5 Simple Ingredients to Happiness


During one of the opening scenes to the Happy movie, filmmakers interview an Indian rickshaw driver named Manoj. Manoj’s rickshaw is not motorized nor is it equipped with a horse. It is not a three-wheeled bicycle. He powers his rickshaw with his own two feet – in flip-flops. Manoj walks and runs people around the streets of Kolkata, India in all kinds of conditions.

He lives with his family in a home made of scrap wood, metal, and plastic. It’s a little bigger than my garden shed. He wears the same clothes every day.

And he is happy.

Here’s a clip from the movie that someone put on YouTube. Not great quality but you can see his story here in two and a half minutes.

Almost every American would look at this man’s poverty and dread to think that we would ever have to exist like this. It certainly would not lead us to happiness.

“But that’s all he knows,” you may say. That could be true. But the lesson for us is that circumstances don’t make you happy. If you think better circumstances will make you happy, maybe you need to reevaluate what brings happiness.

The Happy movie reveals studies by university professors and researchers on happiness. What is happiness and how do we obtain it? After all, the Declaration of Independence says we should pursue happiness.

This short film reveals 5 “Building Blocks” to happiness:

  • Making time to play
  • Experiencing new things
  • Good relationships with family and friends
  • Doing meaningful things
  • Appreciating what you have

Some people say happiness is determined by circumstances while joy is a deeper kind of happiness not dependent on circumstances. If this is so, then the 5 building blocks describe joy.

But I’d like to disregard the semantics between happiness and joy for now and just focus on these 5 things. I think they are a nice checklist for us to consider when we find ourselves considering our life situation.

What about you?

Are you taking time to play?
Are you experiencing new things?
Do you have good relationships with those close to you?
Are you doing meaningful things?
Do you appreciate what you have?

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