How to Smile Without Having to Fake It

The happiest people I know have these five qualities in common

Michael Thompson
5 min readFeb 4, 2022


Shutterstock — OlegRi

I just celebrated my 12th anniversary of living in Catalunya. When I look back at pictures of myself from before I moved here from the US compared to now, I feel like I’m looking at an entirely different person.

Not only have I managed to keep off the 60 pounds I lost during the first few months of living here. But in some photos, I actually look like I’m smiling without having to fake it.

Not drinking has played a role in this. The same goes for quitting smoking. But without a doubt, the biggest influence has been my social circle as over the years their habits and mindsets have rubbed off on me.

In addition to the basics like taking care of your health and prioritizing people over your phone, below are the five qualities the happiest people I know have in common.

1. They have a short memory

One minute my kids can be found crying hysterically over something that didn’t go their way, and the next, they can be found laughing hysterically once they’ve found something to move on to.

In psychology, this is known as a “refractory period” — the time it takes to emotionally recover and move on from an experience.

The least happy people I know hold on to things for an abnormally long time; whereas the happiest people I know, like my kids, have a short memory.

Sure, they get annoyed, frustrated, or down-right pissed off. But they don’t let it stick to them for hours, days, or in some cases with some people, decades.

My wife is a classic example of this. After a bad experience, she says her peace if it involved someone else while making peace with herself if she did something to herself.

Then she gets back to being a positive life-eater.

Whenever you find yourself in a negative state, ask yourself if how you’re acting right now is an effective use of your time. This simple question can snap you back into the land of the living while reminding you that not everything is worth holding on to.

2. They like the idea of freedom, but…



Michael Thompson

Co-creator of two cool kids with an equally cool woman • Word strategist • Storytelling coach • Free "story" guide: