Category Archives: Happiness

Hope for a Very Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
                        ~ Alfred Tennyson

All around the world, people gather to celebrate the arrival of a new year with fireworks, food, dancing and socializing. Some travel to exciting new locations just to experience seeing in the New Year in the company of others. Last night, celebrations were going on in Times Square, in London, in Dubai, in Australia. From small towns to big cities the world over, people gathered to watch the ball drop or to toast their glasses or to kiss at midnight.

What makes seeing in the New Year such an exciting experience?

When the calendar changes on New Year’s Day, it brings with it a clear sense of hope.

It’s a brand new year.

Absolutely anything is possible.

The previous year is behind us. Our mistakes and disappointments have passed and we have a brand new chance to try again.

What will the coming year bring?

Today is like a blank page, completely unspoiled, not yet written on or painted on or torn or wrinkled. The direction you choose today and for the coming year is completely up to you.

Embrace the possibilities.

Breathe in the joy that is today, the start of a new year.

What can you do to make this year a better year than last year?

What can you do to make today a happy and joyful day? How can you make this a happier year than last year?

You can choose to have a better life this year. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. Whatever your external circumstances, you can choose to be happy and content.

Let go of everything that hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Forgive yourself for the resolutions you didn’t keep last year, for the things you did or didn’t do as well as you would have like.

It’s ok. You did the best you could. And you get to try again.

What a joyful feeling of hope in all the possibilities that are ahead in the coming year.

The dreams you haven’t realized yet can still be met in the future. If doors have closed in your face, there are better possibilities ahead, possibilities and opportunities you may not even have imagined yet.

The future can be much better than the past.

It all starts in the hope and the joy that is today.

photo by:

The One Sure Path to Cheerfulness

SmiLe - Born To be HaPPy“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”  ~ Mark Twain


Do you ever feel like you just wish someone would cheer you up? Nothing creates such a sure path to unhappiness as looking outside yourself for someone or something to make you happy. People sometimes expect their spouses to cheer them up….single people often search tirelessly for a “significant other” to complete them…elderly people may look for their children to make them feel better….sometimes people even expect coworkers to pay attention to their moods and strive to lift them up if they’re feeling gloomy.

You might even expect strangers to bring you happiness. You want the waitress to be friendly, the cashier to smile and the doctor to have a warm bedside manner.

The simple truth is that you alone are responsible for your happiness.

No one- absolutely no one – can make you happy but you.

Looking for happiness outside yourself is setting yourself up for disappointment. Expecting other people to cheer you up may hurt both you and them.

As Mark Twain said, there is a simpler solution.

Put that energy into looking for someone to help, not for someone to help you.

The world is full of lonely and hurting people, and you have more power than you think you do to spread positive feelings.

If you set a goal each day to bring happiness to others rather than looking for cheer to come from others, you would lift your own spirits in the process.

Look for someone to smile at. Look for someone that needs a helping hand, a phone call, a bag of groceries carried, a door opened.

There is always room for improvement. Follow in the footsteps of those who have perfected the art of spreading happiness.

As Mother Teresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”

And you will feel more cheerful in the process.

photo by: PHOTO ♥ BOOTH

The Power of Love and Compliments

I'll Give You All I Can...
Brandon Christopher Warren / / CC BY-NC

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”                               ~ Leo Buscaglia


I have made it a practice to live my life by my own light, to not look for anyone or anything outside myself to make it all better, because most of the time I haven’t been able to find happiness or comfort outside myself.

Sometimes, though, there is a refreshing moment of love and caring from someone else that does bring unexpected joy.

Today my teenage daughter sent me an unexpected e-card before 8 am. It said, among other things “I love you for everything you do and everything you put up with.” It also said that she thought I was the best mom in the world.


It was definitely a very special moment for me, a reminder that happiness can be found in the love we are surrounded by, the love that is sometimes clearly expressed by other people.

It’s not something we can count on or something we should look for. But it sure does feel good when it happens.

Sometimes people aren’t that good at expressing love to each other. We all tend to take our loved ones for granted and may not be very good at showing each other appreciation.

It’s amazing how much inner strength a smile, a touch or a compliment can bring.

We have the power to give strength to other people by letting them know we care. From casual acquaintances to very dear family or friends, we can express love and kindness to the people whose paths cross ours with a little gesture of appreciation.

Spread love and happiness today. It just might come back to you.

The Duty of Being Happy

Ellen DeGeneres“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.”  

~ Robert Louis Stevenson


If you were told that it was your job to be happy today, could you do it? Is happiness something that we choose or something that happens to us?

So often people think of life events as being outside their control, and it’s true that a lot of them are.

The only things we can always control are our reactions and our attitude.

Robert Louis Stevenson refers to being happy as a duty. We owe it to ourselves and to those around us to try to find something, however small, to be happy about each day.

Moods can be contagious. If you are sitting next to someone who is perpetually yawning, before you know it, you will be yawning too. If you’re sitting in a long lecture and someone starts coughing, you may suddenly find yourself with the urge to cough.

But what about being happy or sad?

If you are around someone who is determined to be grumpy or hopeless, you probably feel your own mood start to turn to gloominess or despair.

Likewise if you’re around someone who is upbeat and cheerful, there’s a good chance your mood will improve.

I know if I turn the Ellen DeGeneres show on, I am always fascinated at the way she can almost always get people to smile and dance.

Ellen DeGeneres is a walking good mood. It’s pretty hard to be gloomy around her. She deliberately spreads happiness on a daily basis.

What kind of energy are we spreading?

We have to give some thought to the effect we are having on other people with our moods and our attitudes.

Maybe it really is our duty to try to be happy, if for no other reason than to spread joy to those around us.

Smile. It’s contagious.

Chasing Butterflies and Happiness


The Flying Jezebel
Ajith (അജിത്ത്) / / CC BY-SA

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

~Nathaniel Hawthorne


I love this quote from Hawthorne. It makes me think of carefree days of childhood spent running through grassy fields chasing butterflies. They were almost always somehow out of reach, but that didn’t make the chase any less thrilling.

I remember chasing many different sizes and colors of butterflies, and the more colorful they were, the more fun it was to chase them. Orange…black….gold…blue….the bigger ones and the brighter ones were the most captivating.

It was a happy, carefree time, feeling the loving warmth of the sun, often running through the yard in bare feet, inhaling deeply of the fragrance of lilacs or fresh cut grass. The butterflies flew with effortless grace, carried by the powerful wind under their wings.

What a thrill to run and jump after them, reaching for them and almost always missing.

We didn’t mind missing them.

When I remember the joy of chasing butterflies, I also remember that it never was about actually catching them. It was about running as fast as we could and imagining that we too had wings and freedom.

In each moment of being totally focused on the effortless rising of the butterfly’s wings, everything else faded away. We were caught up in their beauty and gracefulness, we were filled with joy at sharing a moment of our lives with another living creature, a creature that spun and dipped, and teased us, knowing it would fly safely away.

As Hawthorne said though, the times we actually held a butterfly in our hands wasn’t usually the result of chasing them. Sometimes a butterfly would pause for a moment, landing on a nearby leaf or even on one of our hands or arms.

The thing is, catching a butterfly doesn’t come from chasing them.

And neither does happiness.





The Two Deadly Words That Take Away Happiness


Wishing Well“He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have.”                                                                                                                                                ~ Socrates

Happiness and contentment are often attached to thoughts that start with two deadly words:

If only…

You might be preoccupied with thoughts like “If only I were married, I’d be happy.” Or if you’re married, you might think “if only I had stayed single”, or “if only I had married (someone else)”. Then there are thoughts about career or money. You might think that if only you could quit your job, everything would be wonderful, or if only you were a millionaire, you wouldn’t have a care in the world.

So often people attach happiness to some future event that may or may not ever happen.  You may hear yourself saying things like this:

I’ll be happy when I double my salary.

I’ll be happy when I finish college….or when I have kids….or when the kids are grown.

I’ll be happy when I find a home for this dog….or when I lose 20 pounds… or when I can afford to travel.

Ask yourself one question:

What if this is as good as it gets?

Chances are your life is full of things and people that you take for granted on a daily basis.

And the thing you’re waiting for is probably not the key to happiness.

A lot of people learn this the hard way. They get what they thought they wanted– but they are still unhappy. Those that were waiting to get married decide they have to wait till they have kids, and then they’ll be happy. They have to wait till their mother-in-law moves away. They have to wait till the weather breaks.

And as each of these things happens, all they can see is the next thing that would probably make them happy, if only it would happen.

Life is awfully short. Be content with what you have. That’s the only true path to happiness.

photo by: B4bees

Make Up Your Mind to be Happy


À flor mais linda...
Eduardo Amorim / / CC BY-NC-SA

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

 One of life’s most important lessons is this:

We only have control over one thing and that is our own attitude.

That may sound like a small thing but it’s really a very big thing.

We can’t control what other people say or do. We can’t control how many red lights we get when we’re in a hurry, whether or not people are rude to us or whether we get what we want.

Does that mean we can’t be happy?

According to Lincoln, happiness is a choice.

Think about it. The happiest people aren’t always the people who are living the best lives.

They’re just the people with the best attitudes.

By the same token, the unhappiest people aren’t necessarily the people who have been dealt the worst hands. We’ve all probably met someone who moaned throughout their lives even though they are healthy, in a loving relationship and financially comfortable. Yet somehow, with everything going for them, they still manage to be unhappy.

In spite of all the things we can’t control, all the people we can’t control, we can choose on a daily basis how we are going to react to every single thing that happens to us.

We have to make a conscious decision to choose happiness each and every day. No matter what.

Even if we have health concerns.

Even if we have money problems.

Even if we are in the midst of major problems.

We can choose to stop and smell the roses. We can choose to notice the things- big and little – that went right in this day. We can choose to find something to be happy about.

You can be happy today. You just have to decide you’re going to.

The Birth of Learning Happiness

Happy Fruit Grass
libraryman / / CC BY-NC-ND

I am on a journey to learn about happiness. I have decided that life is too short to spend it being unhappy or discontented.

It seems like there are basically two kinds of people – those who are naturally happy, and those who are naturally unhappy. Some would call them optimists versus pessimists.

But strangely enough, the people who lead the most difficult lives aren’t always the people who are perpetually unhappy. Likewise people who lead relatively simple lives – lives free of extreme stress and tragedy – aren’t always happy.

Why is it that some people struggle to be content even though they appear to have everything going for them? Is that because we as human beings always want something that is just out of reach? If so, it seems that we are doomed to a lifetime of discontent.

Other people like me struggle to be happy after suffering many losses in a short amount of time. Life is difficult, after all.

Some would say I have a right to be sad – losses are painful and sometimes require grieving.

But being full of sadness and self-pity doesn’t do me or my family any good.

Others with even more difficult circumstances than I have experienced still manage to be happy.

I know people who have led lives full of disadvantages and tragedy, yet they have still managed to be happy more often than not – people like Helen Keller and Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking.

What is it that allows these people and others like them to be happy in spite of loss or disability?

When a loved one said to me recently that she couldn’t remember ever being happy in her life, I realized that I had much to learn.

And it’s time to do something about it.

I need to learn about happiness.

I am not an expert.

I am a seeker. And this is my journey.