Free Subscription to Debbie Mandel's Acclaimed Wellness Newsletter

Trying to be Happy Will Make You Unhappy

By Debbie Mandel

Many pursue happiness, but only some catch up with it. Part of the problem lies in the verbiage, “Trying to be happy.” Trying implies that one is not there yet and possibly never will be. Happiness is always happening when you embrace your humanity with its full range of emotions, flaws and positive attributes. If you don’t like yourself and can’t accept who you are, how can you be happy or experience love?

How to be happy

Ultimately, you create your own happiness. Creation shapes life out of confusion – chefs, gardeners, musicians, painters, healers, writers and mothers live by this premise. Artists know that light and dark need each other to exist. We define a concept by its opposite. How do we define good if we don’t contrast it with bad? Note that many people exclaim they are happy after they have recovered from sickness, injury or disappointment – a newfound appreciation.

Happiness reconciles contrasts and you get to decide your personal tipping point. For example, I live in New York and we have been hit with many storms. I look outside the window and could perceive the wintry landscape in either of two ways; each perception is valid and coexists with the other, but one point of view makes me happy and grateful while the other makes me feel frustrated, making life so much harder.
  1. How beautiful the tree architecture, snowy terrain and white horizon! I notice animal foot prints in the snow and a small hawk on a lamp post. The snow is insulating plant life which will emerge in the spring- just around the corner. I will get into a natural rhythm with the cold by warming up with stews, hearty soups and warm words.
  2. I’m sick of looking at the Tundra! I have had it with shoveling and looking for parking in the snow and sliding on ice with my packages. I hate this weather.
Here are some contrasts you might need to reconcile in order to feel happy:
  • Independence versus Interdependence
  • Adventure versus Escape
  • Yes versus No
  • Giving versus Receiving
  • Acting As-If versus Authenticity
  • Accomplishing for others versus Accomplishing for Yourself
  • Activity versus Rest
  • Adversity versus Advantage
Life is like a movie. We all come in the middle of the movie and we all leave in the middle of the movie. What kind of a movie do you wish to see? I prefer, “It’s a wonderful life.”
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: