Choose Happiness

by Aug 19, 20212 comments

Just Be Happy

Easy to say, not always easy to do.

There are people that are more naturally happy than others.  For many, there are days when happiness is elusive, even if they can logically feel that there should be every reason to be happy.  Sometimes there is every reason to NOT be happy.  Everybody suffers loss, personally or indirectly.  We see the big problems of the world and feel helpless to do anything that will make a difference.

If happiness comes easily to you, you have reason to be grateful and celebrate.  There is no doubt that you will be healthier and more able to recognize the good in your life.  This openness to being happy will reinforce your belief that happiness is an option, which will in turn continue to open more possibilities for good things, and you will be prepared to accept these gifts.

If, however, you are someone who sometimes – or frequently – struggles to be happy, there are some strategies that can help.

Strategies for bringing happiness into your life

Keep a happiness file

Gather reminders of things that make you happy and have it handy for times you need a boost.  Collect pictures of friends, families, pets, and favourite places.  Include encouraging posters or quotes.  Throw in a book of positive daily thoughts. Write positive affirmations – and read them out loud every day.  Use this as a resource when you need a lift.

Spend time with positive people

Cultivate relationships with people who appreciate you and support your efforts to change and improve.  People who accept you for who you are, love you, quirks and all, but also encourage you to do better, to be better.  Stop spending time with people who draw you into unhealthy activities, gossip or unkindness, or people who mock and undermine you. Positive relationships give you strength, prop you up when you are down and result in less stressful communication.

Take Happiness Actions

Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to take action but just getting moving or doing something new can brighten your spirits, get your energy up and raise your potential for joy.  The image at the top of this page is me boogie boarding, a pursuit that I have started only in the past few years.  We only seem to get a few chances to do it every season and almost every time, I have to convince myself to go and to get into the inevitably cold water, even though I know I will enjoy it once I do.  How often do you have to talk yourself into doing something that you know will be fun?

For inspiration on small daily happiness prompts, check out the monthly calenders at Action for Happiness.  The theme for this month is Autruistic August.  Which also just happens to relate to the next tip.


Use your skills and energy to make a positive difference.  It will make you feel good and very likely will give you an appreciation for what you have and what you can offer. Whatever your interests and passions, you can find an organization that needs your help and your time.  Volunteer at a foodbank.  Canvas for a local politician.  Manage a not-for-profit website.  Spend time with a lonely senior.  Teach literacy.  Help build a house or a school.  Teach a class at the community center.  Coach a youth team.  Walk dogs for the SPCA. Make quilts for charity.   Find your passion.

Volunteering gives you an opportunity to be part of a community, doing something positive, meet new people, learn skills, and work towards common goals – all things that create positive energy.

Create an energizing playlist

Listen to music that makes you dance, sing along, or just plain feel good.  Add to your list of favourites.  Ask friends for recommendations or seek playlists online. Organize in a particular order or play at random when you are feeling stressed. Take a break from working at your desk to get up and dance.  Go for a run with a high-energy set. Turn on the radio in your car and sing out loud as if nobody is listening.  Nobody is.  Music has the power to change your mood.

Take care of your body, mind and spirit

If you are fit and feeling strong, you will feel more able to combat sadness or negativity.  Get enough sleep.  Exercise regularly.  Drink plenty of water.  Include healthy food choices with every meal. Connect with nature every day.

Get comfortable in your own company – reflect, listen to your body,  open your mind to happy thoughts, creative inspiration – just being in your own space.

Appreciate what you have

You don’t have to chase happiness.  Instead,  find it in the little things around you every day: in the sound of laughter or the breeze in the trees, nuzzles from your pets, hugs from your family and friends, the colour of the sky, the connection on the other end of the phone line, the taste of a fresh garden tomato right off the vine.  Find joy in simple things and savour it.  Express your gratitude. Write it down.

Finish your ONE thing

Get control of your life by finishing the one thing that you most want to accomplish each day.  It might be meeting a big project deadline, or a call that you have been putting off, or leaving the house to go for a walk, or learning a new song on the ukelele.   You get to make the choice about what your one thing will be.   Finishing your one thing will let you know you can tackle your difficult challenges, and will help ensure that you feel confident, successful and happier at the end of the day.

Be your own cheerleader

Be kind to yourself. Let go of perfectionism.  Try new things and accept that you are just beginning.  Learn something new.  Apply it.  Celebrate your achievement.  Use positive affirmations.  Talk to yourself as you would to a friend.  Smile at yourself in the mirror when you first get up in the morning.  Motivational speaker Mel Robbins advocates for the power of giving yourself a high-five in the mirror.  Give it a try.  It will feel silly but you might be amazed at what an impact it can have.

Make the decision daily

Choose happiness.  Even if you can only manage to do it for a few minutes at a time.  Make the decision to do it.  If you are really struggling, choose to be happy for just one minute.  Then aim for five minutes.  And five minutes more.  Like any skill, you will get better with practice.  Take the happiness challenge every day.  Invite others to join you.

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Laura Orsini

    Mary-Elizabeth – you are a woman after my own heart. I LOVE this post. Am sharing in my Fairy Positive FB group. Thank you for your continued thoughtful words. xxoo Laura O

  2. Alice Gerard

    Thank you for the uplifting post. I think that being grateful for the simple things in life is a good place to start.The world truly is a beautiful place and I know that, sometimes, I take that for granted.

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