The Happy Book

Over the years I've spent a lot of time traveling around the world, and one weird thing I noticed when I'm abroad is that what makes everyone happy is strikingly similar. Across oceans and language barriers, the answers to the question "What makes you happy?" would always rhyme with each other, in a way. Below are some of the sincere, interesting, and thoughtful answers I've collected so far. If you would like to become part of the book, you can use the form below. 

Can you answer "What makes you happy?"

Name *
City, State or City, Country is what we're looking for.
Anywhere around 100-250 words
Standard Submission Agreement *
Do you agree to our Submission Agreement accessible at

Atli Fannar Eðvaldsson, 21, from Akureyri, Iceland

"The little things, like a simple cup  of coffee in a setup you like, finishing a hard task that you feel proud of, enjoying things you feel you’ve truly earned, getting lost in a conversation that you feel deeply about, feeling respected by people you respect, knowing that someone special stands by your side no matter what, when you feel blown away by something unexpected, views that leave you awe struck, a perfect song in a perfect situation."

Hannah Azuonye, 21, from London, England

"Knowing that my family and the people I love are happy. When I find music that moves me into a different universe for a few minutes. Having something to look forward to (without missing out on what’s happening in the present). M&S half chocolate Dutch butter shortcake biscuits with a cup of tea. Finding hidden gems when traveling around new places."

Jordan Johnson, 19, from Erlanger, Kentucky

“Life is a gift, circumstances are irrelevant and happiness is all about perception. I believe that happiness isn’t made, it’s something greater than anything I could possibly imagine. It’s a language I can vaguely understand, but can’t speak. Happiness enjoys company, I rarely find it when I’m alone. It’s always around when I’m a part of something greater than myself. Like any other art form, it’s an expression. I find myself conveying it when my story intertwines with others’. I’ve found happiness within tragedy and tragedy within happiness, two rivals greeting each other as friends. How could I possibly answer?”

Johanne Hedegaard, 22, from Silkeborg, Denmark

“First of all what really makes me happy is spending time with people who means something to me and who I know feel the same. Being able to help them or make a difference, small or big, is the best. Experiencing new things, meeting new people, sucking up their life experiences, views, and dreams is good stuff too. Really good stuff. And then a good cup of coffee and maybe a cake or two. And getting lost in a movie. Candy, good food, a hammock, watching a clear sky night with someone you really like. (Maybe while smoking a cigar and stuff like that.)"

Marie King, 26, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

"My idea of happiness seems to change and evolve all the time. Right now, it means being able to appreciate the free and privileged life I have. To feel good about the way I spend my time and use the voice I've been given. To be aware of what's happening in the world, of social issues, and to know that my actions reflect this awareness. To feel as though I am constantly growing and improving myself. Above all, to be content with each moment and know that I am doing my best in life."

Katrina Schweitzer, 20, from Danbury, Connecticut

"Patrón, hearing people laugh at my jokes, being told "this reminds me of you", mac and cheese, the first hug after not seeing them for months, being accepted, being understood, fireball, phone calls from my brother, cooking with others, Mitch Albom books, Harry Potter, dancing, knowing my friends are doing well, family traditions, long car rides, classic country music, challenging white heteronormativity"

Christian Tanner Flora, 20, from Georgetown, Kentucky

"Happiness is something I constantly pursue, but seems just out of hand. The issue is truly living in the moment. Everything I do is in pursuit of a great future, while the present escapes me. True happiness is when I can live in the moment. Being with friends and family, carefree and content. Hiking in the spring and breathing in the fresh nature air. Happiness is putting a pause on life and taking in the moment."

Bryce Ellis, 20, from Evansville, Indiana

"The perception of happiness differs by the individual. Personally, there are many things that provide me with joy but maintaining happiness is the real challenge. Many people seek to steal your happiness with harsh words and actions. Make sure that you remember that the opinion of others doesn't matter over the course of your life. Don't let others steal your personal happiness."

Elizabeth Knapp, 17, from Leesburg, Virginia

"A few things that make me happy are coming home and seeing my dog after a long day, jamming out to a really great song, making someone smile or laugh, finishing a long book, the first bite of really good food, getting praise for something I'm proud of, taking afternoon naps...the list goes on and on! Happiness, for me, is always found in little moments and can sometimes be hard to recognize, but it's important to stop and be mindful and say "in this moment, I'm happy." Collect those moments. Think of them often."

Jacob Jennings, 20, from Alexandria, Kentucky

"Happiness to me is when all other struggles in life are meaningless or forgotten during that period of time. Happiness to me is being with family, playing sports and being with my current girlfriend whom I intend to marry. During these times nothing else matters, all of the struggles in life seem to take a backseat and are the least of my worries. Do what makes you happy, and to me, these things make me happy. It is different to every person. My advice to happiness is stated above. "Do what makes you happy," and the first step is to find out what that is. That is the key to happiness in my eyes."

Clive Harvey, 57, from Bouin, France

“Watching people enjoy a meal you have prepared, watching my children grow into adults and experience life, having family and friends around me, being able to let my dog Sam roam free without a lead and know that he is safe. And of course winning at snooker!”

Trevor Harvey, 67, from Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England

“My family makes me happy, my wife, children, and grandchildren. Their happiness is important to me. Spending time and experiences with friends and family. Traveling and walking, the challenge of successful climbing to the top of a hill. Playing music and listening to music. I’m happy to be retired and being free to fulfill my aspirations working often made me happy especially when a Job was successful. I believe I’m a happy person particularly at the present time.”

Ann Harvey, 65, from Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England

“Happiness for me comes in moments, snapshots of time. I like to remember times that have warmed my heart—seeing my son for the first time as a baby, my husband’s smile when we were taking our wedding vows. Happiness to me is contentment not to keep searching for more and more. Happiness is also good health. Happiness is to be ‘at home’ in one’s own company, peaceful. Sitting on a hilltop or watching the sun over the waves of the ocean bring me a feeling of happiness.”

Lesley Walton, 56, from Bouin, France

“Happiness for me is the simple pleasures in life. – family, friends, particularly with a coffee or the odd glass of wine. My two year old granddaughter is the “apple of my eye” and a little smile from her makes me so, so happy. Some people are always searching for more – me, I’m happy with my lot!”

Sahira and Ahmed, 19 & 26, from Catalonia, Spain

“Happiness has many meanings. For us, to wake up together in the morning, going to the supermarket to buy ice cream, to see each other smile without saying a word, walking the streets while holding hands, eating sushi and seeing how it was made, learning things about our religion, planning trips, a foot massage before bedtime, liking our careers… our happiness began November 1st and will last forever…”

Nicola De Rose, 32, from Como, Italy

“Happiness? What a beautiful word… it’s difficult to find the more you search for it. But in my experience, I can tell you that happiness is seeing the empty plates people left after eating the food I prepared. That sense of gratification in their eyes after eating is a unique feeling. In the end, food is life. Not less than a year ago, I realized that I wasn’t happy. After I saw the smile on my niece’s face. Here! My happiness was born in those eyes."

Olivia Brown, 20, from Florence, Kentucky

"Family, friends, protection, love, my dog, work, the above things are all practical things that make me happy. But if I had to tell someone how to obtain happiness I would tell them that the first step is to turn to Christ. Focus on Him, keep his commands, and he will give you the desires of your heart! - James 1:2-4"

Jamie Jackson, 39, from Cincinnati, Ohio

"Existence, and simply being a part of it."

Andrew Jackson, 29, from Cincinnati, Ohio

"What makes me happy? Seeing someone's honest genuine smile. I love catching strangers intimate moments, especially their smiles. I can have the worst day of my life but when my husband smiles I forget all about it. In the fleeting moment of a person's smiles you can remember what life is all about, the hope and love a smile brings can change the world."