Happiness is hard to define and people can spend a lifetime searching for it. The old adage “money can’t buy happiness” highlights that happiness is not found in material possessions, but in other areas of our lives, such as loving relationships, family, friends, and time spent doing what we love. Countless books, television shows, and movies are dedicated to that very idea of finding happiness, whether it be in a career or a relationship. We read about what happiness looks like, feels like, and acts like, yet we never quite learn how to get happy. That’s even harder to define, since happiness looks different to everyone, although no less important of a question to ask.

It might be easy to figure out what makes you happy in good times. You’re satisfied with your career, your home, your relationship. You and your loved ones are healthy; you have a strong support system and social connection. It’s easy to feel happy when things are going right in your life.

How happy would you be if one day it was all taken away? Would it be harder for you to feel happier if you weren’t enjoying your job, if you weren’t satisfied in your romantic relationship, if you were suffering from a chronic illness, and/or had minimal support?

How easy would it be to feel happy during those times?

“The happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

That’s a tough pill to swallow when faced with some very challenging life events: bankruptcy, foreclosure, death, or divorce. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. In life, tough times are unavoidable and we don’t get to choose how and when these tough times will happen.

We do get to choose our response.

The most empowering piece of information you will ever learn is “You have the ability to choose your response”. Impossible! Not in the least. Difficult? Yes. Can you be guided to increase your resiliency and the frequency with which you choose to see the positive rather than the negative. One hundred and ten percent.

My work with couples and individuals allows me to gaze into how everyone views the world, his or her role in the world, and the role of others in their world. Some individuals and couples are mostly positive, occasionally hitting a few tough times, yet knowing this is a temporary phase and trusting their inner strength and resources to pull them out. It’s this difference in worldview that I’ve found to be the most telling of how someone can boost their happiness during tough times.

Acceptance is a key piece of weathering the storm of tough times. And when I say acceptance, I don’t mean blind acceptance of a negative situation without any hope for change. When I say acceptance, I mean the acceptance of the situation as it is in this moment, your ability to control your emotional response (if nothing else), and the resiliency to know you can still choose happiness.

Whoa, Dr. Kate. Take it easy. I was just looking for some quick tips to feel better. You know, take a walk, get outside, drink tea, etc.

And those are all great ideas! Only you will truly know what will make you happy and it will be you who will implement those strategies, tips, and techniques for pulling yourself out of a “funk”. When you have a strong foundation of incorporating small moments of happiness into your everyday life, you’ll create a base for boosting your happiness during tougher times.

For those of you who regularly work out or engage in physical activities, think of this as the race or competition for which you’ve trained all year. You’re finally putting into practice all the tips, tricks, and advice about how to boost your happiness levels during difficult times. If you still find yourself struggling with finding happiness, I’m just a phone call (954.391.5305 ext. 1) or click away from helping you achieve your goals.

Kate Campbell, PhD, LMFT