I am interested in health, fitness and healthy eating. I live in the Netherlands.
Shall I start with a rhetorical question? Aren't we all looking for ways to be happy?
This question is not difficult to answer. It becomes more complicated when we ask ourselves what exactly happiness is. And then how we can attain that happiness.
Happiness seems to have something to do with:
- Being Happy or Glad
And it is often often used in conjunction with the concepts of
How to live a happy life!
Happiness is a topic that has been the subject of literature, songs, research and many conversations.
The general agreement seems to be that everyone longs for it but not everyone gets to feel happiness. At least not on a permanent basis.
Happiness – it's what we all hope to find and keep, even though it can be capricious and fleeting.
Nobody is happy and exhilarated all the time
What is fascinating about happiness is that most people, when asked about it, have an idea of what it means.
And nevertheless what makes one person happy might not mean happiness to another.
I'll start with a definition of happiness. It's always good to know what we are talking about.
One thing seems certain. When you take a look at this definition of happiness it involves being happy, feeling joy or pleasure.
And the word finds its origin in the 1520s. So it isn't a modern-day fad.
Happiness has something to do with showing or feeling pleasure or satisfaction.
Well, now I think I have an idea of what happiness is all about.
Happiness involves being satisfied with yourself and with your life. Several positive emotions can be present, such as joy, peace, relaxation, and cheerfulness.
So many people believe that you should find out what might make you happy and then go for that.
Things That Can Make You Happy.
Research How To Live A Happy Life
Easterlin (2003) concludes that life events such as divorce, marriage and serious disability, have an enduring effect on happiness, and do not simply swerve the average person above or below a setpoint given by heredity and character.
His second observation is that an improvement in income, and therefore in the goods at one's disposition, does not lead to a lasting increase in happiness because of the negative effects of comparison of their situation with others.
Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald (2011) have done a study of statistical reports of global happiness, and argue that money can and does buy happiness, therefore opposing the saying that money does not buy happiness, but they also confirm the paradoxical conclusion that national happiness does not seem to grow with economic growth.
Ahmed, S. (2008) reports that happiness is a promise that steers us toward particular choices and away from other life choices. Happiness is promised, she says, to those ready to live their lives in the right way.
For the eager researcher (I am not) you can find a plethora of studies on the topic of happiness.
Many people are convinced, that happiness is a result of being born rich or beautiful.
However, the truth is that people who are wealthy, beautiful and who's lives are less stressful are not happier on average than people who don't enjoy those advantages.
Happy people seem to intuitively grasp that their joy is the sum of their life decisions and their lives are organized around the following pillars:
- Spending enough time with friends and family
- Appreciating what they have
- Having an optimistic outlook on life
- Seeing a meaning in life
- Living in the here and now
Research on Happiness
Regularly research is done to find the places where the happiest people live.
According to 2013's World Happiness Report, the place you can find many friendly faces and happy attitudes is northern Europe.
Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland top this list. Canada came in at 6 whilst the United States ranks 17th out of 156 countries.
The happiest children live in the Netherlands. For those readers who haven't a clue where The Netherlands is I added a map somewhere down this page.
A link to the "World Database of Happiness" can be found below. It offers an abundance of statistics for those interested in data and happiness.
- World Database of Happiness
Inventory of empirical findings on happiness that prepares for research synthesis
Go For It
It seems to me to come down to one thing. If you are looking to find happiness, your thoughts, choices and eventually your actions will have a great impact on the happiness you get to feel.
Which one of the following thoughts, choices and actions will do it for you?
Things You Can Do To Increase Your Chance On Happiness
Spend time with family and friends
Appreciating what you have
Maintain an optimistic outlook
Avoid social comparison
Commit to your goals
Make Yourself Happy
Make Yourself Happy
Focus your attention, every day, on the things that are going well. If you want to feel better, pay attention to things that make you happy.
Do you regularly tell your children how much you love them? Do you tell your partner how grateful you are for that person in your life? Do you ever tell your friends that you are grateful for their friendship? No? Try it. It will make you happy. And you are not the only one who'll benefit. Yes, it can feel a bit uncomfortable. But what does that matter if it makes everyone happy?
Get up earlier.
Go to bed earlier so you can get up earlier. And go outside to enjoy the first rays of the sun. The smell of the morning, the rising sun, dew on the grass. It's hard not to be happy!
Forgive and forget
Never be angry again? Impossible, of course. But sticking to that feeling for too long is bad for your emotional and physical health. Resentment leaves no room for positive emotions; it causes stress and a greater risk of heart problems. So please take a deep breath and let it go.
Books & Happiness
- Buying a new book.
- The smell of a new book.
- Reading a book you treasure again and it being as great as you remember.
- A book you can’t put down.
- The smell of a bookstore or library.
- Getting lost in a beautiful novel.
- Reading to someone from a book you love to read.
- Receiving a signed book by your favorite author
- Opening your mind to new ideas by reading
- Reading a travel guide about the places you want to visit
- Looking at pictures in a richly illustrated children's book
Creativity and Happiness
- Doodling little drawings to pass the time.
- When your writing and you are in the flow.
- Writing a travel log.
- Writing poems.
- Making a sculpture.
- Designing a dress for a special occasion.
- Working on that perfect song.
Eating, Drinking & Happiness
- Comfort Food.
- Chocolate pie.
- Your favorite coffee in the morning.
- Smelling the aroma of coffee.
- Grandma's self-made apple pie.
- 12 Year old Scottish whiskey.
- My mother's homemade Malaysian curry!
- A cappuccino made by a barista in Turin.
- Ice Tea.
Exercise and Happiness
- Enjoying a walk.
- The feeling you get after a workout.
- Working on your abs.
- Cycling up a hill and enjoying the ride.
- Your first 5K run.
- Taking the stairs in stead of the lift at work.
- Following aerobics classes.
- Rollerskating at the skating rink.
- Water exercises.
- A yoga class.
Family, Friends & Happiness
- Meeting a friend you haven’t spoken in awhile and picking up where you left of.
- Seeing other people get excited over something
- Seeing something good happen to someone.
- Receiving or giving a compliment.
- Meeting new people.
- When a close friend calls you up out of the blue wanting to hang out.
- Being around family
- Whenever someone says hello when you pass them on the street.
- Making someone else happy.
- When someone smiles.
- Whenever someone you like gives you a hug you out of the blue.
- When a friend always seems to know how to make you laugh.
- When an old friend texts you to see how you are.
- Genuinely feeling happy for someone else
- Belonging to a group of people that share your passion for something.
- When someone says that you made them feel better/ making someone feel better.
- Acts of kindness.
- Remembering that you are not alone. No matter how you feel.
- Apologizing and resolving an issue with someone.
- Staying up late talking to someone online.
- Talking with a friend.
- Spontaneous back rubs.
- Letting someone feel that you do care about them.
- Listening to someone telling a story.
- Helping someone out.
- Talking with the person you like.
- Smiling and getting someone to smile.
- Finally, standing up for yourself.
- Realizing the person you love, feels the same way
- Spend time with friends and family
- Helping others
Learning & Happiness
- Learning how to play chess.
- Learning new things.
- Checking things off your to-do list.
- Being able to speak in another language.
- Practicing smiling.
- Practicing gratitude.
- Making progress towards goals!
- Following a free coursera course.
- Being able to say good morning in 10 different languages.
- Learning the ins and outs of your favorite game.
- Learning how to meditate.
- Studying the works of your favorite painter.
Leisure Time & Happiness
Take part in cultural activities.
People who regularly attend concerts or go to the theater experience less stress, They are less restless and suffer less from depression. Overall, they are more optimistic about their quality of life.
- An unexpected holiday.
- Lazy Sundays
- Taking a day off work.
- Sunny days at the beach.
- Walking without a preset destination through an unknown town.
- Finally, being able to mend a leaking sink.
- Taking your kid to the playground.
- Spending an evening with your parent(s).
- Bake a cake.
- Read a book.
- Go to a movie.
- Finish that scrapbook.
- Visit a museum in Manchester.
- Planning a trip.
Music & Happiness
- Discovering a new band or song.
- Introducing someone or being introduced to a show or band.
- A song that gives you goosebumps again and again.
- Singing in the shower.
- Your favorite song coming on the radio.
- Voices in close harmony.
- Listening to The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.
- Singing along with Steve Harley in Birmingham.
- Your first Paul McCartney concert with the family.
- Listening to talented young musicians perform at the Chetham's School of Music.
Movies & TV Shows & Happiness
- The Daily show and Colbert Report.
- Watching the sound of music for the 100th time.
- Nearly knowing all the lines of Fawlty Towers.
- Saturday morning cartoons.
- The complete Godfather.
- Netflix airing your favorite show.
- Watching a Disney movie.
- Enjoying the 2d time you watch 2 1/2 man with Charlie Sheen.
- Laughing again when you watch Little Britain with your son.
- Enjoying popcorn in the cinema.
Nature and Happiness
Walk through a forest. An experiment with two groups of students who each had to spend two nights somewhere, one in the woods and the other in the city, showed that the forest group had considerably less cortisol (a stress hormone) in their bodies. Another study showed that people's heartbeat is much higher than that of people living outside the city!
- A cloudy day.
- Misty rain.
- The beautiful view as you’re cycling over back roads.
- A nice breeze.
- The evening smell of air during spring, summer, and fall.
- Birds chirping at dawn as you wake up.
- Trains passing by in the distance at nighttime.
- The quiet before the storms.
- Looking out the window from a riding train.
- City lights reflected on the street in pools of water after it poured.
- A bonfire in your backyard to celebrate a summer evening.
- Listening to the pitter-patter of the rain as you fall asleep.
- Planting plants or flowers.
- A long stroll in a pretty park.
- Spotting the first crocuses.
Pampering Yourself & Happiness
- Taking an afternoon nap
- When you feel happy about what you have achieved.
- Enjoying times when you have all the time in the world
- A sudden thought that instantly puts a smile on your face.
- Those rare moments when you feel content.
- Inside jokes.
- When you notice you have the whole house to yourself.
- A cold shower on a hot day.
- A hot shower on a cold day.
- A nap when you really need one.
- Treating yourself to room service.
- Getting a massage.
- Waking up to sunshine on your face.
- Sleeping more.
- Moving closer to work.
- Enjoying the sauna.
Things & Happiness
- Your favorite t-shirt.
- Fresh flowers in your apartment.
- Finding something you love on sale.
- Finally having a job you love.
- Noticing how well your pants fit.
- Reading books from the Kindle you bought with your birthday money.
- Polishing your car and enjoying its new look.
- Finding the couch that is a perfect fit.
Get some rest.
Stress is a great way to make your life terrible. It makes you enjoy simple things less. In contrast, those simpler things can make you very happy when you are in a calm mood.
Enjoy something small.
From a delicious cup of coffee, from your pet, from the smell of autumn leaves, from a conversation with an old lady on the street. It feels a bit stuffy, but it's those little things that keep you happy throughout the day. And it's super simple and free.
Don't take your life so seriously.
Yes, life is serious. But that doesn't mean it should always be taken seriously. Laugh at yourself, laugh at strange situations, laugh at the mistakes you make.
Go for 'good enough
Research continues to show that 'satisficers' are happier than 'maximizers'. The former go for 'good enough', the maximizers look for the perfect solution. This results in stress and a restless feeling - there's always room for improvement. So go for 'good enough'. Need a hotel room for a weekend in Berlin? Think of three criteria (price, location, date) and book the first one that meets them. Ready to go. Need shoes? Buy them right away, waiting three weeks until they're three euros cheaper somewhere else doesn't make you any happier.
Why do others often seem happier than us? Distortion. You can't look into someone's mind. We all put our best foot forward in front of the outside world. But it says nothing. Stop comparing with others but also with yourself, with how your life could have been, if only. And as far as others are concerned: you never can tell what they are going through from judging the outside. Therefore, always be friendly to others and yourself.
Do volunteer work
Take care of yourself by taking care of others. Many studies over more than 20 years show that one activity is most important when it comes to your mental health: volunteering. You have less chance of depression, a greater sense of overall satisfaction, and you live longer and healthier lives. Now all you have to do is think about what you are going to do voluntarily.
Give away money
It doesn't have to be much. Anonymously deposit an amount to a charity account. Give an extra-generous tip. Put a 50 cent coin in a place where a child can find it. It's better to give than to receive,' Grandma said - and she was right.
Make time for friends.
You seem to get happier from being in the company of friends than from family. People with an app called Mappiness were able to keep track of how happy they felt during the day when they were together with friends, children and parents. By analyzing the data from more than 50,000 participants, they found that on average people became 8% happier in the company of friends, compared to 1.4% with parents, and a brief 0.7% with children.
Take good care of yourself.
Unhealthy eating contributes to depression and depression. Healthy eating has just the opposite effect. Eat more whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit. Eat fewer animal products and oil. Use plant power to lift your mood to a higher level.
Several studies show that meditation helps against depressive feelings and anxiety. In people who meditate for a long time, such as Buddhist monks, brain scans show that they have increased awareness and much more emotional control. Meditation also helps with self-reflection and the ability to put things into perspective.
Thanks for visiting. I hope you have found some inspiration.
If you leave this hub with a smile or a happy feeling you will certainly have made my day.
I think happiness eventually has more to do with being than with having.
It's not about having possessions per se. It is more about enjoying things.
It is not about having many friends. It is about them being there for you when you need them and vice versa.
- True happiness is not about achieving goals.
- True happiness is not merely a result of the circumstances.
- True happiness is not found in possessions.
- Happiness is found in you being yourself.
- Happiness is about being able to enjoy the moment.
- Happiness is about acceptance.
If you would like to share things that make YOU happy, please do not hesitate and add them to the comment section below.
The Happiest Kids In The World
Happiness. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 07, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/happiness
How to be happy: Tips for cultivating contentment - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/how-to-be-happy/art-20045714
Easterlin, R. A. (2003). Explaining happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100, 11176–11183. doi:10.1073/pnas.1633144100
Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2011). International Happiness. Measurement, 25, 23–30. doi:10.1080/10629360701843318
Ahmed, S. (2008). Sociable happiness. Emotion, Space and Society, 1, 10–13. doi:10.1016/j.emospa.2008.07.003
Smith, E. (2011). The promise of happiness. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 13, 371–372. doi:10.1080/13691058.2010.524731
Veenhoven, R. (1995). World Database of Happiness. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/BF01078689
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Raymond Philippe
Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on August 17, 2020:
Thanks a lot!
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 05, 2020:
Great tips. Beautifully presented.
Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on February 13, 2020:
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 13, 2020:
An excellent article about Happiness. I enjoyed going through and it definitely made me Happy.
Happiness is a state of mind. Spreading Happiness, is the best way to achieve Happiness.
Thanks for sharing this article, full of positive thoughts.
boththestar on October 12, 2014:
Yeah! So many ways to be happy, so how many excuses left to be sad ;)
Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on March 10, 2014:
Little things that you enjoy can have a huge impact on happiness. Doing things with your kids, family and friends is priceless
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 10, 2014:
Truly amazing of what makes people happy from the heart. I have seen the rich people with fancy homes who falsely show their happiness in public and behind the closed doors they are not happy. The little things in life shows true happiness. For example of my life, there is no amount of money that can make me happy just spending time with my family all I need.
Janis from California on March 09, 2014:
You have so many useful and helpful tips for being happy. Doing things with my kids makes me happy.
Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on March 09, 2014:
Thanks Flourish. Denmark is high on my list to visit. I nearly made it there once but didn't get past Hamburg.
Eric. You just painted a happy picture. Life doesn't get much better than that ;-)
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 08, 2014:
My four year old just finished hosing each other off after our fingerpainting and making mud pies. Yummy! I flip on this hub and starting playing the music. Two silly boys in wet socks doing a little jiggy on the patio.
I just do not get this happiness thing ;-) Great job friend.
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 08, 2014:
It's all how you choose to see life. There's a whole branch of psychology, relatively new, called Positive Psychology. Looks like the Danes have figured it all out. What a list!