Happiness (A2)

What makes you happy? Maybe it's not what you think ...


Do the preparation exercise first and then read the story. If you find it too easy, try the next level. After reading, do the exercises to check your understanding.

Do you know what makes you happy or do you just think you know? At first, these two questions look the same. If you think something makes you happy, then it makes you happy. You know yourself, don’t you?

Write a list of all the things that make you happy. How many of them are fun? Most of them? So, if you spend your time doing all these fun things, you’ll be really happy, won’t you?

Well, maybe not. For most people, fun isn’t enough for real happiness. Paul Dolan wrote a book called Happiness by Design. He thinks happiness comes from both pleasure and purpose. If most of the things on your list are about pleasure, that is what you think makes you happy. But you also need activities with purpose.

We usually know if something is fun, but we don’t know what brings meaning. For example, most people think air pilots have jobs with clear purpose. They fly hundreds of people all over the world. But they spend a lot of time in boring hotels and airports and they do the same things hundreds of times. Those activities might not bring meaning – and they’re probably not fun. So pilots also need to find pleasure and purpose in their work and life.

There are different ways we can find purpose in things. Some activities might be motivating because they work for the good of people and the world around us. Or what you do might help a team you’re working in.

If you’re a student, your ‘job’ is studying and passing exams. It’s easy to do well in subjects you like, but subjects you don’t like are less motivating. They’re not fun for you, but you have to study them so you need to find purpose. An A in a subject you hate won’t help the world. But can you be part of a study team with friends? Each person can study one part until they understand it and then teach it to the rest of the group. The purpose becomes helping the team.

Go back to your list of things that make you happy. How many of them are activities that bring purpose? Can you add any? Remember, some activities might bring both pleasure and purpose.

Now you need to design a happy life. Paul Dolan believes people should  ‘decide, design, do’. First decide what brings you pleasure and/or purpose – that means your two lists. Then, don’t just think about these activities, fill your life with them. For example, you might love riding a bike but never have time to do it. So, ride to school or the library or the shops. If you live too far away, take your bike on the bus or train. Get off early and ride the rest of the way. If you go in the car, put it in the back, stop a few kilometres away and ride the rest. Or move somewhere you can ride more. Some parts of our lives are good or bad luck, but we can still design the rest to make more happiness.

Nicola Prentis


What makes you happy?

Average: 4 (2 votes)
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Submitted by FlowerQueen on Sat, 01/21/2023 - 13:21

Here is a list of things that make me happy:
1. Spendig time with friends and family 2. Read a good / my favourite book 3. Watch my favourite movies 4. Get present and gifts 5. Get invited to parties 6. Eat delicious food 7. Manage something amazing

Submitted by Juaco on Wed, 04/14/2021 - 00:19

¿Do you know what makes you happy or do you just think you know? Yes I know because I make everything a happiness for me. You know yourself, right? Yes, since I know my emotions or the type of person I am or my tastes, etc. How many of them are funny?, most of them? All because in one way or another they make me feel special when I do it. You'll be very happy, right? Sure they all make me happy. But can you be part of a study team with friends? Yes, since it is fun to support us all. How many of them are activities that have a purpose? Can you add any? They all have a purpose for us such as smiling or reflecting on many things such as being with my family or being happy for the life I have.

Submitted by Juaco on Tue, 04/13/2021 - 20:48

What makes you happy? 1. Be with my family. 2. Play with my friends. 3. Listen to music. 4. Do my work on time. 5. Listen and talk with my friends. 6. Learn to cook. 7. Travel 6. Eat healthy. 7. Do exercises. 8. Dancing 9. Help others 10. Do new things.
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Submitted by Kostantinus on Sat, 02/06/2021 - 08:12

These things make me happy: 0. Being healthy. 1. Communication with my family and friends. 2. Studying. 3. Travelling. 4. Watching some movies with people I love. 5. Eating yummy cookies. 6. Swimming in natural body of water. 7. Riding a bike and ebike. 8. Skating, roller skating, skiing, hiking. 9. Travelling in Asia. 10. To know that people you love are healthy and happy. 11. Playing football, volleyball, tennis, ping pong, badminton, pool, billiards. 12. Jogging, morning gymnastic, workout. 13. Singing. 14. Acting on the stage. 15. Playing guitar, the piano, playing on drums. 16. Eating pizza outside. 17. Picnic. 18. Cooking barbeсue outside with my friends. 19. Helping others. 20. Wearing beautiful clothes. 21. Playing with the animals. 22. Sunny weather, showy weather. 23. Listening to beautiful music. 24. Sleeping enough. 25. To be alive. I can list the things make me happy endless))

Submitted by hermione123 on Sun, 02/07/2021 - 12:48

gosh! you make a list! that's amazing. i'm going to show you my own list here: 1. reading my favourite books 2. get a new book 3. eating my favourite dishes 4. drink bubble tea 5. watching a good movie 6. doing a DIY project okay i can't figure out more. it's awesome that you can make that list!

In reply to by Kostantinus

Submitted by hermione123 on Tue, 01/05/2021 - 04:50

i'm not really sure. maybe, reading my favourite books, watching a really good movie, drink bubble tea. anyway, do you like drink bubble tea just like me? in my country it is quite popular now.

Submitted by English20 on Wed, 08/05/2020 - 14:54

I feel happy when I spend my time with my friends

Submitted by Nandini on Mon, 07/20/2020 - 16:12

I watch educational movies and play educational games, like puzzle game. I love the games Brain test and Brain out and all those kinds. You guys should try it out. It's fun.

Submitted by Sekar_A on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 04:38

I'm not 100% certain on what makes me happy. But I think if I'm able to help my friend, or make my friend happy by sharing something that I love, I am happy.

Submitted by Jenniejelly on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 04:09

How someone being happy in their life?

Submitted by RizkyS on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 04:03

Watching movies makes me happy
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Submitted by empty on Wed, 07/17/2019 - 16:36

What makes you happy? studying and watching TV. ♫♫♫
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