I spent much of my young adult years trying to figure out “my thing” in life. Ya know, that one thing that makes me happy and would continue to bring fulfillment and joy to my life forever more?
Was it performing at open mic nights? Writing poetry? Salsa dancing? Maybe I was a musical theater enthusiast or perhaps I was meant to be a world traveler?
I enjoyed all of those things, but none of them felt like they were “my thing”. They all seemed to fall short.
I had the idea that there had to be this one thing that makes me happy and it needed to be something grand. It had to light me up inside and ignite a passion in me.
But what if it could be more simple? What if I didn’t have to find that one big thing that makes me happy?
Instead, what if it was a whole bunch of little things that brought me joy and the cumulative effect of all of them together is what would make me happy?
In this post, learn why being able to find joy in the simple things in life will contribute to a greater sense of overall happiness and why creating your own happy list is important. I also share my list of 101 simple things that make me happy and hope you’ll find inspiration to create one of your own!
What things make me feel happy?
I remember the day a few years back when my husband asked me this simple question –
“What makes you happy?”
I had recently exited the baby/toddler years of being a stay-at-home mom and was trying to figure out what I would do next. My youngest would be starting preschool and I was contemplating returning to my former career, despite the fact that I had always found it unfulfilling, or going down a completely new path.
This lack of direction left me feeling depressed and down on myself, struggling with my sense of identity and purpose.
Who am I outside of being a mom? What do I like to do? What makes me happy?
I had a really hard time answering any of those questions and realized then and there that I practically had no margin for what brought me happiness in my everyday life.
Maybe I had forgotten, but more honestly, I don’t think I ever really knew in the first place.
What brings me joy?
It took some time for me to figure out what makes me happy. I did actually return to my former career for a short time before eventually losing my job during COVID.
This was the best thing that could have happened to me because it was during this time at home that I finally managed to figure out what brings me joy in life and more importantly, how to infuse those things into my everyday.
It was also during this time that I realized that it was okay if I hadn’t found “my thing” and that the choice to feel happy was mine.
Feeling happy had so much to do with cultivating a positive mindset and I could do this by learning to bring joy into my daily routine through all of the things I enjoyed – like writing, exercising, reading, music, and spending time outdoors.
I didn’t need to find that one big thing to find true happiness. I simply needed to look to the small and simple things that brought me joy and learn how to weave them all together to create a happy life that I enjoyed living each day.
How do you find things that make you happy?
It’s not always easy to figure out what makes you happy in life. Sometimes it’s not that obvious and requires a little self-reflection and brainstorming on your part.
One of the best ways to get started is to create your own list of things that make you happy. It may be a mix of material things, activities you enjoy doing, as well as the simple pleasures in life and small things for which you’re grateful.
What are 5 things that make me happy?
If it feels difficult to make a long list of what makes you happy, just try to simply think of 5 things to start.
You can also try some stream-of-consciousness journaling in which you write down everything that comes to mind when thinking about what makes you happy. Don’t hesitate or judge anything that comes up for you – just write it all down. You may find that it’s really not so hard to come up with more than 5 things!
For more suggestions and tips on how to create your own personal list of what makes you happy, check out my post “How to Create a ‘What Makes You Happy List’”, in which I share some additional advice and a few go-to things from my own happy list.
101 Simple Things That Make Me Happy
But in case that’s not enough for you, I wanted to provide you with this massive list of all my favorite things that make me happy. It was also a personal challenge to myself to come up with this list!
I hope it will inspire you to come up with your own list of things that make you happy, or at least, to find a good amount of simple joys in my list that you also enjoy!
Keep this list (or your own) to refer back to whenever you’re having a bad day and need a little pick-me-up, or in tough times when your mental health could use a boost. Having a list of happy things is a great way to lift our spirits whenever it’s needed.
- Waking up early for my morning routine
- Journaling for clarity
- The quiet of morning
- Taking a long walk
- Listening to and learning from podcasts
- Sitting on my favorite porch swing (my happy place!)
- Reading for personal growth
- Riding my bike around the neighborhood
- Keeping an uncluttered house
- Writing outside on a beautiful day
- Dessert after dinner
- Smelling that “spa” scent (this essential oil balm smells just like it!)
- Hearing one of my favorite songs on the radio
- Taking a break from social media
- Being outside in the fresh air
- Curling up with a good book
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Hearing good news from a loved one or friend
- Road trips with my family
- Catching up with old friends
- Crushing my to-do list
- The feeling of a clean house
- Quiet time to myself
- Date nights with my hubby
- A long hot bath on a chilly night
- Lying on a freshly made bed
- Quality time with my kids
- Having a good hair day
- Enjoying a hot shower while listening to a relaxing playlist
- Extra creamy ice cream (mint chocolate chip is my favorite!)
- Cozy blankets touching my face
- A family bike ride
- Lazy Sunday mornings
- Intimate conversations with friends
- Helping someone work through a problem
- Keeping up my healthy eating habits
- The smell of my children’s heads (they each have their own unique scent, despite using the same shampoo!)
- Riding my Peloton
- Mindset work – I love learning how my brain works and making it “work” for me
- The feeling that comes after completing a hard workout
- New Kids on the Block (yes, still – don’t laugh at me!)
- Watching the snow fall and feeling cozy inside
- Early morning walks on the beach
- The comfort of red wine in the winter
- The refreshment of white wine in the summer
- Listening to 90’s “chick” music (Alanis, Jewel, Sarah Mclachlan, The Cranberries – I love them all!)
- Live music events – concerts, open mic nights, cover bands
- Beach vacations
- Getting really good sleep
- Seeing my children excited and happy
- Bingeing my favorite show
- Watching a movie by myself
- Enjoying a self-care Saturday
- Cooking a meal that my kids love (it’s rare)
- Moms’ night out with girlfriends
- Enjoying a spicy margarita with chips and guac!
- The feeling of grass on my bare feet in summer
- When summer turns to autumn
- Watching my boys play soccer
- Having the house all to myself
- Those first few sips of hot coffee in the morning
- Lounging by a pool at a beautiful resort hotel
- Hearing my kids’ laughter
- Chai lattes in the fall
- A crisp autumn morning
- Sweater weather
- Having my hair stroked or played with
- A back rub from my hubby
- Snuggling with my kids
- Sunshine and warm weather (I hate the cold!)
- Feeling grounded after yoga
- Going on a family hike
- Feeling appreciated by my family
- Trying a new restaurant
- A warm breeze against my skin on a summer night
- Snatching all the Twix bars from my kids’ halloween candy (even better when they start offering them up to me)
- Looking through old photos of happy memories
- Candles (specifically fall or winter scents)
- Waking up before the alarm goes off and feeling energized
- Reflecting on my goals and progress
- Traveling and exploring a new destination
- The first sleep in your own bed after a vacation
- Warm, fresh bread
- Accomplishing something meaningful to me
- Waking up before the alarm and realizing there’s more time to sleep
- Putting on cozy socks on a chilly day
- Birds chipping outside my window
- Watching the leaves on the trees rustling in the breeze
- A cheerful greeting from a stranger
- Getting a compliment
- The smell of hazelnut coffee
- Movie theater popcorn and candy
- Delicious thin-crust pizza
- Seeing my feet in a clear blue ocean
- Listening to songs that bring forth memories
- Finding money in unexpected places
- Feeling an authentic connection with someone new
- Sunshine on my shoulders
- Wearing flip-flops
- When it stays light until after 9 pm in the summer
- Positive feedback and comments on my blog posts (drop one below!)
What makes you feel happy?
Whether you take inspiration from my list of 101 things that make me happy or generate your own ideas entirely, I hope you take a few moments to reflect on what makes you happy in life.
As you can see, it doesn’t have to be anything big. Being able to find joy in the simple, little things is what can really make a difference in your overall feelings of happiness.
AND making a list of those little things is a wonderful act of self-care. Think of it like always having your own personal happy list in your back pocket. It’s ready for you to whip out whenever you need to uplift your mood, even if you don’t literally carry it with you.
Now please do us all a favor and leave a comment sharing something that makes YOU feel happy. It may be just what someone else needs to see today. ♥️
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.