Thomas Jefferson

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What Really Makes People Happy?

Posted 05/19/2021 by Holden Knostman

A group of happy friends smiles for a memorable photo. photo courtesy of

Happiness can be attributed to just about anything for any specific person, however, giving, appreciating, and relating are three crucial components in obtaining and maintaining happiness.

What really makes people happy? Is it financial freedom, making a meaningful impact on the world, or being with friends and family? While there is some debate on what truly makes a person happy, the answer differs from person to person because we all have different things that make us happy. For the purpose of this essay, 3 steps, that apply to all people, will be used to determine what generally makes a person happy.

Many students believe that getting a good job that pays well will lead to their greatest happiness. What many students may not see is the hours of commitment they need to acquire that job, the schooling they need to attend, the money poured into education, the time sacrificed away from loved ones to work, all to wear your happiness down with stress and overworking yourself at your new, unenjoyable, high-paying job. Instead, I believe it is important for a person to find a job that is meaningful to them. Ask any successful person and they will tell you that by working for the cause they are committed to and working on the thing they love doing ultimately leads to their happiness.  

For starters, I believe being happy can be obtained and maintained in three simple steps: giving, appreciating, and relating. Focusing on these three steps can help you forge your greatest happiness. To start, giving can promote a person’s happiness. To most, buying yourself ice cream may make you think you will be happier than buying somebody else ice cream. Ice cream is tasty; it is your money and you are hungry. Sure, if you buy yourself ice cream, it will make you a little happy; however, buying somebody else ice cream will make you much happier. Studies show that a person feels more happy knowing they provided somebody else with a nice surprise. By buying somebody ice cream, you have made their day.  Knowing this, people will ultimately be happier because they understand they have made somebody else’s day better. Buying ice cream for yourself most likely would not make your day. 

Now that giving is covered, let’s consider appreciating. Appreciating what you have, the people you are surrounded with, and everything you experience in a day is a great way to be happy. Knowing that you are lucky to have food, water, and shelter everyday is a great start. Unfortunately, not everybody in the world gets food and water every day, not everyone in the world has a safe place to sleep at night, and not everyone has a loving family. Appreciate your true luxuries; they are not something money can buy. 

Finally, let’s focus on  relating. This term refers to relationships and everything to do with them. To begin, relationships make us who we are. The people you surround yourself with ultimately shape you. Relationships may be the greatest contributing factor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer. Remember the importance of relationships, and do your best to cherish and strengthen yours so that you can be as happy as possible.

Ultimately, everyone has different views on what will make them happy, but in my perspective, giving, appreciating, and relating are the three most important factors to a person’s happiness. What makes you happy? Do you think you will make any changes that will benefit your happiness?