Everyone wants to be happy. In fact the Declaration of Independence gives Americans the right to pursue happiness. It is not guaranteed, but we can chart our own path to joy. At times when life becomes overwhelming, we may feel stressed and unable to rise to the level of cheerful delight. However we all know people that no matter the circumstances always seem to have a smile on their face and a joie de vivre. How do they get there? How can we achieve this same satisfaction  and allow joyful feeling to spill over into the work we do? Happy people have three qualities that other people don’t have: they know it, they show it and they grow it. 


They Know It

People who are happy remain in touch with their emotions. They allow their feelings to act as their guide. When they get stressed and lose their sense of well being, they immediately take steps to get centered. When they lose their temper or get angry, happy people may start to feel anxious. They quickly regain control and try to resolve the situation from a better state of being. In short, happy people enjoy feeling good, and will work to return to a happy state when life takes them from it. They are grateful for the good times and grateful for those times that challenge them to look inside and change for the better. Happy people know they are happy.


They Show It

When you are around a happy person, you know it. You immediately start to feel better and lighten up. Their joy is contagious and you look forward to interactions with them, whether in person or on the phone. If you are that happy person, then you understand that you become the cheerleader at your place of business. When the work becomes difficult, others turn to you to lift their spirits and calm their nerves.  It is a lot of responsibility to be the designated happy person, but happy people are happy to take on this role!



They Grow It

Happy people look for reasons to be joyful. They participate in fun activities, continue to learn new things and spend time with people they love. They do not waste their time on tasks that have no purpose. They will not take on other people’s burdens that weigh them down and stress them out. Their time is filled with work that fulfills them, people who nurture them and fun that energizes them. If they must do something that is tedious or tough, they find a way to make it into a game. Life is not wasted on feeling obligated, but filled with one great adventure after another. Even dusting and vacuuming can take on a new energy when performed by a happy person. Very simply, happy people find ways to make each moment fun.


So what can we learn from their example if we are feeling less than giddy and a bit beat down? Happiness is, not only a choice, but an obligation. We owe it to ourselves, our co-workers and our families to be happy. It is the one gift that no one can give us, we have to find it ourselves. So, here are three simple steps that can take you from okay to fantastic:

  1. Understand that happiness is a choice. We make hundreds of small decisions every day. What you wear, the route you take to work, where you park, what you will eat for lunch, etc. etc.  All day long we must make decisions, yet we don’t realize that how we feel is a choice we can make as well. If you want to be happy, act happy. Motions create emotions. Try it, it works.

  2. Play. By engaging our right brain, we get away from the lists and the figures and the facts that bring us down. Playing brings out our creativity and problem solving abilities. Want to “think outside of the box”? Better grab a toy and play. Keep your home filled with small toys such as stress balls, bubbles and bobble heads. I just added a slinky to my collection. Remember the jingle? “The hit of the day when you're ready to play, everyone knows it's Slinky.”

  3. Don’t take life too seriously. Oscar Wilde wrote, “Life is too important to take seriously.” And my teacher once told me, “People who take themselves seriously, tend to end up in serious condition. And those who are too critical, end up in critical condition.” So lighten up, let go and laugh, and if you do, happiness is sure to follow.


Nancy Weil is a leading authority on humor and grief. She serves as Director of Grief Support for eleven cemeteries and is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and Grief Management Specialist. Through her company, The Laugh Academy, she offers products to ease the stress and pain that grief can bring. Bandages for Your Heart on DVD or CD, Laugh for the Health of It on CD and her new book, If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might, can be ordered by clicking here.



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Comment by Nancy Weil on January 8, 2013 at 10:24am

Sometimes we must "heal" people into death and love them from now to forever. We know that our loved ones want us to be happy, but it is so hard to shift into that place when we are grieving. If I can be of any other help, just reach out to me. I also have a free downloadable booklet about grief on my website: www.TheLaughAcademy.com   Blessings to you and your husband.

Comment by Janeen Ryan on January 8, 2013 at 10:19am

I want to tell you it helps me as well, my own husband is in hospice and nearing the end of his battle. It was a good fight but he's tired now and is deserving of rest. It's my own joy that keeps me going, he says it keeps him going. If I get my way, he will pass while looking at my smiling face. 

Comment by Nancy Weil on January 8, 2013 at 10:14am

My blogs can be re-printed as long as I am credited as the author. My goal is to spread a message of hope and support to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Thanks for helping others as well, Janeen

Comment by Janeen Ryan on January 8, 2013 at 10:05am

Nancy, thank you for this, our group has lost four members in the last week. How do I get your permission to print this and send it to our e-mail community members who are reeling from so many losses so close together?

Janeen Ryan

Outreach Coordinator

The Life Raft Group

Comment by Nancy Weil on September 19, 2012 at 7:46am

Shannon, You are absolutely correct - grief is not as easy as deciding to now be happy. This article is just to remind people that happiness will once again become a part of our lives. When people are grieving, it seems impossible that they will ever feel joy again, yet it does return. sometimes only in a glimpse of a moment, sometimes for a bit longer, sometimes for an hour or a day.  We had no choice about what has happened to our lives, we could not keep our loved ones here. Yet there are other areas of our lives where we do have choices and our outlook and attitude is one of the areas. I have seen so many different reactions to grief - from denial to bitterness to strength to acceptance. There is no one right way, but some of these paths will help us feel better and I just want to give people the hope that there will be a day when they will smile again.

Comment by RJ on September 18, 2012 at 6:21pm

I'm on this site because my dear Dad passed on to be with the Lord on September 9th. This article could not describe him better! He was so much fun. He had a joy that radiated and a smile that brightened everyone's day. I want to live in his legacy. Thank you, this is a refreshing article for those of us who are journeying through grief at whatever point. 

Comment by Shannon (Briaunte's mom) on September 6, 2012 at 4:53pm

This is part of grief counseling?!  geesh.  This is part of the problem, it's not that simple.

Comment by maureen casey on July 24, 2012 at 11:45pm

Love this thank you Nancy for this post :)

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