ARE YOU HAPPY? TAKE THE TEST.

You don’t seem happy.  Those were pretty much the last words I said to my ex boyfriend/husband/spousal equivalent before he ran away from home.   He wasn’t happy I guess.  He was probably even less happy after I sent him pictures of all his stuff in the town dump. But that’s not the point of this post, the point is … are YOU happy?

If you’re not happy, today is the day we’re gonna figure out how to get you absolutely and completely HAPPY.

I am.  And I don’t mean right now, at this moment, I mean I am fundamentally happy.  Part of that is just my character and part of it is a decision to be happy.  To make myself happy.  Not a raving lunatic with a grin plastered on her face no matter what … just, you know … happy.  Or who knows. Maybe I’m just a bit simple.  With the New Year just rising up over the old one, now is the perfect time to ask if you’re truly happy and if you’re NOT, what the hell can you do to change that.

Because seriously. Why wouldn’t you?

Only you can make you happy. I pulled that top shelf, pseudo-psychological cliche out of an old episode of Who’s the Boss, but you know what?  It’s true.  You’re the only one responsible for your life and circumstances.  You.  Just you.    Not someone else, not something else.  You.  Happiness isn’t about what you have or who you’re with or where you live; it’s about your state of mind regardless of those things.  I got my degree in psychiatry while we were on Christmas break by the way.  No I didn’t.  But it doesn’t take a degree or a genius or even more intelligence than your basic baby to know that “things” don’t make a person happy.

Babies are happy once they have the basics.  Food, sleep and a big fart and they’re happy. That’s it. That is all it takes to not only make them happy, but oftentimes deliriously happy.  Yup.  Allowing a big burst of wind to come flying out of their bum is enough to make the most basic, undisturbed form of human life happy. We’re not going for deliriously happy here, just shit grinning happy so keep your toots to yourself for the moment.   Why are those little babies so happy?  Dunno.  Like I said I’m not a genius or in any way qualified to be advising you on any of this.

However I’m doing it anyway.

Because I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions we’re not going to call this that. Besides.

This isn’t a resolution.  It’s a revolution.

2016 is going down as one of the most depressing years in history.  There was racism, Zika, Brexit, Syria, and heroin overdoses for entertainment.   So it’s understandable if you feel a bit like you were dragged out of 2016 on a stretcher.

But this is 2017.

happy

 

How do you know if you’re generally happy?  Well my simple test is this;  when you wake up in the morning are you in a good mood?  And are you happier more days than you’re sad, depressed or unfulfilled.  If you’re any of these three things on a regular basis, you’re probably not happy.  And you could be.  You should be!  Because why, WHY would you go the rest of your life not being happy if you could be?

I’m guessing when you blow the candles out on your birthday cake you don’t wish for things that will make you unhappy.  You don’t wish for scabies.  You wish for whatever it is you think will make you happy. (Me? I always, always just wish to be happy … because that’s the anticipated end goal of every wish).

I’m talking to you old man who scowls at the woman ahead of you because you think she has one too many items in her grocery cart to be allowed in the 8 items or less checkout.

I’m talking to you unhappy stay at home mom who doesn’t really have a reason to be unhappy, but just is.

I’m talking to you unhappy working mom who doesn’t really have a reason to be unhappy, but just is.

I’m talking to those of you who hate your jobs, are bored with your routine, don’t even like (let alone love) your husband or wife, those of you who used to be wildly happy but … just aren’t anymore.

Let’s get you happy this year.  Really happy.  Deep down happy.  What would that take for you personally?

Realizing you are genuinely depressed or anxious and finally calling your doctor about going to see a therapist?  Do IT.

Realizing you hate, HATE, HATE your job so much it’s ruining your life?   Make a plan to either figure out a way to like that job or … get a new job.  Really.  People do it all the time.  They quit the jobs they hate.  Do it this year.  Be smart about it.  Make a real plan to get the balls to figure out something else you can do.  Research it, figure it out, plan it and then one day you’ll be able to walk into the office and quit that stupid, asshead job that sucks the life and happiness right out of you!  Do IT.

Realizing enough is enough with taking care of people around you and finally dropping the hammer with a great big SUCK IT ALL OF YOU.  I’m gonna take care of me.  Do IT.

I did it.  I did every single one of those things.  I went to see a therapist (who eventually fired me), I quit my job as a television host (which most people would think is a dream job) to terrifyingly start a blog, a job that I literally wake up early and jump out of bed to do.  And there are a few people in my life who were sucking the life out of me so I cut them loose.

You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, skipping down the yellow brick road throwing chocolate sprinkles on everyone in your path to be considered happy.  Or the kind of person who smiles when they’re giving bad news or arguing with you.  I don’t like those people.  They’re creepy.  But you should be generally happy in this life because along with death and destruction, this life also has puppies and flowers and learning and teaching and hugs.  And french fries.

Everyone has times of drama and trauma. Of course you’re not going to sail those times feeling happy and carefree, I mean, you’re not a sociopath, but the happier you are in your own life, the easier those times will be to get through.

Happiness takes practice.  It’s exactly like becoming a great pool player, only you don’t always find happiness in a dive bar with puke stains on the floor.  In fact, usually you don’t, so stay out of those.

Go out there, grab this New Year by the should-have-been-packed-away-by-now Christmas balls and GET HAPPY.  Do what you need to do. Pay attention.  Make a plan.

START A REVOLUTION.

Swear more, eat more, eat better, be honest, be kind, be helpful, be wise, listen, dance, be useful, be encouraging, be strong, be selfish, be curious, be happy.

Go get ’em.  Do it.

126 Comments

  1. Mel Robicheau says:

    I’m going to start by saying that I have followed your blog since almost the beginning, I pin some of your posts and tell my friends about your blog all the time. Your blog is the only one where I’ve read every post and that I follow regularly. I love your humour, writing style and topics.

    I realize the point of this post was to be motivational and inspirational but instead it left me upset. I realize that wasn’t your intention. But I need to share my story because it is the story of many others.

    I literally ended 2016 on a stretcher because of a suicide attempt on New Year’s Eve due to being an “unhappy stay at home with no reason to be unhappy.”

    I do the therapy, I take the medication, I eat the healthy food, I cut the toxic people out of my life years ago, and I quit my job to have the job of my dreams, a mama. Sometimes it isn’t a choice to just be happy. Sometimes it is medical. Mental illness plagues many and they don’t get help because of the stigma. Because of things on the Internet telling them they should just be able to snap out of it and declutter, eat paleo, do the current fad workout and then they’ll be alright. Great, that works for 80% of people but for the 1 in 5 Canadians living with mental illness it is defeating and makes us feel shame when it doesn’t work for us. Because if it was a choice, I would choose happy. I would choose to not have a diagnosis of Bipolar II, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. These are mental illnesses that I work very hard to control but I will never just BE happy. Bipolar II is a brain deficiency where symptoms can be reduced with medication, therapy and lifestyle changes but I will still have illness, the depressions, just milder hopefully than the severe depression I’ve been in for months. I can’t just BE happy. For many of us with mental illness this is not our reality.

    And for for those angry or upset about my actions on New Year’s Eve, there was a point where I stopped washing the pills down with booze to call out for my amazing husband because in my unrational trapped choice to end my ongoing pain I remembered I didn’t kiss my kids one last time. I stopped. I’m still here working on it because I’m strong and a fighter and need to stay here for my kids and husband and to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. Depression lies. And this week when I got that low again I made the right choice and called a friend and left the kids with a relative. And maybe one day I’ll be okay with some happy.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mel. Thank you for telling your story! Part of the reason I did this post was because of Bell Let’s Talk day, which is coming up. When I said people should seek therapy it wasn’t a flip attempt to say you can go to therapy for a week and be happy. I was making the point that sometimes no matter what, you can’t make yourself happy. That you need therapy and medication. That you may have a mental illness you aren’t addressing. Trust me. I think EVERYONE should take care of their mental health and I tell more people than I probably should that they should get checked. This was definitely not meant to be a snap out of it post, it was meant to be a wake up call for people thinking that doing nothing was going to change anything. Doing nothing changes nothing. It was also meant to get people talking. Which you and others bravely did. 🙂 Thanks. ~ karen!

  2. Lisa says:

    Excellent post! Very well said. Thank you for the wake up and inspiration!

  3. Inge Prevoo says:

    I couldn’t agree more Karen. But new year started with the death of 2 of my chickens and 2 more are dying of the dreaded birdflu virus. According to the vet soon the whole flock will be gone. And I love them so, they bring so much joy, and there’s no cure. So I cry, cuddle them, make them as comfortable as possible and wait. I normally whistle, sing and talk a lot (I’m loud). But these last days I’m subdued. That will pass, I am sure, but now I mourn for my poor sick chickens who have always given me their eggs, who came running when I called them and ate from my hand. I’ve reluctantly accepted their fate, but the process is just plain sh*t. My plan is, to burn down the old virus-infested henhouse and wait for a year getting new chickens while building a beautiful new coop. On a different spot in our meadow. That I can stand up in. On a concrete floor. With running water and electricity. And a tiled roof, gutters and nice trimmings. With room for 4 large breed chickens and 1 massive rooster. That is my plan and my way to cope with what’s happening right now. I’ll send you a picture later ok?

  4. Eva says:

    THANK YOU! That was exactly the reminder I needed. There are some things I am struggling with for some time now, so that the good things tend to fade into the background. I just won’t let them any more 🙂
    Thanks again & have a good day!

  5. holly says:

    Quote from Ann above: I will never dismiss the fact that mental health in this world is not addressed properly or often enough. Thank you so much!

    I used to be a very happy, laid back person. I was blessed to have a wonderful family, but lived 30 miles away and they all worked fulltime. We all were raised to work hard, and were very close.

    I worked my way up in a corporate man-dominated, political environment. My husband wonked out on me, became addicted to cocaine and deserted me and my 4 yr-old daughter. I worked my butt off and tried to provide her a normal, middle-class life, with friends, Little League, etc. Have a great family, but they are all busy and 30 – 40 miles away. So was always sort of on my own. No child support, kept fighting to keep head above water. Left me with all the debt and upside-down. Charged all sorts of stuff to his business address and I was served for as Jane Doe at our home address. I know it sounds like I’m stupid, but really I am not. I’m very smart. I just never, ever expected this.

    I worked cleaning houses on weekends for years to pay bills.

    I was lucky enough to work for a government entity with pension benefits. My goal was to start my own jewelry business after I retired…I love it. Even with all the bumps, life was good and there was hope and happiness.

    After 30 years, I retired to take care of my dad, dying from cancer. Two months later, he died. 6 months later, I started sharing responsibilities for taking care of my mom 24/7 for next 4 years. Always had the utmost honor for taking care of them – they were the ultimate parents. I truly mean the very best.

    Then, hell began.

    One year into my retirement, found out my daughter was on heroin. She was always the sweetest girl, who always defended the underdog. If a kid was being picked on at school, she defended him. At sleep-overs, parents always said what good manners she had.
    Seven years into it..used to have hope. Been through the rehabs. Heard it all. It has been the most devastating, frustrating, crazy, frightening experience of my life. Insurance is basically useless. Have had my life threatened last week by her boyfriend. I leave to get my hair done (once every 8 months, and he is in my house.) She has overdosed in my house 2 times. 4 other times at flea-bag motels. She is truly the sweetest, most beautiful girl you would want to meet. Until she runs out of drugs. Then you deal with the devil. Her mind is disintegrating. One of the first doctors I spoke with warned me this is a degenerative brain disease.

    I see the ads on tv about kids with cancer, and how no parent should ever have to deal with such a devastating diagnosis. There are no ads about parents with kids who are addicts. We are the untouchables. Even though it is also a disease. Treated the same way with insurance. They offer detox and maybe a week or two of in-house, and step you down. That is the equivalent of offering a cancer patient a band-aid. Literally. And people wonder why the problem keeps getting worse.

    I am very artistic and was doing street shows with jewelry, etc. on weekends before I retired and had hoped to do it full-time when I retired and take silversmithing, etc. I was invited to several shows. That has all died.

    Her father is no help at all. He is married to a ball-buster woman with money who runs the show. She believes in tough love _ no help at all. She does not want to be bothered. He has chosen.

    I am at the end of my rope. I fight to wake up every morning..I have eroded, I know. Because there is no hope.

    I look at people around me laughing and going out to lunch, etc. and wish for it and know they have no idea how lucky they are. Even though they have all of life’s problems, they do not have this one, most likely.

    Sorry for going on for so long. I am contemplating throwing her out, but here in Phoenix, a 90 pound pretty blond girl pretty much equals rape or worse at night, even in our good neighborhood. What to do.

    • Pam'a says:

      Holly,

      You can’t fix her. (If it were possible, you would have managed it by now.) You’re the only one you can fix. You’ll have to decide whether you’re willing to do that.

      I hope you’ll hook into a community of people who know your struggle (a la Al-Anon, etc.), because you’re not alone– FAR too many parents live in that special hell.

      The hardest part is separating her illness from your own, but it’s what you must do! You are the only you, and you’re worth it. I would put my arms around you and hug you if I could…

      Absent that, prayers ascending.

  6. ralph says:

    Hey Karen
    Loved this latest missive.
    You admit to not really having obtained a degree in Psychiatry but I suspect that you have recently dusted off some of your old self-help psyche books from the 70’s such as Thomas Harris’ “I’m OK, You’re OK” and perhaps Fritz Perl’s “Gestalt Verbatim”…and decided to share the pearls .
    One of the respondents above admits to feeling happy when she procrastinates. Well,me too!
    My favourite T-shirt reads ‘PROCRASTINATE TOMORROW’

    All in all a good letter,Karen.
    For the New Year I wish you good health and prosperity with multiple ‘warm fuzzies’ and zero ‘cold pricklies’.

  7. Renee says:

    Your post spoke to my heart Karen. It is just what I needed. I had already decided to make 2017 “THE YEAR OF ME” I will make those dr appts I have been putting off, I will get new glasses after about 8 years, I will get rid of things that are bogging me down. I wish I could quit, but alas, it is my & hubby’s business, so it is hard to walk away when you also have employees counting on you for their livelyhoods. But looking at the positives- I made it 20 years doing it with no experience running a business – I have a roof & food in mah belly. I have fabulous kids that are now fabulous adults. My hubby loves me, my Momma loves me, and my kitties love me. Not too shabby! Now I need to love me. Thanks for the little kick in the pants!

  8. Ellen says:

    This post hits home big time! The yoga “challenge” I am doing this Jaanuary is called Yoga Revolution, so those words really jumped off the page for me. Lots to think about with this post. Thanks

  9. Maureen Locke says:

    Many times I think I’m unhappy but then I start counting my blessings and they are many. I tend to be a “glass half empty” type of person so I’m constantly having to give myself a severe talking to. I have a wonderful life with a job I’m not a big fan of, but it’s ok. I dream of retirement… hopefully soon. My husband is my best friend but he’s turning into an old fart who never wants to go anywhere. Instead of whining about it, I grab my single best friend and off we go on an adventure. My husband is content to stay home and I’m enjoying life. My parents always said ” life is what you make of it” and I guess that’s true.

  10. jainegayer says:

    Well said, Karen. It’s just more fun to be happy!

  11. Stan Nowak says:

    Karen, this ‘Stuff’ is like a great cup of coffee in the morning or a refreshing splash of cold water on my face! Thanks for this and keep doing your ‘Stuff’!

  12. Sarah says:

    Happy New Year. Thank you for this.

    I needed this. I have been skirting around grabbing life by the Christmas balls.

    Between this blog post and watching the movie Joy. I feel like its time to practice being happy.

  13. Stephbo says:

    I don’t make resolutions, but I do have specific intentions that I work toward each year. This year’s intention is to be happy, so your post is very timely. In addition to some of the things I’ve been thinking about, you have also convinced me to get 20 puppies (if one is good, 20 must be better) and to fart more. Thanks!

  14. Patti says:

    You are a Credit to our Gender!!!! And funny as hell!

  15. Ellie O'Toole says:

    POWERFUL! I’ve bookmarked this entry as a Favorite and moved it to my #1 slot. I plan to read your inspiring message every day until I’ve mastered the happiness factor. 2017 will be a memorable year. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  16. Gayle M says:

    Happy. Thank you for the eye opening pronouncement. Celebrating 43rd anniversary with my hubby/best friend this weekend, driving 2 hrs south to Shipshewana Indiana area in the frigid snowy cold for 2 days away from it all. Happy? Add very lucky to that. And bookmark it for future reference (like when we’re building that garden retaining wall this spring!).

  17. savitri says:

    For me this messages is most thought provoking. Thank you

  18. Mindy says:

    Every wish I ever make is the same. For YEARS, always the same, single word. Stars, tunnels, moving hay, birthday candles….all the same wish. Happiness.

  19. Marti says:

    I gassed myself all the way through my elliptical training today. Now… where’s the “test”?
    Did I miss that part?

  20. Jody says:

    I’m happy. And it’s the simple things in life that make me the happiest. Quietly knitting, tiny seeds sprouting, walking my dog, hugging my husband, watching my son flourish into a young man. Here’s a quote from someone somewhere, “”Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles”.

  21. Grammy says:

    Everything Karen said in this post and in her subsequent comments is excellent advice. It obviously has come at a good time for a lot of people. I have just one suggestion that might be useful to so many of you for whom your jobs are at the core of your unhappiness:

    I was a single mother very young, and always had to work. Without a college degree and being too clumsy for waitress work, I found office jobs where my good typing skills were needed. Most of the jobs were awful — mind-numbingly boring and usually with bosses who thought “the help” were supposed to be treated badly just because. So, I know something about that sense of feeling trapped and unhappy. But, somehow, I figured out my own personal answer. I got an entry-level job as a file clerk with the government (all that required was a high school diploma). The pay was barely adequate but it had good benefits. I found out I was very smart, and I worked really hard, and over the years I worked my way up through many promotions. Most of the time, I hated the work and the hours and the rigid rules and, yes, the lazy co-workers and incompetent bosses.

    But I always said, “This is not my life, it’s how I make my living. This job makes me able to have a good life outside of work.” I would have loved to have the luxury of working at something I loved, but none of those jobs paid as well as the crappy desk jobs I did. So I went to work every day and did the very best at what they paid me to do, and then went home to my son, grateful that I could live in a decent place and afford decent food and he didn’t have to go to school naked. That made me able to do it again the next day.

    Throughout my long life, a failed marriage, a very long second marriage (still going), kids and dogs and tragedy and ecstasy, all the stuff of life, I’ve always been happy that I didn’t sit around waiting for that job that would be my ultimate fulfillment because I always sought fulfillment outside of the place where I made money. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, and I envy those people who’ve found happiness because they work at what they love. But if you are in a place where you feel nothing is good because you have a job you hate, working with people you don’t like, until you can change that in whatever way you need to, just tell yourself your LIFE is outside of that place, the work just let’s you have your life.

    I’ve been retired now for 14 years, and it’s because of that crappy job that I can now do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want. I can be generous with my time and money doing things that matter to me. I hope the same outcome for all of you who are struggling for the balance in your own lives.

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      Amen, Grammy…my story is very similar…I worked for the Pennsylvania State Government…The job I had was a crappy one, I hated every day I had to drive over an hour to get there, but I was also very grateful every day that I had that job…It gave great benefits for me and my son, vacations and other fun day trips with him, decent clothes for him to wear to school and a good life for us together…Thank goodness I had that job because his father cared not a bit if his son had even the most basic of necessities…No matter what I had to do…I am grateful that he and I had the chance to make such wonderful memories together because around the age of sixteen he began to show signs of mental illness…he is now twenty six…he is Bi-polar and has severe Agoraphobia with psychotic features…he rarely leaves the house anymore because of his irrational fears of people and things…but for his Dr appointments…If any of you ladies have the means to leave your job and train to do work that you think will make you happier…by all means go for it…I wish you all the luck in the world…but I believe the most important point in all of this would be learning to be happy with the life you are in now because life can change at any moment and you never know what the future will bring…no matter how you plan it…Karen is absolutely right…”Only you can make you happy”.

  22. Darla says:

    Great post! I took the step to be my own boss years ago, but this reinforces the fact that I am not just my job. I have to make more time for family and the things I like to do. Not just the ones I have to do.

  23. Fred says:

    70 Acres on the Welland River,Old farm house in need of TLC,…just too much to do….very unhappy

  24. Thera says:

    I am on my way to being happy, 2016 was my Quit Year, I quit smoking, I quit coffee and I quit a bad marriage (FYI do not put that as your FB status as people explode). This year is for beginnings, or good habits like healthy eatIng and walking and happy things like going back to school to learn to do something I love at 45. I hope everyone is either already happy or on their way like me!

  25. Carolyn says:

    Karen,
    Once again you are right on target with your post!
    Thank you for saying what we all need to hear!
    Cheers!
    Carolyn

  26. isabella says:

    I’m happy and thank you for reminding me that being happy is up to me. I’m glad that you are happy as well. Actually I don’t think I would have read your blog is you were a depressive. Who needs that! So thanks for being happy you and happy me is always happy to hear about happiness, bizarre behaviors, crazy stuff and fun stuff. Cause none of us are getting out of here alive, to quote my mom.I’d rather leave smiling than frowning.

  27. ronda says:

    to “quote” Monty Python … always look on the bright side of life! It may seem simplistic, but it works. Its helped me get through what has probably been the worst year ever!

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