custom built happiness

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel as though the world around us is constantly dictating what “should” make us happy. I don’t think anyone does it intentionally but it happens. The culprits? Parents, friends, television, instagram, twitter, the government…practically everyone. They tell us that we should enjoy certain foods because they’re “healthy”. We should listen to whatever music is popular at the time. We should keep up with fashion and beauty trends. We should pursue practical careers. We should enjoy partying because that’s what 21 year olds do. See my point?

But, where do we draw the line? When do we stop focusing on pleasing those around us and start doing the things that make us happy? It’s a question I’ve struggled to answer for the majority of my life and I’m only now learning how to take a stand. Sometimes we have to put ourselves first.

Now, in no way am I saying to stop caring about others. Quite the contrary. Being there for the people we love and helping them discover their own happiness will bring unbelievable joy. I promise. But, sometimes it’s necessary for each of us to take a step back and decide if we’re living the life that we want to live. Because if you’re not doing what makes you happy, you’ll never truly feel fulfilled.


Personally? I love helping others get healthy and witnessing them discover strength they didn’t know they had. I love speaking in front of groups of people. I love being outside in the sunshine. I love spending time with my family. I love spending hours on end at Starbucks. I love cuddling with my kitty. I love doing my makeup and getting my nails done. I love going out to dinner with my friends and just being silly. I love being in front of the camera. I love falling asleep early and waking up at the crack of dawn. I love being a vegetarian. I love exploring. I love exercise. I love writing. I love meeting new people. I love reading corny romantic novels (Nicholas Sparks, I’m lookin’ at you!). I love sharing my thoughts and opinions and hearing what others have to say. I love smiling.

Maybe those aren’t things a “typical” 21-year old would have on their happiness list, but that’s what makes me unique. I can guarantee that no two people’s lists will look the same and that’s where the beauty lies. Finding what puts a smile on your face and then dedicating your life to doing those things will make you feel more fulfilled than you ever could have imagined. It’s a journey and I’m only dipping my toes in the sand right now but, let me tell you, it’s the most liberating things I’ve ever experienced.

My Happy List: (photo style)

Color Me Rad CoffeeMonster Lionel Run Starbucks Sissy VeggieGrill Nails



Just a little glimpse into the moments that have made me smile recently. In order to truly build bliss in our lives, we need to embrace every second that we’re given. Stop wishing for tomorrow, stop dwelling on yesterday and focus on the things that make you happy right this second. You deserve that.

What simple things bring you the most happiness? 

Here’s to smiling like there’s no tomorrow…


  1. P said:

    I love this post! It’s just brimming with, well, happiness! Haha.
    A lot of the things that make you happy would be on my happy list as well (exercising, waking up early, sleeping early, enjoying the sunshine). And I am far from the “wild partier twenty-year old” stereotype of society. I’m pretty sick of it actually :/

    • Emily said:

      I couldn’t agree more! Partying just isn’t my scene at all. Oh well. (:

  2. Beautiful post, Emily. It really is the little things in life that bring most joy because – other than huge life happenings – we can find them every day. Waking up to birds chirping outside my window. Spending time with my parents. Hugging the people I love. Laughing with them. Just doing what I feel like doing and knowing what that is.

    And thanks for letting me know I’m not the only twenty-something who doesn’t enjoy partying. It does really feel like this for me at times around here.

    • Emily said:

      Aww…I love that you find happiness in the little everyday things- it truly does make life more enjoyable.
      And you’re definitely not the only one who doesn’t like partying. It’s hard for me sometimes too (almost all of my friends LOVE going out every weekend). But, I just keep reminding myself that it’s okay to be a little different- even if they do call me grandma. (:

  3. This is such a great point, that everyone’s happiness is very individual. I personally can relate to being happy doing things that the average person my age would definitely not, but I embrace it!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you! And I agree- I’m glad you’re embracing it too! (:

  4. I am LOVING your posts lately! So insightful. And I completely agree, others shouldn’t dictate what makes us happy…only we can do that. It just takes some strength and determination to actually LISTEN to our own voices over the screaming of society!

    Also, thanks for the comment on my post! I would LOVE to be on Ellen! Dream big 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Thank you!! I agree- listening to our own voices can be really difficult sometimes but it’s SO worth it.

      And you should DEFINITELY be dreaming big. You never know what could happen! (:

  5. This came at the perfect time! I’m doing my university applications right now and I’m just stressed because I want to find something that makes me happy… and that’s kind of ironic 😛 Ah well, one of my teachers gave me some good advice today and said “the good life will find you, you don’t have to go find it” haha I guess you’d have to know him to realize that it made sense coming from him, but yeah the point is to relax and things will fall into place 🙂 What I know makes me happy other than school is biking, running, my boyfriend, painting, cooking haha the list could actually go on forever 😀

    • Emily said:

      Aww…I’m so happy to hear that this resonated with you right now. I totally understand the feeling of not knowing what you want to do with your life. It’s stressful! But it sounds like your teacher gave you some really good advice. Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen. (:

  6. Lisa said:

    Totally with you on this! Others have no right in telling us what “should” be done. I don’t even like that word. Everyone has their own version on what happiness is and what they prefer to do. No one has the right to control our thoughts and actions in that way. Society can screw itself 😉
    Awesome post my friend, and I basically agree with all your happiness points:) Obviously, coffee is a must.

    • Emily said:

      Thank you! I knew you’d appreciate my coffee addiction. (:

  7. I can literally relate to almost everything that makes you happy. Spending hours in Starbucks makes me very happy 😉 Some other things that make me happy: coffee, oatmeal, running, laughing all night long with friends, and spending a random night in bed watching movies<3

    • Emily said:

      All things that I love as well! Running has definitely become one of my favorite ways to escape recently. It’s awesome!

  8. We have so much in common on our happy lists, but I completely agree that everyone has a different set of things that makes them happy, and it doesn’t have to be what society says will make us happy! And I think I’ve finally found a few people who I genuinely enjoy hanging out with because there’s no pressure to go out drinking or partying or whatever. We can just be happy going out for sushi or Starbucks or on random trips to Target!

    • Emily said:

      Aww…yay! I’m glad you’ve been able to find friends that share your interests. It makes life so much more enjoyable.
      And random trips to Target happen almost every week for me! Love it. (:

  9. “Because if you’re not doing what makes you happy, you’ll never truly feel fulfilled.” – YES. This is something all 20-somethings like us struggle with. I would argue that finding what truly makes you happy is one of the toughest answers to find for an even tougher question. In the past year I found myself “settling” for small bits of happiness (nothing wrong with that though…some happiness is better than none!) that were temporary and not as fulfilling. With the start of 2013 I made a promise/goal to myself that I would concentrate on obtaining more everlasting happiness in all aspects of my life – family, friends, career, relationships, etc. It’s a work in progress but at least we’re working towards figuring out what we really want and need in life right? Great post!

    • Emily said:

      Definitely! I’ve been working on the same thing this year and, while it’s overwhelming to look at the big pictures sometimes, finding everlasting happiness is SO important. ❤

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