shop their own business will maybe never know of the lack of customer service until it is too late).

The employees find themselves out of a job and will struggle to obtain future employment.

Quite the opposite occurs when the business with the happy courteous assistants grow their customer base – and profits.  Happy employees, great customer service, equals happy, loyal customers.

Just say, instead of encouraging people to retire, we encouraged them to keep working provided they have all their faculties.  Would this make them more happy and feel as if they had a continued purpose in life?  From my perspective it would and I believe they would make far greater use of their leisure time on weekends and vacations furlough than those who have to fill in 24/7, 365 days a year in retirement.

Statistics suggest that a high proportion of retirees die soon after they retire – why?  Were they not happy in their new found freedom from work?  Were they bored and unhappy?

Working longer may be forced upon pending retirees in a number of countries where aged pensions and other retirement benefits threaten the economic futures of these countries.  Maybe the offset is happier, fitter, more productive aged workers who, due to their positive dispositions do not suffer much sickness, hospitalisation and so the payback to governments’ is two-fold – less spend on pensions, less spend on public health.

 A Happy Public Is An Economic Boom In The Making

In dealing with the subject of happiness I have only made observations of a few demographics, however you can appreciate the effect happiness and being unhappy can have on everything that we do.

Much of being happy or unhappy is a mind thing.  Being in terrible pain, suffering a life threatening disease, losing a loved one is a mind thing but these events are real.

Many of us are unhappy because we have allowed ourselves to get to this position.  Feeling sorry for oneself, why does this always happen to me, I am not good enough, why can’t I be rich, I hate this job, life sucks are all conscious thoughts delivered to the subconscious to ensure we feel like that, believe we are like that and so our lives follow that depressing pattern.

All too often our lamenting about ourselves is like a thought transfusion to others and we manage to get them to feel the same or make them unhappy because of our constant moods and whining.

I hate to think what our self-induced unhappiness is costing in terms of health, lack of productivity, customer dissatisfaction, crime, divorce and so on.  By self-induced I mean we put ourselves there by our negative mindset.  I understand we cannot expect ourselves to become upbeat in areas of social, work, sport, knowledge, and confidence overnight.  But if we all resign ourselves to the ‘give in’ ‘give up’ attitude to our current traits and emotions, happiness will be just a distant blur.

On the other hand, we can stretch ourselves step by step, day by day to positive thoughts, goal setting, affirmations, loving yourself, loving others, forgiveness and self-esteem, we and the world will be richer beyond our wildest dreams, and we will no longer need to ponder the difference between happy and sad people.

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