How to Be Happy When the World Around You Is Gray

The truth is simple: there is no singular way to be happy all the time. It is not possible. It is not reality. But to be optimistic when life throws curve balls at you is a different story. That is why I have created a list of 5 ways that do not answer the question How to be happy but How to change one’s perspective on the idea of ‘happy.’ 

But first, a little bit about me . . . 

I suffer from depression from time to time. Symptoms, as most would call it, did not come about until early high school. During this time I was bullied to a point where I had to change schools because my current campus was at it’s last straw with my lack of attendance.

A doctor’s note, which implied that I was properly diagnosed with anxiety and, indeed, depression, could only help to an extent. So I made the switch to a small charter school just down the street in hopes the new atmosphere would uplift me.

This is me

Now, even though I continued to excel in my academics, my previous experiences shook me up so bad that attending a classroom of barely 15 students (including myself) was frankly impossible.

I distinctly remembering getting ready to leave that morning and beginning to cry and shake just 10 minutes before heading off. It was hard. I kept thinking my bad experiences would repeat once more.

I was afraid of being judged by people strictly around my age group. I was afraid of interacting. Fortunately for me, my academic advisor was also the lead board member of the campus.

And because she recognized my independence she was not hesitant to allow me to work from home—with the exception of meeting every Friday to go over my assignments. In the end I graduated with Honors, but did not attend graduation because of these same setbacks. 

To set things straight, the only way I got better was by helping myself. After graduation I started to go out more. I would go hiking. I would drive to new places. I would talk to adults a lot while out in town—which is something I’ve always preferred even when I was little.

I grew up as an only child, so in a way I am used to being alone with my thoughts and the concept of independence, singularity. But these things, I must tell you, are the bare minimum of going from 0 to 100 in one’s mental health.

Am I still a work in progress? Of course. However. I will also say that going to therapy did not help much either. I didn’t want to take medication that was supposed to ‘’relieve’’ anxiety. Maybe this helps some. Maybe this helps you reading this.

But all I know is that the real miracle pill is ingesting more food for thought and committing to it. The honest solution is to accept that the problem exists with your current mindset.

The greatest blessing is when a person acknowledges that even though they can’t change conflict or setback, they do otherwise have the authority to take control of how they react. 

So with that being said, here are 5 things I have personally learned about how to be happy throughout the years that I hope will enlighten you. 

1. Stop blaming other people for your feelings 

You need to realize that tribulations, rocky relationships, family issues, and bad co-workers are nothing new or special. Yes, there is such thing as people doing bad things. But your feelings belong to you only. Therefore you have the absolute right to not live with grudge, hatred, or envy.

Does this mean you’re ignoring someone’s actions or letting them ‘’get away’’ with their behavior? In most cases, no. This simply means you’re wise enough to step back and say “You know what, this isn’t for me” or “My energy is worth going towards something with actual worth.” 

2. Look at roadblocks as an opportunity to grow

Sometimes ‘’bad’’ situations are meant to take us down a different avenue. Think about it. If you’re constantly crossing the road without looking both ways, avoiding getting hit, you will never know you shouldhave looked the moment before a car (reality) hit you, resulting in drastic injuries.

In other words, no one glides through life. No one has a perfect year. Not everyone’s dreams come true—sometimes for the sake of divine intervention (or God, if you’re religious)—wanting us to fulfill our true purpose of being here on this earth. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Realize we all have a purpose

This is something  I personally know is mostly exclusive to those who believe in spirituality and/or religion. But the truth is you don’t have to be holy to accept that we all have a purpose in life.

Back in the summertime, we were cleaning my grandmother’s storage unit. Out of luck, I came across this book called 7 Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. I decided to take it home but didn’t actually read it until a few weeks later.

What I discovered in this book was mostly philosophy and ways to approach realistic goal setting and attempting. But this was the following excerpt from Chapter 6, The Law of ‘’Dharma’’ and Purpose of Life, that really struck me: 

”The third component of the Law of Dharma is service to humanity—to serve your fellow human beings and ask yourself the questions ‘’How can I help?’’ or ‘’How can I help all those I come into contact with?’’ The question ‘’What’s in it for me?’’ is otherwise the internal dialogue of the ego.”

The steps that follow this briefly touch on the idea of then asking yourself if money would affect this divine talent that you only possess. If your craft does not ensure fame or fortune in the end, but still served a portion of humanity well, would you still commit? If the answer is yes, then you know you have listened to your soul as oppose to ego. And when you do this the heavens will not hesitate to lend an extra hand in the process (such as promotions and opportunity). However . . . 

4. Don’t get addicted to opportunity 

This is a very complex concept, so please allow me to explain. When a person is happiest when looking at the end result of things (such as the publishing of their novel or their small business hitting a certain net worth) they forget how precious the in-between stages are. This includes but is not limited to set back, red lights, and loss.

Think about it. If you’re constantly being gifted gold, you won’t ever realize how previous copper is, too. Hard times are hard times—but you won’t get far if you consistently believe you’re immune to making mistakes. 

5. Stop relying on people to open doors for you 

The truth is there exist many people who have had doors open for them from the very beginning. They could be privileged. They could be manipulators. They could even be social climbers or heartbreakers. But the truth is, living this kind of mindset eventually runs the individual out of steam. It is exhausting. It is not good for the spirit.

It is, more or less, the exact definition of using life as oppose to actually living one for the sake of oneself and others. That’s why it’s important to learn when and how to turn your own doorknob. 

Don’t like the job you’re in? Stop complaining and get to job searching—or work something out with your employer. Don’t like being single? Stop moaning around the house every weekend and get outside. Prince Charming isn’t going to break into your house anytime soon.

Another thing? If you’re jealous of your best friend always going on holiday, please stop splurging at the mall and start saving. Noticing a pattern here? The things we complain about are 90% of the time the result of illusions our subconscious mind has moulded in due of elongated practice. 


Once again, there exists no solution to the question How to be happy. But there are ways to change your mindset and think more optimistic. 

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