What makes you happy?

Questions

Everyone wants to be happy, of course. But what makes people happy? This is one of the most complicated questions still debated over by psychologists because the answer is different for every single one of us. There’s no simple equation you can enter your name and details into to find out what you need to do to improve your happiness levels but there are changes you can make to your lifestyle if you know what affects your own happiness.

Most people have a happy memory, hopefully many more than one. Think of one of yours now … When was it? How did it feel? What was the cause of the happiness? How long did it last? If we can clearly identify events, people, activities, and other causes of happiness, we can actively pursue more of them. It’s important to note that what makes us happy changes over time as we develop as people, mature, and are affected by our lifestyles. As children, we experience great joy when eating candy or opening presents. As teenagers it might be the ever-increasing independence we gain. During young adulthood, new relationships, jobs, and experiences are what we strive for. And as we have families of our own (if that is what we want) happiness comes from children and the experience of nurturing others.

Of course, I have simply described an ‘average’ person in those above statements. Everyone is different and everyone experiences happiness differently. There’s no set formula, there’s no right or wrong. All you have to do to improve your own happiness levels is identify what that makes you happy and find more of this. However, this is easier said than done. In fact, many people don’t explicitly know what makes them happy. Perhaps because they’ve never asked themselves that question or perhaps because it is just not something they can quite put their finger on. If you fall into this category, here are a few areas in your life to consider to help you understand exactly what makes you smile.

  • Relationships – this is a no-brainer. Everyone wants to be loved, appreciated, and find someone to share their experiences with. Whether this is a friend, family member, partner or spouse is irrelevant. What is more important is that this person makes you happy when you spend time with them. People who enjoy positive, quality, close relationships with their family and friends are generally happier.
  • Work – do you like what you do? Of course bills have to be paid, food has to be bought, families have to be supported. But enduing a job which is causing you unhappiness can do far more harm than good. In an ideal world, of course, you’d quit and take you dream job earning heaps of cash and retire at forty to live your life on your terms. But of course for most of us that isn’t an option. If you don’t like your job, consider looking into volunteer work for a cause you are passionate about so your spare time is meaningful to you even if main your job isn’t.
  • Money – it has been said many times that money can’t buy happiness. But it is undeniable that not having to worry about where your next meal is coming from or whether you can pay the mortgage on time would make anyone’s life better. Rather than making people happy, perhaps it would be better to say that having a healthy bank balance reduces stress and concerns which can cause tensions in marriages and relationships, leading to unhappiness.
  • Hobbies – if you love playing a sport, practicing art or learning new skills, your life is automatically enriched. By carving out a regular chunk of time each week to dedicate to your hobby, you’re effectively guaranteed to top up your happiness levels. Lacking something to be passionate about, to care about, to focus on can leave people feeling like their life lacks meaning, leading to a feeling of unhappiness and depression.
  • Health – being healthy and having a healthy lifestyle is the goal of most people. Not only does being comfortable with one’s body create happiness but not having medical issues reduces stress, improves our quality of life and our overall happiness levels. Chronic illnesses debilitate people, limiting their ability to get the most out of their lives. If you are able to take regular exercise and eat well, you should be able to boost your own happiness by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Remember, we are all different and our minds and bodies all work differently. Therefore, it is important we ask ourselves what really matters to us and what makes us happy. It is also important to try and identify what is making us unhappy or stressed. Once we know what causes each emotion within ourselves as individuals, we can, to a certain extent, adapt our lives in a positive way. Of course there are some stresses and triggers which are unforeseeable and unavoidable but at the end of the day we are in control of our own destiny. So ask yourself: what makes you happy? And make steps to fill your life with positivity.