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What do we need to be happy?

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What do we need to be happy? A good question. We all pursue happiness, but happiness may be different from one person to the other person. Is there any universal factor that makes people happier? If so, what is it? As I did some research, I found out that it says there are 14 things that make you happy.

John Lennon famously said, “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Really, what is happiness? Happiness is the state of being happy. Happy means an enjoyable or satisfied state of well-being. So what creates that? What do we need to be happy?

It may be true. We need many things to be happy. However, in my opinion, the four necessary ingredients required in our lives make us happy. Those are health, career, finance, and meaningful relationships. So let’s explore to see if those four ingredients will make us happy.

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Four Essential Happy Ingredients

1. Health

In my opinion, the number one of the ingredients we need to make us happy is health. Health is an essential thing in our lives, yet, we often ignore it. Like when we have it, we take it for granted. In 2020 under the pandemic, I am sure we learned a lot about what we took for granted was not granted at all.

Whether going out to the restaurant or merely traveling to see the places, we learned that it’s not given. Health is another, yet, when we have it, we don’t think about it.

Like anything else, I ignored health as being a vital ingredient to make me happy until 2016 when I had an accident that took me recovering tough. My accident crashed my left arm completely, and I had to have several surgeries.

I decided not to post my X-rays because they look horrific, so I am posting a picture of the time I was recovering. As you can see here, my chest bones are very prominent because I significantly lost weight. I am not a big person, but my weight went to under 90 lbs when I had an accident.

That’s not healthy for someone with a height of 5’4″, so you can imagine how serious my accident was. My medical, including the hospital bill, was over $500,000. That’s not including the extra bills I had to pay.

Right after the accident, I was so mad, but I am very grateful that I wasn’t brain-damaged, and I am still relatively healthy now and can do the daily function without much pain. 

After the accident

For about a year, I had to go to physical therapy three times a week. In the beginning, it was tough because I couldn’t do anything. Another issue was that I also had to fight with the insurance company to get more therapy. In the beginning, the medicine I had to take made my body suffer a lot.

One medication that was supposed to help could create another side effect, so I had to take another to compensate for that. Also, I didn’t want to take pills as much as I can, especially painkillers. Mainly, I didn’t want to get addicted to them because I heard many horror stories.

During recovery stage and even now

As my therapy progressed, I got better. However, I had to be very careful just in case something goes wrong. There were a few things I had to change. For example, I had to wear flat shoes instead of high heels.

This may sound silly to you, but I love heels and my professional life; I interview lots of people, so I always wanted to look good, and heels contribute to that.

The other thing was that instead of walking or taking stairs, I would take an elevator. On top of that, I haven’t been doing much exercise, and I had to give up all my sports, such as fencing, golfing, etc., other than walking, which didn’t and doesn’t help me stay healthy.

I have a friend who is in a wheelchair due to an accident and he couldn’t walk anymore. I believe it takes the courage to face life when you are not in the normal health stage.

We talk a lot about mental health, and people always seem to have so much to say about it. However, physically damaged people, society sees as if that’s their problem and their fault.

When I was recovering from the accident, I couldn’t enjoy things I used to do, therefore, my happiness level went down. I had limited social interaction due to the accident.

This made me realize that without health, you can’t create happiness. You can be happy by simply seeing the ocean and blue sky, however, with poor health, you may not be able to create the opportunity to enjoy yourself.

Start taking care of your health because a healthy body and mind can make you happy.

2. Career

The second ingredient that we need in order to be happy is a career. I will say that meaningful work makes us feel we contribute something to society, and that satisfaction can lead to happiness.

However, the difference is that to be happy, I believe you have to do what you enjoy doing. I graduated with a Business-Econ major, but I worked in an entirely different area. The industry I work in always has been somewhat related to my major, but the actual job has not been similar.

However, I think I am good at what I do, and I enjoy doing it. I think this makes a difference. There are people in the field who feel miserable because they are not enjoying it.

Most of the time, I put in lots of hours, but it doesn’t bother me. Mainly I like what I do, and the financial reward that comes with it. However, when our career becomes the priority, when we lose track of our well-being, that can lead to a problem.

Nonetheless, meaningful work is another ingredient that makes us happy. The sense of satisfaction that we are contributing to society. The feeling of satisfaction that we are accomplishing something that gives us pride and self-respect. It can also boost our self-esteem; that’s why meaningful work can also be a second ingredient for our happiness. 

Of course, if you are lucky enough to find your passion earlier, and landed your career lines with your passion, your career will take off, and your happiness will increase. Your satisfaction of doing meaningful work will increase.  So if you have good health and work or a career that you’re passionate about, I think your happiness is halfway there.

3. Finance

The other ingredient we need to make us happy is what I call financial well-being. I know we often hear money is the root of all evil, and people sometimes make rich people sound like they’re somewhat ungrateful or unethical.

Some may also say that people with money are not happy. I don’t believe that. I think money can buy and bring some happiness into our lives.

However, let me tell you, that kind of happiness may be short-lived. For example, I am happy when I can buy a nice outfit or a purse or afford to drive a nice convertible luxury car.

Of course, my music lessons need money too. And like all of you, I like to travel and that needs money too. All the things I like to do, some of them require money.

As I said, these are short-lived happy feelings. Because once you start acquiring material things, you may want more. On top of that, as time passes, your happiness may diminish toward the value of having those material things.

Of course, not all of them need money. I am equally happy when I walk in the park on a sunny day or walk on the beach and enjoy the sunset because it is something simple yet amazing.  

How much is Enough?

We need to have enough money to be happy. When you don’t, when you have to worry about paying bills, that obviously doesn’t bring happiness. The big question is, how much is enough?

I think that’s depending on the individual’s lifestyle. We can only decide how much we need. Once we satisfy necessities like house, clothing, food, etc. But apart from that, how much of what needs to make us happy may differ from person to person.

I hope I don’t have to worry or have to look at the price when I want to buy things. If I want to, I like to get it; I hope to buy it regardless of price. If I go to a nice restaurant to eat, I like to pick what I like to eat, not worry how much. That’s why I believe financial well-being is essential to create happiness, and that makes my third ingredient.

4. Relationship

Another component for us to be happy is having satisfied, meaning relationships. There are many types of relationships — family relationships, significant others, at work with colleagues, and friends.

Each connection may provide slightly different areas of our need and satisfaction. However, all these happy, meaningful relationships are what we need to feel fully and profoundly satisfied. That makes us happy.

In a strong full-filling relationship, we can manage our stress better. We feel that we have love around us that gives us so much self-respect and self-esteem. I believe that it helps us to practice self-love as well.

The feeling of knowing someone accepts you as who you are. That leads to living a much more peaceful and healthy; and knowing that you can depend on someone to discuss things freely.

After all, we are not supposed to be alone. We are in ourselves, yet we are with the family. Not only that, we belong to the community. And that sense of belonging to a community can extend to greater areas. That’s why having a happy and meaningful relationship that gives us self-acceptance, makes us happy.

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Happy Factor Conclusion

So here it is. What do we need to be happy? I am sure we need many things. However, in my opinion, the four basic things we need to be happy. Those are health, meaningful work, enough money, and a full-filling relationship.

If we can have these four, I think we can start to nurture happiness for ourselves. Remember, happiness is a feeling of content and satisfaction. Even though we have all these, if we don’t have our sense of being, it might be hard to accomplish it. We create happiness within, and these four ingredients help us to achieve it. That’s what I believe.

And as Elle mentioned in her previous posts, happiness can be learned, practiced, and maintained. So once we have four ingredients in place, it’s only a matter of time and effortful intentions for us to learn, practice, and maintain to achieve the level of happiness we want.

A very special thank you to Elle for hosting me as a guest blogger. 

Stay safe 🎈🎈🎈

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I am a Los Angeles based lifestyle and fashion blogger. I studied at UCLA Business-Economics and Pepperdine MBA. I work in a very male-dominated industry. Therefore, it is a blessing for me to express my creativity, professionalism, and femininity by using fashion. My blog is all about professional women, strive for financial independence yet, not afraid of showing our feminine side through fashion and creativity through art or music. Of course, pursue happiness is what’s all about.


  • Nisha | The Power Boss Girls

    I realize now that happiness and health are indeed the two most important things in our lives, and those are enough to live a content life. Thanks for haring this!

  • Nicci

    Great post! I think people always take health for granted until it’s affected in some way. I’m glad you were able to find that happiness again after the accident! Finance can be difficult to get right I think, sometimes people can definitely get too wrapped up in having it all and forget to enjoy life but at the same time if we aren’t financially secure that can bring lots of stress and worry! Really interesting post!

  • kukana Ana

    Thanks, Tiffany, for your thought. Yes, sometimes we take things for granted as I used to do, especially health. Your point is well taken. Put effort into these four areas and learn to be happier.

  • kukana Ana

    Hi, Nicci

    Well, finance is an interesting topic itself. I think we need enough money and how much is enough is depending on individuals. I must tell you, though, I want to be rich than poor 😉

  • Michelle

    I totally agree with these four things. They are the things that give our lives meaning and purpose, and without that you’d be pretty miserable.

    All the best, Michelle (michellesclutterbox.com)

  • Kukana

    Hi Michelle

    So glad you see my point of view. We may need so many more things, but if we have these four, we can create happiness. It’s the mindset, I presume, but we need at least some bases to go from. Thanks for reading🙇.

  • Jodie Paterson

    I’m happy to see health on this list. It’s so often forgotten in these things, but I truly think that tryng to be healthy in both mind and body can work wonders for our happiness

    • Kukana Ana

      Hi, Loverosiee

      Thank you. Yes, it is. I always took my health for granted and have to tell you my accident made me see things entirely differently with new sets of eyes.

  • Minah

    First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for your recovery!

    This a change of reading for me. I’m all caught up with other things like blogging, social media and other stuff. I almost forgot about “living” lol!

    I also agree with you that these 4 Factors are the things we need to be happy in our lives. But, if I’m going to be realistic–
    for a moment, I’d choose good health and good finance.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Kukana Ana


      Yes, it is a challenge balancing all four. We are only human. I have to keep reminding myself. Depending on our goal and priority, we can’t do all since our time is limited, but I hope I could. Finance is altogether another topic. I should write about it. Thanks for reading and all the best!

    • Kukana Ana

      Hi, Rebecca,

      Yes, it was, but in the long run, the accident made me a better person. I guess I can say because I recovered even though not 100%. Thanks for reading.

  • Della Driscoll

    Really interesting post, thank you for sharing your story!! I think the key to being happy is falling in love with yourself and what you want to do with your life xx

    • Kukana Ana

      Hi, Della
      You are absolutely right. Lucille Ball said, “love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” I believe so, you can’t love someone without loving yourself first. Equally, you can’t find happiness when you are not in love with yourself.

  • clairelomax2018

    This is such a brilliant post. I do love happiness, I love to champion it on my blog and in real life. These 4 point are so key to our happiness, I totally agree. Thank you so much for sharing x x

    • Kukana Ana

      Hello, Claire

      Thank you so much and good for you. Keep championing. We need reminding all the time. Thanks for voicing out your opinion and reading. All the best 😊

  • Molly @ Transatlantic Notes

    Very truthful post here — good health (whatever that looks like for us) is so important. As you mentioned, if we suddenly can’t do the things we used to then this can be a source of upset, etc. My husband has/is battling a serious health issue with another major surgery coming this month (it will be his 16th) and it’s taken a toll on us both but we use where we find happiness from other sources to keep us going. Thank you for this post — it was very inspirational.

    • Kukana Ana

      Hi, Molly,

      My heart goes out to you. Good luck with your hubby’s surgery, and I am glad you found a way to create bonding and happiness together.
      Sending you all my positive vibes and prayers 🙏🙏

  • lisapatb

    Wow Kukana, I had a similiar accicent on a snowmoible and severed the left arm and broke all my ribs and a few other bones. I was in PT 3x weekly for a year and took 6 months to recover to get back to work. I still wonder, why am I here and what am I supposed to do to make the world a better place? I felt so blessed to have survived. We can’t do anything without our health and taking care of ourselves is of upmost importance and first step towards happiness!

    • Kukana Ana

      Hi, Lisa

      So sorry to hear about your accident. Ironically, mine was a sports accident as well. After I woke up from my surgery and during recovery time, initially I was so mad, but gradually moved into a grateful stage, knowing that I survived. My brain wasn’t’ damaged.

      Life brings all sorts of interesting challenges to us, and we have to sort through them; hopefully, we will find our being and find a purpose and be happy. I hope you are fine now. Even now, I can’t do things and sometimes get frustrated. But this might happen for a reason. The universe was sending me a signal. You know we heard millions of times – slow down and smell the roses.

      All my positive vibes and best wishes.

  • gemmalynsey

    You have some really great points here and it’s a really thoughtful read. I absolutely agree that health is so important and career for the fulfilment sense rather than the financial reward. I really enjoyed your post!

    • Kukana Ana

      Hi, Gemmalynsey

      Well, financial reward is important as well but health is first, in my opinion. When you don’t have health, your money loses value because you can’t enjoy what money can do.

  • Vinn

    This article is so spot on! So many things we take for granted in life but they are components of our happiness. Our health is one major example. Just a simple dedication to have ourselves annually examined or a yearly trip to the dentist will refrain from major worries in the future. We all know that health is wealth!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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