Happiness Starts With You

Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

For many people, happiness is something they think happens due to outside forces. If I get the grades I want. If I have a job where I am successful. If I have a relationship. If I am thinner. If people are proud of me.

I call it the happiness hamper. The place where you go to dig through all the things to find one that you think will make you happy. Trying on different ones to see which will make you happy at that moment. All of these kinds of happiness are dependent on someone or something else.

True happiness can only come if you are happy with yourself – with nothing added by anyone or anything else. Just you, in your own flesh, looking in a mirror and saying that YOU make you happy.

People that seek happiness outside of themselves from other people or things are very often disappointed and decidedly unhappy. If your happiness resides in your getting a certain job or making a certain amount of money and that doesn’t happen as you hope it will you then feel sad and as if you are now not successful or worthy.

If you seek happiness in relationships and your relationship does not work out…you feel sad and as if you somehow lacking because that person did not choose to stay with you.

If happiness does not start with you how then can you expect to be happy with anything else that you do or with anyone else. If you inherently find fault with yourself and are not wholeheartedly happy with just you – how can you expect that you would be able to be happy in some other situation? You are still the same person are you not? The same one you are not happy with. That does not change because your situation changes.

So many times my clients when I talk about being happy with themselves bring up all the trauma and suffering from their life. They believe they cannot be happy with themselves because of all the beliefs and responses they have to this trauma – that other people and other situations taught them. But they believe it, internalize it, live it with words like “my fault”, “not worthy”, “not valued”, “not smart”, “not pretty” and on and on.

I should have a sign in my office with the following words: Repetition and Reinforcement. I say it often enough. I believe it absolutely that it is the only way to change how you think about what you feel. You must repeat, repeat, repeat for as many times as is necessary. And then you must reinforce by repeating hundreds, millions, hundreds of millions until your brain believes what you are saying. Until the negative things you have internalized are gone – replaced.

Start small, say it once a day, have it written and placed next to where you brush your teeth every morning. Say it out loud looking at yourself in a mirror and smile when you do it.


Do it once a day for four weeks. Then do it twice a day for three weeks. Then three times a day for three weeks. It takes 21 consecutive days of doing something to make a habit that sticks. Then do it four times a day for three weeks. Ever increasing until it becomes a running monologue in your brain. And smile every time you say it – smiling releases endorphins, endorphins make us feel happier.

Happiness starts with YOU.

Until next time be well,


Do One Thing

Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

I have a sign in my office that states, do one thing every day that makes you happy.

In a world of grief, division, blame, election chaos, and Covid finding happiness can seem a herculean task. But finding one thing, no matter how small, might seem a little more doable.

Think right now the first thing that comes to your mind that makes you happy. What is it? It does not matter what it is. It does not have to be something big or enormously meaningful. It can be tiny and to others may seem insignificant or even trivial, but to you it makes you happy. It makes you smile.

The first thing that came to my mind is coffee. A really good cup of coffee. Every time I have my coffee in the morning, it makes me smile. it makes me happy. It makes me warm and fuzzy. And this is something made of just beans.

Do one thing every day that makes you happy.

And in the great tradition of building habits, if you can do one thing for a period of time, you can also add to that one thing with another thing. And possibly another thing.

What if you added enough of one happy things that it filled most of your day? Would you think you would feel happier overall? You would need to notice and acknowledge each one. Speak gratitude for each. Enjoy the smile, the happiness, the warmth for each one.

How many one things could you have in a day? Five, ten, twenty, a hundred? Just think of the dopamine and serotonin you would get from all those one things that make you happy every day.

This week I put up the Christmas decorations in my office because Christmas lights make me happy every single time I turn them on. Every time. One thing.

What will your one thing be today?

Until next time be well,


Be Happy Where You Are

photo of woman looking at the mirror
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Many times we find ourselves being unhappy with where we are. We wish and hope that things will change. We want something, possibly everything, to be different. We cannot seem to be able to be happy right where we are.

I was reading the book The Four Agreements in bits and pieces again between clients this last week. I kept coming back to doing your best. We often can think and then feel that whatever we are doing, where ever we are, we are LESS than. It is not good enough. But in doing your best, it is WHATEVER we are capable of doing at that moment.

Some days, where we are is just awake lying in bed. But our best on that day is being awake lying in bed. Other days, we get up and sit in a chair or on the sofa. On that day, our best is in the getting up and sitting somewhere else. Still other days, we get up, get dressed, and accomplish a single task like brushing our teeth. On this day, our best is doing one single task.

Where we are takes on many shapes. It changes from moment to moment. Where we are can be difficult or it can be easy. Even so, sometimes when it is easy, we are still not happy where we are because we search for something more or find something else that needs to change.

Stop right now and notice where you are. What are you doing? Where are you? What can you see, touch, smell, hear, taste? Tell your mind that you are happy in this moment, right now. You don’t have to be happy about a specific thing, just in this moment I think happy, I feel happy. And smile.

How we think is how we feel, not the other way around. Work this week to be happy where ever you are and practice it over and over. Notice how thinking happy makes you feel happy. Be happy where ever you are.

Until next time,

Just Be Happy

So many times, people will say to me, everyone tells me to just be happy. The next thing they usually say is, I can’t just be happy. Which, is true, and then again, it isn’t true. They believe they cannot just be happy, and so they are not. But it is not true that they cannot just be happy, if they pay attention to the thoughts that dominate their minds.

I usually follow up with the question, why are you not happy? And 9 times out of 10, I get the answer, I don’t know. Which, is true, and then again, it isn’t true. If there are many negative, self-defeating, self-doubting, self-judging thoughts in their minds, they truly may not be able to pick just one and say, THIS is why I am not happy. But it isn’t true that they truly do not know any reason why they are not happy. People know why they are not happy. They know what they think. They know what thoughts they believe. Acknowledging these things however, is another story entirely.

The next time you find yourself feeling unhappy, stop, and examine the thoughts you have been thinking. Truly look at them. Writing them down is even better, that way you can actually see them. What are you thinking when you are unhappy? It’s not just, I’m unhappy. There were a lot of thoughts leading up to that point. Are the thoughts about yourself? Are they about how you see yourself compared to others? Are they about yourself in relationships? Are they about yourself and your work? Are they about yourself and your grades? Are they about yourself and your family? Notice, every one of those questions included yourself. Almost every negative thought we have includes us. We may say, I am unhappy because my mother expects me to be perfect and think that is only about our mother. It is about how we FEEL about what our mother is projecting onto us. It is about how we feel that we cannot be perfect or good enough. It is NOT about our mother. Every thought has to be examined for what it says about us.

And this is where the trouble comes. If we have to acknowledge that our unhappiness is because of what we think, feel, believe about ourselves and not about others or outside events, then we have to do work on ourselves. We always prefer to have others change, to have events change, but to have ourselves change, that is where we draw the line. And why do we do this? Because we are afraid of what happens if we do change. Because we live in fear.

If we want to just be happy, we have to just be willing to come to the truth of why we are not happy. Start by looking in the mirror and asking questions and really digging down to the bottom line – I am the reason I cannot just be happy and how do I change the only thing I can change – myself.

Until next time,

I am currently accepting new clients (adolescent and adult females) for counseling. Please call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to schedule an initial consultation.