Discovering What Makes You Happy And Why

By Ty Bailey|Updated October 5, 2022

You Can Find Happiness And Live Your Best Life

Happiness is an emotion we've all felt at one time or another. The things we love and enjoy may even change over time, depending on our interests, where we are in our lives, and the experiences we've had along the way. Sometimes seeing these changes take place may be confusing when you realize something that once brought you joy no longer does, and maybe you're even unsure of what might really make you happy in your day to day life anymore. As we grow and change, so does our view of the world and so do our opinions and preferences. So you may be asking yourself: are you happy? And if you aren't sure whether or not you are, what are some ideas of things you can look into or do to determine what may bring back those feelings of joy now that your life looks a little bit different than it did before?

Common Sources Of Happiness

Often, a person's lifestyle will line up with their interests and therefore the things that make them the happiest in life. Sometimes though, they've gone down a certain path of life choices and certain goals, thinking it would make them happy, only to realize later on that they feel like something is missing. Here are some of the most common sources of happiness in a person's life, and maybe even a few extra ideas for those unsure of what they really want out of their own.


Most people have a hobby they enjoy, whether it's something like golf or football, arts, and crafts, singing, playing a musical instrument, or painting. Not all hobbies have to be of a creative or athletic nature, and there are plenty of people who would rather spend every last second of their free time reading or playing video games.

Hobbies allow people to have an outlet for their frustrations, their creativity, and self-expression. Sometimes it's nice just to have a task to distract you from the day to day stresses of life or to help you detach from everything around you and indulge in watching a movie or reading a book about some faraway land completely different compared to your own.

Sports and physical activities like martial arts and various exercise programs provide a number of physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and ample opportunities for setting goals or pushing your body to its limits to reduce your stress levels. This way, you are developing great bonds to further benefit your day-to-day life with friendly relationships.

Creative outlets such as writing, painting, drawing, making music, and other activities are a great way for a person to express themselves. These can express one's joy, sadness, anger, and many other emotions. Sometimes these creative hobbies can even lead to a profession, as one can realize what he loves most and what he is good at. Storytellers can write to their heart's content and possibly even get published.

Artists have many opportunities to illustrate books, create beautiful paintings, and design everything from clothing and fashion items to architecture, business, and website graphics. Even those with an interest in gardening and landscaping can create amazing works of art outdoors and be skilled enough to find themselves being hired for their talents in making the world a more beautiful and colorful place to live in. People with certain health conditions can even benefit from hobbies that are tedious and require extreme focus (such as piecing together puzzles or models), taking their attention away from any anxieties or other symptoms that may otherwise impair their quality of life.

The list of potential hobbies a person may have is nearly endless, and there is usually something out there for everyone that they can enjoy and happily spend their free time participating in.


Animals have long been known to bring joy to their owner's lives, as well as improve mental health and sometimes even physical health conditions. Most animals, especially those commonly found as pets, provide people with an endless source of love, affection, loyalty, and companionship. Studies have even been conducted showing that the camaraderie between a human and their beloved pet has improved mental health conditions by providing the person afflicted with a sense of security, stability, and routine in their lives. Having pets can also help you to get out in the world and meet others that enjoy cats, dogs, reptiles, or whatever your pet may be, therefore allowing you to socialize more and make friends with common interests and similar lifestyles as you.

By simply interacting with and loving your pet of choice, the brain releases oxytocin (sometimes nicknamed the "love hormone"), which causes you to develop a strong bond with them. This combined with petting or playing with your pet reduces anxiety and stress levels provides comfort and is a fantastic distraction from anything that may be making your day a bit less pleasant.

You Can Find Happiness And Live Your Best Life

Pets provide structure to their owner's lives, as well as all of the benefits of their company on a regular basis. They also encourage their owners to be physically healthy by exercising with them, either by playing with them or taking them out for walks.

In more serious situations, some pets are actually trained service and emotional support animals (usually dogs) that not only provide the love and companionship of a normal pet, but are also equipped with the training and skills to help their owner manage their physical and mental health issues and be there for them 24/7 in the event of a health-related emergency.

For those unable to have pets due to financial reasons or housing restrictions, volunteering at a local shelter may also give them the opportunity to show love and play with animals during their free time, reaping the benefits of animal interaction while also helping socialize pets that are up for adoption.


Many people find joy in their family lives. Though some families may be dysfunctional at times, having healthy relationships with those related to you can lead to some of the deepest and most supportive bonds there are. Spending time with family is a great way to indulge in those feelings of closeness and familiarity that only those who have grown up together can relate to.

As people grow older, they often create families of their own through marriages or having children, and many people have lifelong goals of doing so, regardless of the other factors in their lives. Finding someone to settle down with that you can love and trust for the rest of your days is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and this is only trumped by the joy of having children. Though producing an offspring may not be for everyone, for those that aspire to be mothers or fathers, nothing can top the moments of finding out you're expecting, seeing your child being born into the world, and watching your little one grow from a baby to a toddler to a teen to a well-rounded adult. It is by no means an easy task to raise a child, but the benefits and the happiness and love you gain from having children far outweigh the long nights and moments of frustration and exhaustion. Eventually, it all comes full circle and your children may even have children of their own, only further expanding the amount of love and close bonds you'll get to experience, and making your life much more fulfilling along the way.


People can also find joy in spending their time doing volunteer work. There are so many people and animals in need in the world, and there are plenty of opportunities to reach out and help those that may be unable to care for themselves, as well as opportunities to help improve the environment around us.

Many individuals take great pleasure in volunteering at local animal shelters and assisting in socializing the animals waiting for adoption and helping to care for them until they find their forever home. This time helps the animals that may have been abandoned or abused to learn how to play and interact with others and learn to trust human beings, bettering their chances at adjusting to a safe and happy home once they've been adopted. (And who doesn't find great joy in getting to play with adorable kittens and puppies when given the chance?)

When it comes to helping fellow human beings, there are numerous opportunities available for helping other people. The most commonly thought of example is volunteering in nursing home settings, whether it's for socializing with those who may not have any families of their own (or their relatives may be too far away to visit consistently), or sometimes even offering their talents to help entertain the individuals housed at an assisted living facility, such as performing with musical instruments or singing for them. There are also "Big Brother Big Sister" programs that allow people to devote their time to mentoring, encouraging, and spending time with children between the ages of 6 and 18 and from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. These programs focus on preventing risky behaviors and bad choices and promoting self-confidence, self-esteem, and motivation during crucial developmental years.

There are also ways of volunteering in various manners to support and raise money for different charities, help out at local schools and libraries or parks, preparing meals for people in need, and giving back by tutoring or coaching students and young athletes.

Without having to be involved with others so much, people can also help in their communities and environments by picking up trash and litter from roadsides and public areas and taking care of the natural areas around them that are sustaining the local plant and animal life in their communities.

Religion And Spirituality

Many people find comfort in their religious or spiritual beliefs. These concepts can provide a significant sense of purpose in a person's life, as well as provide them with goals and aspirations surrounding self-improvement and sometimes even the world around them. Having this structure and feeling as if they have answers for the things that happen in life allows a person to have a strong sense of security and therefore joy even in the face of rougher days.

Those with less religious and more spiritual beliefs and habits generally engage in meditative practices and other activities that rely on self-reflection and self-care. The people that do these behaviors on a regular basis develop a great understanding of themselves, their beliefs, their minds, the world around them, and their wants and needs in life. Having the opportunity to analyze all of these factors boosts a person's happiness because they can become truly aware of what they want out of life. They can make life choices accordingly, helping them to gain more of what they want from their days and leading them in the right direction for more long-term joy compared to those who may be uncertain about themselves, their futures, and their interests versus what they feel they "should" be doing anyway.


Self-care is important in bettering most people's lives by allowing them to set aside time to do the things that make them feel better physically and mentally. Some people may view self-care as having the opportunity to indulge in a warm bath soak and relax, or maybe take the time to work on their appearance (such as getting their hair or nails done) to feel better about themselves. Self-care can also mean getting a massage to reduce tension, having alone time and silence to reset with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, or taking a walk and getting some exercise.

The purpose of self-care is to step back from all the rest of your recurring responsibilities and take the time to do the things that improve your mental and physical health, refreshing you and preparing you to return to all of those other activities with renewed energy and drive. Those that set aside time to care for themselves are much happier than those who allow themselves to get burnt out and run down, exhausted from all that they have to do on a daily basis.

Learning Who You Are As An Individual

The most important part of figuring out what will truly make you happy in life is digging deep and learning who you really are inside. Many people have a stylized idea of themselves or feel so obligated to make certain choices and reach certain goals that they neglect to truly look inside and find out what really calls to them and what genuinely brings joy to their lives.

Taking the time to get to know yourself and admit what you really want versus what you think you want or need is a necessary step in figuring out everything you need to know to start making positive changes in your life and being the happiest you can possibly be. Sometimes it can take months or years of soul searching to do this, but being honest with yourself and those around you is the best possible way to get on track for living your best life and enjoying all of your days.

Seeking Further Help

There are numerous ways for a person to find happiness in their lives and make the changes necessary to become a much more satisfied and joyful person. If you're unsure of what those things may be for you and feel like counseling and professional guidance may help you to figure those factors out, BetterHelp has trained and licensed professionals that are just a click away, ready and available to help you on your own schedule and from the comfort of your own home.

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