Finding happiness

Being in motion on a long hike makes me happy. Here I am at a camp on Mt. Kili.

Figuring out  and finding happiness has consumed me lately.  I’ve been reading a lot about it. What makes us happy?  As far as I can tell, what makes us happy is a series of contradictions.  You need a stable government, unless you live in Mexico and then apparently you are happy without one.  Earning more than $70,000 per year supposedly doesn’t lead to greater happiness according to statistics, except that in the very specific places where people are the most happy individual income is higher overall.  You need freedom, but one of the happiest towns in the United States has a lot of restrictions.

In all my reading and research I can pinpoint four things that seem to truly make people happy—good relationships, volunteering or doing good for others, a sense of purpose, and your perspective.

Here are just a couple tips, using the four points above as a reference, to try and increase your happiness quota:

  • Get together with good friends at regular intervals. Have a monthly dinner club, or book club, or movie night.  Whatever you choose find a way to make time for the people that you enjoy.
  • Even if it’s not a regular volunteer gig, find a way to help someone every day. Hold the door open, let someone merge on the highway, or simply smile.
  • Have an activity that you are looking forward to at least once a week if not every day. It can be small.
  • When something bad happens can you laugh at it? Maybe you stubbed your toe.  After the initial cursing, perhaps be glad you can feel.  Not feeling would be much worse.
  • Laugh early and often. Make note of how often you laugh.  Can you incorporate more laughter into your life?  I find a good comedy club or a game of celebrity often does the trick.
  • When you first wake up can you think a positive thought about you or someone you care about or the day? Much easier for morning people, I know.
  • Try writing a daily gratitude book. It’s great for a little perspective and you start to find things to appreciate throughout the day in advance.

Happiness is not all that matters in making a good life.  And it is important to allow ourselves to be sad, angry, frustrated, and hurt.  There is no sense in striving for happiness all the time, but in a world that can be harsh and scary at times, I find it helpful to reach for moments that create bliss in my world.

I’d love to hear if you do any of the things above or what it is, especially perhaps the random or tiny moments that make you happy during the day.


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About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.


  1. Charlotte January 8, 2018 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Great thoughts! All of these are wonderful ways to feel happy.

    One thing that is the foundation of everything for me is that I believe in a higher level of intelligence and creation. I believe in God. I begin my day with Him, I thank him for everything He gives me, I continually ask for guidance, and I feel there is no possible way I was able to get through any of my hardships without Him.

  2. Deborah Bax January 8, 2018 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Several years ago I spent an afternoon making a list of “happy memories” – at least I expected it to be a list. Writing a list turned out to be impossible for me…..and so I ended up writing the experience of what happened to cause my happiness. Since the original writing, the “list” has grown. Often I turn to it – at times when I need to be reminded but most often just because I love the feeling it gives me while reading it. Suggestion: be careful who you share the “list” with – you don’t want your happy memories to dissolve because of another’s reaction.
    I will swear by Gratitude Journals. Within 6 weeks of religiously filling in my journal every night before bed, my life changed: meaning my attitude, I felt lighter, calmer, happier. Nothing changed but the act of recording my gratitde – maybe for remembering where I put something, maybe for the sunset, or the smile from a stranger, or my health, or the fact that I am able to shovel the snow, etc, etc.
    Also, just yesterday I was reading about ikigai – the Japanese word for a “reason for being”. We all need to know we have a purpose. Doesn’t matter if we plan our purpose ourselves.
    And I would just add not to punish ourselves when we seem, for whatever reason, to lose our peace and happiness. We have emotions, and we feel them, but we don’t have to get caught up in the daily drama and stay there. (I think it’s funny that I’m just adding one more thing….when I could really get carried away with this topic.)

  3. Dotty Twachtman January 10, 2018 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    I agree with all that has been said…I do start my day with grateful prayers and throughout the day I become increasingly aware of how important quiet moments are…just “being aware”. What seem like coincidences are really not…some people have called them “God winks”
    Maggie, you not only remind us “to keep moving”, but you also prompt us to keep thinking positive thoughts and to BE happy…it’s really a choice!

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