How to Stop Killing Your Own Happiness


“If you are unhappy with your life and the state of the world, the best place to start changing things is within yourself.” – Bryant McGill

One of my feel-good, “make me happy” activities is my morning walk/run.  I love being amongst the trees and flowers in the park, or watching ferries on the river as the walkway hugs its banks.  Some months back while I was running, I felt my knee give way.  Ouch!!  That pulled me up very smartly.  I knew there was trouble ahead, healthwise.

Several trips to the doctor and physio later, I was feeling quite miserable.  My daily routine had been shattered.  My happiness levels had plunged.  I was focusing on that knee and couldn’t believe that such a small thing had changed my view on life as much as it did.

Is happiness so fragile a state that one small life change can threaten it?  I decided to examine my life to understand if my happiness really depended on running.  Or was the injury a catalyst for bringing to the surface a range of emotions that needed to be dealt with?  I thought I was unhappy because my morning running activity was under threat.  Running was only a small aspect of my life, so why was I entering a period of doom and gloom over just one event?

In my search, I discovered that I was killing my own happiness.  What a disastrous discovery!  Or maybe it wasn’t so disastrous, because at last I had been forced to see things under the surface that I hadn’t faced before.  I also found that I didn’t really know what happiness was.

If you are not really happy with your life, maybe you, like me, are KILLING your own happiness.  So I’ve written down what I found out, in the hope that it might help you to get the happiness that lasts.

Happiness is NOT . . . . .

  • It isn’t the ability to feel fabulous every moment of every day.
  • It isn’t dependent on regular spikes of extreme joy.
  • It isn’t a place where you’ll be content for the rest of your life once you get there.
  • It isn’t regular partying or the buzz we get from exhilarating experiences.

All the above can be associated with pleasure, but they don’t constitute happiness, though they might contribute to it.

Happiness IS . . . . .

A point at which you are satisfied, fulfilled and contented with your life, with yourself as a person and with your environment.  Internal and external factors define happiness for us  —  how we live, where we live, our involvement in the world, our relationships, our genetics, our outlook on life, . . . . . . .

However, there’s not just one way to define happiness because it means different things to different people.  Happiness is not something that’s easy to understand, or simple to explain in one sentence.

What did I discover about myself?

I was embarrassed to think that my world revolved around running.  I concentrated on myself and my own pleasures.  Maybe it was time to do a few things to give back to the world and give of my expertise to benefit other people.  I also found I was quite a negative person, so I looked for some ways to change negatives to positives.

It wasn’t necessary, in my opinion, to give up the exercise I loved so much, but I needed to tweak my life – steer the emphasis away from myself.  Following are my 5 top tips towards living a life that is satisfying, fulfilling and happy. If you are unhappy with your life, I hope these tips will be beneficial.  As Bryant McGill reminds us, the best place to start changing things is within ourselves.

1. Adopt a gratitude attitude no matter what happens.

Say 5 things you’re grateful for every morning.  This helps to maintain happiness levels throughout the day.  As the day ends for you, reflect on 5 things you are grateful for that happened that day.  Smile as you appreciate and value the small, simple pleasures and special moments of the day.  You’ll fall off to sleep satisfied and contented.

2. Be a giver.

Giving makes people feel happy and good inside – the giver, too and not just the recipient.  Give smiles to people you pass.  Give to others by saying something happy or positive to brighten their day.  Give a friend a lift by sending a “happiness” text message or email. Give of your expertise to benefit the lives of others.

3. Take time to enjoy the company of others to satisfy the social need within you.

Find special people you can spend time with – people who will lift you up because they value what you are trying to achieve.  Forget those who drag your spirits down.  They won’t do anything for your happiness levels.

4. Be a positive person.

As soon as you hear a negative comment in your head, change it to a positive.  For example, your mind might be thinking, “When is this knee going to heal?”  Stop the negative chatter by changing immediately to something that makes you happy or that is positive. “I’m grateful that my knee is healing little by little, every day.”

Cultivate a positive frame of mind.  Improved positivity leads to a more confident feeling about yourself, improved creativity and a more successful and productive experience when you are working.

5. Eat well, sleep well and be active.

Watch what you eat most of the time so that you are nourishing your body. Follow a regular sleep schedule – mostly.

Do up to 30 minutes of exercise 3 or 4 days a week.  When you exercise regularly, “happy chemicals” are released into the brain.  Start slowly and build up.  Over time your body is better able to handle the general stress of life.

If I’m feeling anxious, going for a walk outdoors is a great pick-me-up that I recommend to anyone.

Final thoughts: make happiness a habit and get the happiness that lasts.

My body has healed and I’m back into regular jogging again.  Early yesterday, in the local park, I passed a mum and son feeding the ducks.  The boy looked up as I went past.  “Good morning,” he said. His mum smiled.  I think the happiness went deep inside me because a kid of about 8 years old was so spontaneous with his greeting.  It warmed me all over.  That’s the happiness that lasts, I thought.

Anything in life that is worthwhile requires effort.  Living in a happy state is no exception. Practice creates a habit of happiness.  You’ll feel healthier and – of course – HAPPIER. The benefits will far outweigh the attention you have to give to developing this state.  You might even be more successful in lots of areas of your life.

Of course there are more things you can do, but this post avoids overwhelm.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t welcome your ideas.  Please comment below.  I’ll enjoy hearing from you.  So what keeps you in a state of happiness?  Or how will you change so you can get the happiness that lasts?

Photo by Rory MacLeod

37 thoughts on “How to Stop Killing Your Own Happiness”

  1. Hello Jenna,
    Lovely post – lovely subject -thank you. And thanks for clarifying our misconceptions and guiding us to a more useful and fulfilling outlook.
    Even though I should (yes, should) know better, some part of me can imagine that “I will be happy when I get there”. I more or less know that is false but still slip into it when a bit stressed. (Also, I think, a leftover from simplistic, mechanistic thinking?)
    Anyway, thank you again. Lovely reminder for me to grow up.
    Please accept my kind regards.

    1. Zarayna, loved your comment. I, too, have had the idea that I’ll be happy when I get there. Making happiness a habit is something I’ve had to work at. It’s a moment by moment thing. Many thanks for your comment.

      1. I am in total agreement with the points noted in this article, excellent job. One additional thing that increase my level of happiness is to surround myself with kids. I discovered this a few months ago when i lost my job and my house. Myself and my wife moved in with her family and then i observed every sunday when the family gathered the nephews and nieces provided me with some kind of joy that could not be explained. So i took to a 4 day a week English language lesson for them in order to increase the number of days i get to see them. This was a time i suffered mood changes due to my loss i mentioned earlier in this comment. But they did magic for me. Innocent, always laughing and oblivious of the troubles of this world, i learnt to appreciate life in its simplest form.

        1. Hi Salifuj. What a wonderful topic you’ve brought up. Children certainly do bring us heaps of happiness. As you say, they usually fill the place with their laughter. We can learn a lot from being around children. I love the way you are not dwelling on your loss (sorry to read about this). You are focusing on others and in sharing with them, you are receiving benefits. Well done. Keep up this positive attitude.

  2. What a wonderful article… thank you for this… I feel like the word “happy” or “happiness” can feel like a fleeting experience when we don’t have an understanding of deep joy, contentment…. Accepting and working with what we have in the moment…. I will be sharing your article with others!

    1. Hi Lynn Louise. Yes, working with what we have in the moment is the way to find deep joy and contentment. Thanks for your comment and for sharing the happiness habit with others.

  3. Hey Jenna. Thank you soo much for posting this comment. There seems to be soo much negatively everywhere you look today. It felt a little refreshing revitaling to read this post. I work away up north on a ship and a miss a few of my friends and family has well the love of my life. But all the people I work with up here are awesome and it keeps me sane. We are a bunch of adult males working together so you probably can gather N idea of we are like. Lol but we help each other out by keeping positivity floating around in the air so there you go.

    But really enjoyed reading this post you wrote. Wishing you all the best my dear. Hope to read something from you again soon.


    1. Greg, great to hear from you. Agree about the negativity. Congratulations to you for staying positive when you are missing loved ones at home. Must be hard to work together each day but stay positive. Well done! Thinking of you and sending a smile to all of the guys today. Enjoyed reading your comment, Greg.

      1. Hey Jenna. Hope all is well you you. I was wondering if you had a page on Facebook that I may be able to stay up to date with your postings. All the best.


  4. Hi Jenna,

    Great points – including what happiness is not! :-)

    Although that’s not the point here – I keep wondering – what’s the difference between joy and happiness. Different people give me different (sometimes opposite!) answers to that. What’s your take?



    1. Hi Halina. That’s a great question. Interesting that joy was used more in Bible days, but happiness is used more today. For me – and this is just what I think – joy is an emotion that is richer than happiness. Joy comes from the word rejoice. Joy is deeper inside us. Happiness is more of a surface feeling that comes and goes. So, in a few words, joy is more intense than happiness. I feel another post coming on, sparked by your question. Many thanks Halina. Have a happy day.

  5. Thank you for these thoughts. I had an inexplicable knee injury – just woke up one morning and found the knee had given in (June 2013). Over the past year and a half the knee is slowly healing.
    Then in August 2014 I had some sudden bad news completely out of the blue. That has been carrying on from August 2014 to now. Prior to that I seemed to be so Happy. Suddenly I was down in the dumps and had even ceased to pray – all because of one irresolvable huge issue. However, I find that doing the daily Gratitude Litany and counting my blessings (written on stars and kept in my Star Jar) helps. Also over the Christmas holidays I took a stranger in (a volunteer) and having to care for that person’s needs quickly dispelled the dark “depression” that had descended upon me. As for the knee, when I had stopped focusing on it I suddenly found one day that I could do the gentle stairs at work (not the steep ones) whereas before I was hobbling downstairs one foot at a time. All of the best to you with your knee injury. I hope it heals quickly and completely.

    1. Lorraine, thanks for taking time to share your story. I love the star jar idea. It’s good to read that daily gratitude is a help, too. It’s a very difficult thing not to focus on an issue that looms large in your life, or on an injury. When you moved your focus from your knee to caring for the stranger, negatives subsided and positive attitudes emerged. Yours is a great healing story. Thanks for your wishes. Hope your knee goes from strength to strength.

  6. Hi Jenna, great post!

    Like you, I found gratitude to be a great tool. It’s easy to get caught up in your own little bubble, and focus on all the things you’d like to be different. But setting aside time each day to be thankful for what you already have can really have a big impact!


    1. Luke, great to hear from you. Being grateful is such a simple thing, but as you say, the impact on our lives can be big. It doesn’t take much time, either. And it can be done anywhere at any time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Great post, Jenna.
    Happiness is essentially a state of mind though external circumstances do tend to add or abate the feeling. The tips given by you are pragmatic and helpful. Happiness is , however, elusive like a mirage when we try to chase it but settles down gently, silently like snow flakes when we are in harmony with ourselves and the world.
    As to your take on joy and happiness, I think, joy is more intense and deeper but it is momentary whereas happiness is more lasting. Joy is due to external stimuli whereas happiness is a habit, a state of mind.

    1. Hi Mahavir. It’s great that you found the happiness tips helpful. I loved the imagery you used and agree that we need to be in harmony with ourselves and the world. Thanks for your comments on the difference between joy and happiness. I’m sure others who read this article will certainly appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by to share.

  8. Thanks for sharing, Jenna. Reminds me of my favorite quote on happiness: “Happiness is the gradual realization of a worthy ideal” –Earl Nightingale. I love how it emphasizes the process, the journey –not just the magical destination. Just like your post!

    1. Hi Laura. I can see why the Nightingale quote is your favorite. Yes, it’s the process – the gradual realization. Thanks heaps for your comment.

    1. Hi Mark. Number four is probably the most difficult to manage. I try to live in the moment, but my mind switches back to the past. So cultivating a positive frame of mind isn’t easy. It’s good to read that being positive is important to you. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  9. Excellent points, the points changed our mindset of what happiness is, and by having a more real mindset of what it is, we have a better chance of achieving happiness, thanks

    1. Hi Jemmy. Great to read that you found some helpful happiness ideas in my post. Achieving happiness is well worth the daily effort it takes. Many thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks for such a good piece. Frankly, I haven’t been that happy with my life lately. I lost my job, got problems with health and lots of arguments in my family. I was looking for something that would inspire me. I got some thoughts from you that kinda lifted me up.
    Hope to get over with my wrongs soon.

    1. Hi Mary. Sorry to read that you’re going through a difficult patch. Keep up that positive attitude. There are a few obstacles in your way just now. You sound the kind of person who will overcome those obstacles and set in motion opportunities to change your life to a healthier and much happier one. A job loss can be devastating. Or it can be an opportunity to do something in life you’ve always wanted to do – a catalyst for change. I love this quote by Joseph Sugarman and send it to encourage you today. “Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.” Many thanks for sharing, Mary. Keep marching forward with your head held high.

  11. Hi Jenna,
    In a v nice and concise way you have explained happiness. I also think to be happy
    One should not have any regrets for the past. ACCEPTING them gracefully and not blaming anyone is essential.
    Secondly we need to look forward to our future. We need to have HOPE and believe that our future is great.
    And finally as you said we need to live in the PRESENT. Think of now. Have fun today.
    And then in our daily lives there are certain things we need to watch that can kill happiness like
    1. Working only for money
    2.Assigning too much importance to looks
    3. Hanging on too long to a hurting relationship
    4. Focusing on everyone’s stories except your own.
    5. Trying to make a quick buck…….. list can just go on….

    1. Hi m.dos I have to thank you for adding some valuable extra ideas about happiness. Accepting and not blaming, also hope, are very important if we are to be happy. I particularly like the five things you listed that can kill happiness. You have added ideas that other readers will find useful as well. I appreciate your comment, and for taking time to share with us all.

  12. hello Jenna,
    very good morning. this is the best stuff till now i read today. i really appreciate you and sincerely wants to thank you for sharing with us your healing touch. i have started to believe that i am the only person who can make me satisfy in any situation. my own thoughts determine my happiness. i have faced so many bad experience in my life but i took the decision to move forward with positive attitude.

    1. Megha, how wonderful that you are moving forward with a positive attitude. That’s very difficult to do when you’ve faced so many bad experiences. Congratulations on being able to see that better things lie ahead for you and for realizing that any change starts with you. The power is inside you. You are a great example to others. Many thanks for your words of appreciation and for sharing your story.

  13. Over-thinking an issue will keep any issue an issue, which will keep you stuck inside the same issue until you quit considering it.

    Over-deduction makes you stress, and stress is just your creative energy composing a negative future state.

    1. Hi James. That is a great comment to make. So often I catch myself over-thinking things and I have to stop myself. It’s a situation, as you say, where you go round and round the issue without solving anything. I appreciate that you stopped by. Others will benefit from your comment too.

  14. I love this blog! I am late with my comment, but I came across this while searching for people who have overcome depression, I have always been a happy bubbly person but some recent events in my life, personal choices and the inevitable death of my father due to lung cancer has my mind in shambles. I am determined to regain my happiness! If not, how will I ever overcome the death of my father? I have been prescribed medication that only intensified my anxiety..soo I must overcome the natural way..happy thoughts, positive people, and learn to control my racing thoughts. I find myself praying 75 percent of the day. Praying about the things I can control as well as the things I can’t. Making healthy choices, focusing on success and the success of my child. I have to learn to live by a tattoo I got years ago without actually realizing the importance of the words-FAITH.HOPE.LOVE
    Thank you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *