People are unhappy for all sorts of reasons, some of them easier to remedy than others. You may not even realize you\’re unhappy, yet if you think about it, you are not living up to your happiness capacity. If you are in a rut of negative thinking that makes you unhappy, stop to think about what you can do to change the habits of your mind. For example:

1)    Stop worrying. Easier said than done, of course. But if you worry about things you can do absolutely nothing about, then put them to rest. Imagine you are wrapping your worry up in brown paper, tying a string around it and putting it away on a shelf somewhere in the recesses of your brain. It\’s still there, but you remove it from active worrying. If you worry about something you might be able to do something about, take the first step to fix it right away, even if it\’s a baby step. You\’ll be amazed how much better you feel.

2)    Stop holding grudges. It takes so much energy to maintain your anger. Energy you could use for happier pursuits. So make up your mind to allocate your brainpower to something more useful than holding a grudge. Every time your negative grudge-thought enters your mind, expel it and replace it with something positive. Do this as many times as necessary until the grudge finally gives up and goes away.

3)    Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone smarter, handsomer, more talented than you are. But the gestalt you is unique, and you no doubt have some attributes that the genius you\’ve been competing with doesn\’t. So quit looking at one aspect of someone else under the microscope and finding you don\’t measure up. Instead, measure how happy you are when you\’ve given up the comparison habit.

4)    Stop waiting for all your dreams to come true. You would be happy if only you had enough money to travel. Or you would be happy if only you found your true love. But the truth is, you can be happy without having everything perfect—if only you would stop postponing happiness until every dream is fulfilled! Don\’t stop having dreams. Just stop putting your happiness on hold until they all come true.

5)    Stop seeing the glass as half-empty. You really can choose to look at the bright side of life, but you must make an effort. On a rainy day, observe the majesty of the storm clouds. If your friend moves away, be grateful for the lovely times you\’ve had together instead of mourning her absence. This does not mean you should stop being sad. It just means there are beautiful blessings all around you and you don\’t want to miss them—they can make you feel happier.

Of course, these suggestions are fine as far as they go, but they are not a substitute for treatment if you are clinically ill or depressed. If so, you should seek therapy as soon as possible. You deserve to spend as much time as you can being happy.

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