• brittanykurtz

How To Be Happy: 5 Areas in Your Life That Improve Happiness

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

The P.I.E.S.S Model

In college I studied Human Development which simply put, is the study of psychology and biology of people in different developmental stages (infant, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood). It’s been about four years out of college and although I learned a ton this particular piece of information has stuck with me the most.

Have you heard of the P.I.E.S.S model? I know happiness is complicated because it looks different for each individual. However, when a person is able to feed all five of these areas in their life, they find themselves more resilient and happy.

P.I.E.S.S (pronounced like pies) It stands for Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, and Spiritual. I’ve also heard it called “The Wheel of Wellness”.


We all know we NEED to move our body! Human beings are not made to be still all day. However, this doesn’t mean you have to bust out a workout at the gym. It can include a walk, cleaning, yard work, dancing, sports, etc. Physical activity not only helps to protect your cardiovascular health, prevent osteoporosis, and help with weight (to name a few), it is amazing for your mental health and that’s the part I want to focus on! Moving your body helps to generate endorphins that benefit your wellbeing! Two popular hormones are dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine decreases stress and contributes to improving your mood! Having more dopamine has even been shown to help with depression. Serotonin promotes quality sleep, proper digestion, a better mood, and sexual function. Our Queen said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.” – Elle Woods

Ideas to help you move your body:

  • YouTube workouts. You can do whatever type you want from the comfort of your own home.

  • Deep clean the house. Don’t forget to dust the T.V

  • Take a walk. I tend to use a lunch break for this to help clear my head and get blood moving.

  • Play a sport. Take the basketball to a court. Play tennis or catch with a partner. Go swimming.

  • Dance around the house. Turn on some music on and enjoy your day.


You know what else needs to be worked? Your brain. Stimulating your brain by learning something new, having an intellectual conversation, or thinking and solving complex problems can fire up all cylinders to help your brain grow.

In fact, you’re working on this part right now by taking the time to read a blog article about something potentially new to you. I’m not the professional on the brain, but I can attest that when I spend all day watching tv or scrolling social media I feel like my brain is lagging because it isn’t being challenged. Whereas when I spend time reading a new book about nutrition, I feel excited and energized by what I learned.

Ways to meet your intellectual needs:

  • Read an informative book

  • Listen to a podcast that makes you think and teaches something new

  • Watch a documentary

  • Have conversations with others about bigger topics (come on-we’ve all talked about aliens under the stars at some point… right? )

  • Build something. It can be a Lego set or new furniture, whatever gets your brain moving.


This one is a bit obvious! When we have our emotional needs met, we feel an increased sense of happiness. Keep in mind that each individual has a different combination of emotional needs. It’s helpful to understand what yours are but also those around you.

When it comes to love there’s five different love languages: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. The way you feel loved can be different from someone else’s and even be different from how you give love! Mind blowing and incredibly complicated- I know.

Ways to make sure your emotional needs are met:

  • Understand what your love languages are

  • Get a pet or volunteer at an animal shelter

  • Do a random act of kindness for someone else. Helping others actually triggers a part of the brain that can make you feel good. SOOO it’s a win/win for everyone.

  • Spend time with people who leave you feeling happier

  • See a therapist. There are so many emotions and having someone outside your normal circle to professionally help you navigate things can help.


Some of you introverted people are loving 2020: the year of self-isolation and have a legitimate excuse to not attend social activities. That being said, even the most introverted person still has a basic need for socializing. I’ve been there- you don’t want to go to the party but you want to be invited. That’s because there’s a need to feel included, a part of community, noticed, accepted, to not feel alone. Extroverted people understand this all too well, they’re energy is fueled by engaging with other people. Human beings are pack animals. How you choose to engage in that pack may look different than how others do.

Some ways you can feed your social needs:

  • Phone call or video chat with friends. Texting is great too but it doesn’t provide the same benefits that you get when you can see someone else’s emotions, hear tone of voice, and be seen yourself.

  • Go to a public setting. I’m an extroverted person so when I’m feeling the need to socialize, I may go to a coffee shop (or coffee stand), to the grocery store, or even a walk in a popular park.

  • Join a community-based group. This could be church, a book club, an accountability group, Facebook groups for hobbies you enjoy.

  • Have dinner together as a family (or friends). This is proven to improve relationships. Also, who doesn’t love food and their people?

  • Social media. I list this one last because it can do more harm than good. It can allow you to stay connected and interact with friends but if you stay on too long it can be a dark vortex.


The definition of spiritual is “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”. People who have some sort of tie to spirituality more often consider themselves happy.

This is the hardest one to summarize in a quick paragraph because I want to respect all the different ways spirituality can be experienced. Some may describe their personal spirituality to be a connection to a greater being, a sense of wonder for the world, the euphoric feeling experienced while submerged in nature. Whatever yours might be, the more you connect to it the more likely to feel a sense of happiness.

Some examples of ways to experience spirituality:

  • Spend time in nature off the grid from technology.

  • Yoga or meditation

  • Personal religious beliefs

  • Listen to a podcast about spiritual topics

  • Talk about aliens under the stars

So, the next time you find yourself feeling blue reflect on if any of these five areas aren’t getting enough attention and you can implement one of the ideas into your day.