Researchers say that happiness is a result of thoughts and activities that create a sense of inner peace. Here are 21 behaviors that have been found to enhance feelings of happiness. The list is broken down into general two categories: things to do, and things to stop doing.

The first group consists of 9 things to stop doing, or, behaviors to dump:

Dump grudges. Holding onto a grudge keeps you in a negative state of resentment, anger and hurt that preclude happiness. Letting go of a grudge opens up more space for positive emotions to fill in.

Dump irritations. Most of today's burning issues will be irrelevant a year, a month, or even a day from now. Let life’s little annoyances roll off your back; forget them as fast as you can.

Dump problems. Scratch the word “problem” from your internal dictionary, replacing it with “challenge” or “new opportunity to improve my life”.

Dump gossip. The daily dish around the water cooler is tempting, but gossiping about others showers you with negativity, and your body soaks it up. Instead, stick with positive comments.

Dump excuses. It’s easy to blame others for your life’s oopsies. But it's a slippery slope into a mud pit of victimhood. Instead, take responsibility for your faux pas and use the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve yourself.

Dump lying. Every time you lie, your stress levels increase and your self-esteem crumbles a bit more. Plus, when others find out you lied, your relationships suffer. Telling the truth boosts your confidence and allows others to build trust in you.

Dump comparisons. Your life is unique, so by definition, there's no way to compare your worth or performance to anyone else's. Your success is measured by your progress, not others'.

Dump needing approval. It’s crucial to let your dreams and desires guide your decisions. Staying true to your heart will get you where you want to be. Needing the approval of others is only a frustrating waste of time because you'll never do things exactly the way others think you should.

Dump clutter. It drains your precious energy every time you look at it or even think about it. Clutter is a major source of stress, anxiety, frustration, distraction and guilt, so purge your home and office of paper, chachkis and other superfluous stuff and you'll feel lighter, more free and more peaceful.

The second list includes 12 things to start doing:

Be here now. Immerse yourself in what you’re doing right now. Instead of ruminating on sad memories or worrying about the future, savor the present moment.

Seek happy people. Misery loves company, and by the same token, happiness loves company, too. So choose friends who are generally happy, and you'll be happier by osmosis.

Be kinder. When you’re kind, your brain produces feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and you’ll foster a more positive attitude and stronger relationships.

Appreciate more. Being thankful reduces stress, increases positive emotions, and helps you reach your goals. Appreciation is most powerful when you keep a written list and add to it every day.

Dream bigger. You’re more likely to accomplish your goals when you open up the realm of possibilities. Rather than limiting yourself, bigger dreams expand your mind and give you the power and opportunity to achieve more of what you desire.

Listen deeply. Listening makes you smarter and more peaceful. You soak up the wisdom of others while quieting your own mind. Instead of rushing to be the next talker, you'll feel content as you broaden your perspectives.

Nurture relationships. Positive social relationships are a key to happiness, so prioritize visiting with those you love.

Be in control. Avoid letting other people dictate the way you live. Instead, controlling your own life is a confidence booster that allows you to fulfill your desires and dreams.

Accept what can't be changed. Everything can't be perfect and fair, so recognize what you don't have the power to change. Instead, invest your energy in improving what you can.

Stick with a routine. Getting up at the same time every day (preferably early) maximizes your circadian rhythm, giving you more energy and focus while enhancing your productivity.
Meditate. Even a brief meditation will focus your mind, decrease stress and cultivate inner peace. Meditation also creates physical changes in your brain that make you happier.

Take care of your body. This means eat well and exercise. What you eat affects your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Healthy eating puts your body and brain in a focused, happy state, but eating junk foods leads to junk thoughts, sluggishness and illness. Exercise is a tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer, but these are future benefits. Instead, enjoy the immediate benefits of boosted chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which uplift your mood while kicking stress and depression.

There you have it, the 21 habits of highly happy people.

Today's Coaching Questions: Are you willing to take on one new behavior every day for 3 weeks? Or, try one new behavior until it becomes a true habit?

Author's Bio: 

Judy Widener is a Certified Life Coach and author of Power For A Lifetime: Tools You Customize to Build Your Personal Power Every Day Of Your Life. You can sign up for Discovering Your Values, a 5-day e-course at no cost at Her passion is assisting her clients to discover what is most important to them, then to create more balance and satisfaction in their lives. She offers a comprehensive program that teaches clients simple ways to build their personal power and overcome obstacles to achieving their dreams. Judy has coached more than 600 people over the past 13 years. Her website is