What makes you happy?

Is it big things? Big, shiny moments. Celebrations. Achievements.

Or things that are infinitesimally small? A smile. The smell of fresh baked bread. Raindrops hitting the roof at 1 am?

Or is it circumstantial? A dream job, a dream house, new car smell, jet-setting, a closet brimming over with pretty things?

Of course the word happiness might be misleading. There are other words for similar things that are not the same. Joy. Contentment. Satisfaction. Passion. Peace.

But I suppose what I mean is happiness. Happiness is always a fleeting thing. Sometimes nothing more than an instance of brain chemicals having a dance party for reasons beyond explanation. Understanding it is like trying to catch light in a jar.

Many books have been written about happiness from different angles. The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People (an  insightful book). And of course Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project (which I haven't read, but I read enough of her blog before the book came out!). And so many more. I have no secrets to share, but I've been thinking about happiness lately.

I don't think it's so much that I can conjure up happiness, force it to come, but I can create an environment where it is likely to make its appearance more often. I can cultivate a rich soil where seeds of happiness are more likely to flourish and pull out weeds that choke it out.

There are things that I think make me happy, but it turns out they really don't. Even though I keep thinking they will, trying them over and over again:
  • Buying something.
  • Watching movies or television.
  • Spending restless, wandering, or habitual time online.
  • Eating something sweet. (Yum)
And then there are things I know make me happy - or at least contribute to that fertile soil, an opening for a visitation of happiness - but still I don't do them - not on a consistent basis at least. These things don't always come naturally, but are ultimately very rewarding:
  • Exercise! (Exercise! Exercise!)
  • Spending time with people, making new friends - my inner introvert sometimes doesn't want to go out, even though I know it's good for me. And my inner "get things done" driver sometimes doesn't want to stop the progress train to go have quality time.
  • Tidiness around the home. Bed made. Clothes on hangers in closet, not in floor. Clutter away. Clean kitchen.
  • Writing. It's not hard once I get started and I enjoy it oh-so-much. But my ego has been struggling with it a bit lately, wondering why write if no one will ever read it? I don't know the answer. I only know that it's rewarding to me on a deep level.
With a new baby on the way, I struggled with the concept of New Year's Resolutions because I don't really know what this year will be like. What I most need is flexibility and grace, not a list of to dos.

But I have this vague sense of wanting to do less of those things that are happiness pretenders and a little more of those things that I know make me healthy and feel good, those things that I often put last.

What makes you happy? Any secrets to share?


  1. That is easy to answer......LESS doing and MORE just being....makes me happy!


  2. Wow! Your lists are identical to my lists! :)

    But I like your outlook about the new year, it really is about flexibility and grace.

    One thing I've found with having a baby is that true happiness for me is when I pop in on the little guy while he's taking a nap. He looks so sweet and my heart swoons! Pure Happiness!

  3. This was probabely the most truest post I've ever read.

  4. the things that make me happy are - my husband and the boys, a little gesture, and fresh air - ooooo and sleep - i'm not happy when i dont sleep!!!

  5. Oh my goodness - I hate it when I feel down and start looking to buy something. I wonder how I've ended up being conditioned that way -it's so insidious.

    On many mornings, my oldest son climbs into bed with us, just to "cuddle". And now that he finally has a little brother to lay with us, well - my heart feels so full, I can hardly stand it. Pure joy.

  6. I can relate to so much of this! I always have to remind myself before I buy something that I'm sure will make my life complete: "I have never felt more content after buying something. Ever."

    What always makes me happy, without fail is:

    Baking something
    Making something to make our home a bright place
    Hearing my kids laugh
    Going on a walk with my husband
    Making myself deny my introverted ways and getting out to go to the park or spend time with friends