Happy shiny people: the things that make you happy

Daisy BlacklockYouGovLabs writer
July 17, 2012, 1:22 PM GMT+0

Remember when David Cameron wanted to assess the wellbeing of the nation through a “happiness index”?

One of the main hurdles the PM’s idea faced – and indeed, as Labour encountered with their own attempts in office at measuring it – was that happiness, as a concept, entity or sensation, is somewhat difficult (or nigh near impossible) to define. A fact that didn’t escape you in Labs, either.

It is, however, much easier to pinpoint the things that lift our mood, keep us content, and stop us from slipping into the gloam, so it was about these things that we got you talking about in Labs, as International Happiness Day came and went.

We asked those of you taking part:

  • First, to tell us how happy or unhappy you were presently. A good two-thirds of you sharing in Labs said you were either fairly, very or extremely happy at the moment.
  • Secondly, to follow this up, what it is that brings you happiness, or lightness of being, day-to-day. Here’s what you said below.

What makes you happy? The Labs top 5:

1. Relationships with family and friends

By some margin, the main source of happiness for PoliticsLabbers was their family and friends – the intimacy of those relationships, the backbone they serve for your general contentment, how they allow you to be yourself, that they’re fit and healthy, and that they're 'yours':

"When the family are all well" JN

"Communicating with my friends and family" Carly, Cambridgeshire

“Good family relationships, friendships and a good sex life” Vince, Coventry

2. LOVE: for my partner, and their love for me

Again, along similar lines to the former, love featured prominently in responses as a source of happiness – often for the stability of that love. Where people said their other halves gave them happiness, they often spoke in terms of the luck they felt in having found them:

“40 years of happy marriage to a wonderful man. Living in the Yorkshire Dales. The British countryside. Books, music, art, good television. Cats” Anon!

“Spending time with my boyfriend and our son. Nights out with my friends. Chocolate!!” Becky G, Hampshire

“My fiancé Terrex makes me very happy. I am saving my money to get enough to go and visit him and I am saving for a passport as well” Helen UK

3. "A sense of purpose”

Beyond the significant relationships in your lives, that you have a sense of purpose, or seek fulfilment through ‘finding your calling’, giving back, and feeling worthwhile, was the third most regularly-given source of personal happiness you cited:

“Feeling appreciated at work or at home. Seeing my loved one happy” Anon

“I am happy because I do what I love” Osmi A, Manchester

“Being an active and respected part of the community” Anon

4. (Financial) security

Whether you had finally got to a point where you were able to live free of money-induced panic, or were looking forward to the day it arrives on your doorstep, being free of financial worries (or the prospect of it) makes you very happy, it seems:

“Being able to pay the bills and having money left over to treat my children” Anon

“Being able to retire now (68) with a sufficient income and help for my disabilities. A bit of sunshine and less rain” Anon

“It would make me happy if I didn’t have money problems” Bill C, Lincolnshire

5. Personal freedom

Whether you had just entered retirement, have regained a handle on what you want from life, being free to pursue what matters to you, or of the stress that used to blight you… feeling ‘liberated’, or in charge of your own destiny, was the fifth most common happiness-boosting factor you highlighted:

“Having an inner quietness so I feel relaxed, at peace with myself which allows me to roll over some of the rubbish that comes with daily life” Linda, Glos

“I am not part of the rat race any longer. I am extremely content with what I have i.e. family, job, friends” Lynda, Southend on Sea

“No worries” Richard C

What makes you happy? Please feel free to divulge in Disqus below.