How to Be Happy Even in the Tough Times

Daisies in open field with blue skies

We all want a PERFECT life, with all good things always coming our way. Nothing wrong with that. What we envision will many times be what we get, just not always in the form we think it will come or with the exact timing we wanted. We are all human and live in a human world with constant change and things not always going in the way we planned. Being able to go through those times and still be happy is a sweet thing indeed. It means we have some control over our emotions and have some choice. Isn’t that a grand thing.

Sometimes it takes us remembering what it is that REALLY makes us happy.

  1. Yes it is fun and exciting to go on vacation. Or buy a new something for our house. And it can make us feel happy. But in the end, for most of us it is about our time with our loved ones and the beautiful interaction and love that flows between us. So for me I try to remember when I am feeling sorry for myself that it is not so much about what I have or specifically if something goes as planned, but who I am with and my time spent with them and the joy and playfulness that we create together. Plus the support and strength we draw from one another. Giving us a life of love and connection – what we truly need as humans. For example: Your spouse or partner seems down and really is not into the fun time you have planned together. You feel upset too in that you wanted a fun time with your loved one and it is not happening. So opposed to having a fit of upset, you dig a little deeper and find that your sweetheart is really distressed about a particular something that you did not know about. So you learn more about this and find an empathy and wanting to help make your loved one feel better. You begin to feel closer with the sharing of this information. So all is not lost, you connected at a deeper level. You now understand your loved one better. You can put your heads together and find some ways to make it better for both of you.
  2. We see something going a certain way and it does not. We don’t understand. We did all the right things. What happened? Sometimes we don’t always know. But, what we forget is that the other something can lead to something even better. And we have to remember that all is well regardless of what happens. We don’t have to let what happens to us dictate weather we are happy. You have all heard the saying: “One door closes and another opens.” Well it is true. We just have to know and have confidence this is happening. Knowing there are good things out there for us. And things will work out. Our knowing and action toward this will facilitate this happening. Meaning we accept and move on when a door closes and go out there and create opportunities for others to open for us. Knowing that many times these new open doors will lead to something even better.  For example: You are in charge of a project in which you have taking a lot of time to find another to assist and they do and you feel all is going so well.  Happiness blooms all around you! And then the person needs to   bows out. All that thoughtful planning down the drain. Frustrated, you begin again. But is all lost?  No. You are just now ready for the next person to finish in another way that may be just as good or maybe even better. So stay tuned for Chapter 2.  Your story will enfold, maybe even with a better ending! 

Please Note: I do want to say I am not promoting that we ignore our upset or sad or angry feelings. Those are all valid and should be acknowledged. I am promoting that we allow ourselves to go beyond this when we are ready to do so and know that it is possible. I am saying basically we do not have to stay stuck in an emotion that we have more choice that we all think. 

In the end, it is all about perception, how we view something and how we choose to respond. We can choose happiness. It is just a step away. It may not look the way we originally thought it would, but it is still there. So go for it. It does not have to all be perfect to be happy. So step out and dare to be happy even when all is not perfect. You will be glad you did!


Why Hang with Happy People?

couple young laughing together

Does it matter who we spend our time with? I think it does. When we hang with happy people, we feel happier. I was just listening to an audio book on brain research and love and within this framework there was a discussion about “mirror neurons” in our brain. The mirror neurons in our brain help us to be attuned to those around us. So we search for how another feels and our brain internally mirrors that emotion. It is like we experienced it ourselves. So when we spend large amounts of time with those who are upset or unhappy we may find ourselves feeling this way also. If your friends are negative there will be a strong feel to want to be negative also. Or if your significant other is depressed a lot it may feel as if your mood tends to gravitate to this emotion. I am not saying that we all do not have times of upset and don’t  need to process this with another. We do. I am talking about those who are never happy or always upset and expressing it to all around them.

friends two couples laughing

We spent some time with some good friends for a get together at our house this last weekend. I always feel so good when I see these friends. They are happy, positive and upbeat. And I find myself feeling positive and upbeat when we end our time with them. This is not to say we are not REAL with each other about struggles and disappointments. We are.  It feels good to know there is no judgement, but there is always a shift and general positive feel that all is well.

So let’s think about how we can put more happy people in our life and how we can deal with those who are not so happy.

  1. We do have a choice who we hang with, for the most part. Yes we have to work with a certain group of people or at least unless we choose to work with another group of folks. This of course is something to consider if it an extreme situation. We can choose how much time to spend with different friends. We can choose to limit our time or not spend time with a negative friend. You do have control of how you spend your time and sometimes it may mean putting boundaries in place as to time spent with people you know that are very negative and do nothing to bring any happiness to your life.
  2. Lead the way, in choosing to focus on your own happy, positive feelings. You will find that it grows those kinds of feelings in those around you. In addition, you will find that folks will want to hang with you because it feels so very good to be around you. Happy attracts happy! Again, sharing upset feelings and being real is part of being human. The point is trying to balance and have your scales weight toward the happy, upbeat “half full” view of life. You can set the tone with those around you. 
  3. On purpose get together with those folks who are more positive by nature. Your brain will collect their happy, positive thoughts as though you had them yourself.
  4. If you are with a person who is not happy, reflect and acknowledge their feelings so they can feel heard and then gently move toward what might make them feel better.
  5. Consider your couple relationships and how they affect your own relationship. If you have couple friends who are unhappy and are in conflict with one another it can breed a feeling of not being satisfied. Like attracts like. Or I suppose in this case unlike attracts unlike.  When you are with couple friends who are loving and kind to each other, it serves as a reminder that this is what you are striving for also.
  6. When dealing with family members who are “in a mood’, try to be empathetic but avoid being drawn into the depths of their upset.  Just as with friends, acknowledge their upset, listen to what they need to say to process the upset and then invite them to a better place where they can let some good in. Let them know you love them and are there for them, this in itself can turn the tide toward a brighter outlook.  parent and teen talking
  7. If you are not feeling very happy, you might consider seeking out one of your friends or family members who radiate a feeling of caring and has a positive attitude. Yes be real and process those feelings, but be with someone who can help remind you of the good stuff going on in your life.

So . . . go hang with as many happy people as you can. You will be so glad you did!

Choosing to Be Happy – 5 Ways to Shift into the Happiness Mode


I found my self doing a “happy dance” this am. It just felt like a great day. I have found that we can choose to be happy. I used to think this was not true. But the more research I have done on happiness and the more life experiences I have had, I do now believe this to be true. In the therapy world we would talk about cognitive behavioral therapy. Basically what we think is what we get. So let’s talk about a few ways to make this shift into the Happiness Mode.

  1. Decide you want to be happy. Our brain or mind tends to scan for things that are wrong or are a danger. It is a self-protection measure. And maybe necessary at some level, but we don’t want to spend all of our time in this place. So make a decision that being happy is what you want. Because we have to first want something to make it happen. For those of you who are goal directed, you could even say it could be your goal.
  2. Choose to look at life as Half Full opposed to Half Empty.  Many of you are familiar with this metaphor for life. Which way do you look at life in general? If it is in the Half Empty mode, well this may be something to consciously work on. We are talking “attitude” here. It may take a bit of focus to shift but you can do so.
  3. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize what HAPPY would look like for you. The more you can see this, the more likely you will see this shift taking place. I find it most helpful to structure this into my day. One might consider visualizing before they get out of bed or maybe as they start their day. Ideally you would do this throughout the day for the biggest bang out of this wonderfully, powerful technique
  4. REFRAME the NEGATIVE stuff.  For example you find your favorite restaurant is closed unexpected, so you get to experience a new place. Or maybe your client cancels on you at the last-minute, so this may mean you get to spend a bit of extra time with your family. Or maybe, a project is taking much longer than you want it to, but you find that as it has taken longer it has given you time to really think thoughtfully and come up with ideas that you had not originally thought of.
  5. Look for the GOOD. Search it out. It is there. Back to our brain scanning for the bad stuff. As you will find it, remind yourself there is good too. And then LOOK for it specifically. Maybe at your meal with your family at the end of the day you can each share something GOOD that happened that day. It can be an encouraging kind of thing, reminding each other that the GOOD is out there. We just have to look for it. Plus what a great way to help kids to shift into the Happiness Mode.



Here is to you doing your own “happy dance” today and every day.