< meta name="keywords" content="personal growth therapy and groups">

How to Be Happy

Happy photo by Jacqueline Munguia

I’ve realized recently that I’ve stumbled into a pretty contented life.  It was actually kind of a surprising realization that in fact I had learned how to be happy.   So many people are so unhappy.  They are depressed, lonely and stuck in the past.  I get it and I've been there.  So I wanted to reflect and share with you what I have learned.     

 One:  I’m not actually "happy" all that often.  Yes, you read that right.  Happy is a feeling state:  feeling pleased, content or joyful.  I would not say that most of my days are spent in this feeling state, even if more and more I feel this way.   So how can I say I’m happy?  Because being “happy” is also a frame of mind. It’s a perception I have about my life. I have learned how to tap into gratitude so that it becomes effortless to look at my life and feel grateful.  I lean into optimism and see my life as abundant and precious. I allow a sense of  pride in the little and big things I’ve achieved. And finally, I don’t allow my inner critic to beat me up very much these days.   

Two I’ve stayed committed to developing loving healthy relationships. This means that I’ve prioritized closeness with the people who are important to me.  I’ve let go of people and situations that weren't well suite to me.  I’ve set boundaries with family and also stayed committed to healing wounds that were preventing a kind of evolution in our adult relationships.  I regularly stay in contact with good friends and let them know how much they mean to me.  I also stayed committed to finding a loving relationship post divorce and after many hard fought years in singlehood, I found it…finally.  My capacity to truly love them is growing and in return, I am being loved more fully.   Check out my blog post, Do you Love Fully

 Three:   I dealt with my wounds from childhood, my anxiety and my stubborn tendency to stay in fantasy thinking (this relates to point #4).  I participated in many (so many) growth groups, seminars and therapy.  I found Brainspotting and a consistent spiritual/mindfulness practice.  It’s hard to reach this state of happiness if you don’t deal with your sh*t.  In cleaning up the past (and continuing to clean it up), I’ve been able to realize a deep sense of love for myself, or as Goleman & Rinpoche discuss in the book Why We Meditate, a basic sense of "okayness” all the time. 

**I want to note that some people have had multiple significant childhood traumas that make healing complex and arduous. It can take many years to heal. This is normal.**  

Four   I’ve learned to accept reality.  Most people don’t know that I struggle with Fibromyalgia and the challenges of not having a thyroid.  This means that I frequently have very low energy days, feel deep fatigue and chronic low level pain.  I used to think I was lazy. I used to beat myself up for not achieving what others in my life “knew I could do.”  In accepting the reality of these limitations, I found happiness in what I could achieve, which is a much smaller simpler life than the one I had imagined for myself 20 years ago. I’ve learned to let go of chasing after certain goals that are just more work than I want to do at this age.  It’s incredibly freeing!     

Five:   And lastly, I am practicing being more present.   I’ve thought long and hard if one can experience happiness or internal peace without this.  I don’t know, but I don’t think so. The great psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed the concept of Flow when he was doing happiness research.  He found that people who experienced frequent episodes of being totally in the moment during an activity (thinking of nothing else but that activity), the more they reported feeling happy.  Flow is Presence.  I’m trying to be more present in my work, relationships, on my walks and even when I’m driving. The more I try, the more I realize how often I’m not “in the moment.”  But I also notice that the more I am, the more deeply content, free and happy I feel.  

Explorations on How to Be Happy

  • How can you shift your mindset in a way that gives you more contentment? 
  • What kinds of relationships do you need to bring in or let go of in your life? 
  • What issues from the past are still holding you back? 
  • What is the reality you need to accept about yourself or your life? 
  • How can you practice being more present? 

Stay updated and get my best advice, resources and tools!

* indicates required

Intuit Mailchimp