5 min read

What Makes Me Happy

What Makes Me Happy
Image Credit: Unsplash

This article was originally published in February 2017.

If you know me personally, you can attest to the fact that I’m happy most of the time. Rarely am I ever sad or mad about something. Some people have even said that I have two moods: happy and happier.

Sure, we all have our bad days (even me). Most days I can’t stop smiling, then other days I barely even have the motivation to get out of bed.

It’s life. It has it’s ups and downs. Just when we patch ourselves up, it seems as though something happens to bring us down again.

But I don’t think these moments go without a purpose.

I think we learn the most about ourselves in times of need, when things don’t go our way, and when we’re feeling down.

These moments give us self-awareness, clarity into our own lives. An insight into what brings us down, makes us mad, or creates a turn in our day.

We can’t be happy all the time. Sometimes you need the bad days to appreciate the good ones.

But I do think we need to do everything possible to minimize the bad days that we have. Like I’ve said so many times before, we only have a certain number of days in our lives. Those days should be spent in the best mood possible.

For the most part, I think it’s really about finding what makes you sad/mad in the first place and getting rid of those aspects from your life.

The things that make me happy might not work for someone else, we’re all different. But I think the items listed below will help a lot of you. Anyways, here is what I do to stay happy all the time:

I’m always grateful for the position I’m in.

Everyone is always looking for something better, while what they have in front of them is already great. We need to be happy with what we have since most of us have it better than others in the world.

For me, let’s take swimming as an example (I swim at the University of Pittsburgh). Every now and then when I have a bad practice or don’t quite swim the times I want to, I think about how lucky I am to have the opportunity to swim in college.

A lot of people don’t even have the opportunity to have one practice for a college swim team, so why should I be upset about my one practice? I’m grateful for that one swim practice and I’m grateful I have a full season of practices to do even better.

And my gratitude doesn’t stop there. I’m grateful for the education I am getting, the friends that I have, the food I eat, to even the roof over my head.

Being grateful is being accepting of your situation, regardless of what your situation actually is. It’s realizing that there is so much more to be thankful for than sad about.

There is so much opportunity in the world.

I always think that if something doesn’t work out, there is always another opportunity, whether you see it or not.

Going along with that practice example, after a bad practice, I always have the mindset that the next day’s practice will be better. There is another opportunity for me to thrive tomorrow.

And this is the case with a lot of things I do. If I don’t do well on a test, I have another opportunity to do well on the next one; if I don’t sleep well at night, I’ll have another opportunity the next night; and if I don’t have a good day, there is another opportunity tomorrow.

This is even the case with switching activities. I know that when I stop swimming in 3 more years (when I graduate), there will be even more opportunities for me. Of course I’ll be sad to stop swimming, but I’ll be fine knowing that I can learn to surf or play basketball or learn to cook. There are so many cool, fun things that I can do in the future.

The opportunities in this world are endless so why should I let one of them ruin my day? There is always another opportunity.

Smile and laugh a lot.

I know it sounds simple, but smiling and laughing is one of the main reasons I am happy all the time. I think that there is always something to be happy about from enjoying something that you like doing, being with people that make you happy, to even the simplest things in life like a sunny day or eating one of your favorite foods.

And the best thing about smiling and laughing is that it’s contagious. When people feel your positive energy, no matter what mood they are in, they start to feel the same way.

Research has found that even smiling for just 10 seconds can dramatically reduce stress.

If I’m ever feeling down, the first thing I do is find something to smile or laugh about. I open YouTube and watch comedy or read some articles on The Onion. My day is instantly is turned around.

Smiling and laughing makes a huge difference in overall happiness.

I focus on the things I can control.

I try my best to take things as they are. I know I won’t be able to change everything so why would I get mad/sad about the things that I can’t control?

With focusing on the things I can control, I spend zero time worrying. Worrying is one of the worst things you can do. It wastes energy without any gain. Live your life; whatever happens, happens.

Life is about how you react to what happens to you. If something doesn’t go your way, you’ll be fine, you may just need to take a different route to achieve success.

We just need to go with the flow. Personally, I’ve been trying to relax more and trusting myself to achieve success no matter what happens to me has made all the difference in my happiness.

It won’t matter in 20 years.

You’ll find that a lot of the things that make us mad/sad won’t matter in 20 years. You won’t remember when your favorite NFL team lost or when you failed that test or when that driver cut you off. Most of the daily experiences that ruin our day don’t matter in the long term.

Next time you are mad/sad about something, ask yourself if it will matter in 20 years. You’ll find that most of them won’t.

I’m happy with the way I am.

I think overall, I’m happy because I’m content with how I am. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. I believe in myself. I know that I have a lot of potential. It’s because of my actions that I know I’ll be successful.

No one can change this mindset. I have full trust in myself to get to where I want to be in the future.

And that’s the key. You have to be your biggest fan. Why live a life trying to be someone else?

I do things because I want to do them. I don’t look for anyone’s approval or do things to try to fit in.

Most people go to parties on Saturday nights in college, but I’d rather read or write (as I write this at 11pm on a Saturday night). I don’t care that I’m not doing what everyone else is doing.

I’m doing this because it makes me happy.

And that’s the most important thing. Your happiness. Make happiness a priority. Look forward to getting out of bed everyday. Cherish each day that you are alive because you won’t get these days back.