7 steps to Designing for Happiness

I recently shared the stage with a Happiness Coach and was asked to speak about how to design an environment that supports a happy vibe.  This led me on a path of research – some questionable and some not so rocket science – but I was able to synthesise it into an easy to understand list of insights and practical tips you can implement in your home or work environment today.


What is Happiness? 

How would you define Happiness?

Similarly, how do you define something beautiful or ugly?  


Simple.  The definition is subjective and unique to each and everyone one of us.  Things that make us ‘happy’ are based on our history, memories and experiences of the world so they’re unique for everyone of us.

Think of something you made at school and brought home for your family.  That proud look on your parents face as they put it up on display.  Let’s face it – chances of your masterpiece appearing in a gallery exhibition were pretty slim but the look on your parents face was priceless.  Because in their eyes it was beautiful.  Each time they looked at it, it brought them joy and made them smile.


The same goes when designing for happiness at home!


Society has taught us to measure our happiness through material things like income, wealth, success and material things.  Yet the more we have, the more we seek to find that illusive happiness.



So let me break it down for you:

1. Activities

List down the activities you absolutely L O V E !  It could be cooking, watching sunsets, reading, sewing etc…  Make sure your home is set up in a way that allows you to do more of that.  For example, if you love to cook, make the kitchen the centre of your home by creating more dining space to cook for the ones you love!  Give yourself one month to make those changes.

2. Declutter 

Remove things that no longer serve you.  Does it bring you joy?  Do you use it?  If not, it’s time to say goodbye.  Take pleasure knowing the act of giving and repurposing will bring you way more joy than all that ‘stuff’!

3. Colour

It’s impossible to pin point one ‘happy’ colour as colour relates to our childhood, memories and experiences.  In saying that, Yellow is most associated with sunshine and it has been shown that Yellow stimulates positive brain chemicals like Serotonin.  However, too much of one colour can cause negative stimulation so mix up your colours, textures and patterns.  Stick to non-primary colours for a calmer mood.

4. Light

Encourage as much natural light into your space as possible but don’t replace this with getting outside.  Natural sunshine triggers Serotonin and Dopamine – our feel good chemicals which are linked to helping Obesity, Diabetes and Depression.  On the contrary, make sure you get 2 hours of warm light before bed.  That means turn off the fluoros and all devices before bed.  Cool light stimulates our brain and is linked to interfering with sleep.

5. Nature

Bring some of the outdoors in with indoor plants.  They increase the oxygen in a room and create a calming and grounding feeling.

6. Smell

Smells trigger memories – way more accurately than sight.  As humans, we can recall 10,000 different odours with 65% accuracy over a year in contrast to 50% accuracy of visuals after 3 months.  Go figure!

Use Peppermint to crank up the energy levels, Citrus to uplift your mood or Lavender to relax you.

7. Play

Bring out your inner child and have some fun.  That includes breaking away from routine and being spontaneous!  Why not create some games at home like using your dining table for ping-pong or camping on your living room floor.  While you’re at it, roast some marshmallows to really get into the vibe.  Creativity is fun and fun is good for our health!

So I hope you can try some of these tips at home and feel happier for doing so!  And whilst you can’t technically measure happiness, you’ll know it’s working when you’re feeling those happy vibes day after day.

Let me know how you go and what effect you feel after implementing some of these steps in your space.


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