Have you ever had the fortune to befriend people who are always upbeat no matter what challenges life throws at them? I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by such people who have taught me to discover more of the things that make me happy.
What truly matters in life?
Not the flashy cars and the big houses, really.
It’s the seemingly small, ordinary, insignificant everyday moments.
It’s all the little things in life that make our lives beautiful.
The good news is that you can increase your happiness quotient too.
The first step towards creating a list of things that make me happy was to sit down and ask myself some questions such as:
- How often did I stop to think about what made me happy?
- How frequently do I sacrifice my happiness for others?
- What gives me a sense of joy?
The things that make you happy might be very different from the things that make me happy.
Understand what makes you happy.
Having lots of expensive stuff?
A gigantic house?
Sure, these things can make you happy but the sad news is, the happiness these things bring is short term.
They rarely ever contribute to ever-lasting happiness.
In order to understand what truly matters, you need to analyse your lifestyle, the kind of person you are and the kind of person you wish to be.
Why is Happiness so Important?
I’m quite sure none of us wants to be unhappy.
But why do we strive for happiness?
It’s because we’re taught from a very young age that in order to be happy, we must be successful.
The pressure to be successful slowly starts to take a toll on us and before we know it, we’re burned out, in debt and find our lives spiralling out of control.
And our dream to be happy remains a distant dream.
Focusing on being happy and actually feeling happy are two different things.
And the sooner you understand the better.
Scientific evidence indicates that being happy can have a positive effect on your overall health and wellbeing.
To begin with, it aids a healthy lifestyle.
It helps protect your heart, combats stress, boosts your immune system, reduces pain and increases your life expectancy!
Here’s my list of things that make me happy. Read it to inspire your OWN list of things that make you happy.
#1. Practising Gratitude
Be consciously aware of what you have and how thankful you are to have it.
Doing so has the capacity to change your level of happiness.
I started practising gratitude when I was in school.
I started seeing a counsellor soon after becoming a teenager.
While my issues were that of any other teenager my age — braces, FOMO, etc. — I constantly felt unhappy.
My counsellor suggested that I start writing 3 things I’m grateful for each night before going to bed.
At first, I thought it was a waste of time and nothing would change.
Would my braces come off sooner?
Would I suddenly become Ms Popular?
But she insisted that I keep going for at least 3 months. If I felt the same after that, I could quit.
A month and a half later, I began to notice the difference.
My issues remained the same but they didn’t disturb my peace of mind as much as they used to.
I strongly recommend keeping a gratitude journal.
Pick any journal that you like — glittery, childish, professional, recycled — as long as it makes you want to write.
Every night before you go to bed, jot down 3-5 things that you’re thankful to have in your life.
It could be anything from simple things such as a hearty breakfast to luxurious things such as your Hermes handbag.
Use all of your five senses to imagine these things so that your brain can latch on to all the goodness.
Refrain from repeating things in your journal especially if you’ve just begun.
Try and write about different things in order to understand how many things you’re truly grateful for.
#2. Learn to Give Back
It was at the same time in my life that I enrolled myself for voluntary programmes undertaken by our school.
We raised funds to help blind children, girls to be able to go to school and also built several toilets so that they don’t drop out during puberty.
Every experience made me feel good about myself.
Seeing the joy on the faces of these children sparked something in me.
The way they thanked us, the way their faces lit up upon receiving educational supplies are just some of the best memories I have.
I still contribute whenever I can.
Currently, I support cancer patients via the Cancer Aid and Research Foundation (CARF) in getting treatments and students in getting an education.
Every year, no matter what my financial situation may be, I try and shell out somewhere between 5-10% of my income to donate to such organisations.
Additionally, when I have the time, I volunteer to teach these students.
“While spending money on yourself makes you feel good, giving it to the needy makes you feel better.”
I’m not sure what it is but it has a profound effect on you.
I believe that giving back means receiving more in return.
According to a study conducted in 2010, it was found that people experienced happiness when they gave money away as long as they had a choice about how much they were giving.
#3. Laugh More Often
How frequently do you find yourself laughing silly?
Laughing is an excellent way to release happy hormones called endorphins and oxytocin. These hormones uplift us as we share happiness with others.
Even smiling can put you in a better place.
These hormones are released to promote social bonding so that your social connections improve.
This is why you feel better when you sit down with your old group of friends for a fun evening.
These are some of my favourite things that make me happy.
As a rule of thumb, I meet each group of my friends at least once a month.
Not only do I spend most of the time laughing, but I also create new memories with some of the greatest people.
However, you don’t necessarily have to be the “funny bones” of your group.
And by no means does it mean reciting jokes to your friends.
Instead, be genuine and share your funny experiences with them.
#4. Work on Your Relationships
All of us have several different types of relationships with different people.
It can be the relationship you have with your mailman.
Or the one with your neighbours.
They can be broadly divided into two categories:
Relationships that are significant to us and have a huge impact on our lives and relationships that are less significant and don’t have any or less impact on our lives.
The relationship between you and your mailman isn’t as significant as that with your say, partner.
The key is to have strong relationships with the people closest to you.
If you’re a student, it could be your family and relatives.
It could even be your friends.
If you’re an adult, it could also be a colleague or your partner.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, chances are, it drags you down more than it uplifts you.
Cutting off such toxic people becomes crucial if you want to be happy.
Especially if these people are close to you.
Maintaining relationships with toxic people is often harmful and destructive.
Spend time with people you like and love, people who support you and empower you.
These are the people who will help you feel during difficult times.
Have a solid support network in place to be able to share your ups and downs.
They will bring you more happiness than you can imagine.
Evidence suggests that people who spend little or no time with their friends and family are prone to depression and loneliness.
#5. Do More of What You Like
What is it that you love doing?
For instance, I love writing.
I love the way I can create stories with my words and the freedom that comes with it.
Whatever it is from painting to pottery, do more of what you like.
And there’s literally nothing better if you can figure out a way to generate income through it.
I became a content writer and eventually a Chief Content Officer at a prestigious IT firm before starting my own blog.
If you love doing Zumba, you can become a Zumba instructor.
If you love learning new languages, you can become a transcriber, translator and even a tutor…the opportunities are endless.
When you love what you do, it boosts your levels of happiness.
This enables you to enjoy the other elements of your life more.
Exercising is an excellent way to be happier.
For starters, you do what you’re designed to do: physical exertion.
We were made to move around, and therefore, our bodies work best when they do what they’re supposed to.
Additionally, when you exercise, your body releases “feel good” hormones.
These hormones help release stress and increase happiness.
According to a study, it was found that people who exercised regularly felt more satisfied in their lives than those who didn’t.
The best part is that it tasks as little as 15 minutes to reap the amazing benefits of exercise.
I’ve made it a point to walk for 2 kilometres and skip for 10 minutes five days a week.
This helps me:
- Lose about 250-300 calories per day
- Improve my mood
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes
- It can delay the onset of varicose veins
- Improves my digestion
- Makes me more creative
- Alleviates joint pain
- Boosts immunity
- Helps me sleep better at night
#7. Spend Time With Yourself
You need to step back from time to time and spend some time alone.
Cultivate the habit of self-love and self-care.
Being alone gives you the opportunity to find peace and recharge your spirit.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to reflect and look into yourself.
Take some time away and be alone.
This will do wonders for your happiness, outlook and mood.
Over the years, you’ll start understanding the true meaning of life and happiness.
The best way to be alone is to relax and do nothing.
Let your mind wander and acknowledge all the thoughts that you have.
You can also enrol yourself for Vipassana if you want to transform your life.
#9. Avoid Regrets
Making mistakes is a part of life.
You learn some of the biggest and most important lessons of your life after making mistakes.
Mistakes can’t be avoided altogether but can be reduced by a little forethought.
Focus on the happy things in your life and let go of any regrets that you currently have.
The first step to do that is acceptance.
When you accept your mistake and see things as they are rather than deluding yourself, you start making progress.
Learn to forgive others and most importantly, yourself.
Understand that everyone is human and they have their own struggles.
They might have hurt you intentionally or unintentionally but rather than dwelling on it, learn to move on.
Forgiving someone who’s hurt you is easier said than done.
You might feel a lot of emotions and kindness isn’t going to be of them.
Rather than being like everyone else, be the bigger person and forgive them.
Here are some benefits of forgiving someone:
- Improves self-esteem
- Improves heart health
- Increases your immunity
- Reduces depression
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces hostility, stress and anxiety
- Improves mental health
- Improves relationships.
#10. Start Meditating
Sit down, light your favourite scented candle and take some deep breaths for 10 minutes.
Relax and try to focus on your breathing.
Every time your mind wanders, gently bring it back to focusing on your breathing.
When you meditate, you get the chance to get in touch with your inner-self.
You get to know your priorities and values a little better.
This is definitely a booster on the happiness scale.
It’ll also enable you to do all those things that make you happier.
The problem with most people is that they find meditation “boring”.
Yes, it’s incredibly boring and what’s more, is that you’ll think it’s futile the first few times you try it.
The key is to keep doing it for at least six months to actually start seeing a difference in your life.
If you’re a beginner, I recommend you use guidance apps such as Headspace.
It’s an excellent app that’ll teach you how to meditate, guide you during sessions and help you get in the habit of meditating regularly.
The best part is that you can increase your happiness and the quality of your life by meditating for as little as 10 minutes per day!
Here are a few more benefits of meditating to help you get started:
- Increases tolerance and patience
- Increases creativity and imagination
- Reduces negative emotions
- Focuses on the present
- Increases self-awareness
- Helps build skills to manage stress
- Helps gain a new perspective in stressful situations.
Is your desk usually piled up with a million files and papers?
Too much mail in your inbox?
Why not address a small area every day for a week in order to deal with the clutter?
Every time you can’t find things you’re desperately looking for, it makes you stressed.
You can easily find things if they have a specific place for it.
That’s an excellent palace to be on Monday morning when you know which emails have to be sent, which bills have to be paid and where the paperwork for the meeting is.
Decluttering has the following benefits:
- Easier to find things
- Your space looks clean and tidy
- Saves you money
- Rediscover lost treasures
- Boosts creativity and positivity
- Gives you a sense of control
- Improves sleep
- Reduces anxiety and stress.
I have a few rules that I strictly follow when it comes to staying organised and decluttering.
First, each month I have at least 2 of my weekends devoted entirely to cleaning and organising my space.
Second, for every purchase that I make, I remove/donate two existing items.
This way, I never have a lot of things I rarely ever (or never) use.
#12. Eat Healthier Foods
“You are what you eat.”
Nutritious foods will make your body feel good. At the same time, they’ll also improve your mental health.
If you find yourself eating packed foods, processed foods, canned dinners or boxed noodles, you’ll slowly start gaining weight, feel lethargic and sluggish.
These will eventually lead to a bunch of serious health issues.
How can your body function properly if it’s not getting the right kind of food?
Eat better in order to feel energetic and vibrant.
Focus on being healthier from the inside out.
It’s been 7 years since I last had aerated drinks.
And you’ll rarely ever find me eating chocolates or chips.
Instead, I prefer drinking juice or smoothie every time I feel thirsty.
Not only does it help me stay hydrated but also helps me maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals.
I combat my midnight hunger pangs by eating fruits and nuts.
Not only are they loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants, but they also make me feel full for longer periods of time.
And you can eat healthier no matter how old you are, what type of lifestyle you have and where you live.
You can find healthy recipes almost in every cuisine that you like.
From Indian to vegan, the internet is full of healthy recipes.
Research and plan your meals.
Make a conscious choice to eat healthier food items.
#13. Get Proper Rest
Among the things that make me happy, getting a full night’s sleep is most natural and easy.
I get cranky when I get 4-6 hours of sleep.
Evidence indicates that sleep deprivation leads to edginess and increases stress.
On such days, I also feel disoriented and unable to focus on anything.
Research has shown that getting proper sleep increases concentration and immunity and improves memory.
Most importantly, it reduces the risk of getting killed in an accident.
Lack of sleep can cause serious potential problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Potential problems may also include impaired immunity, depression and obesity.
When you deprive your body of sleep, it makes your body seem older.
Your skin loses its shine and you get awful dark circles.
Ensure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep without any distractions.
The best way to do this is to not keep any electronics in your bedroom.
#14. STOP Comparing Yourself to Others
Out of all the things that make me happy, this one is probably the hardest.
One of the biggest reasons why we compare ourselves to others is social media.
It has the capacity to make you feel worthless and can lead to severe depression.
To combat this issue, I only stay active on two social media platforms at a time.
For instance, if I’m active on Facebook and LinkedIn, you won’t find me on any other platform.
This helps me focus on the good I’m doing and the good things that are happening in my life.
Since I’ve been doing this for a few years now, I find myself less tempted to focus on how others are doing.
Research on the effects of social media has shown that such comparisons significantly reduces our self-esteem.
Here are a few practical tips to break free of this habit:
i. Focus on your strengths rather than weaknesses
You will never be perfect.
Neither will you ever be good at everything. Identify your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses.
The former will not only improve your self-esteem but also help you sharpen your skills and hone your talent.
ii. Don’t be a phoney
Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
The harder you try, the more miserable you’re going to be.
I guess if you’re really good at being fake then good for you.
But most people understand when you’re not being authentic and they lose respect for you.
iii. Accept who you are
Embrace who you are.
Not just the good bits but also your flaws.
iv. Let others inspire you rather than deflate you
Rather than comparing yourself, invest that energy into looking up to people who have achieved something in their lives.
For instance, if you’re a food blogger, you can get inspired by Gordon Ramsey.
v. Overcome the fear of being judged by people
Cut off or maintain distance from anyone who drags you down or constantly criticises you.
People are always going to talk about you no matter what you do.
Might as well not take them too seriously and just be yourself!
Out of all the things that make me happy, travelling is my favourite!
I look forward to all types of trips — weekend trips, adventurous trips, vacations (and even business trips!)
Evidence indicates that travelling makes you happier. It boosts your self-confidence and provides new memories and experiences.
Just planning a vacation gets my mind off all the things that stress me out.
I love dreaming about all the wonderful places I’ll get to go and gorge on regional delicacies.
Travelling helps you become more grounded.
You also appreciate your family and home more when you’re away.
It’s also an excellent way to make new friends.
I usually plan holidays panning between 10-30 days every 6 months.
I plan my work well in advance so that I don’t have to worry about work when I’m away.
This way, I give myself the ‘me time’ I deserve and can fully immerse myself in learning new things or gaining new experiences.
#16. Learn New Things
Ever fancied learning how to ballet or surf?
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish?
Whatever your age and interest, learning something new is fun and also extremely good for you.
In the past couple of years, I’ve pursued several certifications and courses to help me hone my skills.
After the successful completion of each course, I feel more confident and empowered.
Here are a few reasons why you should keep learning new things:
- Improves brain health and functions
- Helps you connect with new people
- Your involvement in your community increases
- Helps you feel good and increases your self-esteem
- Helps you relax and have fun
#17. Listen to Music
When you listen to music that you like, your brain releases dopamine.
A chemical that reduces anxiety and improves your mood.
It also helps produce cortisol i.e. stress-reducing hormone which induces motivation, joy and pleasure.
Some of my favourite singers include Arianna Grande and Justin Bieber.
There are several apps such as Spotify and Youtube that give you access to music from all over the world.
Put your favourite playlist on shuffle and shake what your mamma gave you!
If that’s not your thing, you can also listen to podcasts.
Depending upon your area of interest, you can learn new things.
Each episode lasts somewhere between 5 to 60 minutes.
They also feature industry experts and celebrities that can give you a wealth of knowledge.
#18. Have Meaningful Conversations
Seeking out meaningful conversation is known to improve your sense of overall well-being.
But a conversation isn’t limited to you being the speaker.
Learn to listen and share valuable advice when necessary.
Here are a few ways to add more meaning to your conversations:
- Refrain from interrupting
- Refrain from getting excited about your next thought
- Ask genuine questions
- Try to relate to the conversation
- Don’t waste someone’s time
- Don’t judge people
- Offer help
- Reduce personal barriers
#19. Treat Yourself
While it’s important to be mindful of your spendings, remember to splurge a little every now and then.
Treating yourself to something you wanted for a long time will give you the much-needed dose of happiness.
Studies have shown that we give ourselves a treat, we feel content, indulge and happy which increases our self-esteem.
According to Susan Hepburn, “a small treat can make a huge difference on your happiness scale.”
Treating yourself doesn’t always have to be expensive.
Here are a few ideas to spoil yourself a little without breaking the bank:
- Eat your favourite food without feeling guilty and truly savour it
- Look at cute animals
- Rewatch your favourite movies and shows
- Relax in the park
- Give yourself a few compliments
#20. Indulge in Self-Care
Out of the things that make me happy, this is my second-favourite.
Self-care is defined as “a necessary human function that is continuous, learned and purposeful.”
No matter how old you are and what your occupation is, chances are your life is full of chaos.
We’re all guilty of neglecting ourselves.
Prioritize self-care because your mental and physical health are the two most important assets you have.
Here are a few self-care ideas that you can follow:
- Read self-help books
- Immerse yourself in nature
- Get enough sun
- Breathe in the right scents
- Be mindful
- Stress less
- Indulge in a massage
No matter how busy you are, remember it’s essential to #TreatYoSelf.
#21. Have a Positive Mindset
Out of the things that make me happy, this requires continuous conscious effort.
To live a healthy, happy life, it’s essential to learn how to focus on the positive.
Boosting your happiness is simple.
All you need to do is focus on the positive things and reduce your negative thinking.
Every time you have a negative thought, think of two positive things.
This practice will help you retain habitual thought patterns to bring more happiness and positivity into your life.
Wondering how it works?
The ratio of positive to negative thoughts significantly affects our overall happiness and well-being.
Your brain constantly monitors the emotional tone of your thoughts.
When there are a lot of negative thoughts, your brain responds by creating sadness and stress.
When there are a lot of positive thoughts, your brain creates happiness and relaxation.
Other Simple Things That Make Me Happy
- The smell of good food cooking
- And eating that food while it’s still hot
- Watching the squirrels and birds come to the feeder
- Petting a cat and hearing it purr
- Popcorn at the movie theatre
- A new haircut
- Clean sheets on my bed
- A long, hot bath
- A clean house
- Flowers in full bloom
- A long bubble bath
- Soft blankets
- Dropping my phone and discovering the screen is still intact and scratch-free!
- Finding money in the pocket of my old clothes
- Finding the right shade of makeup
- Cute stationery
Things That Make Me Happy as a Daughter and Granddaughter
- Big bear hugs from my grandparents
- Receiving gifts from my parents and grandparents
- Watching movies with them
- Teaching them new things
- Learning things from them
- The love and support I get from them
- Going out with them
- The happy and surprised look on their faces when I gift them something
- The thing that makes me most happy about being a daughter and a granddaughter really is being a part of their lives!
Things That Make Me Happy as a Friend
- Being able to share my thoughts with someone
- Being able to receive honest feedback
- Offer and receive encouragement
- Offer and receive love and support
- Being able to depend on someone I can count on and vice versa
Things That Make Me Happy as a Writer
- The satisfaction I get from making my voice heard and fulfilling my creative desires
- It’s a great source of income
- Helps me clear my mind
- Helps recover memories
- Easily stockpile ideas
- Puts my life into perspective
- Makes me feel accomplished
- It’s a great mental exercise
- The flexibility of the schedule
- The freedom to work at my own pace, choose my clients and my deadlines
- The freedom to work from anywhere at any time
- The fact that I never have to retire
Other Things That Make Me Happy
- Watching the sunrise or sunset and seeing all the mesmerizing colours that paint the sky
- Reruns of my favourite movies and TV shows
- Playing badminton
- Watching the moon and the stars at night
- Drinking hot chocolate in winters
- Eating ice-creams in summers
- The smell of new books and clean laundry
- An extended family that stays in touch and remains close
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are 5 things that make you happy?
Here are 5 things that will make you happy:
- Practising gratitude
- Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people
- Being kind
- Spending more time with friends and family
- Investing in experiences and not objects.
What are 10 things that make you happy?
Here are 10 things that will make you happy right now:
- You’re alive so take deep breaths and feel the movement of air in and out of your lungs
- Spend some time with your family and friends
- Go outside to soak in the sun or for a walk
- Hug someone
- Get some sleep
- Be thankful
- Listen to music
- Read a book
- Watch a movie
What simple things make you happy?
Here are a few simple things that make me happy. Chances are they’ll make you happy too:
- Sleeping in a freshly-made bed
- Soaking up the sun
- Someone doing a kind thing for me or vice versa
- Finding money in old clothes
- Having time for myself
- Laughing out loud
- Snuggling on the sofa with a pet
- The smell of freshly made cookies
- Going to my favourite restaurants
What gives the most happiness?
Here are 10 things that make you happy and help you enjoy life more:
- Practising gratitude
- Give back to society
- Laugh more often
- Improve relationships with your loved ones
- Spend time with yourself
- Do nothing
- Educate yourself
- Do more of what you like
What are some happy things to think about?
Here’s how you can have a head full of happy thoughts:
- Practice gratitude
- Do what you’re good at as much as possible
- Spend time with your loved ones
- Give more
- Savour each and every moment
- Be optimistic
- Focus on the good things in life
What is Real Happiness?
Real happiness or true happiness is achieved when you learn to enjoy your own company. Once you can live in harmony with your soul, body and mind, you achieve real happiness. In other words, true happiness is a state of mind where you’re constantly in love with yourself. For real happiness, you neither need materialistic things nor people.
Happiness comes in all forms.
Inculcate these habits and be grateful for the little things in life to increase your happiness.
What Are The Things That Make You Happy?
How often do you think, “I want to be happy but don’t know how!”
Try incorporating these little things to make you happier.
Notice what makes you feel content or makes you smile.
Share them with us in the comments section below along with anything that makes you happy.
In the meantime, keep passing down the love!
Shristi likes to write about Food, Finance and everything in between.