I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
— Audrey Hepburn

Can You Find Happiness in Tough Times?

All of us experience tough times, sometimes so bad that even survival seems impossible. Under all that weight and darkness, how can you even think about happiness? You may be surprised to learn that you can and you should. Here’s how it’s done.

Find the good in a bad situation.

There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.
― The World According to Mister Rogers

Facing adversity can help you become a better person. If you allow it:

  • You will become more grateful for your blessings, for the people in your life, and even the simplest good things.
  • When you experience pain and suffering, you will become better attuned to the pain and suffering of others. You will become kinder and more compassionate.

A personal tragedy can become your motivation to help others. A few examples of how others have done this:

  • Candy Lightner founded one of the country’s largest activist organizations, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, after her daughter died in a drunk driving accident.
  • Polly Hannah Klaas was 12 years old when she was kidnapped from her Petaluma home and killed in 1993. Polly Klaas’s father Marc has made a huge impact on child abuse laws. In 1994, he established the Klaas Kids Foundation, whose mission is to stop crimes against children.
  • Nancy Brinker has raised money and awareness for breast cancer victims in memory of her sister through the Susan B. Komen Foundation.

Appreciate and enjoy the good things in your life right now.

happiness in tough times

Everyone’s life is full of good stuff and bad stuff. Sometimes the bad stuff exceeds the good; other times there is more good than bad.

It’s so important not to miss the good stuff!

How many times and in how many ways has this idea been expressed and by how many philosophers, religious leaders, and even self-help gurus? Here is one I especially like:

Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Do you know what you’re doing when you spend a moment wondering how things are going to turn out with Perry?

You’re cheating yourself out of today. Today is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on tomorrow, and today trickles away like water down a drain. You wake up the next morning and that today you wasted is gone forever. It’s now yesterday. Some of those moments may have had wonderful things in store for you , but now you’ll never know.

― Jerry Spinelli in Love, Stargirl

Maintain an attitude of hope.

happiness in tough times

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.
Anne Lamottt

Even during the darkest times in your life, you can choose hope. You can choose to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, that grief will lessen, that an addiction will be beaten, a new path will open up.

If you want to learn more about how hope can help, I recommend Anne Lamott as a mentor. Lamott’s autobiographical works are noted for their self-deprecating humor and openness. She writes about sensitive subjects such as alcoholism, depression, and single-motherhood. Yet she gifts her readers with an optimistic and life-affirming point of view. The exploration of hope – what it is and how it manifests itself – is a theme woven into almost all of Anne Lamott’s writings. Here are some of Lamott’s most memorable quotes about hope.

Build resilience to help you through the tough times.

Resilience is the capacity to adapt successfully in the face of threats or disaster. Resilience is the backbone of happiness.

People can improve their capacity for resilience at any time of life. Try one or more of these research-backed methods:

  • Make deposits to your positivity bank. World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that experiencing positive emotions broadens people’s minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity.
  • Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, says that optimism is the key to resilience. In his article Building Resilience, he explains, “We discovered that people who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local, and changeable.”
  • Meditation is another proven method for increasing resilience. Here is an article that includes a meditation for building resilience: How to Build Resilience With Meditation.
  • Neuro-plasiticity is the brain’s ability to grow and change in response to experience. Using self-directed neuro-plasticity we can redirect automatic stress responses and rewire our brains for better resilience. To learn more about this, see Building Resilience by Jill Suttie.
  • I’d like to add that often becoming more optimistic and happier is hard to do, but like other things, the more you practice, the better you get at them and the easier they become.

    • Hello Christy, Thanks for reading and commenting. My own life experience tells me that what you say is very true.
      Wishing you well, Carol