What It Takes To Be Happy

Published on April 9, 2011 by

I don't think I've ever had a client come to me for therapy or coaching who said they wanted my help to be happier. Now that I think about it, I'm sure it's never happened; meaning, they've never said those words.

Clients have asked for a lot of things; to end their depression, to make more money, to find work they love, to save a "failing" relationship, to "lose weight," to improve their management or leadership skills, to increase their sales and the list goes on.

But don't all those things have a lot to do with happiness? If you think about it, most (if not everything) we do is motivated or connected to our desire and quest to feel happy, to be happy. We may use other words to describe what we are going after, such as "fulfillment," "meaning," "self-esteem," "gratitude," or "contentment," but they all are connected to the goal of being happy.

I wasn't taught growing up that happiness was all that important. Meaning, I didn't hear much at all about the importance of happiness in my family growing up, school, college, graduate school or in the church I was brought up in. I learned a lot of things; not so much about happiness. Sure, I was taught that the bill of rights stated every human being had the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but that was about it!

If the subject of happiness is important to you, let's explore it together. Over a series of posts, let's talk about it. I'll share my thoughts and you share yours by leaving a comment or question. Anything is fair game. Happiness and self-esteem, happiness and money, happiness and beliefs, happiness and behavior, happiness and morality, happiness and career success, happiness and sexuality, happiness and relationships, happiness and spirituality and so on.

What would you like to know about happiness?

What do you already know you would like to share?

There is a lot to say for happiness and about happiness, so let's begin!


  1. Andrea

    Sorry Alan. Must be the scientist in me. I had to start at the definition.

    hap·py (hp)
    adj. hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est
    1. Characterized by good luck; fortunate.
    2. Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.
    3. Being especially well-adapted; felicitous: a happy turn of phrase.
    4. Cheerful; willing: happy to help.
    a. Characterized by a spontaneous or obsessive inclination to use something. Often used in combination: trigger-happy.
    b. Enthusiastic about or involved with to a disproportionate degree. Often used in combination: money-happy; clothes-happy.

    I think that my personal definition of happiness has changed a lot over the years. I've struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life, and much of the time I would not have considered myself happy. However, over the last few years I've realized that I have more control than I thought I did over my happiness. I believe that in a lot of instances it boils down to a choice of how a person wants to label it. I look at some moments in my past where I felt too fat, too dumb, too poor, too tired,etc., and I wonder why I wasn't happy? I realized I wasn't happy because I focused on the negatives instead of the positives in my life. My "negatives" were usually produced from the expectations I had for myself or someone else that I had taken on. They once seemed so important, but have diminished over time. Now "happy" means to me whatever I want it to be. It can mean everything going my way. It can mean appreciating the moment. It can mean mourning the death of a good friend.

  2. Alan Allard

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. What we focus on does have a great deal on whether we feel "happy" or not.

  3. Tara

    Sometimes when I'm under pressure, I can not be happy. I become ancious. I worry too much and can not start doing something, and don't believe that I can make it.

    • Alan Allard

      Tara, thank you for sharing. None of us can be happy all the time--sometimes we soar and sometimes we struggle. The more we learn about what makes it easier for us to soar, the more we acknowledge times we are feeling content, grateful, motivated, etc.--the easier it is to deal with the lows and the easier it is to create more of the same. The important thing isn't where you are now, but what direction you are going.

      Let me know if you would like for me to send you a free copy of my e-book, "Seven Secrets to Enlightened Happiness" and what email address to send it to.

  4. Nagui

    -"I would love him so much too if he also named a bag after me. Still, Happy B-day Marc! You're a fierce bitch and your new boy toy is a cutie. But the blue hair has got to go. Dye it snthmeiog else for spring/summer. Muah much hugs and kisses!"

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