5 Hidden Traits Successful People Have in Common

happiness success wise living

Successful people tend to share certain traits. We all know the most talked about traits such as hard working, goal oriented, confidence, energetic, discipline, resilience, competitive and risk taker.  But they also share less recognized traits that are as important as the ones mentioned above.  For example, they have a great ability to balance positivity and realism. They are highly flexible and adaptable. They are also individualists, able to think and act for themselves. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they avoid self-pity at all cost.  

Balanced Positivity and Realism

Of course, being a success means different things to different people. For some, it means a big house, fancy car and a high-status job. Others simply want freedom and happiness with least amount of material possessions. No matter what your goal, whether it be career success, lots of money, or a loving family, you will not achieve it unless you think positive.

Never underestimate the power of your subconscious mind. It is the master of influencing your thoughts and behaviors at all times.  If you are negative and believe things will go wrong, you'll make them go wrong because that is what you plan for and secretly expect. Therapists call this "self-sabotage," and they see it all the time. Many people are uncomfortable with happiness or success. They feel scared and exposed. They feel that they don’t deserve it. When things go wrong, on the other hand, and they are plunged back into failure and misery, they feel almost relieved. They feel that they are back to their familiar emotional ground.

So, learn how to be more positive. Cherish and embrace the journey to your goals. Believe you can achieve what you want. And, when you do, be grateful and enjoy it. Also, be conscious of the tendency to sabotage happiness. Are you secretly willing things to go wrong so you can say, "I told you so. This is my life. Nothing ever works out for me!"? Some people will literally wreck a marriage, destroy a friendship or ruin their career to prove they were right.  

But positivity alone is not enough. Successful people are also realists. They maintain a healthy balance between positivity and realism. Just as they do not allow negativity the upper hand, they also keep their positivity in check. They have dreams that are backed up with realistic goals and genuine plans. It is ridiculous to say, "I'm going to write a novel and win the Booker Prize, and I'll do so because I believe I can and the universe will give me what I want." That's not being positive, that's being silly and unrealistic. Successful people set realistic goals, start to take persistent action and then approach the whole process in a positive and cheerful way.


Life is full of change and transitions. Indeed, this is one of its defining characteristics. Life without change is nothing more than a meaningless and boring existence. The children grow up and leave home, relationships run their course, a new manager takes over at work, loved ones age and die, and so on. The successful expect and adapt to such changes; they learn to be flexible.

Naturally, people resist change. They find a little peace, security or safety and then cling on. Unfortunately, not only is this futile, but it also backfires. Within relationships, for example, one person may try to control the other. They are happy and want to keep things that way, so they micro-manage their partner's life and end up destroying the very thing that makes them happy. Some people find unfulfilling work that provides them with low but steady pay and they stick with it for years or even decades.

It's a question of attitude. Some people are rigid and inflexible, and when change is forced upon them, they go into denial and resistance. The successful are realistic: they know the children will want lives of their own, that their perfect career may not last, that someday they will get old and weak. And when change comes, they accept it, change their plans and make the best of things.

When snow gathers on a branch, how does the tree respond? If the branch remains stiff, it will snap; if it bends, it will be OK. Flexible trees will survive the biggest storms. Cultivate a new attitude to change. Try and see it is as an opportunity to grow and adapt rather than a curse.


Successful people are individualists. That doesn't mean they are selfish or self-centered, merely that they think for themselves, believe and do their own thing. They are the leader of their own life. And this isn't a pose. Many people take pride in going against the current: in claiming to dislike the most popular books, movies, or bands. That isn't individualism; that's just showing off. They seek attention to satisfy their ego.

The individualist is true to him/herself. She knows who she is, what she likes, what she believes, and what she values. And she compromises for no one. In other words, she never betrays herself: never says or does something that goes against her true nature.

Joseph Campbell, author of the classic Hero with a Thousand Faces, would urge his students to "follow your bliss": work out who you are and what you love, and then follow those passions, never allowing anyone to knock you off course. This often takes courage, of course. An 18-year-old, for example, who drops out of college to pursue a music career or business idea, may infuriate his parents and be laughed at by his peers. But, stressed Campbell, when you pursue the things you love with bravery and focus, "doors WILL open."

The individualist doesn't waste time fitting in, or pleasing others, or being what he thinks society approves. Neither does he allow others to define him. And this is a very important point. Weak people allow others to define them in a way that suits those other people. This happens all the time, often in the most subtle ways. It can be observed in groups of friends, for example, where someone takes on the role of "the stupid one," or "the one unlucky in love," or “the nice one” etc. Such labels flatter those around you: if you are stupid, then they are clever; if you are unlucky in love, then they are charming and successful. Create and live your OWN life, not one that is dictated by others.

People Skills

Above all, the successful have great people skills. Of course, "skill" is an unpleasant word for most people, implying that they must learn to manipulate and mislead others. Sadly, there is some truth to this. Psychopaths, for example, who can be immensely charming, also tend to be successful. And the ambitious often use those horrible words "networking" and “influencing” to describe their social activities.

But these people skills can be more benign. The successful tend to be likeable; they smile, maintain eye contact and show an interest in other people's lives. They genuinely try to solve people’s problems or lead them in the right direction. Most important of all, they do not show off or put other people down. They motivate people and lift them up. Being unlikeable, on the other hand, is a huge disadvantage. You quickly create distrust and lack of respect.

No Self-Pity

Finally, they avoid self-pity. This is hugely destructive. It is also ugly and off-putting to those around you.

But it doesn't just turn people off. You yourself will drive them away. The self-pitier broods and stews in his misery. He then looks for an outlet. Soon, he is lashing out at friends and colleagues, projecting all his failings and weaknesses on to them. Once they have driven everyone away, they start to blame their environment or circumstances next. Their favorite targets are the economy, society, culture, political parties, younger generations and so on.

Self-pity is also an exhausting emotion. It eats up time and energy and leaves you paralyzed, rooted to the same spot and unable to take action. The end point is usually a lethargic or depressed state. You sink into yourself, into a gloomy pit of despair and hopelessness. It can also lead to paranoia, a feeling that the universe has got it in for you personally. If you believe that, then you will never take necessary action, or even try. What would be the point, if everything and everyone is against you?

So, take responsibility for your success AND failures.  If you are the cause of your happiness and misery, then you are also in control of your future. Take charge of your life by developing the above traits within yourself.   Success will be reached.

By Rafael Tomik for BeGreat.com

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