How to See Happy When You Can’t Be Happy


First things first.  We are hardwired to survive.  What does that mean?  “If your brain picks up a signal of a threat—or feels under stress from having to struggle with some difficulty—it quickly kicks into survival mode. Even a small amount of stress triggers a reaction that starts in your brain, and releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline” – Lockheed Martin neuroscientist Bart Russell explains. It means that we are constantly looking out for the negative things that can hurt us.  Bad weather, Bad news, Bad traffic, Bad food. What I am trying to say is, looking for the negative comes naturally to us.

When something bad happens to us it can be our natural default to retreat and protect ourselves.  It is easier to be self loathing and victims of our circumstances. How do you separate yourself from the pack?

I am no stranger to negative times.  I had a hell of year when suddenly I lost my house, my father, my dog and had a struggling business to boot.  All of this in the span of a few months.  You can read that story here.   The good news is that I survived that hideous black hole and it is how Happy Orange Project was born!  Here are a few tips that helped me see the light, per se.

Positive Self Talk

I kept reminding myself that this situation wasn’t the end all to be all. I kept telling myself “Just be POSITIVE!!!!”  This can be a powerful tool. I can remember other people telling me it was going to be okay. It was great to have that support, but here’s the thing, if you don’t believe it—it will fall upon deaf ears.

Happiness comes from the inside out, so by giving myself these affirmations I was more or less “faking it til I made it.”  I love the Buddha saying of “What you think, you become.”

Baby Steps

Some mornings I would wake up from a decent nights sleep and realize I was right back in my own personal hell. All I would want to do is roll over and never get up again. Really. Instead, I have three kids I have to be there for and would get up, put on a happy face (fake it til you make it) and get them off to school. I would force myself to go for a walk or do something kind for myself. This went on for a year—until one day I woke up and said, “huh!, I think I feel better today.”  And each day got a little bit easier. I wish hard times could have a quick fix, but you still have to deal with the nonsense life can throw at you. It’s the choices you make in the meantime that can make a lasting impact. So — try not to wallow in too much wine, or Oreo’s and Doritos…although, those are okay too,  and clearly I am giving away my vices. Try not to let the excuses take over.  Be stronger than that. Remember you are built to survive. Make a conscious choice to make small positive choices each day. I will say it again, SMALL. Those choices will eventually snowball and make you a stronger and more resilient person.

Take Action

Serving others serves us. It really is that simple. It doesn’t make sense that it should be that way, but it’s a karma thing. Here at the Happy Orange Project we believe you can serve others in big and small ways.  Don’t feel like you have to run out and volunteer your time away. If you are feeling resentment towards whom you are serving the point is moot. When I was down in the dumps, several acts of kindness benefited me, and in turn made me want to return the favor, which in TURN made me feel better!  That famous ripple effect. Some kind things that happened were as simple as my friend baking me cookies, or helping with my kids. Other examples were a simple friendly hello, or a lovely compliment on how I was coping. The whole point is to take inspired action towards the ultimate goal—getting out of that funk!

Life ain’t easy sometimes, but I hope that these tips can help you cope just a little bit easier.

Xo, Audrey