Being Happy

How does one be happy?

Yes, it sounds like a silly question but why are some people happy and others are not?

Some people are stuck with a bad lot in life; they may have health or financial or family or some other kind of problem yet they always seem to have a smile on their face, they are always in a good mood and nothing seems to bother them.

Then there are people like me. Like everyone else, I have my problems in life but I just can’t seem to brush them off. People tell me I never smile which is true. They say “You have a nice house, a beautiful wife, a good job, etc. Why should you be sad?”

Yet I am. What am I doing wrong?

I should mention that I was diagnosed with clinical depression about 20 years ago, but hindsight tells me I have probably had it since childhood. I take a whole cocktail of antidepressant medications which barely just keeps my head above water. My doctor says that the medications can only do so much and the rest is up to me; I can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Well, I would like to be happy of course, but how exactly do you do that? People make it seem like it is as easy as flipping a light switch.

Please don’t suggest I pray more. The thought that I can find happiness through prayer is just wishful thinking. At least it hasn’t helped in the past.

how about praying with more faith, it seems like you don’t believe it helps. also go to confession often and keep going to the doctor.

besides, have you identify why are you sad? take your time to think about it and ask God to help you, maybe there is something that you should take care of, fears, worries, something that you’d like to change.etc. or maybe you realise that is just a habit.

besides, you got to learn to enjoy the small things in life, a sunset, the clouds ,etc. and remember that God loves you.

Clinical depression is a heavy cross to bear. Someone just cannot "snap out of it’ or “choose to be happy” I hope at some point they can come up with medications that can give all people suffering from depression relief from symptoms. Never give up hope for they have come a long way in the years in medications that have worked for a larger number of people and there are always new medications being tested.

Prayers for all who suffer from depression so they can feel at least a moment or two of happiness and joy this Holiday Season.


And how exactly do I do that? How do I suddenly have “more faith”?

besides, have you identify why are you sad? take your time to think about it and ask God to help you, maybe there is something that you should take care of, fears, worries, something that you’d like to change.etc. or maybe you realise that is just a habit.

I have too many problems that need to be dealt with; too many worries. If I was completely free of issue I’d feel much better.

besides, you got to learn to enjoy the small things in life, a sunset, the clouds ,etc.

That and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Those things serve no purpose.

and remember that God loves you.

You know, I am so tired for hearing that. I’m sorry but I don’t believe it. I have no reason to believe it is true.

Humpf, if I had a quarter for everyone who implied I could just choose to be happy or just snap out of it…

I, too, suffer from major depression (and other mental diseases). My medications are well balanced right now and I am able to find joy in some things but I’m not what I would describe as a happy person. Given a choice, 95% of the time I’d rather be dead than alive; 85% of the time I’d rather be alone than with others. I act happy some of the time when I’m around people but it really drains me to do so and I have to withdraw from others to regain my composure, my strength, my balance.

While medications are good, great even and necessary for those of us who suffer serious mental illness I strongly recommend psychological counseling, as well. A counselor might be able to help you identify the things that you do enjoy in life so that you can focus and hold on to them. No one is happy all the time but it can be a real struggle for some of us to even find even little spots of happy light in a world filled with the darkness of depression.

Lost_Sheep you are not alone in your sadness. I won’t suggest you pray more, just remain faithful to a regular prayer life despite the struggle. I will pray for you. I do suggest you frequent the sacraments of Communion and Confession. The graces received through the former are strengthening and the latter are healing. It seems you need both right now.

Have you tried prayers of Thanksgiving? I’m not suggesting that it is something that will suddenly change your life, but it might help some. Spending 15 mins a day to count your blessings and then to thank God for them may be helpful. Also, unite your suffering to Jesus on the cross. Your depression is what you have been given to unite to God. Offer it for your family, for souls in purgatory, for yourself, etc.

If these are things you already do, I’m sorry if I have just wasted your time. I wish I knew some magic trick that would help you and others who suffer as such. I’ve been dealing with anxiety lately and I know how miserable it makes me feel. I hope you find peace and joy soon.

I have been to counselors; several in fact. They offer all the textbook methods they learned in college and think that I am dumb enough to fall for what they are saying. Every time they offer a suggestion, I am able to discredit that suggestion and tell them why it won’t work for me or in my case. I had one psychologist who finally threw up her hands in exasperation and said she didn’t want to see me anymore because I was “hopeless.”

Yes, I am a really tough case. :frowning:

If you want to be happy practice the following: Accept everything, good and bad, as coming directly from the hand of God for the benefit of your soul, and be thankful, even when he sends you the greatest sufferings, for he is giving you opportunity to prove your love for him, to atone for your sins and to gain great merit in heaven. Do not expect happiness in this life, but in the next: if you try your best to persevere in faith and in a state of grace and trust in God with all your heart you will receive your just reward! Focus on God’s faithfulness to his promises and on your reward and you will be able to be happy amid the worst of sufferings! Desire whatever God sends you, whether it be good or bad, because it is his will for you, and he only wills what is the **very best **for your soul. Know that this life of pain and suffering can not compare at all to the rewards of the just in the next life. God will compensate for all your sufferings born patiently and faithfully in this life a million, trillion, zillion times over in the next life. Keep your eyes fixed on heaven and on your reward in the next life (never on this life and on your sufferings) – and always, always, always seek first God’s kingdom and his justice – and you will be happy, for all the things you need will be given unto you, as Jesus has said … and He is no liar! And one more thing: Rather than tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big HE is! God bless you.

I think happiness is a rather obscure term. It’s something really hard to define, but something you just recognize when its there.

I think a lot of it is personality-based; God and childhood experiences form all sorts of personalities. Look at artists and some of the most beautiful works, that are a source of happiness for others, are from some of the most depressed, unhappy people. I think a big component to being able to be happy as a adult is a skill that’s cultivated in childhood.

I also think much of it is proportional to how “deep” a person is. And this goes back to personality. People who are deep thinkers, who invest much of themselves in all their experiences, tend to have more of a sense of gravitas. People who are perennially happy appear as sort of happy-go-lucky sorts to me. I think of St Augustine’s words “our hearts are restless until they rest in You, Lord”. Some people have a much stronger sense of that restlessness than others.

You can’t really control whether you are happy or not. But you can work on things like reminding yourself of all the things you have to be grateful for. And you definitely can work on smiling more; seeing someone else smile in response to your own can momentarily your heart. Prayer is essential for unhappy people because you have to bring your troubles to someone, and it can’t always be your spouse or best friend. And while having some happiness in life is important, ultimately how happy we felt interiorly is not likely to be something we’re judged on at the end of our lives.

I truly don’t mean this so sound unkind. Sometimes I read your posts and feel like you are trying to protect or to prove that you have every right to be unhappy. You just wrote above that you are “able to discredit that suggestion.”

It’s almost as if you are holding on to your unhappiness the way some people hold onto anger or forgiveness - these things become part of our identity and we can be almost afraid to release them, to let them go.

I just read this blog post and I thought of you; I don’t know if there is anything in it that could help you, but I’m praying for you.

In His tender love,

This is exactly right. When we think of God in all His greatness, splendour and grandeur and with the fact that He endured the most horrible death so that we could enjoy the most exquisite salvation with Him - well, your problems somehow fade into insignificance, and you realise there is much Greater. Its like comparing a small cratered meteor (our problems) with the sun (God’s love and glory) - it sort of fades into nothing in the face of sun and its rays.

And what you say is exactly right! Thanks for sharing your insight. God bless you, my friend.


I can suggest two opposite ways of having joy. One is asking for the “gift of tears”. This approach is the most prevalent in Eastern Christianity.

These tears do not bring sorrow; they bring more joy than all the laughter in the world can gain for you. — St. John Chrysostom

Fear produces tears, and tears joy. Joy brings strength, through which the soul will be faithful in everything — St. Ammonas

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted — Matthew 5:4

The other is this approach in an anecdote of St. Therese of Lisieux:

One day, as I was in tears, Soeur Thérèse told me to avoid the habit of allowing others to see the trifles that worried me, adding that nothing made community life more trying than unevenness of temper.

"You are indeed right, I answered, “such was my own thought. Henceforward my tears will be for God alone. I shall confide my worries to One Who will understand and console me.”

“Tears for God!” she promptly replied, “that must not be. Far less to Him than to creatures ought you to show a mournful face. Our Divine Master has only our monasteries where He may obtain some solace for His Heart. He comes to us in search of rest—to forget the unceasing complaints of His friends in the world, who, instead of appreciating the value of the Cross, receive it far more often with moans and tears. Would you then be as the mediocre souls? Frankly, this is not disinterested love. . . . It is for us to console our Lord, and not for Him to console us. His Heart is so tender that if you cry He will dry your tears; but thereafter He will go away sad, since you did not suffer Him to repose tranquilly within you. Our Lord loves the glad of heart, the children that greet Him with a smile. When will you learn to hide your troubles from Him, or to tell Him gaily that you are happy to suffer for Him?”

“The face is the mirror of the soul,” she said once, “and yours, like that of a contented little child, should always be calm and serene. Even when alone, be cheerful, remembering always that you are in the sight of the Angels.”

I found the latter to give me more joy, to offer God smiles as my most frequent prayer.

So what all of you are saying is, if I just prayed more I’d somehow magically become happy. :rolleyes:

Thanks so much for sharing St. Therese’s words! She is so amazing!!! I know see that I must console our Lord rather than seek out consolation from him! God bless you for your post, Nuntym!

My friend, please reflect on St. Therese’s words in Post # 13 and reflect on the posts you have read, including my first post (I think it is Post #8, but I am not sure) … and, of course, pray with the right dispositions: with great confidence in God, deep humility, perseverance, fervency, etc… If you don’t pray with the right and proper dispositions you shall never gain happiness or anything much through prayer, for your prayer will be empty-hearted babbling. You will be in my prayers.

And just how do I focus on these “right and proper dispositions” when I have become so disenchanted with prayer? Again, like happiness itself, I can’t just flip a switch and suddenly have a new attitude about praying.

You see, when you get to the point that I am at, it is as if you have dug yourself into a hole that the harder you try to climb out, the deeper the hole gets. Since it is extremely rare to get any “instant feedback” on one’s prayer efforts it seems all in vain.

I need to know (not believe, but KNOW) for a fact my life will get better in a timely manner.

My friend, you have great insight; you appear to know yourself and your situation quite well. And you are honest with yourself, which gives me confidence in you. You are right, you can not flip a switch and have a new attitude of praying just like that; it probably takes time to change one’s way of thinking about prayer, except should there be an act of divine intervention. But please listen, you *must *work on praying when you do not want to and you must not expect our Lord to answer your prayers in the way you want him to or in the time frame you want him to. **I promise you **that He will answer your prayers ***always and only ***I in the very best way for your soul and at just the best time for your soul. And please recall what our Lady said to St. Bernadette. She said that she could not promise Bernadette happiness in this life but in the next. Let us learn from these words of our Lady that our true happiness is in the next life; here is our place of trial and suffering, here we prove to God our love for him by bearing our crosses faithfully, patiently, lovingly and courageously. Pray for courage, Lost Sheep, and pray when you do not want to. St. Alphonsus and other saints have said that if we do not pray we will be damned. God wants you to pray for your needs, even though he knows all of them. I honestly think that every one of us should attend to St. Therese’s words found in Post #13. I haven’t read all the other posts on this thread, but people must have been trying to help you in the right way if you have come to the conclusion that prayer is so necessary. God bless you.

Dear Lost_Sheep,

If you make doing the will of God your happiness in this life – and do his holy will, you will be happy, though your perfect happiness will be found only in the next life as your just reward. God bless you.

I forgot to mention that God also wants you to pray prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, contrition, and intercession – not just prayers of supplication. If we only speak to God when we need something from him, what kind of relationship with our Father is that? God bless you!

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