IELTS Speaking: Happiness topic

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Here are some sample questions and answers about the "Happiness" topic in IELTS Speaking test. All the answers are provided by John, who is an IELTS Trainer from England.

What do you think ‘happiness’ is?

Well, in simple terms, I guess I’d say it’s a feeling that we get when we’re content with something, for example when we’re doing something we enjoy.

What are some things that make you happy?

Let me have a little think…um… well, first of all, what always makes me happy is seeing my friends and family happy, which I suppose is probably the same for everyoneAnd as well as that, I’d say just doing the things I enjoy always puts me in a happy mood, you know, like playing the piano, and going to KTV with my friends.

Do you think people who have more talent are happier than others?

No I wouldn’t say they are. I mean, there are countless examples of famous singers and actors who were extremely talented, but for some reason turned to things like drugs or alcohol in order to escape the depression they felt. And on the other end of the scale, there are people with seemingly very little talent, but who are very happy and content with their life. So for me I’d say happiness bears no relation at all to the amount of talent a person has.

bears no relation at all – you can also say, “…bears little relation to…

Do you think money makes people happy?

Yeah, I suppose it does. You know, I think it’s fair to say that money makes us all feel happy to some degree, because you can do so much with it, like buy new clothes or go on holiday or whatever. But saying that, I’d say it’s only a kind of short-term happiness that we get from money, because the feeling soon fadesas I’m sure you’ll agree! So I think if we want to enjoy long-term happiness, then it’s really other things that bring about it, like appreciating what we already have in life.

Are the things that make people happy today the same as several decades ago?

I guess the answer would have to be yes and no. Yes, because there are things like helping others which have always made people feel happy and will always continue to do so. And no, because people nowadays have generally become more materialisticwhich is a reflection of the society we now live in. So a lot of happiness now comes from acquiring material goods and possessions, like houses and cars, which wasn’t so much the case several decades ago.

Why do people feel happy when they are with members of their family?

Well I suppose the reason is simply that our family are people we love and feel close to, so it’s natural that being with them will make us feel happy. I guess that’s all there is to it!

In general, what do you think makes a happy family?

That’s a good question, and thinking about it, I would say it’s basically just showing love, support and appreciation to one another.  So in other words, I think it’s not enough for us to just love our family members, but also show it, and by doing this we will be able to create happiness within the family. For example, you know, if a child does badly in a school exam, their parents should encourage and support them, as opposed to telling them off, and if they do well or win a prize, then their parents should show how proud they are. And in this way, I think the family will definitely be a happy one!

What kind of people do you think are most likely to be happy?

I guess it’s probably people who have a positive outlook on life, because they always tend to look on the bright side of things. So for instance, if they come across problems, they’ll probably see them as challenges rather than problems.

Do you think there is any relationship between a person’s age and their happiness?

Yeah, I’d say there probably is, because for example, most young children seem to be very happy most of the time, one of the reasons being that they’re blissfully unaware of all the pressures of modern-day life. And for a lot of adults, the pressure they face can be overwhelming, which naturally has an effect on their mental well-being, and can lead to a mid-life crisis. Having said all that though, I think it’s very possible to go through one’s whole life being happy if you live it in the right way.

Some people say the happiest time in people’s lives is the period when they are at school? Do you agree? 

No I don’t, I’d say it’s too big a generalization. I mean, of course, it might be the happiest time for some, but not for everyone. You know, we all have different experiences of our time at school, and for a lot of people it probably wasn’t that enjoyable, because they might have been bullied for example.

Do young people and old(er) people find happiness from the same things?

No, I’d say there’s probably a slight difference. Because I mean, older people seem to find happiness from the simple things in life, such as playing a game of chess or simply sitting outside their homes watching the world go bywhereas I think it’s fair to say that young people often need a bit of excitement in their lives to feel happy. So that’s one thing, and what else…um… oh yeah, I’d say being in good health is another thing that makes elderly people feel happy, whereas a lot of young people kind of just take it for granted.

Do you think old people are very happy?

Yes, I’d say on the whole they are, because I meanthe feeling I get whenever I’m with them is that they have a calm demeanor about them, which I think reflects a kind of peace of mind. You know, it’s as if they’ve learned to accept everything they’re faced with in the world, and as a result, I think this generally gives them a feeling of happiness.

When you are old(er), what kinds of things do you think will bring you happiness?

I imagine it will be things like spending time with my family, seeing my grandchildren grow up, and looking at old photographs, which will help me reflect on all the happy memories from my life.

Do you think people were happier in the past than they are now?

No I don’t actually. I’d say people are generally happier now, the main reason being that our standards of living have improved considerably from the past. I mean, for one thing, we now have a lot more freedom in choosing to lead our lives how we want, which wasn’t really the case in the past.

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