do you have a clear view?
dip your toes into the moment

trust me: to be happy you need to trust


"Trust is a prerequisite for happiness...
Several studies, in fact, have found that trust
-- more than income or even health --
is the biggest factor in determining our happiness."

Trust. Now there's a word I'm suspicious of. For as long as I can remember, I've had issues with trusting other people. I always thought that trusting others was a completely naive and idiotic thing to do. If I kept myself from trusting others, I could separate myself from them. I could avoid being hurt. Keep yourself separated to avoid the potential pain of separation, I subconsciously believed. Like a lot of people, my trust (when I've reluctantly placed it in someone else) has been broken from time to time. What little trust I've allowed myself to have in other people has been destroyed on occasion (not the best thing for someone who has trouble trusting to begin with!). But, this isn't about my trust issues (let's save that for my therapy session this afternoon, shall we?). This post is about how trust relates to happiness.

Right now I'm about half way through The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World and I am in happiness research heaven. I've highlighted nearly the entire book in my Kindle, thinking to myself, "Oh, this would make a great post!" or "What a great thought!" or "Oh, that is sotrue!" One of the best topics I've come across -- the one that hits closest to home with me -- is the idea of trust and how it relates to happiness. I recently came across the quote above in Weiner's book and it was really interesting to me. Do we need to be able to trust to have happiness? Is an absolute requirement? Of course, I started doing a little research of my own and found a lot of things that confirmed the idea that trust is really necessarily in relation to being happy. For example, check out this quote by Walter Anderson:

"We're never so vulnerable as when we trust someone
but, paradoxically, if we cannot trust
neither can we find love or joy."

Do you agree with that? I believe that I do. I can't imagine anything more vulnerable than trusting another person, but I also know that I've never experienced true, intense love without having trust for that person. When I am with people I trust -- family members, close friends, etc. -- I am much more relaxed and, therefore, joyful than I am when I am around people who I distrust or do not know (and, yes, I typically don't trust someone until that person has earned my trust). I am definitely happier when I feel as if I can trust someone...and isn't that the case for all of us?

I decided to take a little trip over to one of my favorite research site, Wikipedia, and take a look at what it means to be trustworthy. According to the site, "Trustworthiness is a moral value considered to be a virtue. A trustworthy person is someone in whom we can place our trust and rest assured that the trust will not be betrayed. A person can prove his trustworthiness by fulfilling an assigned responsibility - and as an extension of that, to not let down our expectations. The responsibility can be either material, such as delivering a mail package on time, or it can be a non-material such as keeping an important secret to himself. A trustworthy person is someone that we can put our worries and secrets into and know they won't come out. In order for one to trust another, their worth and integrity must be constantly proven over time." Hmm...Interesting. Gotta love Wikipedia's ability to restate the same thing in a number of different ways. While I think it's important to understand what trustworthiness is and why it's important, I think it's even more important to understand how to build and create trust, both in ourselves and with others.

First and foremost I think it's essential that you trust yourself. If you don't trust yourself, how can you trust someone else? (Same goes for loving yourself.) I'll admit that it's not always the easiest thing in the world to trust yourself. After all, we betray ourselves all the time. We let ourselves down. We do things that hurt ourselves and make living a little bit harder for ourselves. But, in spite of all of the negative things that happen, the accidents, and the regrets, we have to believe that we are deserving of our own trust. We have to embrace trustworthiness as both something we want others to see in us and something that we see in ourselves. Trust yourself, trust others (up to a point), and be trustworthy. I think if we do these three things we'll find that we're a lot happier.


How To Trust Yourself

Love who you are right now. You know it and I know it. Loving yourself is important. You really need to do it in order to trust yourself. You have to believe that you are worthy of love before you can really believe you are worthy of trust. Loving yourself isn't easy, but it really is one of the most important things you can do in order to begin trusting others. 

Think of what you've accomplished. You've done a lot in your life. You may not think about it often, but you really have. You've gone to school or held down a job or started a family or written a book. In some capacity, you've believed in yourself enough to stick with these tasks. Remember that when you're hesitant to trust yourself.

Remember the daily tasks.
This morning I was driving along and realized that I was a lot closer to my destination than I'd realized. I was not thinking about driving because I trust myself. I trusted that I knew where I was going, that I was in control of the car. Think about all of the things you trust yourself to do every day.


Believe you are as awesome as you are. You, me, all of us -- we are awesome. In our own, unique, individual ways, we have something to offer the world. Believe that. Believe that you are a stellar person and that you deserve not only to be trusted by others, but to be trusted by yourself.

Open yourself up to you.
Spend some time getting to know yourself and what it is you really want from your life. The more you know about someone else, the more you feel you can trust him or her, right? Same goes for you. The more you know about you, the more you'll be able to trust your own abilities.


How To Trust Others

Trust yourself first. See the section above for more about this, but know that this is really important when it comes to trusting others. You need to trust yourself or you will never believe that someone else is deserving of your trust. You deserve to be trusted and no one can trust you more than you can trust yourself.

Don't judge one person by another's actions.
This is hard. If you've been hurt by a friend, it's hard not to think that a new friend will do the same thing to you. But it's important to realize that everyone is different. Don't judge someone by the actions of someone else. That's just not fair.

Give people a little bit of credit.
I'm not saying you need to 100% trust every soul you meet but, when you first meet someone, it's probably a good idea to give him or her a little bit of credit. Don't assume the worst. Give others the benefit of the doubt before you place judgments.

Look for the good in everything.
If you're looking for the good, the positive, in the world, you'll be more likely to see the good in people too. Focus on what's good about situations, people, places, etc., and you'll be a lot more likely to see the good in others (and, therefore, be more likely to trust them).

Accept your differences.
Some people might look down when speaking to your or raise their eyes to the ceiling. It may seem to you that this person isn't trustworthy. Of course, ALWAYS trust your instincts, but give some thought to what is making you judge someone else.


How To Be Trustworthy

Be open and honest -- always. This is tricky because it's not always easy to be open with other people (God knows I have trouble with it!) and it's often pretty difficult to be honest too. Believe me though -- people would rather hear your honest words that a whole lot of BS so tell the truth.

Embrace compassion for others.
When you do your best to relate to others, to try to understand them and relate to them, you're more likely to build up trust. People want to trust those who are compassionate so embrace the idea of having genuine compassion for those in your life.

Do what you say you will do.
Nothing could be more important than this in the trust-building arena. It's so, so, so important to do what you say you will. Give your word and keep it. If you say you will go, go. If you say you will do, do. Being reliable is one of the best ways to show your trustworthiness.

Never gossip or share secrets.
Sounds obvious, right? But it's not always that easy not to share a juicy piece of gossip with someone who you know will never even meet the person you're talking about. Don't gossip about anyone. Ever. It's difficult, but there are better things to talk about than other people.

Don't take advantage of people.
People are not meant to be used. They are meant to be loved and cherished and celebrated. Don't use other people to benefit yourself. It almost always bites you in the ass and it's an absolutely horrible way to prove you are worthy of trust.


Trust is a complex topic and I'm sure tons and tons of awesome and enlightening posts have been written about it. I came across a few great articles on my trust-seeking travels, but one in particular was really great. If you want to read more about trust, I would definitely advise checking out this article "Building Trust"on Check it out!

Do you think there is a link between happiness and trust?
How trusting of other people are you ?
Do you trust yourself?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Great stuff, Dani!

Trust has been on my mind a LOT recently, because my last relationship ended because of trust issues, and the subsequent violation of that fragile trust...on both sides, mine and hers. And while that was a painful way to learn that lesson, at least it *was* learned. I only wish you had written this a year ago! Oh well, better late than never, as they say! ;)

Wow, I find this such a difficult topic and I love how you condense it down to a few important points.

If I can add a thought or two.

I tend to think of trust as quite specific rather than generic. For example, there are people I would trust with my deepest, darkest secrets (yes, I do have some!) but would not trust them in other areas. I know without doubt they would not judge me, gossip about me and will tell me honestly what they think and feel - that inspires me to be honest with them. But I would not trust them to keep an agreement we made (such as to be in a certain place at a certain time).

The other thing about trust is that it is independent of what someone else does. It is my choice to trust someone and nothing they do or don't do can take that away.

I hear so many people say something like

'I can't trust you because of what you did' when they really mean,

'I choose not to give you my trust. I'm afraid that you will repeat what you did, and I don't want to get hurt'. I find the second way of thinking about it much more empowering.

Good stuff.

Trust is an interesting word. I like two flavors of it ... where one means that you trust or expect a certain set of behaviors and I like another flavor ... vulnerability-based trust ... where it means somebody's got your back so you can go out on a limb.

Hi Dani,
You know - this one kind of covers the gamut for me. First off, I completely agree that there is a link between happiness and trust. And for the most part, I think I'm a trusting person. Still, though, I think I keep my guard up too. I trust, but with caution. Maybe I should work on letting that guard down, just a little bit.

And I think a real key to this all is the last point you touched upon in trusting yourself - in really getting to know "you". Deeply. I'm not sure that's a place all that many people fully get to. I'm not sure how close I am to there. But I do find that the more I truly listen to myself - and "be" myself - the more I trust me. And this has definitely led to being more trusting and open to others. And through it all - I feel a new layer of happiness and joy in my life. And it's a great place to be right now.

Dani, thank you for sharing this today - it's good stuff for me to reflect upon...

Big topic, nicely done! Thank you. On the days I find it difficult because of past experience to trust certain people, I just remember this phrase "Trust that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should." It helps.

Jay - Thank you! I definitely wish I'd written this post long ago, but, as you said, better late than never! It's not easy to deal with trust issues -- or to trust after you've been hurt or hurt someone else -- but it's very important, I believe, when it comes to our personal sense of happiness.

Ian - I love what you've written about the difference between specific and generic trust. Great point! I also agree that we have a choice to trust someone else and s/he cannot take that away from us. I love your examples and I agree that the 2nd way of thinking is MUCH more empowering. I will strive to think that way from now on.

J.D. - Thanks for sharing your insights. I love the two ideas of trust that you've mentioned. Different, but both important.

Lance - I think it's important to keep your guard up to some extent (some people are WAY too trusting) but I definitely have a huge wall up when it comes to trusting others and that's never a good thing. As you said, the more I know myself, the more I trust myself and the more open I am to trusting others. Thanks for your comments!

Janice - What a great quote! I completely agree with it. Thanks so much for sharing it. I will definitely refer to it the next time I'm having difficulty trusting others or myself.

Love the picture at the top. I think that trust is HUGE in terms of our happiness. I've had people in my life with trust issues and needless to say the relationships we developed were disastrous.

This is such a great post! I don't generally have much trouble trusting others (dare I say, I'm overly trusting and overly honest to the point of being blunt) but I sometimes second guess myself. I don't always follow my instincts like I should, I just think, 'Well, this person says otherwise so they must be right' and then when I've realised the mistake, I think, 'Ugh! If only I'd just listened to myself instead.' This is something I've been trying to work on. However - I am a gossip. I'm working very hard not to be, but sometimes it's difficult depending on who you're with. I dislike talking about others in a negative way, as in all honesty they are probably not talking about me. But sometimes, I don't think before I speak and there I go, blabbing about so and so.

The interesting thing about trusting others is that it actually, surprisingly, has everything to do with trusting yourself. If you make a mistake, you feel like you can't trust your intuition about people and can shut you down even more.

Hi Dani,

I enjoyed this post as it made me do some thinking. You did a very good job of giving us clear and easy ideas for working on trust.

Personally, I'm not very trusting. I often keep my guard up especially when meeting new people. On the other hand, I can meet someone for the first time and trust them immediately. I can't fully explain this.

I can't answer whether trust is essential to happiness as there are so many kinds of happiness. I DO think it's essential to being happy in a relationship:~)

Srinivas - Thanks! I thought it was a pretty good "trust" picture. And I completely hear you about the lack of trust = disasterous relationships because pretty much ALL of my relationships have suffered big time from my inability to truly trust others.

Ia - It sounds like you're good at trusting others, but could use some more trust in yourself. Go with your instincts would be my advice. They are usually right. As for the gossip thing, I think we all do it from time to time. Of course sometimes it's harmless, but I try to think about how I would like it if someone were talking about me. That usually helps me to keep my mouth closed! :)

Hayden - Trusting others definitely has almost everything to do with trusting yourself, which means I have a lot of work to do on learning to trust me!

Wow, that picture makes me nervous!

Great article and insight...yes trust is huge. With awakening, I've learned to trust life...trusting oneself and others follows naturally.

Your how-to points really resonate. Excellent! Thanks.

Sara - I think a lot of the time it comes down to instincts. We have a way of knowing when to trust someone and when not to (although this can be wrong sometimes). I'm glad you liked the post and that it got you thinking.

Kaushik - So glad you liked it and felt like you got something out of it. Trusting isn't always easy but I agree that when you address the concept of awakening you are really thinking about trust as well.

Interesting post & a fun read. I haven't thought much about trust as it relates to happiness. I agreed with what Ian said in his comment. I might trust my husband with my thoughts & feelings and be emotionally vulnerable, but I wouldn't necessarily trust him to do household chores in a timely manner.

Same thing at the workplace. I might trust one co-worker to respond to emails quickly and produce critical results, but not trust another co-worker to do the same.

But in all cases, however you define trust, I do think that trust correlates to happiness.

Vi - I agree. Trust comes in all different forms and what we would entrust to one person we might not trust to another. It's important to identify what we can and cannot trust others (and, also, ourselves) with and then work to build and understand these concepts of trust. Happiness and trust are most certainly closely related, no matter what type of trust we're talking about.

¨When I am with people I trust -- family members, close friends, etc. -- I am much more relaxed and, therefore, joyful than I am when I am around people who I distrust or do not know.¨

Me too! I think we all feel better and relaxed when we trust, it`s hard, and not everybody deserves that trust but it is worth the ¨potential pain¨ After all, you never know.

¨we betray ourselves all the time. We let ourselves down.¨
Of course! We betray ourselves all the time, and we want to trust ourselves after our own betrayals, so, I think we also need tolerance and understanding when it comes to trusting others. If we betray ourselves, why can`t we understand when other people do? yeah, it`s not the same, but we should remember this if we want to live happier lives, we`re all humans :)
Btw, i love reads that get me thinking and this one totally did

Rosa - So glad I got you thinking. Writing this post got me thinking a lot too -- about trusting others AND about trusting myself, both of which don't come easily to me. Thanks so much for sharing your insights on this topic. I love hearing from you!


Excellent advice!

I particularly like your point about learning to trust yourself before you can learn to trust others.

Roger - Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Thanks for a great article on trust. I still have some trust issues with the alcoholics in my life. It seems that after many years of unreliability, totally trusting is difficult. So I trust but also am guarded a bit. I suppose that I am taking care of myself by not being totally vulnerable again.

Syd - Thanks for your comment. When dealing with alcoholics, trust is a really hard thing to come by because alcoholics are so undependable. It's not easy to get over the past or to realize that others won't let you down in the same way, but I do think it's important not to allow yourself to be too vulnerable. There is a balance between trusting and keeping a watchful eye on those around you.

One of the things I've learnt to do is to trust in life itself, especially when things aren't going to plan. I constantly remind myself to not worry, have faith and just know that things will work out because I've always found they always do.

Even when you're going through something really tough, there are lessons to be learnt, silver linings to uncover and positives to come out of it.

It's not easy to be like that because I tend to like to be in control (often though, life has other plans!) but it really does take so much worry away and is a much happier way to live.

Hi Dani, interesting post about trust. I would agree that you have to trust another in order to have joy and happiness in the relationship. I find that in my own life, when I do not trust another, I hold back my true self. Then the two of us are dealing with one another in a completely inauthentic, superficial way. It doesn't feel natural and it doesn't feel good. In fact, I think it sucks any potential joy right out of the situation. Overall, I am a very trusting person--so usually when I am not comfortable with a person and trust is the issue at hand, I find that it is my gut intuition telling me to gently exit the relationship--immediately! It's usually a signal that this relationship isn't good for me.

Hi Dani - I like how you broke this down into three sections: trusting yourself, trusting others, and being trustworthy. I bet they are all more related than we might think. For instance, if you trust yourself, do you more readily assume that you can trust others too? Or if you are good at trusting others, does that lead you to be more trustworthy yourself? Interesting questions... :)

It helps to have trust in others when we realize that we are essentially One and have the same basic fears and motivators. Of course, trusting others does not mean that we don't exercise prudence. For instance, we need to lock our doors when we are not at home. However, adopting an open mind can help bridge gaps in relationships.

Hi Dani

I like how you broke it down to 3 parts, and the first part is trust yourself. Then the first part of trust other is once again trust yourself first. I completely agree with you, trusting ourselves is the begining of any kind of trust.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

As usual another insightful post. I am much better at trusting and wrote a post about this not too long ago. I guess it comes with age... Now if you talked to me about this in high school...LOL...not too many people I trusted back then ;)

Wow what a fantastic post! You really are quite thorough. I absolutely believe trust is essential to happiness. I have a female friend who I mistrust (although I am working on that) and I always feel uneasy around her. Even now, I feel a slight twinge of anxiety thinking about the new man I am dating and whether or not I can trust him not to hurt me. I will work on the things you mentioned. Thank you! =)

Sami - Such a great point about trusting in life! I need to work on this as I tend to be the type that always likes to be in control. Thanks so much for the's definitely given me something to think about!

Jodi - Thanks for the comment! I completely agree that when you don't trust someone you're not truly being yourself and then that relationship becomes, in a way, fake. One important thing that we should ALL trust is our intuition!

Amanda - Yes, I think they are all connected. I think it's important to trust yourself before you can be trustworthy or trust others. As with most things, the foundation for trust is within us.

Evelyn - Excellent point. The more we realize that we are all one, the more likely we will be to trust one another. As you said, we shouldn't be naive about who you trust, but it is important to believe that we're all here together.

Giovanna - You're welcome! I'm glad you liked the 3-part break down. Trusting ourselves is definitely the most important and I think the rest stems from that.

Caroline - Ooh, I'll have to check out your post! I definitely think trusting yourself comes with age (which makes it easier to trust others). I'm still a work-in-progress...

Lori - I think it's important to find a balance when it comes to trust. We certainly don't want to trust everyone and, to be honest, some people don't deserve our trust, but we also don't want to not trust people (especially those who have done nothing to prove that they are not trustworthy). It's quite a balancing act!

Dani -

I'm so glad I've found both of your blogs - they are eerily relevant to my life right now and as such are helpful in deepening my life experience. I'm recently divorced (officially as of just last Thursday) and am embarking on a new voyage into a wonderful relationship. To say I have trust issues is an understatement. It's been a ride to have a pure and unwaivering trust broken in the blink of an eye and now to learn how to rebuild trust the RIGHT way, all while trying to not let the past interfere too terribly much with my present.

It's also been interesting in my present (and somewhat whirlwind of a) relationship to see just how fine of a process it is to amalgamate two individual definitions of trust. Not that it has too wide of definitional space, but it's so much based in the experience of the individual. I'm grateful for this opportunity, as it's really challenging for me to explore why I feel the way I do and cut some of the fat off the existing definition.

We talk about optimism, of course, over on Moment-to-Moment Optimism - I think it's important to note that staying optimistic when sorting out your issues surrounding trust aides in a successful trust understanding. If you're sure you're going to get hurt again, then you probably will get hurt. But if you believe in yourself and stay true to yourself, you'll project that into any relationship you have.

Thanks again, Dani.


Hi Dani,

Great post on trust, I really enjoyed how you broke down the three parts. The tip on "Don't judge one person by another's actions" stuck out to me the most. Once again, thanks for sharing.

Veronica - I'm so glad you found the blogs and that I've been able to locate your site in the process. Moment-to-Moment Optimism is a great place and I love checking out the information there. Thanks so much for sharing your personal journey in your comment. Trust is not any easy thing in situations like yours, but it's important to trust yourself first and foremost and then gradually put your trust in others. I agree that staying optimistic is really important in relation to trust. You don't want to blindly believe that everyone is worthy of your trust, but it's important to look for the good and focus on the positive rather than expect the worst. Thanks so much for your comment!

John - Thanks! So glad you liked it. I agree that not judging someone by another person's actions is CRITICAL when it comes to developing and maintaining trust with others.

Great points in this post! I think that in order to be able to trust, we need to be OK with being hurt. We need to learn to forgive. We need to understand that the person who does hurt us from time to time is doing the best they can at the time~ for whatever reason.
And, Have faith~ I like to believe that people are basically good deep down (I know it sounds naive, but because this is my belief I think I tend to attract these type of people- either that or I have just been very lucky)

Hi Dani .. great post re learning to trust and that is likely to give you happiness ..

Perhaps I trust myself too much and so if someone lets me down I don't worry too much .. not sure .. too much in control perhaps - perhaps at the moment I need this .. as I can't be myself ....

Thanks for an interesting idea, I definitely need to come back with a clearer head ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

This is wonderful. I think there are actually three kinds of trust that are important to foster: trust of oneself and trust of others, certainly. Then, for some, there's also trust of a higher power, be it god or the universe or mother nature.

Hi Dani,

I read "The Geography of Bliss" about two months ago and absolutely loved it. There are parts in that chapter about Bhutan that had me laughing out loud. It was definitely a great book.

As for the ability to trust others, I used to be someone who had great difficulty trusting others. As I came to love myself more, the ability to trust increased. I do think that a lack of trust is strongly connected to the concept of fear and is a reflection of the person who is not capable of trusting. A person can never fully protect themselves from getting hurt and we have to accept that fact. Loving ourselves is a way to begin. :)

Angie - Great point. We need to realize that sometimes we will be hurt and that's okay. Life isn't perfect and neither are people. Obviously we shouldn't expect to be hurt, but we should realize that it's a realistic possibility and we must accept that and learn to forgive. Thanks for the comment!

Hilary - Glad you enjoyed the post! Trust is complex thing, but I do believe that trusting yourself first is the best way to learn to trust others.

Melissa - That's a really good point. Other than trusting ourselves and others we also have to trust in the universe and in the idea that our lives are unfolding as they should.

Nadia - I'm just getting to the chapter on Thailand in "The Geography of Bliss" and I'm still loving the book. It's great. As for trust, I think you're completely right. The more we love ourselves and trust ourselves, the more we can trust in others. I'm still working on it... :) Thanks for the comment!

you know, i've been in therapy for a couple months now & i really didn't realize that one of my HUGE issues is with trust until after reading this. i kinda went through a rough time with some friendships & my intimate relationships right around the same time & kinda just stopped trusting everyone.

i like the idea that ian suggested, that trust is independent of what someone else does. i kinda realized this before when i had a hard time making friends in college. what made them different from my high school friends? just the fact that i trusted my high school friends. but once i decided to trust other people i met in that same way, i actually started to feel like i was friends with them.

thanks so much. your blog always provides me with so much inspiration. <3

Erica - It took me awhile to realize that I had trust issues. My issues were so bad that I'm now seeing the first therapist that I can actually trust. I used not even be honest with my therapists in the past because I didn't think I could trust them. How bad is THAT? I'm so happy that PP has inspired you and helped you to realize some important things about who you are. It's not easy to trust people and I still struggle with it all the time, but I think with the help of therapy and opening up more on PP I'm getting a lot better at it.

I trust my instincts and intuition - which I believe goes a long way to being able to trust others... I also am raising my daughter to value honesty and integrity - so it is hard for me right now as I work through trust issues for the first time in a long while. Is it possible to trust when a beloved friend suddenly becomes a stranger? i want to trust, I give compassion, and I want to be there and yet... the heart seeking my trust is no longer a person I recognize and is now closed to me. Can I trust? Is it possible to trust a stranger based on a former intimate and very trusting friendship?

i am at a loss at the moment and am simply working to clear the noise and listen to my heart.

The Exception - Trust is a hard thing for me. It's so important but I have a hard time trusting people I don't know. Like you said, it's important to listen to your intuition when it comes to trust. Usually my intuition is pretty on point and I should learn to trust myself more.

The comments to this entry are closed.