Especially during the last couple years of pandemic stress, happiness can seem elusive. You’ll be happy sometime in the future. You’ll be happy when you can travel when you can get back to the office when you can go to a concert. You’ll be happy when you meet the right partner. You’ll be happy when you move to a different house, city, or state. You’ll be happy when you achieve something big, acquire something new. Happiness is always down the road, just out of reach.


But some people are happy regardless. You know the ones. They seem to find contentment with who they are in the moment. They may strive to achieve and acquire new things, but they are fundamentally happy whether they succeed or not. They find the good things that are already in their life. They appreciate who they are and what they have. They are satisfied. How do they do it?

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Maybe it’s what they DON’T do.


Happy people don’t constantly compare themselves to others. They’re happy for their friends’ success. They don’t envy people who have fancier houses or cars or jobs. They’re content with their lives. If they spend time on social media at all, they don’t feel bad as a result. They see what people post but refuse to feel lacking. They know everyone has their troubles, and most people only post positive things that aren’t representative of their lives as a whole. They’re happy for their friends’ triumphs. There will always be someone smarter, richer, and better off, a fact that happy people accept with aplomb.


Happy people don’t blame everyone but themselves for their problems. People who feel they just can’t catch a break, that they would be better off if so-and-so hadn’t done something to them, that someone else is to blame—people who feel like this are bound to be unhappy. They don’t take responsibility for their own actions, and to a certain extent, their own luck. True, bad things happen that we can’t control, but not EVERYTHING. The moment people don’t accept their part in their troubles, is the moment they abdicate control. If it’s always someone else’s fault, then there’s nothing they can do about it. But when they see that they contribute to their troubles, they see what they can do to change it. They can take positive steps which gives them more control over their lives.


Happy people don’t refuse to accept reality. When something bad does happen—and it happens to all of us—happy people come to terms with it. They’re not happy about it, but they understand they face difficulties and are willing to work to get through them. They don’t waste too much valuable time saying, “Why me?” and lamenting their fate. Instead, they look reality in the eye and acknowledge it. Then they determine how they can move forward in a positive way. They muster their strength in a trying situation and call on friends and family to support them when they need it. And when they finally work through a difficult circumstance, they try to learn from it.



Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: