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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Millersville chapter.

Happiness is such a hard topic to really grasp and understand. All I know is that I want more of it. In an article I recently read, Courtney Ackerman notes that happiness is “an enduring state of mind consisting not only of feelings of joy, contentment, and other positive emotions, but also of a sense that one’s life is meaningful and valued” (Ackerman, 2023, para. 37).

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As this new, and unbelievably, my last school year kicks off I am going to make a conscious effort in order to keep myself happy and healthy! Here are the 8 things I am going to prioritize in my life in order to boost my happiness and set myself up for this year full of unknowns.

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1. Meditation

I have been into meditation since I was about 16 years old. I love that meditation centers my body and mind to be in sync. There are hundreds of kinds of meditative techniques so there is definitely something for everyone! I am making a goal of meditating at least once a day, every day. I always feel so amazing after doing it and I usually sleep better if I do some sort of meditative practice before sleeping. So, meditation will be my possibly easiest commitment, but it takes conscious effort to do it every day. Funny enough, I am writing a children’s book about mindfulness practices for kids, so I’ll be helping myself while also doing “research”!

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2. Eating Healthy

Eating healthy is something I have been working on recently and am going to commit to it in order to improve my health overall and my happiness. I read an article from the New York Times that explained that a healthy diet promotes health in microbes in the stomach which communicates that to our brain. These microbes then produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine which regulate our mood and emotions (O’Connor, 2021, para. 3). I thought this was really interesting and helped me understand why healthy eating habits are important not just to physical health but to your happiness levels.

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3. Reading!

This one is simple – I love reading more than I love Oreos. Could you tell already by the fact that I couldn’t pick just one gif :)

I am an avid reader but lately, especially as school ramps up and gets busy, it is really hard to read. Reading makes me so happy, and I have definitely fallen off the wagon when it comes to reading non-school materials. I want to make sure I start setting aside time in order to read for pleasure and on topics I am interested in. Reading is so important to the growth of your literacy skills as well as the betterment of your mind & imagination. What I love about this happiness goal is that even if you’re reading a book about horror or romance it is improving you academically as well!

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4. Family Time

For me, spending time with my family is invaluable. I think as life changes, as challenges arise, and as we grow older the relationships with family are so important. However, your family unit functions or how it looks or who it includes – spending quality time with family members that fill you up is so important. There has been a lot of shifts in my family dynamics over the years and although I feel certain relationships are better than ever, I also feel others have really morphed into something different. For me, focusing my energy on family time that is meaningful to me allows me to feel secure, safe, and loved. When I cast away negative relationships and let in positive ones and focus on the growth of those, my happiness grows exponentially. I know that not everyone has the same family dynamic – believe me mine is no different, but putting time into that is so awesome. I feel happiest when I am making memories with my family. And although some really hard things have happened within my life this past year and continue to be something to navigate; our bonds have gotten me through. Happiness perceivers above sadness and stress.

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5. Connecting with Friends (meaningfully)

I am an extremely extroverted person, however, sometimes this becomes really draining for me. I have come to realize, especially as friendships have evolved and changed over the years, that quality really does matter more than quantity. I think that being happy with those who are surrounding you is really important. I set this goal for my happiness this year in the way that I am not focusing on how many friends I have or how many people I talk to/text with. However, I did set it in order to check myself – so I am investing my energy into those around me who also fill me up. I am really grateful for my closest friends, they keep me going, they get me through, they know me inside and out. A large aspect of my happiness this year is going to come from the choices I make and the investments I make in those who surround me the closest.

6. Staying Organized

I don’t know about you all, but I feel like I start the year off really organized and then I fall off that wagon after the first 2 months and it just becomes a hot mess express. Therefore, I am creating an organization regiment to follow so that I stay organized the whole year. Organization makes me happy but sometimes when life gets crazy organization goes down with the ship. I think that as a college student, making sure you have a plan to be organized is just a smart decision and it helps with stress. The last thing that I or anyone needs in the midst of a busy school year and life is to not know what is going on, not know what is due when, not knowing about scheduling conflicts, and so on. Organization = happiness because organization = little/no stress and little/no stress = happiness!

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7. Re-connecting with My Faith

I honestly did not know if I was going to include this one. Not necessarily because it isn’t a large point of happiness for me. However, religion is also a hot subject – maybe it’s just because I am an early education major, but I’ll keep things short, sweet, and simple to be safe. I had a great relationship with my religion growing up and I absolutely love the community aspect. I feel that my religion is mine and therefore, I do not need to “push” it or “loudly express” it to others in order for it to be special/important to me. However, I feel that my relationship with my religion had gotten disconnected during my middle school and high school years because of moving around. So, something I want to make a priority in my life is to really focus on my relationship with my beliefs, use those to live a fulfilling, meaningful, and giving life, and help others. I think that happiness and your core values go hand-in-hand. I also think that it is important to lay a strong foundation for yourself in order to lay a strong foundation for your future family. To me, any and all beliefs that cause you to be a good, kind, loving, caring person are amazing, and I want more of that in my life as things move forward.

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8. self-care & Exercise

The last thing I am going to try and focus on more this year to be happier is self-care, which I looped exercise into. I think that taking time out of the day for yourself is a great way to relax, focus on you, and make sure you’re getting what you need. Things that I consider self-care are:

  • Doing my skincare routine
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Taking a shower (that isn’t rushed)
  • Getting outdoors (walking, picnic, sitting outside)
  • Cooking (I am so Zen when I am cooking for fun)
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Long story short, I am really focusing in on being happy and healthy this year. It is really important to take time during the chaos of life to slow down and focus on what gives you joy. Whatever it is that you find meaningful connection in or purpose doing – do it. Do it loudly and do it well! Happy school year to all those of you who are back in the desks and happy year to those who are not. Whatever your situation, try and make it a better one <3

Until Next Time

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Happiness Article –

Courtney E. Ackerman, MA. (2023, September 6). What is Happiness and Why is it Important? PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-happiness/#:~:text=Happiness%20can%20be%20defined%20as,sought%20after%20state%20of%20being.

New York Times Article –

O’Connor, A. (2021, May 6). How Food May Improve Your Mood. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/well/eat/mental-health-food.html#:~:text=A%20healthy%20diet%20promotes%20a,implicated%20in%20mental%20health%20outcomes.

Maddie Engleman

Millersville '24

Hello! I'm Maddie Engleman; A bit about me: I am a super senior at Millersville University this year, graduating spring '24. This fall is my 7th semester writing for HC which is so cool! I am an Early Childhood Education major and am minoring in General English. I absolutely love kids, writing, reading, cooking/baking, and crafting with my Cricut. I also enjoy spending time around animals! I love being a part of such an empowering platform and get to write pieces that impact people anywhere. HCXO ~ Maddie "Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic." - Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)