What makes me happier?

Some of the answers to this prompt were easy, but some were a little trickier. In retrospect, I’m a lot more home-oriented than I thought. Here ’tis:

1. Spending time with my family

We’ve been through many hardships but also many wonderful experiences together. Those connections keep us close, even though we aren’t all blood family. But we talk, work, argue and play like we’ve known each other for decades; we look out for each other. My family members are my strongest supporters, and I am both honored and grateful that they offer it to me, despite all my flaws.

2. Listening to my favorite songs 

I keep a playlist on my phone of my favorite music, a mixed bag of all styles with great strings, drums, and rhythm. When I’m having a bad day and feeling really stuck inside my own head, I turn on my music and let it work its magic. My attitude usually improves significantly within a half-hour or so.

3. Cooking

This is especially effective when I’m in the process of creating a new recipe. This can make my emotions make a complete 180, as my family has observed over the years. I often come home upset or angry or stressed out, but if I spend the next hour and a half cooking, I can even get into a good mood. (It shocks anyone who observes this in action, so I guess my mood swings are more apparent to others than they are to me?)

4. Spending time with animals

I like all animals with the exception of arachnids (though that’s not their fault). I grew up with dogs and love to see how excited they get about the simple things like walks and food. Cats are lovely and fierce, and both dogs and cats can sense human moods, including bad ones. Domestic animals like cats and dogs can also be surprisingly empathetic and comforting. As for non-domesticated animals, I get a mood boost by observing them on hikes, listening to bird calls and occasionally spotting deer or the sudden orange flash of a fox. There’s that sudden reminder there that, hey, I’m a part of nature, too.

5. Well-written stories

Although I mostly mean this in terms of books, this also applies to the stories I see in shows or movies. My favorite stories change me in some way after I’ve read them. Initially, after a good story ends, I feel emptier with out it and a little lost. But as I notice the changes, I notice the marks that the story has left on me, the ways I feel more human or more educated or more empathetic towards others. (In my opinion, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief best describes this transient quality of storytelling.)

What makes you happier?