What makes Irish people happy?

Last year a few of my social media friends took part in a photo campaign called ‘100 days of happiness.’ The idea was that they would post a photo a day for 100 days with little things that made their day that bit happier.

Most started off well. A picture of their child. A picture of their dinner. A snap with Mum. A cute pic of the dog. By day five however, their child was reappearing again due to a lack of inspiration. And by day eight, the campaign had all but dried up.

I set about interviewing my own friends and family to try and establish what made them happy. I decided I would write a long list, so that if I decided to post my own 100 days of happiness I would have a list of insightful endorphin makers.

The answers came rolling in via text, email and private Facebook message. I jotted them all down and within a few short days I noted that the same answers came up again and again. It became clear from early on that it was the simple pleasures in life that made us happy. Time spent with family. Jokes. Pints. Clean pajamas. Money wasn’t a big issue. Caviar and expensive wines were out.

Recent studies have shown Ireland is one of the happiest countries in Europe. Despite our tough years, the world-wide recession and the forever mentioned property bust, Irish people have remained upbeat. We are prepared to look on the brighter side of life and have learned (the hard way) what is really important in life.

Today, Friday March 20, 2015 is International Day of Happiness. This UN-led initiative aims to induce social inclusion and well-being. It encourages us take a step back and try to enjoy the life we’ve been given.

If you’re feeling a little glum, perhaps this list will help cheer you up. The top 10 appear below, and the full list of 100 continues farther down the page.

Happy International Day of Happiness. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it!

Top ten things that make an Irish person happy:

10) A good night out

The craic agus ceol, cold pints and warm pub, old friends caught up with and new friends made. Hangovers can be contained simply by remembering what a good night was had. Bad nights don’t happen. Or if they do, we don’t remember.

9) An Irish summer day

Rare, but beautiful. Hot sun, quiet garden, Sunday paper and everyone with a smile on their face.

8) Taking your shoes off

Slippers may be put on or just socks may do – oh the comfort!

7) An Irish walk

In the countryside, when the rain has fallen, the air is fresh and the sun has just come out. Irish people will tell you there’s a certain scent in the air that just can’t be recreated elsewhere. Earth? Turf? Muck? Lovely Irish muck.

6) Getting paid

Checking your bank account and finding a large sum of cash has arrived, thanks to all your hard work. The utter relief. Now what to buy immediately?

5) New clobber

A dress, a shirt, shoes, something that looks expensive, fits you well and makes you feel like a million dollars. Any Irish person born before the 90s knows new clothes were a rarity and hand-me-downs the norm. Yuck! Thank you for something Celtic Tiger.

4) Clean sheets

Sinking into a freshly made bed is one of the most pleasing sensations on Irish skin. Best enjoyed after a shower and with new pajamas. Heaven!

3) A cup of tea

Kettle boiling, cups clinking, tea bag squeezing, and the presentation of tea with biccies (biscuits – cookies) is one of the most pleasant rituals known to Irish (wo)man. Luckily for us, we’ve built the cup of tea into all aspects of our day. Evening tea is probably the best and even better when shared with family or friends.

2) Our children

Blessings from heaven, our little offspring bring us pure joy, true happiness and teach us what life is all about. For respondents who didn’t have children of their own, they named close relatives' or children of close friends as being an important source of happiness in their lives.

1) Our partners

They make us laugh; they support us; they put up with us. Add a sprinkle of the bedroom magic too and you’ll be walking around with a smile on your face all day. Even through the annoying times, their bad habits and their knack for winding you up, almost all respondents reported their other halves as making them the happiest of all.

Top 100 things that makes an Irish person happy

100) Camping: putting the tent up, gathering and building a fire, sitting out in the open, feeling like a true cave man. Or woman.

99) Hearing a small child singing to themselves. Adorable.

98) Popping bubblewrap. So satisfying.

97) Popping a pimple. Also satisfying.

96) Walking barefoot on grass. Or on the beach. Or on warm tarmacadam.

95) Taking the cutlery from the drawer to set the table and discovering you bundled the exact amount of knives and forks needed.

94) Eating outdoors. On a balcony, al fresco or around the campfire, it feels like a treat.

93) Decluttering. Dropping bags off to charity. And viewing floor space you didn’t even know existed.

92) Running for a bus, tram or train and just catching it.

91) Putting on a perfume or aftershave and remembering a former, younger, time when you wore it.

90) Taking aim and not missing. Whether it’s the bin, fireplace or goal, hitting your target spot on means you feel amazing.

89) A restaurant menu that suits you down to the ground. Might as well have been written by your mother.

88) Watching a bird of prey hovering in the air. Spotting a wild eagle, owl or kestrel is rare and awe-inspiring. They are magnificent. (And so talented when it comes to catching rats.)

87) The smell of fresh flowers. Particularly in the hall of your home.

86) Having someone tell you they love your accent. Why thank you. Yes, we are a charming lot, aren’t we?

85) Teaching. Watching somebody learn something new, that you’ve helped them with, makes you feel useful and worthy.

84) Having your boss or customer say you did a good job. Makes it all worthwhile.

83) Giving directions. You feel good because you are helping and clever because you know the way.

82) Freshly laundered clothes. Even better if they’re still warm.

81) Waking up and realising you have a full hour left of snoozy time before the alarm goes off.

80) Being kind. Letting a person out of a parking space, helping someone across the road, being friendly. Good vibrations.

79) Having a deep tissue massage, having the aches kneaded away and feeling like you can walk taller afterwards

78) Waking up and realising you’ve clocked seven and a half hours sleep. With no interruptions.

77) Sitting down in the hairdressers, being handed a cup of tea, pile of magazines and told to relax. And knowing you are going to come out with new hair.

76) A good joke. Or a good yarn. Told in the best Irish way possible.

75) Bumping into someone you haven’t seen in a long time, having a great chat, and walking away abuzz at how that person makes you feel. Old friends rock.

74) Winning. Be it gaelic, soccer, rugby or horse racing, we Irish love nothing more than being the fastest, brightest and best. We’re a competitive lot. And talented of course.

73) Hearing somebody sing so beautifully it makes all the hairs on your arms and the back of your neck stand up.

72) A cosy fire, bucket of coal and a nice furry rug. For lying on, should the want take you.

71) Finding Irish products when you’re abroad. Tayto. Cadbury’s. Lyons or Barry’s tea-bags. Tayto sandwiches and chocolate for tea tonight so.

70) Lying on the floor and having the cat walk along your back.

69) Pumping gas or diesel and getting the numbers to stop right on the button. No two cent overcharge for you.

68) Having a picnic. Even if it’s a bit cloudy.

67) Having a BBQ. Especially when it’s sunny.

66) A long hot shower. Relaxing. Soothing. And you finish up clean! Fluffy towels a must.

65) Driving under a bridge when it’s raining and having the rain stop for three seconds.

64) Getting a handwritten note – usually left on the kitchen table with instructions, but so much nicer than a text.

63) Baby’s laughter. So infectious, the whole room will be chuckling when there’s a giggling baby around.

62) Being selected from the airport security queue for ‘fast tracking’. Is it my innocent face?

61) Having the exact change required. For a vending machine or a shopping cart. Or a bus. Or a parking meter.

60) Clearing the laundry basket and doing the ironing. Rare, but beautiful.

59) Baby smell. That lovely talcy, irreplaceable scent of an infant will have you sniffing dramatically around their heads. You just can’t help it.

58) Having a suntan – real or fake. Everything looks better on you.

57) Cuddles. In bed or on the sofa. Hugs with family you haven’t seen in ages. Warm fuzzy feelings.

56) Waking up without a hangover. Maybe because you didn’t drink – or maybe because you have amazing tolerance. Either way, you’re proud of yourself.

55) Cleaning the house from top to bottom. The satisfaction. The sparkliness. And don’t you dare leave that cup there!

54) New shoes. They make you walk happier.

53) Repairing something to make it like new again. You were born to sew buttons on things.

52) Having a friend give you something they no longer need or want. A guitar they don’t play. A jacket that doesn’t fit. Freebies!

51) Finding the perfect present for someone, buying it and thinking about giving it to them. You just can’t wait to see their face.

50) Getting personal mail. In these days of emails and skype, knowing that someone sat down and scratched out communications to you feels so special. Except when it’s from revenue. That’s not so special at all.

49) Completing a run or gym session. Especially one where you really pushed yourself. Cue natural endorphins. And natural smug face.

48) Hanging up a picture. Walloping the wall. And feeling like a DIY FIEND!

47) Looking through old photo albums. Cringing at how you looked. Longing for your youthful body. And remembering the good times.

46) Opening the fridge to find it stacked with drinks and food after a large supermarket shop. Fullness.

45) New socks. Especially fluffy ones.

43) Making an amazing Halloween costume. All by yourself.

42) Crunching across shells and shingle on a beach. Double crunch if you’re jogging with someone.

41) Sitting down to watch your favorite TV program. Hearing that theme music and thinking... yes!

40) Filing all your paperwork. Storing bills, insurance slips and tax related envelopes like an accountant. AND you can open the hall drawer again.

39) A midday movie, with the curtains drawn when it’s raining outside. Safe in someone else’s world.

38) A lie-in. Particularly at the weekend. And even better if it’s a sober lie-in. Hangover lie-ins are more like post-surgery recovery than a treat.

37) Pairing socks. And helping long lost patterns find their soul mates.

36) Seeing a rainbow. Especially double rainbows. Freak out time.

35) Booking a holiday. Choosing a destination and looking forward to everything you will experience there.

34) Sitting in a beer garden. During the day. With a beer. And WILDNESS in the air.

33) A day off work. What’s the sound? Oh yes. It’s NO ALARM!

32) The morning after the night before and reliving the night in all its glory with your mates. Throw in tea and sausage sandwiches and you’re set.

31) Coming home to a home-cooked meal. Spuds and gravy. Mmmmmm.

30) Having an evening to yourself at home. Goodies at the ready. No one judging you for scratching yourself or watching crappy reruns of reality TV.

29) The smell of freshly cut grass. Even better when someone has mowed your lawn for you. Green fingers? I don’t think so.

28) Christmas. Hearing your favorite Christmas song, drinks with friends, dinner with family. Everyone can find at least one thing that makes them happy at Christmas.

27) Catching all the green lights when driving. Score!

26) Pulling on a pair of jeans and finding money in the pockets. Woohoo, a fiver!

25) Autumn leaves. On the trees and on the ground. And in the air when you kick them.

24) Getting quiz question answers right. You’re a bloody genius. And everyone knows it.

23) Picking up a sale item you’ve been watching for a while and discovering it’s half price. Yippie!

22) Stepping on the scales and discovering you’ve lost weight.

21) Car air fresheners. And a valeted car. Can’t believe I’ve been driving round in this stink hole for weeks now.

20) Receiving an unexpected compliment. Even better if it’s from somebody that you really admire.

19) Having the parents or relatives round when you’ve just happened to clean the house AND have milk and biscuits in. Why yes I have turned into a successful adult (at 34).

18) Buying a concert ticket five minutes before the show sells out. Smug and successful.

17) Doggy welcomes. Being welcomed home by your loyal pooch touches the cockles of our heart. Such. A. Cutie.

16) Hearing a special song on the radio; a song from your past that makes you remember different times, or a current song that just puts you in a great mood. May induce screaming when song is played in a nightclub / pub.

15) A long phone call or skype with an old friend. Catching up where you left off and bonding all over again.

14) Fridays. 5.30pm. Work finished and the whole weekend ahead of you. Woohoo!

13) Getting a new book, from an author you love. You just can’t wait to open that cover and start.

12) Seeing the first swallow of summer. And watching them queue up on the telephone wires. They signal sunshine and warm evenings. At least we live in hope.

11) Finishing all the housework, sitting down on your vacuumed couch and taking five. Pure. Bliss.

10) A good night out. The craic agus ceol, cold pints and warm pub, old friends caught up with and new friends made. Hangovers can be contained simply by remembering what a good night was had. Bad nights don’t happen. Or if they do, we don’t remember.

9) An Irish summer day. Rare, but beautiful. Hot sun, quiet garden, Sunday paper and everyone with a smile on their face.

8) Taking your shoes off. Slippers may be put on or just socks may do – oh the comfort!

7) An Irish walk. In the countryside, when the rain has fallen, the air is fresh and the sun has just come out. Irish people will tell you there’s a certain scent in the air that just can’t be recreated elsewhere. Earth? Turf? Muck? Lovely Irish muck.

6) Getting paid. Checking your bank account and finding a large sum of cash has arrived, thanks to all your hard work. The utter relief. Now what to buy immediately?

5) New clobber. A dress, a shirt, shoes, something that looks expensive, fits you well and makes you feel like a million dollars. Any Irish person born before the 90s knows new clothes were a rarity and hand-me-downs the norm. Yuck! Thank you for something Celtic Tiger.

4) Clean sheets. Sinking into a freshly made bed is one of the most pleasing sensations on Irish skin. Best enjoyed after a shower and with new pajamas. Heaven!

3) A cup of tea. Kettle boiling, cups clinking, tea bag squeezing, and the presentation of tea with biccies (biscuits – cookies) is one of the most pleasant rituals known to Irish (wo)man. Luckily for us, we’ve built the cup of tea into all aspects of our day. Evening tea is probably the best and even better when shared with family or friends.

2) Our children. Blessings from heaven, our little offspring bring us pure joy, true happiness and teach us what life is all about. For respondents who didn’t have children of their own, they named close relatives' or children of close friends as being an important source of happiness in their lives.

1) Our partners. They make us laugh; they support us; they put up with us. Add a sprinkle of the bedroom magic too and you’ll be walking around with a smile on your face all day. Even through the annoying times, their bad habits and their knack for winding you up, almost all respondents reported their other halves as making them the happiest of all.

*Nicola Cassidy is an Irish writer who blogs at www.ladynicci.com. She works in marketing, has previously worked in political PR and is currently researching her debut novel. When she's not writing, you can find her singing on stage and being Mum to baby daughter, August.

It’s the simple pleasures in life that bring us joy. Time spent with family. Jokes. Pints. Clean pajamas.