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What Makes You Happy?

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Before we dive straight into what brings you happiness, let’s consider for a moment: What actually is happiness? Although we’re all familiar with concepts of happiness and well-being, defining them can be difficult. Is it about living your best life, being self-aware, those fleeting moments of contentment or joy, having a purpose, or maybe a mix of these and more? And in a world filled with chaos, problems, and constant busyness, can we still find happiness?

Happiness is, of course, deeply personal and unique to each of us. What brings joy to one person, may not have the same effect on another. And to make things even more complicated, what makes you happy one day, may stress you out tomorrow. So while we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, experts suggest there are some common factors which contribute to happiness and well-being.

In upcoming posts, we’ll delve into each of those elements using the PERMA+ Model, a framework for understanding and enhancing well-being developed by psychologist Martin Seligman. But before we jump into the details, we have a 5-minute exercise for you.

Grab a pen and paper and draw a line down the centre of the page, making two columns. Label one column “happy” and the other “stress”. Underneath each heading, jot down anything you can think of that makes you feel happy or causes you stress. For small business owners and those of us who work from home, it’s important to recognise you bring your complete self to work. So when you’re making your list, don’t limit what brings you happiness or stress to just your work life. Take a moment to consider every part of your life.

For instance, under “happy” you might write things like “the scent of freshly cut grass,” “popping in your Airpods and cranking up your favourite tunes” or “sharing a coffee with a friend” - anything that makes you feel good or brings a smile to your face. Under stress, things like “cash flow,” “not having enough time to spend with friends” or “competing project deadlines” might appear - anything that detracts from those general feelings of happiness and well-being.

Now, take a look at your list. Do you notice any common themes in each of the two columns? For example, do you notice that many of your happy things revolve around nature or relationships? Or do the things that are stressing you hinge on not meeting goals or giving you a sense of achievement?

Keep your list handy - we’ll revisit it again soon as we explore the different aspects of happiness and well-being.

Funded by the State Government of Victoria, Business Victoria, Mental Wellbeing of Businesses Grant Round 2.

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