Finding Happy: 10 Ways to Make Your Own Sunshine

I’m a very private person at times and so talking about heavy life stuff can be very difficult for me. I decided to write this post because there are things that I wish people knew about the importance of laughter and escape during hard times.

I went through a really rough patch for a few years and I’m just now finally starting to get my barrings. All I wanted to do was have an escape and sometimes that was hard to come by naturally so I had to make it happen. At times that came out in unhealthy ways and sometimes it was healthy, but when I look back at the last few years I was trying to feel better and to just not have my life be defined by my troubles.

Here is my life list of things that made it hurt less that I would recommend.

  1. I started a Pinterest board where only happy things exist. Pinterest in general became a great healing tool for me. On my Finding Happy board I post things that make me smile, plans or dreams for the future, and absolutely nothing heavy. Sometimes I get tempted to put other things there, but I try to cull the list if I start finding myself posting things that don’t just make me smile.

In general, I made Pinterest my happy place. I sort of wish if you searched for “depression” or “anxiety” or “cancer” that you’d basically get a feed of cute puppies and adorable baby sloths instead of people holding their heads and awful quotes about feeling hopeless.

Let’s stop feeding that. When I’ve had a hard day, I’d much rather find a picture of something that makes me smile. Since we can’t stop the world from posting these pictures of people holding their heads at the very least search for “pandas” or whatever makes you smile (although if pandas don’t make you smile you might have a bigger problem).


2. Accept that most people simply don’t know what to say or do, but also that some people are just jerks.

It is natural for people to act somber when they hear someone is dealing with big hard life stuff. Sometimes that is needed, but honestly if someone is dealing with someone they love (including themselves) being seriously ill or another scary life thing often people just don’t know how to act. I personally need to laugh and I find a lot of people echo that statement. I don’t hold it against people for acting somber, but I have learned to quickly tell people what I really need is to laugh and not think about what is bothering me. Trust that I am doing enough of that on my own. I need a break.

At the same time, some people are just terrible. I once had someone make an off-color joke about family being a pain when I was literally crying worried about some medical tests that a family member had to have and I was terrified I might lose them. This person is horrible for a host of other reasons, but letting go has stripped away their power over me.

But I forgive, not because he deserves it, but because I do. And I thank my lucky stars that my reaction would never be that because I love my family and my family loves me. It doesn’t excuse him from saying something awful, but I let it go and understand some people will just be cruel no matter. Also, I quit the job that I had to interact with that person at and so thankfully have been able to cut them 100% out of my life.

Mostly people just don’t know how to act or what to say and aren’t jerks. So give them a break and tell them if you just want to have a laugh and for the jerks…see if you can cut them out of your life or at least reduce their influence on your happiness the best you can because they are not worth it. They will never change and it isn’t your job to help them.


3. Yes, you do have time for exercise and it will make you happier so stop delaying your own happiness.

Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise when you are sad, but it is healing and you need it. But find what works for you. I love running, yoga, rock climbing, and snowshoeing. I did not do theses things enough, but I kept trying here and there to keep my life together through staying active.

4. You can find happiness at a job, but work life balance is super important.

You are at work a lot so being happy there is important, but don’t let it be too much of your life. As someone that tends to throw myself into work 110% this was a hard lesson to swallow, but when I was unhappy in life and work was awful I felt trapped all the time. I hadn’t built as much of a life outside of work so a lot of my friends were too far away to help me in some of the basic ways like watching marathons of The Gilmore Girls or playing board games. Minneapolis is also notorious for being very unfriendly to newcomers so here I was in total distress and almost everyone that normally would cheer me up was nowhere close to hug me or make me feel okay. I have made friends here, but when you are depressed and anxious about life it makes it extra hard to find those people that will just make it better by their existing.

5. Sometimes people aren’t meant to stay.

Some people will come and go in your life. Hanging onto someone that has helped you when you were sad, but ultimately doesn’t care about you or is in some way unhealthy for you is a hard thing to deal with, but at the end of the day that was just a person that came and left. It is okay. Sometimes you’ll might be immature and push them away by holding on too hard or letting loose on them. Or maybe you’ll be more mature and just let them go. Either way, if you are having a hard time just give yourself a break. They were helpful. They no longer need to be part of your story. That is okay to have friends and lovers that are not forever.

6. Watch a Disney movie.

For the love of everything watch some Disney or whatever else cheers you up. I used to watch The Walking Dead and tell my mom that no matter how bad it got at least it wasn’t the zombie apocalypse too. Perspective…

7. Stop judging yourself and make something.

Just doodle. Or whatever it is that you want to do, but try creating something for the sake of creating it. When you take judgement out of the equation it gets a lot easier and a ton more enjoyable.

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Just practicing doodling…baby steps

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8. Treat yo’ self, but keep it cheap. It is easy to let finances get away from you when  you are dealing with major life and death level stuff (even if it isn’t that serious). I wish I had been better about this. Now I don’t buy anything extra the vast majority of the time and I’m just getting myself on the right track with saving and paying things off. That said, I can treat myself either with cheap things (hello cute socks)…

0r I spend no money, but spend time doing things that make me smile like spending time in nature.

9. Volunteer if you can, because it is therapeutic and helps others.

I personally love animals so I volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center. I have done a lot of other volunteering, but I’ve found the combination of it being something I am passionate about and a regular weekly commitment have kept me going and lifted me up even when the rest of my week was completely suck-o. I now am a volunteer crew leader which means I train and mentor new volunteers.

10. Be kind to yourself. You are legit going through a hard time so give yourself a break. Trying to be happy can be exhausting. Hopefully you will find like me that if you work hard towards incorporating a kind mindset towards yourself eventually it won’t be just trying anymore. You will actually be happy. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes, even ones that feel huge. The important thing is to learn to let go of what isn’t serving you and be brave enough to be gentle with yourself and others.

Now go forth to Pinterest and start looking up adorable baby sloth pictures!