Lately, strategies for happiness have been in the news, and I’ve adopted them to my benefit. Two prominent ideas have a common theme. The first is to stop complaining. Completely. No exceptions. You train yourself to do this by wearing a band on your wrist. Every time you complain, you have to move it to the other wrist. The goal is to go 21 days without complaining—or moving the band. I’ve never made it 21 days (because some whining is cathartic!), and I stopped wearing the band (it’s summer!). But I keep doing the mental checks. It’s very productive in controlling negative thought cycles.

A second secret to happiness, which has been promoted recently in articles by psychologists and counselors, is to be grateful everyday. They say the strategy is most effective when you write down, everyday, the things you are grateful for (more listmaking!). The theory is that feeling grateful is a clear path to happiness. And it works by keeping your thought processes in a positive mode.

Then if you throw in the concept from the popular self-help book, The Secret, the formula for happiness is this: Stop complaining, express gratitude every day, and ask the universe for what you want.

The universe has not yet given me everything I want, but I have everything I need and I’m happy in my effort to go out and get the rest for myself.

PS Here is my gratitude list for the day: great family (husband especially), good health, flexible lifestyle, readers who love my work. What are you grateful for? What keeps you happy (and sane)?

  1. I would say great husband, wonderful kids, flexible lifestyle (to agree with yours) and I’d add quiet and fabulous friends.

    One really good thing about a self-test like not complaining is that you pay attention to yourself. You might think you don’t complain often (or lie, etc.), but when you become aware of it, you’d probably be surprised!

  2. Today, I’m very grateful for my connections to the Internet; without them, I don’t think I could survive rural living. I would also add the previous grateful-woman sentiments sans children. I do take the great husband and flexible lifestyle very much for granted though. Must be more conscious of those gifts. I wish I could be more grateful for the opportunity to write, but sometimes it just seems like a monumental chore!


  3. I have a personal ‘coach/mentor’ at work (one of the perks of my day job) and in one of our sessions, she told me to start each day by noticing the first breath upon waking up and being grateful for it, then go on and make a mental list of what else I was grateful to have in my life. It’s a very powerful exercise and it’s helped my daily attitude.

    I’m grateful for my family, friends, amazing boyfriend, my continued friendship with my ex, chocolate, good red wine, and my cats – even when they climb my pajama leg to get to my lap and use their claws, like Bug Bear just did.


  4. Congratulations on The Sex Club! I’ve added a live link on my website.

    Being grateful is #1 on my list as I deal with health issues. Forcing myself to look for the good in any situation works wonders to calm the ever-active pain-sending units.

    Love your blog! Never give up! If you keep sharing, eventually more humans will “get it”.


  5. Happy? When you feel blue sing a hap hap happy song or two! It wont be long, you’ll soon not feel so down! Take a walk, get out of town! After all this and you still are sore and stiff, pick up Sex Club and then just drift! Cheers on your publication! jjagogo

  6. Here’s a wonderful idea from Julia Cameron (at least I think it was her idea, can’t remember now because I’ve been doing this a long time): Take a 20 minute walk every day, and while walking, list (out loud) things you are grateful for. Try not to repeat yourself — if you get stuck, say something like, “I am grateful for the color green,” or “I’m grateful for my legs holding me up.” If you’re shy, you can list them under your breath, but make sure you form the words and give them life through your voice. I defy anyone to be in a bad mood after doing this. It is impossible.

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