What Makes People Happy
This little siskin made a beautiful nest out of moss, lichens and old leaves under the roof of my veranda. She has sat religiously on it throughout very cold and windy conditions. Her determination to sit and hatch is stronger than her fear of me, constantly peering to see what is happening. The egg has hatched. The chick is alive. She has been successful. Nature surviving in glorious simplicity makes me very happy.
I replaced my black cycle helmet with a bright pink one. People used to look a bit scared when I cycled up to them, now the sight of a fat lady on a bike makes them smile.
I’m 49 years old and a company director with far too much to worry me. I went for a mind-clearing walk through a wood the other day and, in a clearing, I spotted a home-made swing slung from the high branches of an old oak tree. After a quick check to be sure no-one was watching, I got on board and had the best 10 minutes of fun I’ve had all year. I left feeling astonishingly happier. I hope it’s still there this weekend!
Neil Hardie, Scotland
Wake up in the morning take a deep breath and appreciate the fact you’ve woken up to another day. For many, the journey ended before you woke up. Be thankful for what we have, not what we don’t have. Quit blaming others. Take a bit more responsibility for things in your life. Nobody owes us, we owe ourselves. Take a bit of time for inward reflection, it does wonders for the soul, simple and easy, doesn’t cost anything but rewards greatly. Drugs not required.
|Bever, Piggy, Thomas and Pepe|
When I go to bed every evening I find that Bever the yellow elephant, Piggy, Thomas the bear, and Pepe the penguin are already there in bed. They keep me happy, warm and safe at night; it is a wonderful feeling.
Nieuwe Uitleg, The Netherlands
Fishing on my boat in the deep sea with a very cold cruzcampo (the best Spanish beer) and my very closest friends, and of course catching something.
Manuel Borrego García, Spain
How to be happy – this advice was given to me many years ago by a man I consider to be a genius at being happy:
Cultivate a passion
Be part of something bigger than yourself
Don’t resist change
Live for the moment
Audit your happiness
Play the part and be happy!
Bob Yeldham, Wales
I’ve discovered that a good deed can benefit me as much as the person I do it for. For example, I recently had an opportunity to help someone use a public network PC at the library to retrieve pics of their newborn great granddaughter in Australia. They were thrilled and I felt cheery for the rest of the day.
Heather Jones, UK
A good pork pie and maybe some Lincolnshire sausage.
Tony Wood, Canada
In the ancient Indian scripture Mahabharata there is a passage which says “That person who lives in their own home, eats and lives simply and has no debt to anyone; they are truly happy in this world”. Therein I think lies the clue to real happiness. Simplify! Forget the mad notion that wealth equals happiness and live moderately in all things and have no debt to anyone. How much misery is there due to debt? The “have it all now (pay later with interest)” culture is an insane course which our society promotes and praises. Even the government wants our children to be thousands of pounds in debt before they even start work. More and more materialism will not make us happy. I’m moving to Bhutan!
|Andy’s four-month-old daughter Aly|
Here are some of the things that make me happy: walking the dog; seeing other people very happy; making other people laugh, especially my baby daughter (see photograph); helping other people; meeting up with friends and family.
Last weekend I travelled for 4 hours for my niece’s Christening, and just the sight of her made me feel immensely happy. The sight of my sister and her husband enjoying their little girl made my heart sing. The fact that their first son died stillborn at 38 weeks doesn’t seem to reduce our joy, rather it makes us all cherish the new baby even more. If I ever become a mother I know that I will be better for sharing the awful experience of my sister. That is the sort of thing that keeps my temperament happy – the knowledge that out of a tragedy can come something positive eventually. Also, will feeling unhappy actually change anything? I don’t think I’ve ever found that to be so.
I met a bloke wearing a full diving suit and waders, walking down by the river when I took my dogs out today. He was about to plunge into a muddy bog, in the pouring rain, because he “just fancied a paddle”. He was very happy. There’s a message in there somewhere …
|Grandad and grandson|
Being a grandparent, having a loving family … that’s happiness.
Jim Callaghan, Bury
I spent years struggling with depression and low self esteem when a friend’s advice changed my perspective dramatically. “It’s hard work to be happy you know”. Until then I had always felt it was the world’s fault I was so unhappy. Since actively taking this advice I overcame much of my discontent. It’s crucial to make happiness your goal and do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Linda O’Sullivan, Ireland
Reading these comments has made me feel happy! Thank you!!
|Alfie and Lyn|
My Jack Russell Alfie helps keep me happy. I’m a freelance editor and could easily sit at my desk all day long, but Alfie needs a walk every day so I get one too! He’s made friends at the park so I get to chat with their owners. It’s a nice enforced break in the working day.
I just love getting out and kiting on land or on water. I push myself to land new tricks but when you just have a perfect session it is the most amazing feeling. A good wind, nice weather and a good group of friends is all I need to stay happy. It is all these exams and pressure from school that makes me unhappy. I just feel when I’m kiting or even just sat on a beach I am the happiest I have ever found myself. I know not many people kite but it is the same with any hobby like it, and many people just use these things to escape from their everyday lives. Find a hobby you love, then get out and do it!!
Zac Andrews, UK
Sometime ago I had a successful career, earned more money than I needed, was driven and career-orientated, worked long days and nights. But I wasn’t fulfilled. I now earn half as much, focus on helping businesses by using the knowledge and experience I gained in the past and work mainly from home. Life is now balanced. I cuddle my husband daily, have time to play with my dog, do more (but still maybe not enough) exercise and eat well. I also love “random acts of kindness” and try to give myself a challenge and to learn or experience new things regularly. Yes, I’d still like that cottage in the country where I can bake bread and have chickens, but wouldn’t life be dull if all your dreams were fulfilled?
Somebody once told me “It is not the position in which you stand, but the direction in which you look”. When I am sad about something I think about where I want to be and work at getting there. This makes me happy again.
I am revising for my A-levels next week. Happiness is when your family make a huge barbecue and picnic extremely quietly, sneak into the house and burst into the room shouting “surprise!” and brandishing a cold beer!
Happiness to me, can be ever so lasting, when I am connected to my creator. When I am in touch, I am rewarded, I am reminded always, of love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, humility, understanding, tolerance, curiosity, humbleness, beauty, of peace. In those moments I can see what life is all about. In those moments I have glimpsed the whole picture.
|Christian Ellwood’s “big sisters”|
Nostalgic photos of my family always me happy without fail. This picture always makes me smile – my two BIG sisters!
What makes me happy? I absolutely love spending time with my young niece. She is such a treasure and brings me immense joy and laughter in my life. Ultimately happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, for me it’s being with my close family and friends. Laugh and smile and those around you will to. Appreciate and show gratitude to everyone and the pleasure and joy will come to you.
Bina Paw, West London
Happiness is what everyone looks for. Everything we do is primarily for happiness. I would like to share something I came across on a poster which goes something like this … “This is the time to be happy and this is the place to be happy. The way to be happy is to make others happy.” I’ve tried and it works!!
Happiness for me is seeing my baby daughter’s face beam with delight as I walk through the door, after a long day at work.
Jennifer Nash, UK
Spontaneous, effusive dancing with friends and family! And, especially, dancing with my Mum every run up to Christmas to The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York, and collapsing in an exhausted, grinning heap at the end.
Happy to be given a beanie baby
I have sent a photo of our recent mission trip to Cape Town where we worked with children with Aids. We took the whole of December off from work and spent Christmas giving of our time and abilities to help these people. They have so little and we have so much, we should be happy with our lot here in the UK as we don’t know how lucky we are. It made me extremely happy that we could give of our time. Jesus tells us to be joyful in all situations, he is the reason for my happiness, he wants us all to know his peace which brings happiness. The photo shows two boys in a township who we gave a beanie baby to, this gave them so much happiness.
Tim Walker, UK
Here are some things that make me happy: becoming a Grandma is an almost certain recipe for happiness; having a funny old husband to cuddle up to, to find your glasses and keys when you lose them, and put a lovely warm wheat bag in the bed at night; three friendly Labradors to welcome you home in the evening; hanging out the washing on a fine sunny day; having a job working with teenagers where every day produces lots of laughs and plenty of challenges, a glass of Waipara Springs Reserve Pinot Noir, friends coming to stay; and, of course, chocolates.
Ros Rossiter, New Zealand