How to be Happy

be happyWhenever I write something I think about my readers, people like you, and I wonder: What can I say that will help with the ugliness of anxiety?

In my own,  simple way, I try to highlight the positive. I do that because I know that when you’re anxious it’s so easy to do the opposite.

It’s easier to despair and wrap yourself in the bitter embrace of fear than it is to be optimistic.

My critics  lament that I’m too upbeat, but then again, that’s why they’ll probably stay anxious for the rest of their lives. Negativity has a way of throwing mud in your eye and blinding you to what you need to see in that regard.

That’s what I think anyway.

I’ve heard some people say nothing works for anxiety, that they’ll always be afraid, and unhappy.

Well. That’s not true. Especially the piece about being unhappy. In fact, I think that if you work on being happy you will, over time, reduce your anxiety.

Not to say that breathing, eating, and thinking right don’t help, but let’s not forget about the obvious, either.

Recently I got an email from a reader that asked how he could be happy despite stress. So I took the opportunity to create a podcast that addresses not just happiness in the face of stress, but happiness in general.

It makes sense that he framed his question like that. When stress and anxiety beat you up all the time it’s hard not to think about everything in the context of those kinds of emotions; those heavy, I’m wearing wet jeans kinds of feelings.

I didn’t focus on negative feelings though. I just asked the question more simply.

How do you go about being happy, at all?

To answer that question I defined what happiness is, then I list, what I believe to be, the best ways to achieve happiness.

It’s certainly not the only, easiest, or most creative way. But it works.

Click here to listen to the podcast.


  1. Sylvia says

    I think people are programmed from early childhood on what “happiness” is. Influenced by parents and family and their environment. They are bombarded by what the TV tells them will make them happy.

    When my son was about 4 yrs old, he came to me saying we “needed” the brush your breath gum…it was a ad on TV for I think, Dentine gum. I explained to him the gum company was trying to sell the gum and that was why they said that and if he kept his teeth brushed he shouldn’t have a breath problem. He appeared to understand that.

    I remember a time eons ago, my husband and I were going somewhere and I just laughed out loud for no reason, I remember feeling very happy in that moment. I want that feeling back. It’s there, just out of reach.

  2. Brian says

    Absolutly, Anxienty, in a large part, mansifests from what we tell our selves. If we keep telling ourselves we wont get better, then we won’t. If we keep infusing positive thoughts, we will begin to reduce the anxiety and feel good. The key, and hardest part, is to learn how to do this. When your in an anxiety attack it is extremly dificult to think positively. We have to constantly train ourselfs to think positivley while we feel good. This way, when we feel bad it will be easier to think of positive thoughs.

  3. William says

    Excellent podcast, Paul! This has helped me a lot. Being able to sit down and really “let go” is something I have a lot of trouble with, and I absolutely think it has been a key factor to my anxiety being sustained for the past year or so now. I’m getting better at managing, staying calm and letting go, but I think I really should give myself some peace and quiet every now and then too.

    Glad to hear your grad school is going well, too. Recently I came to the conclusion that i wasn’t happy with how my college has been going (I attend a technical school currently) because it will take me quite a bit longer than I thought to complete everything and get my degree. I’m fixing this by applying to some universities out of state; I feel like if I get the chance to get out of my comfort zone, it will help me even more to overcome whatever problems I’m facing and seize the moment, if you will. It has made me happier knowing I’m taking action. =)

  4. Jose says

    Excellent,I am glad i listen to this, it kind of opened my eyes and gave me new perspectives, thanks, keep doing this wonderful job,be calm about what others say about you, it really has nothing to do with you, and what you really are, Great Job on your studies, just keep enjoying life as I will do, just one day at a time.

  5. Penny says

    I recently discovered what was wrong with me. I am practising the art of being happy and positive…
    I grew in a home full of fights , anger etc…my parents figlts all the time…my dad was a serial cheater and there NEVER a day without peace…if we had a week of blossom, i could be sure the next two months would be hell…so I never let myself be happy…and it follwed…i never realised that’s how I forge myself thinking there is no point being happy…i don’t like being dispapointed so I chose to stay miserable, never too sad never too happy…I was trying balancing the too all my life…I ran away from boys who were players and never let any man near enough to hurt me. I did fall in Love in my teens and I loveed him soo much it hurts me…he was trying his best to approach me but I was so scared…I wanted to forget him….I never could and this is my biggest fight in my life…I moved on physically he probably thought I never loved him coz I was running away from him…I missed the opportunity to live something beautiful…fifteen year after that, I am in my 30’s now, i finally found the courage to tell him I loved him and I still do…I had a disastrous marriage with a man i thought it was safe to be married with…we tretated each other poorly and I finally decided to end it…Now, I recognised that I had to face all my fears and it’s hard…I never fully wanted ANYTHING , never got attached to anything…even I got scared to feel close to my children…something something i can’t control fully…but me going back to this man helped me a bit…he said he understand my feelings but he loves someone elseand wants to stay friends.. I am not even sure…I still stupidily thinks we would be together but i know I have to let go..I still think may be if I want it bad enough, he will forgive me for not allowing us to have that in the past…
    Yes I am scared of being happy….I cannot laugh deeply, i can easily break off a commitment; i know I can do things but when I get to the place where I might get results i tend to sabotage it a bit and just manage sometimes to do it…I didn’t like being n the spotlight but always dream of it…scared of being too confident, too happy, too clever, too anything..I am tired…I want to live…i want to hug my kids and not being afrais they will disrespect me, detached themselves from me…I want to love someone with all my heart…

  6. Cured says

    When I used to have bad anxiety, I used to go on message boards and it would make me feel worse. So many people comparing symptoms and just having a big old misery party. I didn’t see how it was comforting. To have a bunch of people competing over who had it the worst.

    I think we really do not know much about anxiety yet. GAD, OCD, PD, are all supposed to be chronic conditions. Yet when I was 19 I developed what looked like PD, only the panic went away and it became OCD, and just went away. For 10 years. Then after 10 years I had it all over again and again, it went away after a year.

    How did I do it? Well so far it’s been hard to put into words but this blog, and blog are two blogs that I can highly recommend to people who suffer from anxiety. In fact I found this blog because I wanted to create my own, to help people because my firend is going through this now. But it is very hard for me to put into words the “cure.”

    I think I’m genetically susceptible to developing anxiety disorders after prolonged periods of stress. But I never accepted that I had a chronic condition. I never accepted that I had a disease that needed to be cured through therapy or drugs. I just saw it as bad behavior and habits, that I programmed myself into reacting a certain way at certain situations.And that I could break those habits by behaving correctly.

    The best piece of advice I got was actually not related to anxiety but related to weight gain. Your body is your friend. Not your enemy. Your body does what is best for you. If you are fat, it’s because you eat too much food and your body is storing it because it is not using it for energy. It is doing so to keep you warm and to be there for you in case you ever are in a situation where you cannot eat food. Your fat acts like a refrigerator. And the same thing applies to anxiety.

    Your body is not your enemy. Your body is preparing you for danger because YOU have entertained and obsessed over thoughts that have triggered your bodies flight or fight response. And you are responsible for not thinking those thoughts anymore.

    My doctors diagnosed me with GAD, PD OCD etc. I never allowed myself to be labeled. I am not Kim who suffers from GAD. I’m Kim who has worried so much her body is always keyed up because I believed deep down that worrying gave me control. I am not the Kim who suffers from OCD. I am Kim who doesn’t trust myself or my body and so I constantly need reassurance and checking. I found the root of my anxiety. I dealt with it. I moved on.

    And no it’s not easy. And no there is no magic cure, but you are in control of you. Whether you want to believe it or not. And you can cure yourself. Live your life. That seems to be the consensus out there. Get on with your life. Don’t stop for anxiety, don’t modify your behavior towards anxiety, and you pretty much have it beat. You’ll feel awful maybe, the firs few times you do it. So what? It’s a feeling. It’s not you. So what if you feel anxiety doing this or that? You’re going to feel it anyways if you just sit and worry. So might as well be living and experience it than be locked up in your room experiencing it. And your self esteem grows and it lessens and lessens.

    And what’s wrong with positive talk? Yes positive talk is not helpful when it is unrealistic but anxiety sufferers suffer from over exaggerating the negativity that exists in their lives and this world. Come on. It may not be all sunshine and rainbows but it’s really not that bad.

    Another thing I learned that was kind of awesome, was that we wouldn’t be afraid of dieing if we didn’t value life. So no matter how awful you feel, you want to live. You may not understand why. But you do. There’s something that you want to keep living for. Otherwise you wouldn’t fear death. Live for what makes you want to live .Forget anxiety.

    Anyways, I am not eloquent enough or posess enough mastery of the English language to be able to do a sucessful blog like this one or the anxietynomore blog. But i am glad they exist. But I will also say this:

    Limit your “curing” time each day. Meaning don’t spend all day looking up symptoms, trying to understand the symptoms. Going on message boards, etc etc. Pick a few coping methodsthat are constructive (like these podcasts or reading this blog, or meditation or a combination of them) and limit your time to curing to an hour or two. And then, leave it, and LIVE your life for the rest of the day. I became obsessed with curing my anxiety. So much so that i would miss get togethers because i was doing research. Or spend hours hogging up the bathroom writing questiosn on Yahoo answers like “is it normal to blah blah blah” you are not your anxiety. You are way way more than that. Don’t revolve your life around this. There is no cure. It’s not like a disease. It’s something you change about yourself. It’s a change in behavior and attitude. The “cure” is different than that of a physical illness.

    Yes you should undestand what it is, but once you do, stop reading the same thing tiwce. Learn to have confidence and trust in yourself enough to be able to read something. Soak it in…and then apply it. Don’t use crutches! Don’t meditate to stop you from having a panic attack. Meditation takes time. Don’t dtrop what you’re doing and meditate to make anxiety go away. Have a meditation time. And don’t meditate to cure yourself meditate becuase it’s good for you and you will learn things about yourself.

    Ok I’m babbling now. But the fact taht people are criticizing the Anxiety Guru and geting mad at him for being positive, it pisses me off I must say. You want to believe that your axiety is a life sentence, that you have no power to stop it, that you have no power to even control it, then fine. Enjoy your life constantly nervous. But there are those of us out there who have had it bad. I mean BAD. And we are normal. And if anxiety has taught us anything it’s to enjoy life more and appreciate it more and be happier. If you can’t learn that lesson than good luck. You can’t beat anxiety with a bad attitude.

  7. says

    Nice post! As for me, I go about being happy and reducing stress and anxiety levels by talking to someone who truly LISTENS. everyone deserves to be heard out, and that simple act can be the start of little true happiness in my heart.

  8. MWoelfle says

    Wonderful post, Cured. I’m in the middle of the third anxiety period of my life and I hope I’ve learned enough from the first two to get out of the woods this time. In this day of instant gratification, it’s true that we’re often not patient enough to wait for a true cure. But a complete cure is possible for everyone. Navigating the path to an anxiety-free, healthy you can be challenging but everyone can do it.

    I wholeheartedly endorse your suggestion that anxiety sufferers avoid spending a substantial amount of time combing websites for more information, looking for clues about miracle cures. The only way to rid yourself of anxiety is to simply move on. Spending too much time with other anxiety sufferers is a surefire way to ensure you’ll stay stuck in your current state.

    When you eventually do feel better (and yes, this is possible for even you!) you’ll almost surely not be able to look back to a single moment when the tide turned. It will take time and usually several unintentional changes in your habits and behaviors. You’ll need luck. I know you don’t want to hear that. Anxiety sufferers are in general disposed to wanting complete control of their thoughts, but that’s not how you’re going to get better. It’s been your effort to extert your will on your thoughts that has probably led to anxiety; anxiety over the failure to gain such control. You won’t get better until you realize and accept your powerlessness. That alone is not the cure, but it’s necessary as a foundation.

    There’s a lot of good advice for dealing with anxiety on the web but I caution people against reading or listening to anyone with the idea that “this is the one!”. Soak in what advice they’re giving but don’t place expectations on it. The advice may help you, it may not. Failure’s not important. Again, you almost surely will not have an “a ha!” moment. If you undertake activities like exercise or meditation, do them for their own sake, not because they’re going to lead you to the promised land. They very well may lead you to an anxiety-free life, but not because you’re going to force them to be your magic bullet.

    I’ll finish by reposting this from Cured, beause I think it’s spot on and needs to be repeated until it sinks in.

    “And no it’s not easy. And no there is no magic cure, but you are in control of you. Whether you want to believe it or not. And you can cure yourself. Live your life. That seems to be the consensus out there. Get on with your life. Don’t stop for anxiety, don’t modify your behavior towards anxiety, and you pretty much have it beat. You’ll feel awful maybe, the firs few times you do it. So what? It’s a feeling. It’s not you. So what if you feel anxiety doing this or that? You’re going to feel it anyways if you just sit and worry. So might as well be living and experience it than be locked up in your room experiencing it. And your self esteem grows and it lessens and lessens.”

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