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Happiness is an issue that I’ve been paying a lot of attention to for a few years now. During the writing of my book, Happy Woman Happy World, I reviewed numerous statistics and spoke to many people about what makes them happy.

Finding happiness at work is important because it occupies a big chunk of our time. Unfortunately, the latest report from Gallop revealed only 13% of employees are actively engaged at work, while 63% are just there for a paycheck. The remaining 24% basically hate their jobs. This is terrible news.

Other important building blocks to happiness are our romantic and social relationships. Without a solid foundation or support and love from family, friends, and a partner, life can feel hard and lonely. I know this because I lived it. I raised my daughter entirely by myself with no family around and I had very little support from my ex-husband. Plus, I was running my business at the same time. There was no time to develop friendships because I was deep in the trenches every day. It was a lonely path and I didn’t even think about finding happiness in my personal life until my daughter moved to college.

The third component to happiness is the way we feel about ourselves. Our personal happiness is affected by our body image, where and how we live, our immediate surroundings, and our achievements.

I am originally from Germany and one of the things that I liked about the US when I first arrived was that Americans generally felt happier than Germans, especially on the West Coast where I live. I can’t pinpoint why that is, but that feeling stuck out for me back then.

As with everything, happiness exists within a balance and there is a flipside. We have come to believe that we are entitled to feel happy all the time in all areas of our lives. And when that is not the case, we don’t know how to manage the negative feelings. Often, we suppress our discontent, and that can work for a while. But, unless something changes, our underlying dissatisfaction eventually blows up into a crisis of some sort. I see this all the time in my private coaching. When we don’t address the little things, they build up and become big things. Big things are much more difficult to deal with.

Yesterday, I was communicating with an unhappy client. He had enrolled in a live course but wished to cancel it because he felt I didn’t like or understand his work. When we started the course, he had been struggling to create a functioning business model but his niche market was so specialized that I just couldn’t see how his business could ever grow. When I told him my opinion, his feelings were hurt and his self-confidence took a big blow. While we talked it out yesterday, something became very clear to me.

When we feel down, we want to point a finger and blame someone else. But, when one finger points away from us, there are three fingers pointing back at us. We are always part of any problem we face, which means solving issues always starts by looking at ourselves. When you think about it, you are the only person you have control over and only you can choose your reaction. It is up to you to make yourself happy, not your spouse or your boss.

When you are facing challenges and are not in your happy state of mind, I want you to shift your thinking and consider what seems to be in your way as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Break your complex issue apart. Cut it into smaller steps that are you can accomplish. What I mean by that is instead of focusing on how you feel, find ways to get over, around, or through this issue!

Here are a few ideas that helped me in the past. You might find them helpful, too.

  • Make time for relationships. If work takes away from relationships with family and friends, it is time to make changes. I have found it is always about people. Put your relationships first—you need the support.
  • Write your happy list. If you don’t know what makes you happy, how would you know when you get there?
  • Consciously pay attention to the small things that bring little bits of joy. The rose is beautiful, the music is soothing, your home is filled with laughter, and your children are wonderful. Remind yourself that happiness is a choice and it can be found every day.

Most important is to remember that feeling good comes from doing well. Instead of wondering why you feel the way you do, start doing something about it that will make you proud of yourself. Whether it’s at work or at home, it will be impossible to not feel happy when you succeed.

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