No matter how bad things may seem, there’s always a way to tap into your happy centers.

What is the recipe for happiness? As the owner of a company literally called “Seriously Happy Homes” I’ve given this a fair amount of thought, especially since I am in the interior design industry, a world that is built on aspirational living and the quest for a prettier, perfect-er, more Pinterested lifestyle.

While I do believe that having a space that supports us is important (it definitely reduces the barriers to having a happy life) the true recipe for happiness, whatever circumstance we are in, comes down to two ingredients: a cup of gratitude and a generous pinch of perspective.

A lack of happiness can be due to any number of reasons. Maybe you feel frustrated by your lack of progress losing weight or bummed out by the lines, wrinkles, cellulite, and sags on your body. Maybe you feel disappointed by your spouse, your kids, and your boss. Maybe you haven’t made it as far as you hoped professionally or financially. If you are focusing on the things that you lack, then it’s time to whip up a batch of homemade happiness.

Step one, make a big ol’ messy list of the things you hate. Have fun with this – go ahead and let it all out. An example:

Things That Are Stupid

✔️ The cost of the medical bill I got in the mail yesterday.
✔️ I just got passed over for a promotion by that jerk Doug.
✔️ My best friend is remodeling her kitchen, and I can’t.
✔️ Plus why can’t my spouse flush the dang toilet?!

Now, for every item you listed, find one thing to say *about the same subject* that is positive:

Things That Are Also True

✔️ The surgery I had was successful and means I will still be able to pursue my artwork.
✔️ I really enjoy my lunch breaks with my coworker Brenda.
✔️ I am grateful to own my home.
✔️ My spouse brought me flowers last week and doesn’t mind that I occasionally skip showers. Also, I am grateful              that I live in a world with indoor plumbing.

The only rule is that you *must* write a positive about the same subject for which you wrote a negative. (And by “positive” I don’t mean snarky or funny – writing that “Doug is ugly” doesn’t count, even if it makes you feel better lol.)

This gratitude exercise has three wonderful results:

  1. It lets you vent your frustration. Sometimes we just need to get it off our chest, and this is a positive way to do it that doesn’t have you yelling at other people and saying things you’ll regret. (Maybe burn that list when you’re done.)
  2. It trains your mind to see the positive in any situation. (If you think that’s impossible, I highly recommend you read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.)
  3. It helps you escape the dark box of your mind and gain a little perspective. It is important to remember that while it doesn’t make our problems go away, we really are lucky to live in a world with modern medicine and to have indoor plumbing, clean water, and a job. It’s important to remember the things our spouses and kids do that *add* to our lives instead of just listing the things that bum us out. Just as important – we have to try and appreciate the things our bodies do for us, instead of just the way they seem to betray us as we age.

Next time you are feeling a little less happy than you’d like, or you find yourself stuck in a negative rut, look up from your social media and see what’s good in your life. I promise you there is more joy there than you might think!


Rebecca West

Since 2007 Rebecca West and her team at Seriously Happy Homes have helped folks live large in small spaces, and carve out little corners of happiness in a big and scary world. In 2016 Rebecca authored the book ‘Happy Starts at Home,’ (a practical blend of self-help and home-design theory), and she has been a featured speaker at Town Hall and Ignite Seattle, on TV on New Day Northwest, and showcased in Success Magazine.

Website • Facebook • Yelp •  Instagram