Get online and look up ‘happiest place to live.’ You’ll find different outcomes year to year, but also definition by definition.The same applies if you look up “happiest careers” or anything with the word happiest in it. Lots of great inspiration, but there is one flaw – the information is always about happiness that is “out there” – meaning, you have to find it.

Instead of having complete strangers define happiness for us, how about defining happiness for ourselves. What pleases you may not please me. And yet, we somehow allow others to tell us what should make us happy.

In 2013, Denmark was listed as the happiest place to live. It’s a beautiful country, but I know several people who would rather die than live through a winter with so little sunlight… or deal with the fact that nearly everyone smokes cigarettes! On the other hand, who wouldn’t want to live in Hawaii, right? A lot of people will tell you that living in “paradise” 24/7 can become a monotonous experience, not to mention that not everyone likes tropical climates.

Living in an enormous home would bring happiness to some while others are completely content living with ‘just enough’ in a tiny apartment.

Receiving a gift of expensive jewelry gives would give some goose bumps while others would only shrug and wonder when they would ever wear it and if it could be returned.

While one person is elated to climb a mountain that they’ve never scaled before, another would reply ‘are you kidding?’ to the invitation to hike.

The point is, there is no right or wrong answer to ‘what makes you happy?’ The problem is, some people never stop to ask themselves this question. We get so busy running through our lives that we don’t stop to ask ourselves, or our loved ones, ‘what brings happiness?’ We tend to attach happiness to things we are ‘supposed to’ be happy about (mostly materialistic things).

Are you putting yourself through unnecessary stress because you’re trying to accomplish something for someone that they don’t even want?

A couple was nearing divorce when they sat down with a counselor. The husband complained, “All she does is work. When she comes home at night, instead of spending time with me, she turns to her laptop and put in two or three more hours of work. I usually fall asleep without her in bed.” She turned to him and replied, “But I’m doing this for you. I have to work those extra hours so that I can earn my bonus so that I can buy you that new boat you want.” He replied, “What boat?”

Too often, we assume that we know what someone wants. We assume that what we are doing is what is expected of us. It’s important to stop and ask others and ourselves ‘what would make us happy?’ Often, it is the simplification of our lives that would bring happiness. There is an expression, ‘Do you own things or do the things own you?’

Another happiness-crushing habit that we has is believing that happiness will come… tomorrow (“when I find my perfect mate, when I finally climb to the top of the corporate ladder, when I lose weight…”).

Happiness is a choice. Make it NOW.

Some people find happiness by volunteering, others by recreating, spending more time with family, getting regular exercise, working on a hobby, reading, taking classes, getting involved in the community, learning, exploring, traveling… And still, there are some that love to make money. They love to work and it works for them and their lives. So stop for a moment and take a deep breath and ask yourself: What will make ME happy? You may be surprised to hear the answer!

And then go do it. You deserve happiness!

Better and Better,

Laura Silva Quesada
and the Team