woman smiling at sunset
Photo by Allef Vinicius

Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at what makes people happy. What makes you happy?

Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along on YouTube
Voice 1  

What is happiness? Are you happy? What makes you happy? For thousands of years people all over the world have discussed these questions and expressed different opinions. We begin today’s programme with some of their thoughts.

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Aristotle was a great thinker who lived in Greece over 2,000 years ago. He said,

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‘Happiness depends on ourselves.’

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Thucydides also lived in Greece at about the same time. He was a military man who studied history. He said,

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‘The secret of happiness is freedom. And the secret of freedom is courage.

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William Gladstone was the prime minister of the United Kingdom in the 19th century. He said,

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‘Be happy with what you have and are. Be open-handed with both, and you will not have to hunt for happiness.’

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Charles Spurgeon also lived in the United Kingdom at about the same time. He was a religious speaker. And he said,

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‘It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.’

Voice 2  

Today’s Spotlight is on happiness.

older woman laughint
Photo by Huyen Nguyen
Voice 1  

People all around the world think that happiness is important. In 2012 the United Nations even passed a resolution about happiness. All 193 member states agreed to the resolution. They recognised happiness as a global human goal. And they decided to make the 20th of March the International Day of Happiness.

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On the 20th of March 2015 the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, wrote a special message. In it he said,

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‘I wish everyone around the world a very happy International Day of Happiness! The search for happiness is a serious business. Happiness for the whole human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations. Peace, plenty, lives of respect for all – this is what we seek. We want all men, women and children to enjoy all their human rights. We want all countries to know the joy of peace. We want both people and planet to be blessed with lasting development, and to be free of the terrible effects of climate change. Let us give thanks for what makes us happy. And let us give our efforts to filling our world with happiness.’

Voice 1  

But what makes people happy? Many people think that happiness depends on being rich and beautiful. But scientists and experts have studied happiness. They know this is not correct. Good and bad things happen to everyone. Many scientists and experts believe that happiness is something we can choose. They believe that happiness is not always about what happens to you. They believe that much happiness is about how you choose to react. You can choose to react to events in your life in a positive way. Dr. Amit Sood is an expert at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. He said,

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‘Happiness is a habit or custom. Some of us are born happy. But most others have to choose it. We often, however, do not understand we have that choice. We also do not know how to exercise that choice. As a result we push happiness away. Do not let that not happen to you.’

Voice 2  

So how can we choose to be happy? What do we need to do? Experts have a lot of different advice. But they agree that gratitude or being thankful is very important. You will learn to be happy or happier by being thankful.

Voice 1  

Dr Robert Emmons is a leading expert on gratitude. He suggests many ways to become more thankful. One method he suggests is keeping a gratitude journal or book. Every day, write down things for which you are thankful. These things may be about you, events or people. He also suggests that you use the language of thankful people. You can use words like gifts, givers, blessings, blessed.

Voice 2  

What things are people most grateful for? BUPA is a health organisation in the United Kingdom. BUPA did some research about the things that make people feel happy. They found that many small and simple things make people feel good. For example, sleeping in a clean, fresh bed. Another example: many people enjoy feeling the sun on their faces. Other people feel good when someone is kind to them.  Other people like laughing so hard it hurts or smelling freshly made bread.

woman laughing
Photo by Frank Busch
Voice 1  

Some people find that music makes them feel happy. Pharrell Williams writes and performs music. He said that that music brought him happiness. He even wrote a song called ‘Happy’.

[excerpt of the song “Happy”]

It is a very joyful song. People around the world have enjoyed watching it. They have watched the song more than 750 million times on YouTube. And many people have even made their own versions of it. Williams told the BBC why he wrote the song.

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‘The purpose of the song was to make everyone remember that you have a basic freedom to find happiness.’

Voice 2  

Even the United Nations knows that music can make people happy. And in 2015 the United Nations celebrated the International Day of Happiness with music. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, asked people all over the world to share a song that makes them happy.

Voice 1  

Many famous people shared songs that represented happiness and made them smile. They helped to create the world’s happiest playlist. The actor Michael Douglas chose the song ‘Zip a Dee Doo Dah’. The singer James Blunt chose the song ‘We are Young’.

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Pharrell Williams attended the United Nations event that launched the playlist. He told everyone that protecting our planet is necessary for human happiness. He also urged everyone to find out what makes them happy, 

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‘It can be something as detailed as a long term goal. Or it could be something as simple as the way I feel when my son smiles. You should know that happiness is your right. It is a reaction to something, or someone, or a time.’

Voice 1  

Are you happy? What makes you happy? What are you thankful for? Does a particular song make you happy? Tell us about it. You can leave a comment on our website. You can also comment on Facebook at facebook.com/spotlightradio. Be happy!

Voice 2  

The writer of this programme was Katy Blake. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this programme and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this programme again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, ‘Be Happy’.

Voice 1  

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


What is one thing that makes you happy? Is it a simple thing or a complex thing? Write your answer in the comments below.

Join the discussion

    • Hello Warner, you can still download the audio! But it is a little more difficult. Please click on the link to Spreaker, then choose the Spotlight podcast. There, you will see all our episodes. You will have to find the one you would like to download. I hope that helps!

  • I think the happiness changes. For example; some people likes to travel around the world. Some people likes to have a family. Some people wants have both.

  • I love making happiness by myself like watching my favorite program in Netflix, or writing my feelings, or talking with my friends and my lover, or and making textile, i love anything making by myself because it will stay longer, but the happiness that comes from the others will fade away quickly .. THX for reading my letter ♥️.

  • Hi ,Im aya
    The hapiness for me,is having a perfect health and achieving my goals which is expanding my english to the top
    Additionnally,I d like ro mention that hapiness is to come along with your friends well and get together with your lovely people

  • ،I,m thinkful for every things in my life ..and the top is (Iskam)..blased be to Allah.I have
    a nice family and I feel I’m spatial like Allah gave me an ausum vouise and
    a beautiful face and a cleaver brain in education And Community. And the most importnant is my positve vibes always for every events in the life.About simple things that make me happy Immiditly is muzic and rain and learn some thing new.

  • for happiness as I am Muslim we have the gratitude concept and grateful to god called in Arabic الحمد لله Elhomd Allah

  • Happiness is to witness, in the morning, waiting for a new day, at the first appearance of dawn, to grasp all the beauty of nature and every form of life. The light that affirms itself over darkness as a sign of every other hope. Thanks Spotlight.

  • From: ssramossilva@gmail.com
    To: spotlight program
    Subject: to answer to the questions below
    Date: Tuesday 10, November 2020
    Location: São Paulo city – São Paulo Brazil South America

    Dear Liz Waid, Adam Navis, Katy Blake, and Michio Ozaki

    First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one great article. Thank you very much.
    Question 1 – What is one thing that makes you happy?
    Answer 1 – It makes me happy when I see our patients getting the cure from their health problems and leave the hospital and go to their houses with their families. So for my team and I this is a great happiness and It lets us very happy.
    Question 2 – Is it a simple thing or a complex thing?
    Answer 2 – Yes, It is a simple thing. We should believe in God and in our team and in our health care.
    God bless you
    Severino Ramos da Silva

  • No one can be happy always, but we have to think about everything that makes us happy. there are individual differences about things that make us happy. In my opinion, self-development, learn new things and working on future goals lead to success in the whole of your life, Therefore we can be enjoyed and be happy in our life

  • I find happiness in the small and simple things, just like having my family and friends around me and enjoying every moment in my life and living with peace.

  • really i had been realised what is values of happiness 🙂 if you not born happy Create happiness on your own 😀

  • mmm.. I feel happy when I finish something that takes a long time for me also ،when I see my beautiful mom happy it mean a lot to me and when I pray I feel happy and so calm .
    I am thankful to you spotlight < I keep working to develop my english ,So I am sorry if there are any errors in my script.

  • What Makes be happy is lifting weights in the gym and watching movies and series on netflix and gang out with my friends .
    This is what makes me happiest person in the world .

  • I think happiness is sometimes complex, sometimes basic. Some people want to be rich, to have a house, have a nice job, or travel around the world. But some people just want a warm dinner or a peaceful night. It’s so many different ways to define happiness. For me, when i hear a song that was sung long time ago, and i hear that song is sung today – I can see the singers of two ages, it makes me feel enjoyable, peaceful, happy and makes the world more lovely. But we just need to appriciate to everything we have, be kind to everyone around us and enjoy the life in a positive way, we can find happiness

    • I agree with you William! Expecially with last sentence. How spoke in this podcast William Gladstone:
      ,,Be happy with what you have and are. Be open-handed with both, and you will not have to hunt for happiness”.
      According to buddhist philosophy we must learn perceive things as they are.

  • When I see my family feel happy
    When I see my dad in a good health
    When I sleep early and weak up early that’s makes me happy
    When I have a coffee I was extremely happy
    It’s so simple things makes me happy .

  • yes, I am happy. when I listening to stray kids and while I watch chan rooms in V live I think this group make me happy

  • Actually there are many things make me happy like playing football, exercising and talking with my family. And in my opinion it is a simple thing for people to feel happy because as Aristotle said at the beginning “Happiness depends on ourselves”. Finally, Happiness is a good thing for all people to feel relaxing and happy in this life.

  • I am happy Allhamdllah. My happiness being in the small details of my day. when I see my friends and family fine, I be happy. also, when I spend time with baby I become happy. that is some exmple for things make me happy.

  • I feel so happy when I meet people who I love, like my family, my friends and my nieces, on other side when I finish my works successfully I feel so happy.

  • The happiest thing that I have now is a full and happy family. Because of the coronavirus, I have more chance to beside my most beloved people. Thanks

  • one simple things to make me happy is helping someone if I see another person smiling it makes me feel happy too

  • When I started to enjoy the small things that I have that make me feel happy. Like the smell of my coffee or the best part of my day when my family talking and laughing.

  • I am so grateful for all the blessings I have, I thank God for that always, I thank Him for being in this wonderful world, I thank Him for the hope and kindness that fills me

  • When someone tell me a lovely comment about me or something i do , when I listen to the music that I love , when I think and told my self the good things are coming for me just wait for it , I think simple things make me happy

  • Yes I’m happy
    And I think happiness is a choice for you ✅
    I love making happiness by myself, eat my favorite food , drink coffee, watching favorite series and watch sunset and more things
    But the best happiness hear voice my love

  • Simple things like makes me happy like watching video in youtupe that fild with large amount of information and a lot og songs makes me happy

  • I always believe that a great life isn’t about great huge things !! It’s about small things that makes a big difference.

  • The things that make me happy are usually quite simple. It could bewhen I meet a professor who lectures with great enthusiasm or when I meet a new friend who is warm and welcoming. I used to beecstatic for the rest of the night after meeting a cute sister; she provides me with an enormous amount of positive energy. That’s all there is to it. The smallest of things like that can bring me great joy and satisfaction. I don’t deny that the big things can bring me happiness, but I also believe that the small things can bring me happiness. An illustration of a particularly memorable occasion. When I was in high school, I applied to The University of Medicine and Pharmacy. After putting forth my best effort, I was able to passthe entrance exam for my dream university. While it was difficult, I was overjoyed when I finally achieved my goal. I believe that we should view our lives in a positive light and keep things simple in order to keep our minds free and make life more enjoyable.

  • when i go out with my friends to coffee shop and we discussing all issue social and talking about our remembers when we was at high school , and when i see my family everyday and when i talking with my girlfriend she is one of the most beatiful women in the world and when i achive my goals even it was small goals i enjoy with it

  • I think the things that’s make me so happy when I get A+ in the hard subject,It not sample thing you can get it easily so that’s why happiness are complex sometimes

  • Before the covid 19 disease happened, I often happy when I go to university with my friend. But, at that time, I always live in home all full day that make me hard to happy. When the disease is improved, I go to my grand, I meet my niece, and I am very happy with them.

  • I think I feel happy when I go to the gym with my friends.
    I see it is a simple thing because it’s a something you do dally.

  • Hi , I’m thankful for everything in my life . Things make happy… When I help someone , When someone be kind to me , When it rains , When I watch a kdrama while having a great meal . I like many songs , there is no a particular song make me happy .
    In the end always be thankful and try to do things that make you happy ☺️

  • there are lots of things make me happy in this life for example the smell of the ground after the rain .. watching my favourite movie .. reading quraa’n ..meeting my freinds .. doing small achievements every day

  • First i want to thank you on this episode, my english language is not very well yet, so don’t be focus on my mistakes 🙂
    Most things make me happy are good smells like roses , and when i eat my favorite food , watching a movie with my family that most things makes me happy , that’s it

    Thank you so much

  • first when I’m doing the must direction of God and listening quran
    second playing, shopping, learning something new and traveling

  • Hi, I’m An, I’m 12 years old and I live in Vietnam. I really like this app because it helps me to improve my English very well

  • When my family is happy, I am always happy,
    I grateful for God, when I haveing a bad time and then I remember that Aallah is there and won’t leave me alone

    Sea trips make me happy

  • Yes I am happy now because the weather is good and raining all the day. I think the rain is a common reason to be happiness. There are many songs give me feeling happy usually I like songs about life and successful.

  • Happiness is linked to two things
    1. Knowing the reality of our existence and the universe
    2. Live by this truth
    You will not find this in any other than Islam
    Read the Quran and discover this for yourself.
    I am not talking here of momentary happiness that anyone may feel at some times, but I am talking about permanent happiness.

  • Immmm, Im happy by anything make feel happy and smail any simple things for example site in outdoor and drink black coffee or talking with my best friend
    I see that everything around us makes us happy if we want to✔️

  • i agree that “Be happy with what you have and are”.
    Before i don’t see this section “Happy”, I think i’m not happy. Because i thought i don’t have and no action, no emotion. But i thank for everything i have!

  • Ifeel happy when I see my children happy,clean,have good health.I feel happy when they give me a big hug and a big kiss,or when they smile their cute and lovely smiles.
    Also I have special songs that makes me happy.

  • my little dog makes me happy, music? ok, there is a song that really makes me happy: this is: Don’t worry be happy by Bobby McFerrin. to to workout makes me happy too.
    thank you.

  • video games makes me happy
    also watching soccer and professional wrestling and movies
    and also be with my friends

  • The thing makes me happy everyday is able to get up with knowing my family happy. I often keep a motivational book with numerous quotes to read anytime I have time

  • I feel happy when i sleep enough, and i be happy when i play with children, also, i feel happy when i eat chocolate.

  • Very things make me happy, like seeing my mother around me every day, listen to music, read a book

  • When I and family by health good. And achievement some work special when spend some times learn English. And stay with my husband and talking, play with children, even take the phone and listen voice my mommy and dad .and a trip short in car .and an experience anything new example food, clothes , drink , place.this make my happy and thankful .

  • There are many different things make me happy like watching drama , movies with eat chocolate or any sweet. When completion my daily tasks . And when go to sleep , sleep in a cool, dark room with a warm mattress that’s happiness.

  • When I remember my love and how ours days in future become and when I think I will speak English with British accent soon

  • When I am chatting with my friend a couple of times on the day. Its really look like routine but I enjoy it and I am thankful for that.

  • Simple thing like a rainy weather , make my coffee , take a shower and i have a comfortable sleep after a long and hard day

  • When I watch film or drink a cup of coffee, I am feeling happy. I think is it a simple thing 🙂 .
    Thank you for your work I am thankful for you.

  • My mother voice when i hear it i feel that life is good and beautiful, my playlist song that make me feel freedom and Iam fly in the sky when I listen to it..

  • thank u spotlight for this gorgeose information , in fact i am a simple person , one thing maks me happy is a lot
    thank god , do my workout . drink my coffee in the moring and smell a fresh air
    cooking a cinnamon rolls , hang out whith friends , eat chocolate and somthing deliciouc , etc .. .

  • thank u spotlight for this gorgeose information , in fact i am a simple person , one thing maks me happy is a lot
    thank god , do my workout . drink my coffee in the moring and smell a fresh air
    cooking a cinnamon rolls , hang out whith friends , eat chocolate and somthing deliciouc , etc .. . thanks again

  • I am happy when I talk with my family and my friends. I love my family and my friends. In addition, I feel happy when I watch my favorite movie, YouTube and animation.

  • Hi there , my name is Lara I’m interested in this subject and I like it so much .in my opinion happiness it’s the most important thing in our life. It’s one of our important right .so,you should be happy and we can bring happiness by being thankful for a little blessings in our daily life .for example,we can bring happiness by reading something that makes you feel better or by watching your favourite movie .

  • What makes me really happy is seeing my dad, mom and sisters by my side, and also when I’m sad, I like to pray and then design clothes.

  • The one thing that makes me happy, that when I achieved one step for my goal, and it’s not easy to done this.

  • I’m realized that happiness not a thing you will take it every time, some moment you should be accepted bad feels. being happy it’s depend to you because you are how makes yourself happy.

    thanks , Meshal

  • Currently, with me, happiness is come back home and reunion with my family. Only when we are away from leave our family do we realize how important it is.

  • ooooh happiness .
    I can’t describe my feeling when I’m happy.I have many simple things that makes me happy, like reading something useful or being with my relatives.

  • Yea I’m happy
    Many things make me happy such as; got A+ in my subjects at university and when I play some sports like football I have been very happy and when I meet my friends and the last thing when I wake up early and go to mosque to prayer for god.
    Thank you spotlight for thise bodcast.

  • This topic is about how we can find happiness in our heart. In another way, happiness is how we action, how we face with our problems in life. If we choose to easy with everything, we will find happiness in heart.

  • Hi.Thank you everyone for awesome episode, If I want to say what make me happy, I’ll say seeing my mother everyday, talk with her laughing she is made my life.

    I hope and wish to everybody joyful moments with your family

  • The rain or a lot of clueds makes me happy ,
    My small family make me happy a lot,
    Go outside and drink some coffee olso.

  • I fell happy when i pray and be good in my life and when i fell thankful to every one i fell happy when the climate is good and warm i think it is a simple thing

  • Rain makes me happy. And a song that makes me happy is an old Iranian song called “Boye Eidy” by “Farhad Mehrad”. It is a song about Iranian new year called “Nowruz” or “Eid”.

  • there are a lot of things can make me happy like looking at the sky , hug my mom , having a long call with a friend and learning something new .

    • there are alot of thing can make me happy like Read the Qur’an .the love my family , love people, Doing a hobby, helping people and learning new things

  • Simple things always make my day ..
    I grateful to every things in my life .
    A lot of thanks to Spotlight Team

  • Yes alhamdullah i’m happy
    Mmmm going to yhe gym make me happy also setting with mu family make me happy , cooking a healthy food , buying a new clothes make me happy

    Mmmm maybe yes

  • As an introvert, the things that make me happy are the things I do alone without people around me, like reading a book, having a cup of coffee, playing with my cat, imple things, but the important thing is to be away from people.

  • There a lot of things make me happy, like go out the house, call my friend, and get many it makes me so happy because I can buy anything and when I see my mother happy I will be happy like her

  • There are lots of things that make me happy, such as watching NBA especially the playoffs, playing basketball and doing exercise.

  • I totally agree with who said that happiness depends on ourself
    I supposed that the truth
    There are many people have a rough live but you can see them smile and say thankful words ,,, my happiness in the world is my daughter,, her smile ,, she makes me so happy when she behaves well ,, i feel happy when i can get to her what she want
    Thanks a million for this interesting topic

  • The most important that making me happy is doing what I like. For example, whatching anime or playing games I like. Being happy is simple and it usually depends on the person.

  • The simple things make me happy like staying with my family, going out with friends, and watching films

  • i think the happiness its comes from siting with family and playing with children this is my thinking but everyone have some events to make him happy

  • there are alot of thing can make me happy like Read the Qur’an .the love my family , love people, Doing a hobby, helping people and learning new things

  • The thing that makes me happy is reading the Holy Quran and listening to it, this is true happiness

  • Thank you spotlight for these precious informations. This is the main item that we can discuss and talk about in these days, because it is the purpuse of our life.
    Happiness, i explain it in an only Word, that is : spiritual things. It is the main thing that almost all People, all around the world, overlooked and we can find rather that a great part ignore it totally .
    Our bodies are linking to be great, to food : exactally 3 main meals in each day. But we found that People don’t give worth to the other side of the body that is the spirit ; to live correcltly in balance.
    The Spirit is the responsible thing that controle our emotions, for example: Happiness, loneliness, regret, sadness, love, etc.
    So, for us like humans, we should focus on this part to get Happiness.
    I like to signal that the most good thing that be the “food” of our spirits is being : attached to Allah, the most lovely and kind GOD. The most Creator of every thing, the most omnipotent in this life, who can helps us to reach all we need, desire and leads us to the Happiness we want in our lives.

  • simple things make me happy , when i see sunshine in the morning she make me happy for all the day , rain she make me happy,early sleep, and when i talk with my friends, and prayer this is important for me

  • Learn new things make me happy, and I wish learn english very fast, thank you for everything, I hope happy life for you , see u later

  • I have many thinks makes me happy such as watch camedy movies, Read my favourite books or novels, speak with my frinds or family about a funny matter, and also when I traval for my favourite countries. In addion, when l went for a trip to green spaces or landscapes I feel happy and joy all this simple things make me to be happy.Moreover, I think happiness make it for simple things like when you eat something love it you feel happy.

  • I have many thinks makes me happy such as watch camedy movies, Read my favourite books or novels, speak with my frinds or family about a funny matter, and also when I learn a new think like learn english and I develop for speaking skills I feel very happy. In addion, when I traval for my favourite countries or l went for a trip to green spaces or landscapes. all this simple things make me to be happy .Moreover, I think happiness make it for simple things like when you eat something love it you feel happy.

  • At the beginning thank you for this programme , Then ,the thing what make me happy as a Muslim is worship of God .praise him for the blessings he has given us

  • Happiness is a huge word in its meaning, I think I will be happy when I can see my family healthy , when I can encounter friends in the weekend and discuss.
    To be blessed that you are able wake up in the morning without pain,and have a strength of making breakfast, chores.
    Really, It was a deep word.

  • Happyness is what we want and what we get.happyness depends on our demand and on our mind. It is an emotional effects that reflex on our mind and face.Finally, happyness is god gifted pleasure.

  • I happy when stay with myself , learn new thing , talk with my freind and watch film comedy .
    I learn english with spotlight.

  • I feel this happens every day because I get up early in the morning to pray the fajr in the mosque and then go back home
    and I felt happiness when I watched English on Netflix. For instance, some people like to watch scary movies on the internet.
    some people like reading a novel

  • We must be grateful Even with the simple things we have, this is what will make us feel happy
    Like: family/high degree/eat/water/we can walk-see-hear And we can learn.
    We all have bad things in our lives but when you think about all that you have it gives you more Satisfied.
    I hope we all be happy and more thankful for our life

  • I agree with ( your ideas it make you happy or not)
    There are a lot things make me happy ( laugh, talk with my love and watch movie with my sisters)
    I’m simple human and the little things make me happy

  • I feel happy when i talk with my friend i feel with her I am on my normally
    I don’t know is it a simple thing or not but i feel that when i stay with her just !
    I am lucklly to have her

  • There ary many things make me happy , I’m a simple person and anything simple make me happy .
    I be happy when I dancing, walking , reading book , eat a chocolate ::)

More from this show

Episode 1