A happy, smiling woman at the beach and pier.

What is a happy camper? How does this type of person stay positive all the time?

According to Tal Ben-Shahar, a happy camper knows how to savor the pleasures of the present moment. At the same time, they set and work towards meaningful future goals.

Keep reading to learn more about how a happy camper manages to stay happy in any type of situation.

The Happy Camper Archetype

What is a happy camper? Such a person considers past experiences as valuable lessons, indulges in present-day joys, and holds clear aspirations for the future.

Ben-Shahar argues a happy camper is most likely to live a satisfying life filled with joy. By relishing in the present and remaining motivated toward the future, the happy camper effortlessly enjoys life’s journey. They firmly believe that delightful present experiences and ambitious future dreams aren’t mutually exclusive.

How Joy and Suffering Can Co-Exist

Being a happy camper doesn’t mean that you don’t go through difficult experiences; it’s how you deal with the experiences that counts. By learning how to do this, you can still find happiness despite difficulties. The first step, according to the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, authors of The Book of Joy, is to recognize the three universal truths about suffering:

1. Suffering is a universal human experience. According to Tutu and the Dalai Lama, every person experiences suffering, whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the trauma of war. In response to suffering, we often feel negative emotions like sadness or loneliness. However, recognizing the shared experience of suffering can be a balm against it because suffering is one of the things that connects us to other people. 

2. You can control how you respond to suffering. You might suffer because of external circumstances you can’t change, such as a natural disaster, war, or an unexpected flooded basement. While this type of suffering is inevitable, Tutu and the Dalai Lama explain that much of human suffering is avoidable because it’s caused by our emotional responses to our circumstances. 

3. Suffering can lead to insight and opportunity. Suffering has the potential to leave you bitter or resentful, but if you choose to find meaning in your suffering, it can also give you the opportunity to grow. Tutu and the Dalai Lama argue that compassion and generosity of spirit rarely come without suffering. For example, if you’ve experienced what it’s like to be physically impaired, you’re more likely to feel compassion when someone else has a similar experience.
According to the authors, accepting these three truths can help you understand that being happy doesn’t mean you’re immune to suffering, but rather that you can develop the tools and mindset to navigate through it while still finding joy and contentment.

Ben-Shahar explains that we all have a little of each of these archetypes in us, but that we may tend to gravitate toward one more than another. He suggests that in your pursuit of happiness, you should try to embody the happy camper, someone who enjoys the present moment while simultaneously working toward future goals.

(Shortform note: Although you may naturally gravitate to a certain happiness archetype, you have the power to change. In Personality Isn’t Permanent, Benjamin Hardy argues our personalities are largely determined by our thoughts and actions; therefore, if we change our thoughts and actions, we can change our personalities. He suggests envisioning an optimal future self and then creating a primary goal that will help you achieve that vision. For example, if you want to be happier, you can set a primary goal of practicing gratitude daily. By reflecting on and appreciating the positive aspects of your life, you can shift your focus toward the good, ultimately training your mind to adopt a happier perspective.)

What Is a Happy Camper? Examining the Most Upbeat People

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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