It was a beautiful poster — a young woman walking through a field of yellow flowers under a deep blue sky — with the words “There really isn’t a big secret to life. Just do what makes you happy.” So simple. So easy to understand. Unless, that is,… you’ve never stopped to consider what truly makes you happy.
We all want to be happy, but how often do we give serious consideration to what, exactly, brings us happiness? The following post appeared on a friend’s Facebook page recently:
Make a list of things that make you happy.
Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists.
While this might be an excellent strategy, we are still left with the challenge of answering that initial question: What makes you happy?
Researchers took a random sampling of 75 responses to this question in November 2014 on Reddit.com. These responses shed some light on what brings happiness to the respondents. Not surprisingly, the top response was family — significant others, children, and family in general. 16% of respondents identified family as their number one source of happiness in their lives. Eating and drinking was the second most-common response, receiving 11.8% of the votes. I can relate to that! This was followed by friends, music, and entertainment (movies, games, etc.), each receiving 8.4% of the votes.
The remainder of the top ten responses were as follows:
Helping / Making Others Happy - 7.6%
Jokes / Laughing - 5.9%
Lying Around / Free Time - 5.9%
Pets / Animals - 5.9%
Sharing a Smile / Seeing Others Smile - 4.2%
I couldn’t help but notice that money was not identified as one of the top ten sources of happiness in the lives of respondents. At the same time, I was encouraged to see that helping people, making others happy, or seeing others smile made the list.
A friend of mine recently lost her 23-year-old son. I never had the opportunity to meet Zach, but from what I’ve heard about him, he definitely knew how to live life to the fullest. It seems that Zach also understood the secret to happiness — that our own happiness can be nurtured through the happiness of those around us. His message was quite simple: “I’m happy when you’re happy.” Something tells me that the happiness of those around Zach was directly related to Zach’s presence in their lives.
I am grateful for my family and friends. I’m also grateful for opportunities to help others and to bring happiness to others. When I’m out for an afternoon walk and pass someone I don’t know, I always smile and say, “Hello.” Almost without exception, the greeting is warmly returned to me, even though we might not speak the same language. There are many things which bring happiness to my life, but, like Zach, the happiness of others enriches my life tremendously — and yes, it makes me very happy.