“Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.” Jim Rohn
Growing up I thought that happiness was something that happened to me, cause and effect. My mom gave me ice cream, I was happy. Unfortunately, this meant my happiness was always dependent on someone else.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product of a life well lived.”
If Happiness is a choice and the by-product of a life well lived, then happiness is not dependent upon someone else, but rather, within my control. Whether a life is well lived largely comes down to the choices one makes, particularly the things on which we choose to focus, how we elect to see the world.
I realized that while I had a readily available mental list of the things that annoy me or frustrate me, I didn’t have the same clarity for the things that make me happy. If happiness is a choice, then I thought it worthwhile to be certain of the things on which I could focus that would make me happy.
It was an enjoyable exercise pondering the particulars of what brings a smile to my face, a sense of contentedness to my soul. After much deliberation, I have come to the following list of 10 things that always make me happy:
1. Babies. Unquestionably, the marvel and wonder of a tiny little human being makes me happy. They are packaged joy. Just looking at a picture of a cute baby makes life a little better.
2. Puppies. Animated balls of fun and frivolity, yet loyal and unconditional in their affection. Even the worst of days gets better when you see the wonderful wag of a happy puppy’s tail.
3. Hawaii. Everyone should have a happy place, a location that makes life more peaceful and calm. For me, that place is Hawaii. A relaxing, tropical island, with great seafood, beautiful weather, and wonderful things to do… which brings me to #4.
4. Scuba diving. For all the amazing places there are to see in the world, it’s shocking to consider that most of the world is under water. Scuba diving provides the opportunity to explore a whole new world, all while drifting weightlessly through the water. One word… peaceful. And amazing, and stunning. One word is just not enough.
5. Sunsets. Every day the most amazing art show takes place in the skies above us. Sadly, few take notice. For me, intentionally watching a sunset is always a moment of contentment and awe, just quietly taking in the incredible beauty that so regularly surrounds me.
6. Guitars make me happy. So many varieties, each with the ability to make beautiful music. If there is a guilty pleasure I want to have, it’s collecting these fine beauties.
7. Pigs. Not sure what it is about them, but they make me smile. Maybe it’s the residual effect from watching Babe, the movie. Regardless, they are funny little creatures that make me happy.
8. Milan is a beautiful city. The food, the majesty of the duomo, The Last Supper by da Vinci, listening to street musicians play near the Galleria at night while eating gelato = happiness.
9. Pie. Growing up there was a lot of cake. Birthdays, graduations, family gatherings… cake. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with pie, particularly cherry pie and banana cream pie. Sometimes it’s the simple things, sometimes the sweet, but pie is definitely one of the things that makes me happy.
10. Finally… fireworks. They never get old. The explosions of light in the night sky, the colors, the movement. Visual happiness. Spectacular every time.
Happiness is a choice, and I realize the more I’m able to focus on the things above, the more likely it is that I’ll be happy. It was nice to realize that my list could go on and on as there are so many things that bring a smile to my face, so long as I’m mindful enough to think about them.
What about you? What are the 10 things that always make you happy? I’d love to hear. A little more happiness never hurt anyone.