What is the secret to happiness?
From a full Irish breakfast, to a life shared with animals, to true love or the loyalty of a real friend. We asked some of Ireland's most interesting people what they believe is the secret to happiness.
Published 08/06/2015 | 02:30
Ireland's best-known people from Bertie Ahern to Chris De Burgh and Teodora Sutra share their insights.
Pilates instructor and model
The secret to happiness for me is experiencing life in the present and appreciating everything that's good in my life -these skills sometimes require effort!
Jumping out of bed each day with vigour and a smile, regardless of what lies ahead.
The ability to pay my bills.
A quote attributed to Frederick Koenig has always stayed with me: "We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have."
For me, it's enjoying being with my family and friends that is most important, as work takes up so much of my time. I get a special buzz from being with my godson Charlie Bear - who is almost one - as he is always so pleased to see me and his smiles melt my heart.
Model, TV and radio presenter and actress
I believe the secret to happiness is always being thankful for everything that you have, especially your family and your health - they are so important. You hear so many terrible stories on a daily basis of what people have to go through; it makes you really appreciate everything and everyone in your life.
Since having our wee son I'm just the happiest I've ever been; there's no better feeling than waking up in the morning and seeing this little tiny human being smiling up at you. Oh, I could just burst. Another really important thing for me is having positive people in my life. I surround myself with people who have a good energy and are enthusiastic about life. My partner Mark is always positive and brings out the best in me. He really is my rock.
What I learnt from bankruptcy was that material wealth may give contentment but not happiness. What is by far more important are personal relationships, be it with your partner, be it with your kids, be it with your closest friends. You will only get out what you put in from these relationships. But the good days and the bad days will be immeasurably improved by being shared with them. Happiness is not success but sharing life with others in a meaningful way.
The first thing is to be completely honest with yourself. If you don't face up to things, you get stuck. If you have a problem, face it in the eye. And then you can move on. To run away and hide, pretend it's not happening, it is still in your body.
My girls, my husband and my family without doubt are top of the list, and then of course I get a real kick from seeing my collections sell well. I get a real buzz from sinking my teeth into a new project and feeling both inspired and challenged, but that is not to say that a pair of Balenciaga shoes, a great new haircut, some sun, or dinner with my friends doesn't qualify.
I think the biggest secret to staying happy is finding time for all you enjoy and feeling the freedom to do what you want when you want.
Chef and author
The secret of happiness for me is a combination of things that I've heard and learnt along the way: be grateful for every single positive thing in your life; treat others how you'd like to be treated yourself; don't sweat the small stuff; remember that you won't shine any brighter by blowing out someone else's flame; cherish your loved ones. Apart from all that, great food eaten with loved ones makes me really happy.
Presenter of 'The Pat Kenny Show', 10am-12.30pm, weekdays on Newstalk
Don't sweat the little things.
I think contentment in life equals happiness. For me a good life/work balance and my family being healthy makes me happy, not material things, which meant more to me when I was younger.
I don't think there is a secret of happiness - for a start we're all different, so there can't be a one-size-fits-all answer. Maybe you can generalise about the causes of unhappiness - pain and boredom? So should the question be: "What's the secret of being happier?" Don't know the answer to that either! My guess is that it comes from within - there is no magic potion.
But, if you want a greeting card answer, I suppose "a healthy family and a job you enjoy" would be a good start. Oh, and a really good 1950s Fender Strat would make me very happy (for a while at least).
For me happiness is being healthy, being able to get up in the morning full of enthusiasm, exercise and hit the day full of positivity. This is the way I have always lived my life and it has worked for me.
Model, broadcaster, writer
My wonderful, loving, kind and supportive family. My gorgeous boyfriend who has the most beautiful heart and mind. My puppy Millie and her endless slobbery kisses. Every morning I wake up healthy, strong and capable. Any time spent with my hilarious, magical friends. Being in nature and exploring this fascinating planet. Enjoying a great meal. Spending a Sunday in bed. Thinking of all the brilliant, happy days that are yet to come . . .
That's easy for me. A life shared with animals.
Athlete and politician
Happiness comes from within. I think if you search for happiness it can't be found
CHRIS DE BURGH
Good health, spending time with family and friends and enjoying life to the full.
Model and singer
I think love is the secret of happiness! It's the only thing that even outlives death. So be loving . . . always.
It seems to me that the happiest people are often those who don't seem to pursue it just for themselves, but who spend a lot of their lives helping other people. Maybe that's why there isn't a huge amount of it around.
Happiness is an acceptance and gratitude for what you have, a kind of inner peace that grounds you. Don't confuse it with worry or stress. They will always be with us. It's how we handle those two evils that count.
Gosh, I'm not sure I know the secret to happiness. But for me, it's about living in the moment which is not always as easy as it sounds. We live in such a fast-paced world so it's important to sit back sometimes and take stock of everything. It's human nature to dwell on the things that might not be as we would like them but I always try to enjoy the things that go according to plan. And to 'bend like a reed' when they don't.
I love to see laughter lines on a person's face. For me it shows they enjoy life and they are a very physical sign of happiness. I try to laugh as much as possible each day.
The secret to happiness is figuring out what you want and going after it even if it scares you.
RTE weather and National Lottery presenter
My secret of happiness is knowing that no long-term satisfaction can come from material things, so try and find joy in the everyday - be that in a walk in nature or simply just getting through your 'to do' list. Also, never underestimate the power of the company of a trusted friend who always makes you feel uplifted. Even better, try and be that companion to someone else and be happy that you are helping another.
Chairman of The Communications Clinic
The secret to happiness is not hanging around waiting for it to arrive. Instead, behave as if you're already happy. People react to what they see as your happiness and reflect it back to you, whereas if you arrive with a face like a wet weekend, you drop the emotional temperature in the room by 20 degrees, making everybody else as miserable as you are.
Not hanging around with toxic people helps as does not checking too often on how happy you are. General happiness gets lifted to a whole new level by a good book and a packet of chocolate biscuits.
RTE rugby pundit, children's book author, shirt designer
Happiness is never just one thing to one person, but is ratio related to such things as desire, achievement, self-worth and finding inner peace. To me it's all about accepting who you are, flaws and all, to actually like the person you see in the mirror each day. To live each day as positively as you can and to appreciate what you have, not what you have not. In simple terms to be happy in your own skin.
Happiness is also about making other people happy, and to know that in some way, you have made a difference to someone else's day and filled it with empathy, respect and love. Oh and Ireland making the Rugby World Cup final. Ha!
There are in life moments of great happiness. There are also times of great sadness. Both are part of the human condition. I don't know anybody whose life is trouble-free. We do our best to be happy. But life can dictate otherwise. For me, happiness is a feeling of ease and calm and it revolves, always, around people. The Dalai Lama explains it beautifully and simply: "If you want others to be happy, show compassion. If you want to be happy, show compassion."
Bellucci's Italian restaurant and cocktail bar proprietor
Happiness, to me, is having a happy and, most importantly, a healthy family, good friends and a business that is not only successful but a pleasure to be part of each day - and finally having enough money not to have to worry about it every day of the week.
Managing director Fleishman Hillard Ireland
I believe true sense of purpose is one of the great secrets to happiness. Seeing our 40-strong team of talented people at Fleishman Hillard full of passion and purpose as we mark our 25th anniversary in Ireland makes me profoundly happy.
The secret of happiness . . . To know and like oneself is a start. You definitely need a solid core, as in a loved one and a true group of friends. People look for way too much these days. We can sometimes be so much more with less.
TV and radio presenter
The secret of happiness is inside, not outside. Because material things are temporary and though we get pleasure and satisfaction from them, it's fleeting. Being in love, loving your family, contentment, a sense of well-being are all about happiness. A positive outlook is vital, not empty-headed but a positive approach to every day. Think and feel positive. The secret, if there is one, is inside all of us. Always look on the bright side of life.
Doctor and TV presenter
Do stuff you find fulfilling - if you don't enjoy what you do, change it. Never pursue money as a goal or compare yourself to others - those things make you miserable. And, most importantly, love the ones you're with.
Actress and presenter
From my experience, acceptance is the first step to being truly happy. If you can fully embrace who you are and where you are in your life - be it good or bad, or a combination of both - it makes things so much easier.
You will see and feel things as they really are, allowing you to appreciate or learn from them and change if necessary. Being thankful is another massive move into feeling contentment. So for me, acceptance, willingness to change and gratitude are fundamental to happiness.
I believe that the secret of happiness is love, in all forms of the word! Surrounding yourself with love at home, in work and in every aspect of your life, is guaranteed to boost your serotonin levels and in turn make you a happier, healthier person.
Simple things like loving your job, your home, your daily routine, can really help keep a smile on your face. And of course surrounding yourself with happy, loving, positive people is incredibly beneficial. These people really rub off on you and have a staggering affect on your happiness. Do what you love, love what you do.
The first sighting of Manhattan on the drive from JFK. That hair dryer effect you get when a plane door opens in a hot country. Spontaneity of any kind. My own bed. Watching somebody with real talent achieving greatness, like Shane Lowry. Having a brilliant idea in the shower. The hope that David Bowie will do one more live show. Watching Red Rock on TV3. Good, even great, wi-fi. Being in the company of positive people. A full Irish breakfast on Saturday. Beating anybody at Words With Friends on my phone. A small bet (they all laughed at) coming in on a Sunday evening. And, of course, a generously made Bloody Mary!
Happiness is not having the best of everything, it's making the best of everything.
I would have to say I'm at my happiest when I let go of worrying about what other people think of me. If you decide that you're happy and proud of who you are, it's a great feeling! I used to get so caught up and stressed about keeping everyone happy but I think it's healthy to be a bit selfish and sure of yourself!
To accept what you are given now and don't fight it too much!
Happiness is not caring, Patrick Kavanagh half-sussed on the banks of the Grand Canal. I think it resides in caring and not caring - both at once, a kind of light touch irony towards everything - not a "postmodern" irony but a kind of juggling of opposing ideas, hopes, fears and desires.
Mum and former model
Being loving and kind. Enjoying lots of wholesome fun and laughing a lot, especially at myself, are all things that make me happy. Keeping my life as simple and calm and fuss free as possible and, I suppose, not expecting to be happy all the time makes me appreciative of those times and situations where I am really happy.
Model and nutritionist
For me, the secret of happiness is living a fulfilling life that I'm proud of. It's about being a good wife, daughter, sister and friend and fully appreciating the amazing people in my life. It's also about working hard to reach my full potential in all areas of my life and being deeply grateful for everything I have.
DAITHI O SE
A few things. Have people with you who don't hassle you. Be it at work or at home. Get those people who do hassle you out of your life. It's only recently I learned to mentally block out of my mind people who annoy me, which is great. It's up to yourself to do this. Nobody can do it for you. Also stop and look around, for example, at the garden. Happiness is all around, embrace it!
I think the person you're with, that they really are your soulmate. That you're comfortable with them at all times; 24 hours a day is not too much time to spend with them.
I'm genuinely always in good form. I think I have happy genes. The real secret to happiness is helping others. I love helping others. I'm probably out five nights a week helping people. I do feel very good about doing that. To go and help in places like the Penny Dinners. Helping anybody, I love to do that and I feel good from it. Also spending time with my daughter or with Lisa. But if you're talking about inner soul happiness . . . helping people.
Doctor and medical doctor
Never marry a doctor. The secret of happiness is to marry a millionaire or a nurse. Millionaire nurses are the rarest of gems and you will never be happier than when you find one.
The secret of happiness is learning not to bob like a cork in the sea of other people's expectations. It's also learning to love: that remarkable act of empathy by which we come to realise that another person is real.
Fashion designer and stylist
The secret of happiness is to feel and give love, trust, gratitude, purpose, optimism, compassion and humour.
If Irish people were honest, we'd admit what really makes us happy is watching a good friend fail. That reminds me, I need to cull some of my successful friends. Best to surround myself with losers to make myself feel OK each time I fail or get shafted or can't progress.
If life is a bad country road, then stand in by the ditch, bow your head westwards against the rain, keep a firm grip of your wits and keep on moving. Like any road trip, the best and most happy part is the actual travelling. So don't be too worried about where you'll end up, just enjoy the craic en route.
Sorry I lost my train of thought; I was probably expected to say the secret to happiness is health, love, family, friends, cups of tea and buttery toast and the smell of fresh cut grass. But that's rubbish too - you'll find the real secret to happiness by reading lists from pseudo-celebrities pretending they're happy when they're really just like you, sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon crying into a bowl of disappointing soup. PULLOUT
Board member ISPCC/Childline charity
If I was asked this question a year ago it would have been a very different answer, but I have watched three people I care about very much battle serious and difficult health issues and I see how illness changes everything. The lives they normally live have have been put on hold and it's hard because those close to them can't help medically. So in one way you become powerless other than to support the person.
For me happiness is being surrounded by my children, husband and friends but to complete your happiness you also need to have a healthy body and mind and to support those who are not as lucky as you. A job you love rounds it up.
I think it is great folly to go seeking happiness. I don't think you would recognise it if you did find it. The best you can do is to seek contentedness. Right now, I'm walking outside in the sunshine. It doesn't get much better than this.
Always look on the bright side of life
My feelings on happiness are varied. I can say with certainty that it's an impermanent state and not a right of human beings. I wish I had more of a Buddhist approach to life by embracing and accepting the nature of change but it's something I am aware of and being mindful of. Resisting change is just so comfortable and so easy, isn't it? I suppose if I can accept change, it's a key to some kind of happiness!
I have memories of my father's aunt, Sr Columbanus. She was a very brave and eccentric nun in the presentation college Tuam when I was growing up. She told me as a child that "happiness is accepting your responsibilities". I didn't understand it at the time but oddly it has remained with me. Albeit, it's not the most exciting of philosophies.
My partner John has a saying that has rubbed off (especially when it's repeated daily!) It's what he calls KLS, meaning, "keep life simple." A mantra that has helped because I used to over-think things (the burdens of a creative mind!)
Since having children, I've parked over- analysing and over-thinking due to time deficiency and lower tolerance for bullshit. In general though, I try not to have unrealistic expectations these days and keep my two feet on the ground (literally), it helps to ground me. Mind management is a big focus for me managing difficult thoughts and difficult past experiences. But like anything, it's a process and only time is a healer.
We have a room in our house which I have called in jest "the decompression room." This is where I go to decompress. A place for me to indulge in some thinking and creation time. I would like to spend time in churches more; as I think a church can serve the same function. They have a really important social function that seems to be disappearing.
I tend to avoid thinking about and spending a lot of my time using social media sites including using my computer. It doesn't make me feel happy. Twitter and Instagram drive me crazy, especially the over self-promotion and 'my amazing life' aspect of it all. But it's a necessary evil in business/brand-building. I suppose it's a little bit like shopping - a quick hit that doesn't last or satisfy! So I'm listening to that feeling.
RUTH O NEILL
E! News reporter
At this stage of my life my happiness is strongly linked to my work. I feel like I'm on a high when I've gotten a good celebrity interview! I'm so glad I found something that I'm passionate about. Having said that I'm probably at my very happiest when I'm out for dinner with my family eating delicious food, drinking wine and laughing lots! I love those dinner conversations that go on for hours and you are the last kicked out of the restaurant! Whether it's in Dublin or Los Angeles, it feels like home when I'm with my family.
Actress and presenter
I think the secret to happiness is about having a positive mental attitude and striving to positively impact the people in your life and everyone you encounter. Some people are just naturally this way, but, for the rest of us, you have to work on it. We are what we think so if you practise being optimistic and open rather than always fixating on what might go wrong you feel lighter and happier.
That's easier said than done but a couple of fast tracks that I've found work for me include: cultivating a sense of gratitude; appreciating and delighting in all the good things in your life; and doing good things for other people. There's no doubt that your health improves when you think and act with kindness.
Worry and stress are the biggest enemies of happiness. If you strive to live in the moment you can massively reduce your worry levels. I find spending quality time with the people I love, hanging out in nature, meditation and cooking amazing food all help keep me in a happy headspace. Oh and exercise. Yoga, a walk, blaring music and dancing around like a lunatic. Getting moving never fails to make me feel better.
Drink, drugs, women, and people minding their own business.
VICTORIA MARY CLARKE
Motivational speaker and media coach
Being willing to see any situation from a different perspective.
Presenter and publisher
Learning to be content with yourself. Accepting who you are. Loving who you are. Being happy with who you are and doing the things you're best at. Loving and being loved. Fulfilling your potential in life. And being grateful for the abilities you have. The biggest thing for me is doing the best you can in life.
Brown Thomas fashion director
The secret of happiness is enjoying life with the people you love and care for, and getting the balance of time in order, as the world we live in is so hectic. Also working in an industry that is my absolute passion makes my life very happy each day.
Having a family to love and causes to fight that make a real difference to real people.
Politician and author
My idea of happiness is based on my own life and perhaps would not suit others. Keep love alive in your life. I love my sons, my daughters-in-law, my six grandchildren. Every day I think of them, talk with them, and love them over and over again. Keep your mind always active and open - to new people, new ideas, new adventures, new books, and keep curious about everything.
For me it's family, home - and food, of course. A great source of happiness for me is living and working in Blacklion. I get to work at what I absolutely love - cooking in my restaurant and teaching at my cookery school - while living in a great community where I know so many people as customers, suppliers, family and friends from school days.
Time with my family is priceless. I am so proud to be a dad to my twins Connor and Lucia and every day they surprise me and my wife Amelda with something new. They are such a source of great happiness and joy to us both. Life can get very busy and hectic and the perfect day for me is having all the family around for a meal and spending time together, laughing, eating and enjoying each other's company.
Three-time former Taoiseach
I've always been of the view that every day you get up, you have to live that day and do the maximum that you can that day. There's no point in sitting around thinking life is going to go forever. You have to be doing something useful every day of your life whether it's working to achieve something or whether it's just trying to enjoy yourself.
I don't believe in sitting around looking out the window. You have to feel like you are useful if you're going to satisfy yourself. You have to be active. Even if it's the middle of winter, I like to get out and walk and be in the open air.
The number one thing that makes me happy is spending time with my daughters and grandkids. Number two is being with my close friends and spending social time with them. Thirdly, it's spending time in my own garden or at the allotment, passing the hours growing my flowers and growing my vegetables. They're the things that make me happy. Of course it helps a lot when the Dubs or Man United win!
My secret of happiness is my family. For me, friends and boyfriends come and go, I can buy a new handbag, expensive perfume or a new pair of Louboutins but after a surprisingly short while the happiness I get from those material things wears off!
My family make me laugh till I cry and smile even when they are not around! I am one lucky girl to be blessed with such a crazy, fun, caring and beautiful family!
BLATHNAID NI CHOFAIGH
Happiness is when you can give your kids what they need not what they want.
Primark, group director - business development and new markets
The secret of happiness is to look inside not outside and to aim yourself forwards and not backwards.
Chief executive, FAI
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