Yesterday I started my first contest here on freestylemind. I plan to do more of them in the future, but this was the first, and I was a bit nervous before starting it.

Yet the response has been amazing so far. In less than 24 hours I’ve received more than 200 submissions, and I’m still thinking of a way to make everyone win (because everyone wins here). I have a few ideas, but it’s a secret.

All of that made me think a lot about happiness, and a few questions popped into my mind. Where does happiness come from? How’s that I’m more happy when I give stuff away freely rather than when I buy something for me? What happens when you realize what really makes you happy. Will you finally do more of it, and avoid throwing away your hard earned money as a way to justify your work? Those are interesting questions. Let’s try to answer them.

Giving stuff away

Giving stuff away is perhaps the most common and obvious way to find happiness. For centuries our society was based on genuine exchange of goods between people, not always expecting something in return.

This common practice of helping each other is still present today. There are thousands of individuals and organizations that are helping less fortunate people each day for nothing. Think of free hospitals, charities and red cross as an example. I’m sure they are all really happy for what they are doing.

It has been said that the really reach people are those who donate their stuff away, and I couldn’t agree more. Indeed it’s because of them that we have so many beautiful things in the world.

Of course we can’t just give everything we have away, there’s another ingredient that’s still missing. You have to enjoy doing it, otherwise there’s no happiness.

Creating something

Another great source of happiness is building new things. Creating new stuff because you wanted to, and not because someone told you do it is always very rewarding.

There are infinite things you can create. Some people create companies, other create websites. Artists create drawings and sculptures, children create puzzles and other games. All of them have fun while they’re doing those activities.

I found that it doesn’t matter the size of your project or the audience you have (you might do it for yourself). What I found is that just creating something is enough for triggering happiness.

Connecting people

This is something that may not be so obvious but still very effective. Connecting new people means creating new relationships from people who didn’t know each other. Connecting new people can also mean creating communities, movements and opportunities for everyone involved.

Connecting people together is so important because when you do it, you are creating exponential change. If two people with the same idea meet each other, something new can happen, a new tribe will be born, and the world will probably be a bit better than before. Wars divide people, politics divide people too. Smart people connect people instead.

Doing something new

Doing something new that excites you is eventually the essence of personal growth. Every time that you try something new you are pushing your boundaries and exiting your comfort zone. It might hurt at first, but it’s nothing compared to the satisfaction you’ll feel at the end.

Now, I know how it feels to worry about outcomes when you try something new. I was really bad at that, so bad that I would become sick in almost every occasion, until one day I discovered something. And that something is to have fun while doing something new.

If you feel tension while you’re doing something, that’s your instinctive brain who’s trying to maintain the status quo. Your brain still thinks that you’re living in the savana and that you’re risking your life. Perhaps that’s not your case, so take a deep breath and smile, remember that all you have to do is to have fun and that there’s nothing to be worried about.

Conclusion

I usually don’t write about abstract topics such as happiness, but today I wanted to try something new.

Now it’s your turn, what are the things that make you happy? I’m curious.