how to be happy

So delicious, so amazing, yet so often out of reach.

Happiness thieves come in too many everyday disguises: disappointing news, a colleague’s harsh words, a friend’s forgotten promise, a parking ticket at the wrong end of the month, two pounds put on after a week of willpower.

Or so I used to believe.

Why, oh why didn’t anyone tell me happiness is as vital to my life as the air I breathe?

And how can I have been led to believe that it relies on forces beyond my control?

That’s madness, when you think about it.

How can you ever be truly happy if your happiness is so flimsy as to be entirely dependent on others, on external events or circumstances?

You can’t.

But you can reclaim your happiness, by realizing it’s an internal process, not an external one. You can start to build a fortress that no invading thief can ever breach.

The truth is, you make your own happiness and it IS within your control.

Of course, sometimes sadness enters our lives, but even in the mist of sadness, you can find small rays of joy if you look, if you’ve built the habit.

And you can start the process by asking yourself these three, powerful questions:

1. What’s my version of Happiness?

Just as many people believe they aren’t masters of their fate, they also believe that they can’t be happy without certain external markers: a ‘good’ job, their peer’s recognition, supportive friends, a paid-off mortgage, ‘successful’ children, a secure retirement fund, whatever.

There is no disputing that outside events are factors in your happiness.  But don’t base contentment only on these outer experiences that often fall outside of your control. That’s not a great way to go.

It’s little more than handing over the keys of your fortress to someone else.

It’s a happiness destroyer.

To be the master of your own happiness, find your own true joy making factors that come from within, not without.

2. What am I willing to exchange to be happy?

True happiness isn’t a fleeting feeling. Happiness is a habit. It’s an approach to life. And it’s definitely a philosophy.

Once you’ve defined what being happy means to you and pledge to give it your all, it can become as much a part of your every moment as breathing.

But you’ve got to give it a clear path. You need to declutter your mind. Remove unhappy habits of thought as much as you need to empty that overflowing drawer before you can put those shiny new purchases in there.

Think about your personal dislikes, preconceptions, and fast-held opinions. What’s lurking  amongst these that has an anti-happiness message? Do you have any beliefs you can’t align with your new version of happiness?

happinessReal happiness, the internal kind, will not flourish against head-on opposition from your own thoughts. Not going to happen. Ever.

By stripping out your barriers to happiness and redefining yourself by only positive aspects, you will create an uncluttered mind-space where your joy can flourish.

To transform how happy you feel every day, you must dump some mind-junk first. Ditch negative, unhappy thought patterns, and restock your mind with positive, happy thought habits.

3. How much unhappiness am I willing to go through?

What! Am I contradicting myself?

Absolutely not. To be happy, you may need to work through some temporary mental (and physical) discomfort. Probably not the news you wanted to hear, I know.

It’s a matter of putting the road to happiness in context. It’s reining in any notions you may hold that it’s a straight, toll-free highway.

For example, if you decide that your personal version of happiness includes taking care of your health (Napoleon Hill lists “sound physical health” as no.2 in his Twelve Great Riches of Life), you may need to transform some activities you previously found unpleasant, such as regular exercise, into activities you enjoy.

Or say you’ve got some troubling difficult decisions to make. You might reach a point where you have to choose to keep your current life or abandon significant elements – careers, places, even people who are holding back your happiness.

This isn’t selfish, it’s self-survival.

To transform how happy you feel every day, accept that you may just have to work through some change and unhappiness to get there. It’s worth it.

Lasting happiness is within your reach.

Making happiness more than a will o-the-wisp feeling can seem daunting, especially if you’re going through some challenges. But it can be done.

Start with these three questions and constantly look for opportunities to find happiness and joy in the everyday.

Happiness, like all good habits needs time to build. But learn the habit and your happiness will be a fortress, which even the craftiest thief or strongest ill wind may rattle, but never breach.

Now that’s true happiness.

What’s your version of happiness 101? How have you built your happiness habit? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

[success]lauraandmarktongBio: Laura and Mark are on a mission to help you get the happiness habit. Download 5 Free Mind Decluttering Tools that Simplify Your Day and Make You Excited to Roll Out of Bed in the Morning[/success]

As always thank you for reading and supporting our Live Purposefully Now community.  Never forget…You rock!

Encourage one another.

P.S If you enjoyed this post and have a friend, family member or colleague who could do with some support in having happier moments, please share this with them.  You never know, you might just change their life.


Laura Tong is a former health professional, a regular contributor on The Huff Post and Assistant Editor at Goodlife ZEN. Download her free cheat sheet: 5 Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict) 


  1. Yes, this is so true, happiness depends on how we perceive. It can definitely take some time to dig in and re-route the old habits, but joy will keep bubbling up. Love your questions.

    • ElleSommer

      Thanks Sandra…Laura did a great job on this post – I’m truly happy to have her as a guest author. New habits do take a little time…but we’re so much better off if we can persist with them.

      • Elle, thank you so much for the opportunity to contribute to your wonderful site. So appreciated:)

        • ElleSommer

          As always Laura…I’m truly happy to share your wise words. 🙂

    • Hi Sandra – thanks so much for your kind comments – old habits really are hard to change, but I love the idea that you just can’t stop joy bubbling up

  2. These are fantastic questions, and I think Laura and Mark have written a great post. It’s taken me a long time to realign my idea of happiness, but it’s completely different from what I thought it was a few years ago. I’ve also learned that you have to give to get – you can truly have almost anything you want in life, but not all at the same time.

    • ElleSommer

      It is interesting how our ideas change over time Ellen, as we learn and grow and expand ourselves we begin to see the world in a new light. The giving and the getting are an interesting conundrum really, you can’t give unless you have and you don’t get much if you don’t give much. It’s a bit zen and part of the wonderful mysteries that life offers us. Laura and Mark have put their own special twist on the happiness factor which is just lovely.

    • Hi Ellen – you are so right! You really do have to give to get. The lovely thing is, it is as lovely to give as to receive.

  3. So true. Happiness is in large amount a choice we make. Changing how we see things and focusing on internal changes rather than letting external circumstances, which we don’t always have a choice in, is huge. Thanks Elle!

    • ElleSommer

      I absolutely agree Melissa. We seek it everywhere but the one place we can be sure to find it…within. 🙂

    • Thank you Melissa. It’s not always easy to focus on the internal but oh boy, it’s absolutely the secret to happiness we’ve found. I can be absolutely certain of one thing – that I have more control over what’s going inside than outside. 🙂

  4. Happiness truly comes from within us, our perspective of happiness can change everything, it is a process and eventually, if it becomes a habit it will definitely change our life. Thanks for sharing all these thought provoking questions. Really great.

    • ElleSommer

      True Sherill, they are questions to ask ourselves often. 🙂

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