If ____ I will be happy. Go ahead, take a minute and fill in the blank. Typical responses are: If I fall in love, If I have a different job, If I have a different house, If I have more money, If I have better health, and the list goes on and on.

What do YOU have to get in order to be happy? Unfortunately, anything you can get to make you happy, you can un-get. There is nothing you have to do, be, or get in order to be happy. Think of what you wanted 10 years ago. Chances are, you’ve done it, been there, or now have it, and you may still be unhappy.

Choosing to be happy is a habit. It is as simple as that.

There are motivational gurus who speak about it, best-selling authors who write about it, and hundreds of books that explore it, and all point in the same direction. Our thoughts are so powerful, they create our reality. Choosing to be happy may sound like a simple task, but if it is not a conscious choice, it can prove more difficult than one would think.

So where do you start? Try these 7 techniques to make happy a habit:

1. Make a choice. The hardest step to achieving happiness is the first one. It either sounds like it’s too common sense to have to work on it, or it feels like a waste of time, but if you make a conscious decision to work toward happiness, you’ll have a much easier time being successful.

2. Make a mental picture. Because we are so visual in nature, making a mental picture is a powerful first step. When you have the feelings associated with happiness, what do you see? Now draw it and tape it to your computer, your refrigerator, and your bathroom mirror. Every time you catch yourself having an “unhappy” thought, think of your picture. Block any other thoughts out of your brain, and focus on the picture.

3. Get a replacement thought. If you want to change a habit, you have to have something to replace it with. My friend has been diagnosed with three brain tumors. She is in her early forty’s, and at this point, there is no cure. When I start going down the “unhappy path”, I think of her tremendous strength and remind myself how precious our time here really is.

4. Change your expectations. If your expectation is that you will be happy all of the time, you will be sorely disappointed. How do you know when you’re eating amazing food? Because you have had bad food to compare it to. In order to experience happiness, it’s necessary to have some not so happy times. Our life is kind of like autopilot. We know our destination, but we rarely fly in a straight line to get there.

5. A little goes a long way.  Every single day, regardless of how crappy you might feel, find something to be happy about.  Even if you only feel happy about 1 thing each day, that’s 365 happy things a year!  It goes back to the slight edge concept.  It’s the little things done consistently that make the biggest impact.

6. Let go. My husband, the eternal optimist, has to continually remind me about this one. When we allow people or situations to determine our happiness, we relinquish all control and become a victim. We have expectations about how a situation should go or how someone should act, and then we end up disappointed, frustrated and unhappy when things don’t go as we had expected. Sometimes you just have to let go and know that the future will happen whether you are happy about it or not.

7. Live.  I was watching a show on T.V., and the narrator said, “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.” For such a simple statement, it sure says a lot. Feeling truly alive and experiencing happiness is just like becoming healthy. It’s tough at first, but if you stick with it, it becomes a lifestyle.  Live your life as if it were your last.

So next time you see this statement: If ________ I will be happy.

Just shorten the sentence:



  1. Great piece and very true. From another aspect think of it this way – You create your tomorrow today. What I/we do today determines our tomorrow. I.e. if I tell my wife that she looks fat in that dress, chances our my tomorrow won’t be very bright. If I tell my co-worker what a great job he or she did today, chances are my tomorrow will be brighter. Our actions today determine our outcome tomorrow.

  2. the best part is “living every day” like it is your last. My wife, Nina, taught me that especially the last few years of her life. I am teaching my daughters this as we speak. Well at least trying to since they are now all grown up. You can’t buy happy, You have to “create it”.

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