10 Wise Choices to Skyrocket Your Happiness

10 Wise Choices to Skyrocket Your Happiness

“The amount of happiness that you have depends on the amount of freedom you have in your heart.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Who doesn’t want to be happy? Just take a look at any moment of your life, any choice you make. Isn’t your intention to be happy?

By happiness, I don’t necessarily mean the pollyanna, silly-smile-on-your-face kind. What I mean is a deep sense of contentment, the capability of being peaceful and at ease no matter what, an inner knowing that things are just fine.

Somehow true happiness eludes us, and here’s why. Even though we long for it more than anything, we make choices that derail us. We choose stressful behaviors, distorted beliefs through which we view the world, and emotional chaos. And in doing so, we interfere with our potential to be happy.

Happiness is absolutely within your reach. In fact, it closer than close – the essence of you. How to discover happiness? Make a study of your thoughts and emotions. See what makes you unhappy, then plant your feet firmly in the land of happiness. Make these ten wise choices, and the deepest happiness imaginable will be revealed.

  1. Take responsibility. Don’t blame others, turn yourself into a victim, or wait for someone to come and save you. If you want to be happy, take the bull by the horns. Be willing to figure out how you stand in the way of your happiness.
  2. Embody enthusiasm. Be willing, open, courageous, and humble. Admit what isn’t working and be available to the possibility of real inner change. Keep your quest alive.
  3. Drop your old baggage. Nothing kills happiness more quickly than old hurts, resentments, and grudges. If you are spending your precious time stuck in a sad story from the past, realize that you are being affected way more than anyone else. Wrap all of that pain in a vast cocoon of love, then move on with clarity and grace.
  4. Become intensely interested in your inner life. The cause of unhappiness is the playing out of conditioned habits that don’t serve you. Find out what they are and use a laser focus to see how they work. With your new-found awareness, make healthy, life-affirming choices.
  5. Question your beliefs. We unknowingly build our lives around distorted beliefs and expectations. Put every thought under the microscope for examination to see if it is actually true. You will undoubtedly find that you are living through a veil of confusion and limitation. Be willing to step away from these familiar and cherished beliefs and see everything with fresh eyes.
  6. Appreciate presence. Happiness is found here, in the eternal now – not in the past or future. Relax. Let all efforting fall away, and receive everything just as it is. Luxuriate in the wonder of your senses as you go about your daily life.
  7. Study your emotions. Life becomes heavy and burdensome when we are ruled by difficult emotions. The medicine for this emotional pain is interest and attention. Stop telling yourself stories that fuel your emotions. Rather, welcome the direct experience of the feelings and the sensations in your body. Let them be without needing to get rid of them. Over time, they will lose their power over you, and you will be at peace. The clouds will lift, revealing the happiness you have been searching for all along.
  8. Live from your heart. Shed every thought, emotion, and habit that no longer serves you. What is left? Love. Let love permeate your conversations, activities, and the way you treat yourself. In any moment, ask, “What would love do?” then do it. Savor the deliciousness of a full and open heart.
  9. Choose freedom over fear. Fear is another happiness-killer. Know when fear is driving your choices, and choose otherwise. Meet fear with love, then have the courage to act on what you really want.
  10. Let happiness pervade your life. Every moment presents the opportunity to be happy. If you doubt me, just take a look at your own experience. When you break it down to its bare essence in the moment, you will realize that a choice is always possible. Nag or be silent, self-criticize or self-love, sustain stress or take a deep breath, perpetuate a habit or unravel it until you just can’t keep it going anymore.

When we are at peace with our own experience, we can’t help but be happy. Nothing is in the way. We see through the fog of faulty beliefs and dramatic stories, leaving us available to consciously choose happiness – now, and now, and now. It’s right here, can you feel it?

Happiness is no longer a mystery. Make these 10 wise choices, and the endless well of happiness will be revealed to you.

Are you happy? What interferes with your happiness? I’d love to hear…

Photo by Casey David

Gail Brenner

Gail Brenner, Ph.D. is a psychologist and author who joyfully shares insights about discovering that suffering is optional. Find more from Gail at her blog, GailBrenner.com and on Twitter. Her work offers a bridge between psychology and spiritual understanding and brings clear seeing and compassion to everyday human challenges. She is the author of the forthcoming book, "The Way of Yes: Finding Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life."

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  1. I’m going through a break up, it was serious for me but I don’t think it was for her and she wanted to be friends. I thought the one good thing that could come out of the relationship would be a good friend. Trouble is shes not being a good one and I constantly feel dissapointed. I figured out its becasue I’m still hurting from the rejection, still missing the person she was rather than the friend she has become and who is getting on with her life. And that my imagination was placing negative thoughts in my head and playing games with me. I don’t want to turn this post into a dear agony aunt post only that points 1, 3, 4 & 5 resonated with me. I need to let go, let her get on with her own life and get on with mine. To stop dwelling on the past and imagining what could happen in the future. If the friendship is mean’t to be then great, and I will send her an email every now again asking if she wants to meet up without the expectation that she will do the same. And if she refuses and things fade out…then so be it. At least I would be safe in the knowledge I tried to be a friend.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Simpson,

      It sounds like you are getting through it in just the right way. I know it’s painful, but you are being so courageous in looking at yourself and seeing what beliefs and expectations might be causing your suffering. You are not letting yourself be a victim.

      I wish you well on your journey…

    • I’m in a rut. I have been married 14 years, and I am unhappy.
      I think I’ve been unhappy for a while, but have been faking it for the sake of my son.
      My husband takes care of all the finances, makes all the final decisions and yet we both work full-time. I transfer 95% of my check to our joint account, as this is what he thinks I bneed to do to maintain our finances, as he reminds me, ” remember you had a pay-cut, ” remember your student loans came in… I’m tired, just tired of feeling
      “managed” by my husband. How do I get myself back to a ” loving” frame of mind?
      I want to but I have a lot of animosity towards him right now. I don’t ow how to get “me” back.

      • I appreciate your question, Olga, and I don’t have any magic answers for you. What I can say is to begin to take very good care of yourself. Follow what makes you happy in any moment, as best you can, and bring great compassion to yourself. Do what you enjoy, what interests you, what makes you flourish.

        Sending love and oceans of support…

        • I can appreciate all the feel good and beautiful words, but really
          at this moment, nothing feels good. Conratulations everyone on feeling so happy about your lives.

          • Olga. You’re going to be ok. It will all work out in the end. Dig deep into yourself and realise youVe got some great stuff inside you. It’s a phase. You’ll be ok. Enjoy your son. Enjoy the sunshine. Enjoy the good things in life.

          • Hi Olga,

            I mean this in the kindest way possible – if we rely on outer circumstances for our happiness, we are going to be in trouble. C is inviting you to take some control, to enjoy the things that there are in your life to enjoy, to be grateful, even for very small things. Take responsibility for your happiness and consider letting go of being a victim and waiting for your life to start. Tiny steps can make all the difference.

            Sending love…

      • Olga,
        I think everyone here has the best intentions with sending you positive energy and all that. The truth of the matter is that you are no longer able to grow inside the context of that current relationship. This would make anyone unhappy. If your relationship doesn’t serve your higher self, it needs to change or go away. I suggest you pick up the book “The Artists Way” and start writing morning pages (it’s kind of like journaling but with your higher self). This may help you decide what action would be best for you and your family.

        Maybe you should consider having a trial separation from your partner to try to establish some independence. Or change the game a little bit? Ask questions about finances and such. I would be suspicious that my partner was hiding something if I was not allowed to participate in finances and financial decisions.

        Best of luck to you.

      • First off, you create relationships and YOU teach people how to treat you. It seems your “husband” is more like your father but you are letting him treat you like that. Also, why are you transferring 95% of your check? My husband and I both work but I have 2 incomes as well (2nd part time teaching job) and there’s no way that I would pool all of that money in the general pool. You would be a fool for doing that. It doesn’t matter how much LOVE you have for someone, you have to BE SMART as well.

        If you’re tired of feeling MANAGED then stop giving him this power! It’s REALLY that simple. Take a step back and figure out what you want. If you have to write it down on paper, do so. Make a list with a couple of columns for long term and short term. And then start writing….if you need to take a few days away to be alone, I would suggest holing yourself up in a hotel room and doing that. Life is TOO short to give other people control of our lives!

        I hope everything works out for you.


      • Hi Olga, I can appreciate you’re in a painful place at the moment and I feel for you. However, it sounds like you are blaming your husband for how you are feeling. Remember, you have the ability to choose at any given moment. You can choose to leave, choose to stay, choose to feel controlled or choose to take control. And when I say take control – I mean of how you react to your life circumstances. I would suggest you talk to your husband, ask him in what way he needs you to support HIM. Agree to do that, then explain how you would like to be supported. Spend the next 90 days giving him your 100% support in every way. If after that you still feel the same, you have a big decision to make. I wish you luck and hope it works out the way you want it to. Stu x

    • Gail,
      I “stumbled upon” your article on happiness. You did a nice job. As someone who also writes similar self help tips on a blog, I know how much I appreciate feedback. You did a lovely job.
      Do you also do program presentations? Are you a therapist?
      JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan LCSW

      • Thank you for your kind words, JoAnne. Yes, I am a psychologist, and sometimes do presentations. You are welcome to visit my blog, AFlourishingLife.com, to find out more about me.

    • Hello Simpson, Funny! We have so much in common… I too just got out of a marriage 8 months ago and wanted to stay friends with him, feeling the same feelings as you. After realizing that I was not really over the pain I decided to stop trying so hard and move on with my life, stop communicating with him and just ending it. It’s been 2 weeks now and I have started to open up and let go completely. Happy and healthly is the way to go… once you start putting yourself first and start your new journey it is the best thing for both. No judgement or expectations… just love for your own wellbeing. I wish you all the best and I have a good feeling you are well on your way!

    • Hi Simpson,

      I feel compassion hearing your story but you have to completely let go my dear. Remember! Everything happens for a reason. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a Reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally and spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then without any wrong doing on your part or at a convenient time this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die and sometimes they walk away, Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

      Some people come in your life for a Season because your turn has come to share, grow and learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you things you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real but only for a season.

      Lifetime relationships teach you lifetime lessons. Things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, Love the person and , Put what you have learnt to use in all other relationships and areas of life. It is said that Love is blind and Friendship is clairvoyant.

      Just thank them for being part of your life whether they were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

      God Bless my dear

  2. Lovely, inspiring article, Gail.

    I particularly liked this:

    “Even though we long for it more than anything, we make choices that derail us. We choose stressful behaviors, distorted beliefs through which we view the world, and emotional chaos. And in doing so, we interfere with our potential to be happy.”

    Thanks for reminding me that to a large extent happiness is a choice.


    • You are most welcome, Amyra. We are always choosing, whether we realize it or not. This is the beauty of a conscious life – that we can choose peace and happiness. We don’t have to be a victim to our circumstances, which is very good news.

  3. Thank you for beautifully summing up my path to happiness! I am grateful to regularly create, nurture and enjoy happiness, contentment, joy and serenity in my life.

    My life is not perfect, and if I could find many reasons to grump if I wanted, but I don’t want an unhappy, average, stressful life.

    Writing my blog has improved my happiness ten-fold, as I delve deeply into my own joy when I sit down to write about finding happiness in work and live. The process of articulating my best life involves all the 10 steps you’ve listed here, as well as introduced me to a vast community of other people seeking a life of happiness, purpose, fulfillment and passion.

    The only thing that really inhibits my happiness is my perspective, and I can gently embrace and change my perspective, and my day, at any given moment.

    Sometimes I do find myself in a bit of a funk, and sometimes that’s okay. I can accept the ocassional bad mood for what it is without letting it take over my life and my day, and know that I’ll be even more grateful to embrace happiness again tomorrow.

    Great article! Thanks!


    • I love hearing about your beautiful life, Chrysta, and all that it has brought to you! I have the same experience in writing my blog – as I work with each topic, it becomes even more real in my own daily life.

      Moods do come, like weather. But they merely obscure the light. May your light shine brightly…

  4. I like that all your points mention things that are internal, and not external. We tend to forget that.

    I think a good way to conclude your post is that happiness comes from *understanding* our mind. We must understand that it’s not always right and positive. It’s sometimes lazy, jealous and too ambitious.

    If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at? Tiger Woods

    • Hi Max,

      I totally agree that happiness comes from understanding the mind. The more we understand how it works, the less likely we are to get caught up in the unhappiness it can bring us.

      So studying the mind is a useful endeavor. And when our research shows laziness, jealousy, and competitiveness, we can choose to not buy into it and stay peaceful and free.

  5. Hi Gail,

    I like your 10 wise choices and I use them as well. Dropping baggage is great because it really frees up the energy in the body and mind to allow it to produce goals that are more in alignment with who we are.

    I would like to say that I am happy all of the time, but not really. I do believe that I hold the key to my own happiness so that I don’t play the “victim” in my own life.

    • Hi Justin,

      It’s so important that you realize that you hold the key to your happiness. It is not about other people or situations, but in how we relate to all of our experiences. That is where our power lies.

  6. Thanks Gail for this insightful and very well written blog post. I find that sometimes people can get so encompassed in their own ‘story’ that they lost self awareness and wonder why their circle of friends starts shrinking! Everyone has the ability to become more fully aware of how they are behaving in their lives and affecting others, as well as how to deal with situations they are presented with. Attitude is a choice :)

    • Hi Agata,

      Oh, our stories can be so dramatic, and they are all about “me.” The more we can see through them, the more available we are to ourselves and others. If we let go of all our stories, we discover the space for joy, love, and happiness.

  7. Hi Gail,
    Your opening sentence summed it up for me. We do ‘things’ to make us Happy. That’s our intent(even if we might not know it at the time).
    These are indeed 10 Wise choices. I will share this post so I can make others Happy. Thank you.
    be good to yourself
    Turning ordinary into extraordinary

  8. Hi David,

    Yes, we always intend to be happy, but sometimes we are misguided in the ways we choose to get there. But, as you well know, it’s always possible to make a different choice.

  9. i think we mentioned on your blog – fear of the unknown interferes with my happiness. something i’m learning to deal with
    thanks for this here :)

  10. Gail,

    What a wonderful blog and so happy I found it today.

    I like to call it cleaning out “Life’s Closet” and getting rid of things that aren’t working anymore. Bringing into your life happy and positive people. Sometimes relationships don’t work out for a reason because there are better things right around the corner. Taking steps to become a happier person is a choice we can make every day.

    • I love that analogy Susan! “Cleaning out Life’s Closet”! What a wonderful way to look at it. Gail’s 10 tips for happiness are wonderful but can seem like a real challenge. You really helped me look at it from a different perspective.
      Thank you,

  11. Number 5 really spoke to me:

    “Question your beliefs. We unknowingly build our lives around distorted beliefs and expectations. Put every thought under the microscope for examination to see if it is actually true. You will undoubtedly find that you are living through a veil of confusion and limitation. Be willing to step away from these familiar and cherished beliefs and see everything with fresh eyes.”

    I think that we so often hold on to what we are told we “should” do, think, believe and feel and it can make us so unhappy. Lately I ask myself what it is that I really want and most times I find that when I let go of all the “shoulds” I ‘m suprised by how different it is from what I always thought I wanted.

    Thanks, for a great article/blog!

    • Nomalanga,

      I love that you are inspecting your beliefs and seeing what is actually true for you. “Shoulds” block us from seeing what we really want, as you are discovering. Enjoy your newfound clarity!

  12. I liked #1 the most. We must learn to stop falling victim and grab life by the horns! I’ll second that vote!

    There are so many ways that we are able to become truly happy. We just hide behind walls and prevent this from actually happening. Ahh, I could talk about this for hours and hours.

    “Keep doing what you’ve always done, and keep getting what you’ve always gotten…”

    If we make a change for the better. We won’t regret it.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • I love your enthusiasm, Brock! Yes, we hide behind walls of victimization, baggage, regret, and fear. It’s wonderful to know that these walls can dissolve, and that happiness is always available.

  13. Great advice, Gail!

    I especially liked the very first one. I think accepting responsibility for our own lives, our anger and unhappiness, our failures and missteps, our thoughts and feelings is the first step to becoming happy. To the degree we blame others, life or God, to that degree we block ourselves from ever really becoming truly happy.

    Thanks for the insight into living with greater happiness, Gail!

    • Beautifully said, Ken. It is so amazing that at any moment we can take responsibility – the essential shift that puts us on the road to sane living.

  14. this post is such an Eye opener Gail
    once we start seeing the real world instead of imagined restrictions we can do miracles
    thank you so much :)

    • I love this, Farouk – seeing through imagined restrictions to what is real. And when we live in what is real – there are no limitations there. Great to see you!

  15. Hello Gail,
    I’m very confused and I just can’t find happiness. I used to go out with a guy for two and a half years, and for a while I was so tired and worried because I knew he was not faithful to me (via e-mail, facebook, whatever). I caught him when we were dating for 6 months and I gave him a chance but then again now (3 weeks ago), and I just got tired. I’m supposed to be relieved that I don’t carry that wait anymore but I just can’t be happy, I can’t move on. Strangely, I miss what we had, and it has been very difficult for me to accept the idea that we won’t be together anymore. Anyway, somehow he blamed me that I never trusted him and I pushed him to do this. It’s all messed up now, I know I have to move on, not to answer his calls or e-mails, I just can’t help it.
    I want to be happy, I would appreciate any comments.

    • Hi Eva,

      If this man was not faithful, then he is not the man for you. If you find yourself attracted to people who don’t treat you like the fabulous woman that you are, then you need to move on – and examine within yourself why you aren’t attracted to people who make good partners.

      Of course you want to be happy. Focus your attention on yourself. Do everything you can to be the amazing partner that a wonderful man will want to be with. This is taking good care of yourself. Keep a clear head, and make good choices for yourself. The drama will start to fall away, leaving the space for peace and happiness.

      I offer you so much love and support for your journey.

  16. Let happiness pervade your life. Our life’s are full of choices and we can choose to be happy or sad in the blink of an eye. I feel we really don’t have anyone to blame, but ourselves for our own happiness. Sure, life is going to throw us a zinger every now and then, but it’s how we take it in and deal with it that’s the choice/difference. I say dig inside and try and take it in stride and know that you have the power within yourself to decide how it is going to affect you. Look for the good of what has just been presented you and you will find your inner piece to help you withstand the bad. Others around you will see your strength and you will inspire them to do the same. That should make you happy – right! :)

    • Thank you so much for these beautiful words, Pete. With this understand, I imagine that you are happy and can spread happiness to everyone around you.

  17. I am a new blogger that started blogging with the purpose of chaning my life into a happier one. I believe that being a happy person affects all the things in your life – your thoughts, your actions and how people respond to you.

    I am 21 and going through a career change. The change made me want to change A LOT more. I started by watching EAT PRAY LOVE, and then went in search of books on the same subject, and now I’m reading blogs that’ll help me on this path of soul-searching.

    If you don’t mind, I would like your opinion on the road I have chosen to take to change my life. I’m keeping track of it on my blog “Growing a Cup of Tea”.

    Thank you for keeping a blog filled with so much inspiration and I think I might just use you suggestions to further my journey.
    Regards, Irene

    • Hi Irene,

      I am happy for you that you are so interested in seeing the truth about everything and discovering the deepest happiness possible.

      Reading blogs and books is a great way to start and to keep your interest alive. But you can read forever. What is most important is that you diligently apply what you read in your own experience. There are so many beautiful teachings – more than you ever need. But you need to break through our own resistances and conditioning, which can be very subtle, so you can receive them into the deepest part of your being.

      Wishing you a beautiful, amazing, fruitful journey…

  18. Hello, I found this page on Stumbleupon.com and I’m trying to relate it to my story. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Short background: Me (26) and bf (27) have been together for 9 months but we got together shortly after his 8 year relationship (fiancee) cheated on him. He’s come a long way since we first met. All in all, he’s a loyal, trustworthy, honest gentleman. Ive never had a guy that’s treated me so well when we’re together, except….

    A few times in our relationship (always when we’ve been drinking) I’ve brought up of “love”. Last night, I asked him if he loved me and he said that he can’t give me that and it kills him to see me unhappy when I asked him. He said I’m the best thing in his life right now and that I’m amazing and have helped him grow but that he has a wall up and said he will never let a girl hurt him like that again. He said I even told him love is patient and always growing and that he’s not saying “never”. I know he truly cares about me but he’s guarding his heart and it saddens me. He’s somebody that doesn’t usually open up like that and he’s an honest, straightforward kind of guy.

    Neither of us are trying to break up, we want to be together, but I told him I don’t feel like I have security not knowing what will become of us. If I hadn’t asked him, nobody would have known he doesn’t love me, he shows me so much and helps me to be a better person everyday, but when I asked him, he said “you’re not going to like the answer I give you”. It makes me so sad, and I’m giving myself some more time and have hope we will get to that deeper level. I know most of you will say he’s still broken and to run, but that’s not something I’m considering at this time. I’m just hurt, and I’m still giving this relationship everything or else I wouldn’t bother. He said he wouldn’t be with me if our relationship didn’t mean anything to him. I thought about emotionally trying to detach myself, but I can’t do that if I want this relationship to work. Any advice?

    • Hi there

      I never reply to posts, but in a way I can feel your pain and I thought I could help shed some light. I am a 29 yr old male and I can relate to your bf. Not because I am closed to love, but rather because I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. And as with growing up and experience’s, what makes you mature also as a by product build walls around your heart ( which is natural, but it need not be that way ).

      1. Don’t blame him for the way he feels, or for the walls around his heart. It’s natural for everyone to protect themselves
      2. Don’t pressurize the situation with any thoughts about what if he doesn’t love me, what if he will never love me? What if he breaks up with me, and I can’t detach from him? Regardless of what happens, you need to let go of the illusion of control. Yes everyone can control a situation to a certain extent. But if you accept that what will be will be, you will feel a little lighter on your feet. Appreciate that love is not something some has to give you, or should give you, or must give you. But although it is something that you would like to receive from the other person don’t crave it. If you give out love, without need to receive it. You will receive it. You will feel happier in yourself just for your new found view
      3. Don’t worry about bringing out the conversation. You don’t need to hear the word love. But you will see it in his actions. As guarded as he maybe, he may feel pressurised to love you. This does not help anyone. Hence if you follow point 2, and give love, he will come around in time. And if he does not, at least you know that for your part, you were a loving individual and you expended your love on someone you felt was worth it, and you were happier for it!
      4. Look within yourself to become happier. Find your issues, and resolve them. All external issues are derived from inner turmoil. As Gandhi once said ” Don’t change the world, change yourself”. If you change yourself, and your view, then you will see the world through a clearer glass, rather then one steamy and foggy by your very own perception and issues ( not issue issues, but rather parts of you mind that isn’t quite right yet). If you do become a happier person, then it will help him get out of his rut. He will concentrate less on trying to love you, and more on life and his time with you.
      5. Love is often found when you not looking for it. That’s because when we not looking for it, we are not looking for acceptance. When we not looking for acceptance we are ourselves. If everyone looking for acceptance was just themselves, they would find love easier. This is because we are all unique and beautiful in our own little way, and when we stop trying to be something we ain’t in order to be accepted, we find that people realise us for our uniqueness, and all of a sudden, everyone is beautiful in their own way. Everyone becomes a ripe fruit of life.

      I do hope my words will make a difference to you. Like you, I have my own issues as well. I am not completely happy, and I have a separate path to you and anyone else. I accept this and I will get there. But never think you are alone with the way you feel. There is always someone out there going through the same issue as you.

      My advice to you would be. You are never alone and thing will ALWAYS get better. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Stop trying to find it. But there is such a thing as love. It needs to be cultivated by both individuals to harness the good points and bad points of the other person which will help you make the relationship as best you can. Always strive for perfection, knowing you may never attain it. But if you strive for it, you continuously moving forward. And who can argue with that?

      Lots of love

      • Shervin’s response was right on, Michelle. I would add one more thing, which is to take care of yourself. If you are looking for commitment leading to marriage, and after you’ve done all the things and adopted the perspectives that Shervin suggests, maybe you need to walk away, even though it would be incredibly painful. Stay clear about what you want, and keepn your heart open.

      • Thanks for your replies! It’s one of the best things I’ve read in awhile and is helping me a lot. He’s been distant since we had that conversation 2 nights ago and told him he’s being that way and it hurts. I realize that I cannot pressure anyone, and he has said he doesnt know how to deal with emotions the right way and doesn’t want to upset me. I don’t know how to talk to him about opening up without him going into his man cave. I even looked up articles on how to get your bf to open up, I’m desperate here! I will not discuss whether he loves me or not anymore to him, but now this communication of him being distant and closing off when I try to talk to him is hurting me as well. I don’t want to hold in all these feelings and resent him, but I also don’t want to pressure or scare him off with my emotions, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

        • Michelle,
          No one can make someone open up. Just be open and loving so he feels safe around you. You have a great opportunity here to learn to deal with your own strong feelings. You want him to change so that you feel better. This is a hook that many of us get caught on. Your job is to take responsibility for yourself, not wait for him to solve your feelings. Take breaths, soothe yourself, recognize that repeating the story over and over is not going to help. Take very good care of yourself with great kindness.

          • Thank you, Gail! This is one of the most positive advice I have been getting from both you and Shervin. Most people just told me to dump him, but I like how you guys see it in a positive light, to focus on myself and he will come around (hopefully) Thank you guys so much! :)

      • Hi Shervin,

        I wanted to acknowledge directly the wisdom in your response. Thanks so much for sharing so clearly from your own experience.

        • You and Michelle are very welcome! :)

    • Hi Michelle
      The key is emotional detachment – if you cling to the hope he will eventually love you, you may end up disappointed. If you set your own standards for what you want, set a time limit for how long you’re wlling to remain in a situation that isn’t meeting your needs. It’s all too easy to settle for less than we want when we cling to the hope someone will change.

      • Hi, thanks for the reply! We just broke up about 22 days ago and I have not once contacted him since. I confronted his feelings again before the breakup and and he said he did not see me long-term. Since then, I ended it. A week later he texted saying he was ashamed of what he did and how much better off I was now and that he hopes one day I could talk to him again. He said he was in a lot of pain and felt like a loser for what he did. I guess he realized that him leading me on really hurt me and I finally left the relationship. I never responded to the e-mail or text and I’m sure he has figured out I have moved on now. Everyday, I grieve because I love him but knowing he doesnt have the same feelings back and didn’t even picture a future with me, I had to pick up what self-respect I had left and walk away.

        • You should go the site “baggage reclaim”

  19. Thank You So Much!

    Im A 19 Year Old who has been trapped inside a prison of unhappiness and you have just given me the keys and made me feel like living again,, again thank you so much!

    Much Love, Abdualrahman

  20. Gail, I whole-heartedly agree with every point. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing, I love connecting with like-minds.

    And to all the other commenters… good on you. This post is great and you are too :D

  21. Nice post – but I wonder to what extent the behaviours you describe lead to happiness, as opposed to already being happy tends to lead to those behaviours ?

    We can choose to be happy right now, in the present moment – this doesn’t mean we accept things as they are, or that we don’t strive to change things, just that we can choose to reject the stress that results from wanting things to be different.


    • I think it goes both ways, Steve. And I couldn’t agree with you more about “rejecting the stress that results from wanting things to be different.”

  22. Fantastic post Gail. My best definition to achieve happiness is as follows.

    Satisfaction + Aspiration = Success
    Being grateful for what you have and working to achieve your goals will result in most happiness.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Marya. Allowing our hearts to open with gratitude is so tender and seems to soften the rigid stories that bring us trouble in our lives.

  23. Dear Gail,

    Thank you so much for this uplifting post. I have never commented on any blog posts or anything of the sort but for some reason this really moved me. I wanted to ask you a questions regarding a situation of “unhappiness” if you will in regards to my current position in life. I am just about to finish up an undergraduate degree in engineering at a very good school, something that no one in my family has ever done and no one I socially interact with on a daily basis knows much about at all.

    All throughout my life I have really wanted to help others, I feel that each and every one of us are so blessed to live on such a beautiful planet and if somehow we can help to preserve man kind and mother nature then in the future our childrens children can live in the same beauty that we have experience. That being said I have really hit a wall in my further path in academics. I have been getting into cancer therapy research and am really interested in the type of breakthroughs that are happening and saving thousands of lives, however; I find myself bogged down with the large learning curve and tedious tasks that are associated with such intellectually intense fields of study. At times I question if this is truly a lifestyle that I want to carry through with. I love to be outdoors and love travelling the world yet I feel like if I wish to continue and go to graduate school for a PhD or something of the sort I will miss out on these types of activities.

    What am I missing here? Helping others make me truly happy inside but at times those visions are clouded by the countless work I have to go through just to make a tiny impact. I know that in order for me to get to the point where I really make an impact I will have to devote nearly all my time to my studies and neglect my social life and any relationships.

    Is there something I need to really sit down and think about when making this decision whether to move on and go to grad school and pursue my aspirations? Sorry if this seems a little sparatic its difficult to gather all my thoughts into a few pharagraphs.

    • Thank you for your question, Andrew.

      The best advice I can give you is to follow your heart. You are at an early stage in your career, and sometimes we need to stick with something that is hard to get the results later on. So sometimes you just know what you need to do, even though it doesn’t feel light and happy in the moment.

      It’s great that you want to help people – there are countless ways to do that. If you let go of all the thoughts in your mind, and any “should’s” that might be creeping in, what do you really want? There is an inner knowing that can direct you, if you are open to listening. Instead of deciding, just listen and see what you are directed to do. Our minds can get in the way of us living our true calling. See if you can move your attention out of your head to see what is being offered to you.

      I am thinking of two relevant stories. My niece is just finishing a Ph.D. in chemistry. She really didn’t like it for the first two years, but eventually something shifted and she ended up exactly where she needs to be. And I never questioned getting a Ph.D. in psychology and enjoyed the process the whole way through.

      I appreciate your questioning and the conflict you feel. The answer is likely to be available to you if you relax and make the space for it to come to you. Put down the struggle, and be willing to tell the truth to yourself.

      You sound like a thoughtful, caring person with a huge heart. Stay true and open. Whatever contribution you make will be just right.

      Wishing you well…

  24. I’m gonna keep is simple and just say thanks Gail, and hope all the people that previously posted are doing well and finding happiness.

  25. Is such a revelation to be ‘working on myself’ since giving away drinking six months ago.
    Your points especially 4 and 7 on being aware of and active in constructing our daily inner dialogue are precious.
    Thank you for sharing.

  26. Hi Gail,

    It’s really refreshing to hear ways to be happy that are not the same old ones we hear all the time.

    I grew up in a hostile, volatile, and unpredictable atmosphere. Yet, somehow, I managed to spend my entire life up through high school in a generally happy state of mind. Once I moved out to go to college, I found myself having a lot of time to reflect on some very negative situations, not going to class, binge spending, staying up all night crying, and sleeping through the daylight hours. I let myself fall into a routine of self-pity and self-disgust. I found that I didn’t know how to make or maintain friendships anymore, found myself judging others for the same things I hated about myself, and found myself only recognizing the negative in everything.

    For about three years, I have been on the path to rebuilding my inner self. I’ve been seeing a therapist who has been helping me recognize my internal arguments and external negativity.

    So, here’s the dilemma. My boyfriend and I are part of a very negative group of friends. I am an adult, 24 years old, getting my master’s degree and working in an architecture firm full time. I have interests and hobbies. These friends have no place in my life, but my boyfriend, whom I love and respect, does not want to lose them for fear of us having no friends at all. We have had many conversations about this but there’s still been no resolve. We like specific friends in the group, but the core members are very cruel and negative. I’m trying to phase them out and see the better friends more often, but I still can’t get them out completely. Is there a way to come to some conclusion here? If I had my way, we would have phased them out a year ago, but he doesn’t want to completely do this. He’s been open to seeing other friends but we really don’t have any. I sometimes make different plans when he hangs out with them, but I don’t think it’s right to always do this. I don’t want to create more hostility by obviously not being there because of them if he still sees them.

    Nor sure what to do. Is it right to compromise on something that apparently affects me this deeply?

    • I think you’ve answered your own question, NM. “Is it right to compromise on something that apparently affects me this deeply?” It seems clear to me that you know in your heart that you don’t want to compromise.

      Holding on due to fear never works, as you are experiencing first hand. Once we take the plunge and let go, there is space for something fresh and new.

      Take good care of yourself, and keep your heart open.

  27. I’ve had so many bad experiences in life. Experiences I wish had never happened to me, my family or my loved ones. Experiences which made me very sad, miserable, angry and depressed. Emotionally challenging and fuelled with anxiety. Had it not been for these life experiences, I would be a very different person today and that is something which haunted me for a long time……. until I realised what I’d learned from these sad times. I learned that its never too late. No matter what life throws at you, you have a choice. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, it appears hidden under pressure, disguised by anxiety or smothered by consequence…. but it is there if you look hard enough. On reflection now, I ignored the ability to choose and instead ‘reacted’ often to my own detriment and as a result, the situations became worse. Self pity, blame, anger, depression, are very negative emotions which do more damage than the situation itself. Learning how to take a step back, accept and move on is something I’ve learned over time. A survival mechanism if you will. The ability to allow, yet catch these negative emotions and turn them into something more productive is a very difficult task indeed. Only when one realises the snowball effect of self destruction that these emotions can bring do you truly realise the value of true happiness and what must be done to achieve it.

    • Hi Gill,

      Thank you SO much for writing. When you share your story with so much grit and honesty, it benefits everyone. You have been in the trenches and have figured out what you needed to do to realize true happiness. Sometimes life throws us many, many curves. But there is always a way to peace.

      Thanks for being an inspiration.

  28. I wish I had access to this list 25 years ago when I was rebuilding my life. But I did have a Bible and some very wise and patient friends. Thank God :) Perfect love casts out all fear. Refresh your mind. Humble yourself. You are forgiven. Judge not. The joy of the Lord is your strength.

    I could go on and on with these paraphrases, but you get the point. Ancient wisdom evolves into internet insight and the beat goes on.

    • There is nothing new, is there, Jill? Ancient wisdom and internet insight all point to the truths that we already know. Sometimes we need a little help remembering them.

  29. Great suggestions! You’re absolutely correct… happiness is no longer a guess. It has truly become a science which has been uncovered with the help of Positive Psychology.
    One day, we’ll hopefully have as many (if not more) blogs, sites and programs that are positively focused rather than we are fed by the mass media of negativity.

    There is no question that we all have bad things happen. It’s how we choose to react to those circumstances that makes all the difference!

    • Thanks for your enthusiasm and wisdom, Ricky. I completely agree – we cannot control what happens, but we can choose how to respond.

  30. Hi Gail, very nice site with excellent information!

  31. Almost all your suggestions made I have learned and practice everyday through Yoga. It has made a huge difference in my life and well being. Until one can find true contentment with themselves, outside influences will always hinder their well being and happiness. Just knowing and accepting this fact makes you one step closer. Things will always happen around you, this cannot be stopped or controlled. You do have complete control as to how you receive them.

    • Ronald,

      From one dedicated yogi to another, thank you for reiterating the importance of looking within for happiness and well being. As you say so clearly, we can’t control what happens, but we can absolutely control how we receive what happens. Knowing and living this truth opens the gate to joy overflowing.

  32. I love this post! It reminds me so much of the teachings in the book “The Secret”. We all have the ability to be happy, we just have to choose to do so and make sure our actions do not oppose it. To get what we want, we have to feel like we deserve it. For someone else to love us, we must love ourselves first.

    The biggest lesson in life is to find happiness in ourselves, so many people seek it from things outside, but they will never bring true happiness, only we can create that.

    Thank you for these words

  33. this is a wonderful piece to read early in the morning while drinking coffee.

    Hit every nail on the head and then some.

    I try to tell myself these tips all the time, and sometime it goes one ear and out the other.

    Reading it on the other hand, helps absorb the information.

    • Thank you for your honesty, Paul. It can take some time until these truths integrate into our daily lives. Reminders like reading can be very helpful – any way to keep the possibility of true happiness alive. Even though you forget sometimes, you moving in a positive and fulfilling direction.

  34. I loved this post and I’m especially in love with nr. 8.
    I read it for the first time yesterday, yet I already feel that posing the ‘what would love do?’ question will change my relationship with many – the one with myself included!

    But I would like to stress that it’s the whole package of your post that resonates profoundly!

    So thank you so much!

    With love, from the Netherlands

    PS @Shervin: I think the blogosphere really misses out if people like you don’t respond all that much!

    • You make an excellent point, Mathilda – applying the question: What would love do? to others as well as to ourselves. This invites the ultimate in kindness and compassion as we live our lives.

  35. Do you know why many dreams are never achieved? For many reasons. Here are a few:

    Never took the time to examine their life, desires and dreams
    Unwilling to put the necessary effort into learning about how others succeeded
    Unwilling to put the necessary effort forth in the needed work
    Miscalculated the investment of time
    Miscalculated the investment of money

    The bottom line is…it’s your life – give it the attention it deserves. If you are working towards your goal you are already empowered. Keep at it, reminding yourself that you are making progress while others stand still.

  36. Where do you find happiness when you been married for 30 years to the one you love,fathered two wonderful kids , and he took his own life……… How do you find happiness???

    • Dear Lynn, words can’t express the sympathy I have for your situation. The only response I have is for you to grieve, grieve wholly, openly and completely until you can grieve no more. Then, and only then, immerse yourself in the beautiful, wonderful memories you made with that man. Relive them with as much feeling as you can muster. Be happy that you met him and he decided to spend his life with you. Be happy for the wonderful years you spent together and the children you have raised. Thank him out loud for all he has given you. I wish you all the peace in the world Lynn. Take care. Stu

  37. What would love do ?

    This permeates all over my physical body and being.

    Thank you very much for this. I shall remind myself and ask that very question before I decide to do something stupid, especially out of sheer anger or rage.

  38. Wow, thankyou! Don’t want to go into why on a public message board on the internet, but just want to say thankyou. It’s like the butterfly effect. You can never know all the lives you can affect or even touch by simply posting anything on the internet. I stumbled upon your blog (or whatever this is, pls ignore my ignorance..hehehe…) by chance from a facebook post from a friend of mine and once again want to say a genuine THANKYOU!

  39. We literally ‘stumbled’ upon this post and really enjoyed it. Initially Zara was reading through it and she called me over (Zoe) to have a chance to engage in such positivity. What really struck us was the comment section. We both write a positivity blog ourselves and often have feedback of thanks and praise-but not often do we have the chance to witness the personal benefits of our words. Seeing how your post has individually helped people-has really given us greater happiness in our writing and has shown that being positive is priceless. Have a great day and we look forward to reading more posts.. Zoe Xx

    • Thanks so much for writing, Zoe. I took a look at your blog, and I love it! Yes, it’s so rewarding to know that people can really make a difference in their lives. And when that happens, the love spreads everywhere…

  40. “…a deep sense of contentment, the capability of being peaceful and at ease no matter what, an inner knowing that things are just fine…” words to live by! Aloha

  41. 1. Shed materialistic will
    2. Help the person in need of your help.
    3. Do not give trouble to others
    4. Realize the grief of others
    5. Impart love among all
    6. Sacrifice small and petty things for others
    7. Service to mankind
    8. Speak politely
    9. Behave politely
    10.Treat politely

  42. I’m going through some tough times right now, relationship if you want to know. But I realised it’s the choices I make that makes me happy or not. The past is gone and nothing I can do about it. I’m not responsible for his actions but I am with mine. What I’m doing, sitting, pondering, analysing it on my head over and over again is not making me happy but after reading this I have the choice to stay in this gloomy weather or get up, accept it happened and move on and the choice to make myself happy. The choice is mine and thank you for such encouraging words!

  43. Hello :)

    I found the one thing that is the hardest for me to do from your list is to study your emotions. Especially the part that says, “stop telling yourself stories.” It’s hard to “sit” with my emotions and yet that seems to be the advice I give to friends all the time when they are struggling…”Let the emotions come, whatever they are. Acknowledge them but don’t let them become a permanent fixture in your life.” It’s interesting to me why I can say that to a friend but not take my own advice! The funny thing is that on the outside, people see me as being optimistic, friendly, carefree. And on the inside it doesn’t feel so clear. I hurt a lot more than people ever know. Mainly because I have not developed a good system for letting people know when I’m hurting. It’s something I want to work on so my happiness will become more increasingly genuine. I hope that others will continue to strive for authentic happiness and not let fear or the past stop them :)
    Take care, Jodi

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Jodi. We don’t want to fight with emotions when they show up, but we don’t want them to get stuck in us either. So, yes, let emotions be there if they are, without the story, but don’t give them too much attention or involvement. Just like a bird flying across the sky, they come and go.

      Even though you might not be open with people you know when you are hurting, you have been open here, which I appreciate. Telling the truth is the first major step toward healing.

      May you know endless happiness…

  44. Wow, Thank you for sharing this article.Maybe you should consider having a trial separation from your partner to try to establish some independence. Or change the game a little bit? Ask questions about finances and such. I would be suspicious that my partner was hiding something if I was not allowed to participate in finances and financial decisions.

  45. hello, i have subscribed to this change blog for about 8months now, am trying to put into practice what i read here but i dont know exactly what is happening to me. i have failed to get into a serious relationship since i broke up with my boyfriend 3years ago. the men that come to me are not serious, they married or not the type of men i would love to spend the rest of my life with so i just do not give them chance. some times i blame my self for the failures in relationships coz i seem to be a perfectionist, yet i have failed to change. what can i do

    • Hi Trude,

      Good for you for being discriminating when it comes to choosing a partner. Wait for the right one to come along.

      For now, maybe you can focus on yourself and not on finding a relationship. See what blocks you from being the best partner you can be and take an honest look at that. Then enjoy yourself. Live your own life to its fullest, and you will be very attractive to just the right person.

      • One more thing, Trude. Be very kind to yourself. Keep to high standards, but keep your heart open and flexible. Self-bashing never works if you want to be happy. Use your thoughts in loving and supportive ways.

  46. I was unhappy about my living situation for a while. I live in a fairly small town and attend a fairly small university. The town, as cozy and friendly as it may be, does not offer up much to college students like me. It was extremely hard, and still is, but I had to accept that I live here now and I need to make the best of my situation. I now have plans to move to a bigger city after graduation. Where I feel I was meant to belong. I don’t have a plan, but I feel like being somewhere new will help. One can only hope.

  47. Hi Gail, I am on this site because I am very frustrated with my life. I am 66 years old, I went through 18 yrs of marriage with an unfaithful alcoholic, thru the help of ALanon I was able to get a divorce, However, I have two adult children, both have drinking problems, and although I was and am a loving and generous mother to my children and one grandchild,, my kids are often mean and cold towards me, while they would never dare be mean to their father, for he holds all the money. I know that they tend to him because they are constantly in search of his love and they can be mean to me because they already know I love them, but it still hurts so much. I have many problems, I gained to much weight and have Diabetes 2, I have a painful failed Neer Implant in my right arm due to an incompetent surgreon, I live on SDD which is barely standable, I long to change my life but the emotional and phsyical pain overwhelms me and I just sit and cry. I have no friends or relatives to talk to, I live in an apt building where the landlord knowingly rents to drug addicts, dealers, domestic violence people, etc the apt itself is very nice and to start I had a wonderful landlord, but he sold the building and now it is like hell living here at times. I am so worn down emotionally and can’t see a way out of this, Moving costs money, and I could also wind up in a worse place again. I cry watching my kids ruin their lives and not being able to stop them,,,I know I should diet, but food is my only comfort now,,,,,,,can you help me in any way? thanks for any consideration……

    • Thanks for writing, Isabella. I am sorry for all of your challenging life circumstances. I would recommend starting small. In the moments of your life, begin to see that beauty is available and joy not too far away. Simply appreciating sunshine or a smile exchanged with a stranger adds a positive moment to your life.

      Focus on what is working, not on what isn’t. You sound resourceful, caring, and bright. Notice these qualities in yourself and make the space for them to flourish. Don’t worry about the big problems for now. Simply find peace and joy right here in the present.

      Once you aren’t so caught in the negativity, your next step might become clear. Overall, keep your heart open – to yourself primarily and to everyone around you, whether they are suffering or not.

      Sending you love and oceans of support…

      • Thank you Gail for your words of encouragement, I appreciate your kindness. I tried to think about what is working, but nothing is. I know that in order for me to be able concentrate and put effort into losing weight I have to be able to get out of this what seems endless depressive state over my kids. But I have no control over their chosen behaviors. I’m going to try a last ditch effort and ask my exhus if he will FINALLY tell our kids the truth, for years he has acted like I did something to him, I know that my kids know the truth, that it was his alcoholism and cheating, but if he would finally come clean it might make a huge difference in our kids behavior, it is my last hope. I have done everything I can to help them with no luck, so I am hoping he will do as I ask and maybe that will make a difference. I do try to see the good in each day, and I thank the good lord for everyday I wake up because some people don’t. I am going to do as you say, and hope for better days. I welcome comments from anyone here who has to deal with grown children with drinking problems,,,,,thank so much,,,,,,,,

  48. Solid insightful post, all things that will work if you commit to them every day. Commitment is the key. Taking the time to have an ongoing dialogue with yourself every day is the only way to nurture and master change. If you don’t do the work, nothing will happen.

  49. And what of the teenage girl who is being sexually abused by her father or the woman who’s partner has left her with children to feed and no money to do so? What of the children and adults dying from dysentery and malnutrition in the ‘majority’ world? Seriously, these are not real answers to how to create happiness in your life. Some situations are beyond a little ‘faith in the universe’ and pepping yourself up with inner happiness!!! My god, this is a great way for self-absorbed people who’s biggest issues are insignificant first world issues.

    • Thank you for your insightful comment, Nat. Of course, if there are actions to take to remedy specific situations, then I would absolutely advocate doing them. Intelligent action always comes first.

      I don’t think the suggestions I make in this post are about “having a little faith in the universe”. They are specific and concrete skillful actions one can take to deal with thoughts and feelings that get in the way of successful functioning. Yes, I called it happiness in this post, but these suggestions serve everyone.

      Take, for example, the teenage girl being sexually abused. If someone can help her, great. But if she holds beliefs that no one will understand or that she is to blame, then challenging these beliefs might be one of the most productive things she can do to help herself. If a mother is in dire circumstances, it would help her to cultivate enthusiasm to do the best she can for her family rather than feeling disempowered by her life circumstances.

      It is the nature of the human spirit to be resilient. Yes, people in all walks of life need help, and whoever feels motivated to offer that help is to be applauded. I have offered here some ways that we can help ourselves to rise above limits and live fully as much as possible.

      Yes, I am an optimist. Not one wearing rose-colored glasses, but one who has seen the power of inner transformation.

      • Hi Gail,

        I think your choice of words, ” concrete skillful action one can take to deal with thoughts and feelings that get in the way of successful functioning.”

        When one takes the plunge and make the conscious choice to change I found it’s a bit like hurling oneself into an abyss. I managed it with the help of a coach but letting go, trusting her (even though many times I thought I knew better) and allowing her to guide me (like a frightened child) was the key to eventually seeing the truth for myself.

        It is difficult to “sell” and I use the term loosely, something that if you have not yet made the discovery yourself it’s contrary to everything you believe you know. When you already know, it’s so glaringly obvious all you want to shout is Yes, Yes, Yes.

        Thanks for your continued insight.

        • I’m celebrating with you, Margaret! So beautiful.

          As you say, this process requires taking the plunge, without really knowing what you are plunging into. What a paradox. But what do we have to lose? Struggle, conflict, inadequacy. When we are willing to give up these, even if we don’t know what lies beyond, then the door is truly open.

  50. I love that you said take responsibility and drop old baggage. We can get caught up in so many old emotions and if we take responsibility were not pushing our problems onto others which is avoiding any bad feelings building towards that person. Dropping old baggage can be the most freeing thing a person can do. Your free to enjoy your life again and be happy without seeing bad in other people you don’t have to focus on their life only the good going on in yours.

  51. #3 is irresponsible and flippant. It should read “seek professional help to DEAL with the pain/problem” rather than wrap it in a “cocoon of love then move on…”. Surprisingly simplistic and even childish advice.

    • I appreciate your comment, Helena, and welcome your opinion. Please let me clarify.

      As a therapist, I couldn’t be more in favor of people getting professional help when they need it to address problems and emotional pain. In fact, I think that people don’t pursue professional help enough, as it can be very useful.

      As I have seen in my own life and with hundreds of people, if you are not going to live with the past nipping at your heels or controlling your life, you need to leave the past in the past and move forward free of its effects. In some situations, getting to the point of being able to move on may take years and excellent professional help. In other situations, one might have an epiphany about the effect of carrying baggage, and drop it in one fell swoop. I have had both happen in my personal life.

      And I do know, in my heart of hearts, that love heals. The reason we experience emotional pain always boils down to a lack of love. When we can bring love to the part of ourselves that hurts – this is a major step toward healing and moving on.

      I don’t at all mean to be flippant, simplistic, or insensitive. But I do want to speak to the power of making the personal choice to let go. Do this enough, and your happiness will soar.

  52. Am glad I found this website. I have been going through the same thing. I have let go of the people emotionally abused me and our children. As for my estrange husband he stills hang out with these people since they are his family. He says he isn’t happy with what he has in his life now and doesn’t know what he is going to do yet. I have let a lot of things go that were negative in my life. Now am more at peace with myself. Also went back to my religion. Me and our children are happier without all of the drama. We have learned from the past. We also know that you can’t change people or what others do. All you can do is make the changes that will make you happy. Everything in our lifes have changed its all been for good though. So in away am grateful but I still hurt over lossing my estrange husband to people who don’t love or care about him. I know there is nothing I can do for him all I can do is make myself happy and my children.

    • Hi Deborah,
      These are sane and wise choices you are making for your children and for yourself. Good for you! I salute your courage and celebrate with you!

  53. Life’s too short to be miserable!

  54. Gail, congrats for this! This is the best happiness article I’ve read so far, beautiful.

  55. Gutted. I’ve failed at everything. I take responsibility for my bad decisions. I didn’t know they were bad when I made them though. They just turned out that way. I have no fear and have accepted that I attract bad luck. I’m still miserable though. I went to bed crying and woke up crying. The best way to stop losing is to stop playing. I’ve given up on being happy.

  56. What I feel effects my happiness is the thought of spending my life alone. I have had one relationship in my life and it makes me feel as if everyone thinks I am not good enough to date. I keep hearing oh you’re young you will find somebody, but I don’t feel like I will, and that advice is not helping. I am 24 and have not had a boyfriend since I was 17. I feel like I am missing a major part of my youth not dating and experiencing dating in my 20’s.

    • Hi Katja,

      It sounds to me like you might want to look at what is in the way of your dating and having a relationship. When you’re single, the best way to use your time is to make yourself into the kind of partner that the person you want will be attracted to. What beliefs do you hold to be true about yourself or other people that need to be examined (e.g. that you’re not good enough to date)? What fears are holding you back? When you’re out in the world happy and available to life, people will want to be with you. Move in that direction, and see what happens…


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