What Makes You Happy?


Happiness and the pursuit of it has been a recurring theme in my life.

My breakthrough didn’t come until my early twenties when I realized that just like everything else I seek in life, happiness must be worked toward. It has to be a continuous effort, a process of learning, of unlearning, of falling on your face and reminding yourself to gather enough strength to get up again. To fly again. It’s sadness some days, honoring that sadness, piecing yourself together and welcoming wholeness to choose happiness again.

That’s the most important word of them all actually, choose.

You must always choose happy in order to be happy. Without the conscious decision, action does not follow. When I realized that, the world was mine, even if I didn’t yet realize how much it could open itself up for me. Even today though, I find myself wanting to keep learning, keep finding, keep discovering the things that bring me joy. I don’t know everything, but I do know some things.

I recently came across an article written by one of my favorite travel aficionados Jo Franco where she listed her Five Factors of Happiness. I’ve always admired Jo, and the other half of Shut Up & Go Damon Domonique, but mostly Jo. She does her thing on the travel scene, has touched the earth in so many of its places, can speak so many languages fluently, survived a bullet, and just has a generally warm and optimistic outlook on life. Her exuberance is contagious and to come across her post about how she does happiness, I knew I had to take notes because there were gems to be found.

To her, it made sense to distinguish her happiness into five different factors that were the things that came naturally to her to need in life in order to be successful. The five activities, or five factors, that brought her closest to joy and allowing them to be constant fixtures in her world. In light of that, I decided to do the same. This is what I learned:

Happiness for me is…

  • Doing what I love, which looks like having my purpose and my passion align. I am happiest when the work I do is connected to the life I lead and my purpose fuels my livelihood.
  • People I love, which looks like quality over quantity, relationships that give to me what I give to them tenfold. People who mirror my happiness and inspire me with their own individual greatness and motivate me for that too. People who act as a mirror for me.
  • Infusing my life with positive vibes and new adventures. To me that looks like living out of my comfort zone from time to time and welcoming more opportunities for seeing new sights and hearing new sounds.
  • Living.

Going into 2018, I thought I’d be playing the waiting game a little while longer. I’d continue to live at home in hopes of saving more money or pay down my debts for Sallie Mae (now named Navient) faster than the repayment plan that I’m currently on suggested. Maybe return to school. I could continue to wait for life. But then I asked myself what would make me happy, and waiting didn’t. My life was mine and it was time to start acting like it, and not allowing the trivial things to get in a way of the things that brought me joy.

At 26, I’m not where I want to be, but I still see the path much more clearly than I did a year ago. Hell, even six months ago. But one thing stands out the clearest for me, I am happy and it’s because I choose to be. It’s because I fight for it.

But, however lost, I am whole throughout the process of being and creating, of evolving in embodying happiness.

What is happiness to you? What makes you happy?