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Chances are, you have a pretty good sense of what makes you happy. But can you actually define the word? The definition seems to be a little different for everyone because the experience varies from person to person.
What is the Definition of Happiness?
Indeed, happiness seems to be a slippery concept to define. Scientists and researchers still haven’t agreed on a final definition, framework or scope for the term despite a multitude of studies on the subject over the course of many years.
The definition has been revised nearly 6,000 times in Wikipedia.
The most general definition of happiness, per The Oxford English Dictionary, is “the state of being happy”, defined by feelings of positive or pleasant emotions. Less fleeting than pleasure (which can come and go in an instant), it’s not a permanent personality trait, either. (If you are thinking , “Huh?” right now, I’m there with ya.)
Yes, it seems everyone is a little befuddled. We all experience this thing we call “happiness”, we know it when we feel it, we just aren’t sure of that precise definition.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Does everyone experience happiness?
It’s important to note that happiness is not a fixed personality trait. Yes, some people do seem to be happier than others, but everyone possesses the capacity to feel happy. It’s a state of being, of feeling.
Anyone can be happy. Everyone can be happy. No one can be happy all the time (unfortunate, but true).
Chances are those people who seem naturally happy have learned to respond to circumstances in a positive way, seeking the good where they find it, choosing a happy reaction. In essence, they have learned to be happy. They think happy, which leads them to feel happy.
Is happiness a choice?
I walk my dog, Ozzie, before breakfast each morning. Since we live in Southern California, the sun is usually shining brightly, the flowers are blooming pink and red and yellow, and the birds are singing sweetly in the trees. The experience of being out in nature with my buddy, stretching and exercising our bodies, creates pleasant emotions and puts me in a state of being happy.
I could rush through our walks, grumbling about the time it takes, the constant stop-and-go with a dog who sniffs everything, being annoyed that I’m cleaning up poop again. But I don’t (usually). I choose to appreciate the time we spend together on our outings. I invite happiness in.
Choose happiness when you can. Train yourself to seek out the positive in your experiences. Look for the joy. Be aware that happiness is very often determined by what you think and how you act, not the circumstances around you. You are in the driver’s seat.
Doesn’t it make sense that when you have a choice, you choose to be happy?
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
Can You Control What Makes You Happy?
Pay attention to your happiness “triggers”.
Take a few minutes to think about what makes you happy. Not theoretical nonsense like “I’d be happy if I was rich” or “Losing twenty pounds would make me happy.” Honestly, those things might make you happy, but it’s not a guarantee.
Let’s go with those things that you know put you in a positive mental state.
I’m talking about everyday things.
You’re going to be amazed just how much happiness you already have in your life. And once you are conscious of it, you’re going to experience so much more of it!
If you really want to get a handle on your happiness triggers, take some time to write down some things that make you happy.
Try listing 25 items. Then add 10 more. Challenge yourself to get up to 50. Can you come up with 100 things that make you happy?
I’ve compiled a list of 101 things that bring me happiness. It didn’t take long – actually, the more I wrote, the more I thought of to write down.
Happiness grows. Isn’t that a good thing?
“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”
101 Things That Make Me Happy
- That first sip of coffee in the morning
- Crisp, clean sheets on a freshly made bed
- Finding the perfect book to read right before getting on an airplane
- The smell of freshly cut grass
- Christmas trees full of colorful lights
- A big bowl of freshly popped popcorn with extra butter
- A perfectly balanced dirty martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives
- Watching hummingbirds zooming around our heads
- The scent of cookies baking in the oven
- Taco Tuesdays
- Baby goats in pajamas
- Baby (human) feet
- Baby laughter
- Baby everything
- A sudden summer thunderstorm with lots of lightening
- Savasana at the end of a good yoga practice
- Sitting on the beach watching the waves flow in and out
- The smell of salt air
- Coming inside from the cold to a big mug of hot chocolate
- The first warm day when I can put flip flops on
- Stargazing and realizing just how big the universe is
- That fraction of a second just before I fall asleep
- Picnics in the park
- Shopping at the farmers’ market on Sunday mornings
- Seeing old friends
- Coloring, and just letting my mind wander
- Trying out a new restaurant or new cuisine
- Traveling to somewhere I’ve never been
- Road trips with no set destination, just for the fun of the journey
- A truly spectacular sunset
- Wandering the aisles at Target
- Girls Night Out
- Older couples that hold hands while they walk
- People-watching in airports
- Finding the perfect gift for someone special
- Napping on the couch on a rainy afternoon
- Receiving an unexpected hotel room upgrade
- Conversations with children
- An unexpected phone call from an old friend
- Evening concerts in the park
- Gardening, from sowing seeds to harvest
- Meeting someone new and realizing I really like them
- Playing on the monkey bars like I was a kid again
- A long soak in a hot tub
- Thinking of my adult children as friends
- Family inside jokes
- Getting a new stamp in my passport
- Green smoothies for breakfast
- Dining outdoors
- Boat rides – any kind, any size, anywhere
- Going to bed early, then staying awake for hours reading
- That awesome feeling when you wake up from a really great sleep
- Working through the frustration of doing something hard, and then accomplishing it
- A really good full-body stretch
- Memories of my grandmother
- A BLT sandwich on sourdough bread and double bacon
- Home-baked banana bread, still warm from the oven
- Music, especially jazz, always on in the background as I work
- Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down
- New white sneakers without any stains or scuff marks
- Victorian houses with wrap-around front porches I could sit on for days
- Porch swings, a good friend, and cold lemonade
- Trying out a new recipe and discovering that my husband and I both like it
- Biting into a perfectly ripe, juicy fresh peach
- Eating leftover Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole – for breakfast
- Collections of sea glass and seashells
- Shark Week
- Watching truly terrible horror movies with my son
- Letting go of past hurts and accepting the lessons learned
- When friends tease me about using too many “SAT” words
- Having the same BFF for almost twenty years
- Knowing that I am a little bit “east coast” and a whole lot “west coast”
- Realizing that my husband’s family is really and truly my family, too
- Singing along (off-key) to old songs from my teenage years
- Going to the theater for a live show
- Trips to New York City, wandering all over Manhattan
- Hot apple pie with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream
- When that permanent stain on my favorite shirt comes out in the wash
- Great seats at a baseball game
- Hearing the words “I love you” and saying them back
- Spotting a patch of wildflowers by the side of the road
- Dressing up for a formal event
- Sleeping with the windows open and the crickets chirping outside
- Knowing I have done a really good job at something
- Checking the very last item off the day’s to-do list
- Emerging from the dressing room at the same time as my daughter – wearing the same outfit
- Feeling every day that I’m living the life I was meant to
- Dressing my dog in costume for Halloween
- The first snowfall of the season
- Making a wish and blowing out all of the candles on the cake
- Sending and receiving funny texts from my husband
- When someone says “this made me think of you”
- Fourth of July fireworks
- Bonfires on the beach
- Holding hands
- Sunshine and blue skies for days
- Wine tastings and tours
- Knowing the best is yet to come
What Makes You Happy? Final Thoughts
We may not have a clear definition of happiness, but that doesn’t mean we can’t control our feelings. When we choose to see our circumstances from a positive perspective, our pleasure and contentment grow.
Read More: 13 Inspiring Quotes About Gratitude
When we become more aware of our personal happiness triggers, we will notice when they occur and feel pleasure. We can seek these things out and bring even more joy into our lives. We can set ourselves up for happiness.
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