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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