Being Happy in Unhappy Circumstances

It seems that every day life is getting more and more difficult.  We no longer have to turn on the TV to hear stories of heart ache anymore.  Talk to any of your friends, family, or neighbors and I’m sure you’ll find hard times have hit closer to home than we are used to.  Yes, hard things are happening.  But that doesn't mean that we have to become hard.  
I believe that we can be happy even in unhappy circumstances.  How?   In the book “The How of Happiness” Sonja Lyubomirsky states that 50 percent of a given human’s happiness level is genetically determined (based on twin studies), 10 percent is affected by life circumstances and situation, and a remaining 40 percent of happiness is subject to self-control.  Isn't that interesting!  Only 10 percent is affected by life, and 40 percent is subject to self-control.  I find that amazing, and contrary to popular belief.  If that is true, then we do have the ability to choose to be happy.  So, how do we do that?   
Here are a few things I believe will help us to be happy in unhappy circumstances.  
1. Help Others.  Feeling down about yourself or your life?  The best antidote for that, in my opinion, is doing something for someone else.  Seriously, it's like magic!  While we are helping someone else our own sadness disappears.  And it's not just by doing grand acts, small acts of kindness are just as helpful.  A familiar quote says, "if you see a friend without a smile give him one of yours.”  Sometimes that's all it takes. 
2. Be optimistic.  The definition of optimism is "A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation."  Sometimes it's hard to "expect the best possible outcome", but I like that second part, dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.  Ahhh, dwelling.  We are all prone to dwell on things now and then.  Why not embrace it by dwelling on the good instead of the bad!  See the good in situations.  Look for it.  Write it down.  Be thankful for it.  Tell others the good things going on instead of the bad.  If you can make that a habit, you'll be much happier.  "I can complain because the rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because the thorn bushes have roses", J. Kenfield Morley.  Be an optimist!
3. Don't give up.  Take a break, have a cry, call your best friend, but DO NOT QUIT.  The following poem always helps me find the strength to carry on.
 When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit...
 Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Author Unknown

Don't give up.  You are strong.  You can get through it.  Believe in yourself, and have faith.  I believe that by helping others, embracing optimism, and not giving up our sorrows can be replaced with joy.  Good luck to those of you facing hard times.  It is my hope that we can all find happiness, even in the midst of trials.
 Your optimistic friend,
Maria @ focusedonthepositive

Maria is a quirky Canadian and an optimistic mother of two. She currently lives in the U.S. with her family and is the creator of Focused on the Positive, a blog about positivity. 


  1. Maria, So much helpful info - I especially love the idea of doing small acts of kindness to help yourself and others to be happy, as that is something anyone can manage. Love this article and love your site.

  2. I love Maria, I follow her blog... she is awesome...

    I have got so many amazing ideas from her... one is a pray board.... I really need to make the time to get that done this weekend with Valentina...

    Thanks for highlighting her :)

    1. Launna, such kind words. Thank you friend!

  3. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to write for you! I love your blog and GNN! Thanks.

  4. Great thoughts and words of wisdom. Always stay focused and keep your head up... Good things will always happen.

  5. WOw!! Wonderful and inspiring post! I am very happy today that I got to read this!!

  6. What a great post with very practical ideas on living a positive life. Much of our happiness and positive outlook is connected to the way we view ourselves and others around us. If we focus on ourselves (the only person we have control over) and maintain a belief that we are in control of our life events, we are happier and more positive. People that view themselves as powerless and as a victim of life events experience more feelings of unhappiness and are less successful in life . . . and success isn't tied to the amount of money in a bank account. In addition, these people are less likely to take advantage of the 40% that is completely within their control. Great post that gets us all thinking! Thanks!!


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