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Family Caregiving for Seniors - SageCorner Blog

Is Happiness "Just a Few of My Favorite Things?"

by Lori Paterno on Monday, October 19, 2015 3:26 PM

Happiness. This is really the big goal in life, right? Sadly, for many people, happiness eludes them most days. Sure, almost everyone will say that happiness is all they want; but, their ability to obtain happiness is often different. Why? For one thing, we tend to give happiness lip service. While we say we want to be happy, we have a tendency to actually do things that go against our happiness. We choose status, money, pride, “being right,” or sheer laziness over happiness all the time!   One author wrote about her experiences with hospice and how people who were dying said one of their their largest regrets in life was not allowing themselves to be happier.

julie andrews favorite things

Others have their minds set to a “negative” channel. The glass is always empty, the grass is always greener somewhere else, there is always a dark cloud, and a big shoe waiting to drop on the negative person.

Then, there are also the folks who are living in time machines - either in the past or the future. Regret, guilt, and nostalgia occupy the days of those who seem to dwell in the past like ghosts of who they could be now. For others, it is always the “next big thing” that is the focus. They will only be happy when: they get the job, the house, the love relationship, the money, the weight loss, the perfect relationship, or some other future goal. When the future goal or condition is met, the happiness they were hoping for is often short-lived. In fact, when some people “lose the weight” or “get the house,” they may actually become more depressed because the anticipated boost in happiness is rarely as awesome as they were counting on.

So What Makes Us Happy?

Turns out, happiness may be a simple pursuit of many little things in a daily life that add up. What researchers and others understand is that happiness resides firmly (and only) in the present moment. This spring, a British health company conducted a survey of over 2000 people to find out what makes for a happy moment. Like in The Sound of Music, the list of 50 items reads like the song “These are a Few of My Favorite Things.”  Here are the top 12. Who would have guessed just changing your bed linens would come in number one?

Top 12 Answers for “What Makes You Happy?”

  • Sleeping in a freshly made bed
  • Feeling the sun on your face
  • People saying 'thank you' or a random act of kindness from a stranger
  • Finding money in unexpected places
  • Having time to myself
  • Laughing so hard it hurts
  • Snuggling on the sofa with a loved one
  • Freshly made bread
  • Doing something for others
  • The clean feeling after a shower
  • When your favorite song comes on the radio
  • Finding a bargain

While this is an interesting list of a small sample of British citizens, these things may not necessarily make your happy list! So, what does your list of favorite things look like? Make a list of your top 10 pleasant and happy moments and try to find ways for you and others you love to get more of them. And, since “doing something for others” made the top 12, maybe you can help your friends and family by making some of the items on their lists come true too!


Blogs Parent Separator Lori Paterno
Lori Paterno

Caregiving is hard work. This blog is designed to help caregivers with insights, practical ideas, and hopefully some humor along the way.


Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education.

Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education. 
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