Saturday, August 30th13.1°C
Feel Good

Happiness is an inside job

There are plenty of books and talk about happiness and how to have more in our lives. Speaking from experience, the less I seek happiness outside myself, the more happiness I encounter. And since happiness is subjective, what makes me feel happy may not remotely resemble your experience of happiness. So it’s important to examine your past and where you felt the most joy.

Remember happy moments and create more in the present and future. While we can all find reasons not to be happy – a huge tax bill, chronic body pain, our loved one decided to leave, the kids are out of control – these are stories our mind creates to justify wallowing in sadness or complaining. While healthy and normal to go through stages of grief, it is not healthy to make a lifelong habit of holding on to your sadness, anger, or worries. Why? Since it doesn’t change anything, you’re not going to get better results.

Why do people succeed and accomplish much in spite of illness, death of loved ones, or the endless sufferings that inevitably happen to everyone? Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who suffered chronic pain and was essentially bedridden after a terrible traffic accident as a teenager is the perfect example. Instead of succumbing to despair, she created great works of art as an outlet for her agony. If complaining and self-pity are a habit, flip the coin. Talking about the good in your life, feeling grateful for your blessings (and they are endless), and doing what you love in spite of challenges you may face are healing balms to your soul’s suffering. And while we are not capable of changing the past, what matters is how we handle the present.


Use the following suggestions to begin your own pathway to happiness:

1.  Be grateful. Either the minute you wake up or as you drift to sleep at night. Count your blessings, even if all you can think of is that a challenging day has ended and you didn’t murder anyone. Congratulations!

2.  Lose yourself in a hobby, whether it’s making handcrafted cards for your friends, fishing, or creating the best mac & cheese anyone has ever tasted. Let your actions shut down negative mind noise for good.

3.  Do a good deed, big or small. The wonderful feeling of making a difference in someone else’s day is a huge payoff and takes the spotlight off minuscule worries.

4.  Write yourself a happy ending. Visualize what you do want. Taking the focus off what you don’t want is the first step to manifestation on the outside.

5.  Indulge in play that satisfies your inner child. This one is easy if you have kids – join their make-believe games. Otherwise, get out some crayons or dust off your bike and explore the great outdoors like you’ve never been out there before.

6.  Start planning now for a great adventure. Often, doing the small steps it takes to reach a major goal is the most satisfying part of the journey.

7.  Move your body. Dance, run, try a new yoga class, rent a stand-up paddleboard with a friend and forget about bills, illness, and (ugh) cleaning the toilet.

8.  Maintain perspective. Swap your so-called problems with someone else’s in the world. Chances are you would take all of yours back in a heartbeat. Simply watch a news program for a few minutes and you’ll begin to appreciate your incredible good fortune.

9.  Meditate like a monk. Take a class or listen to a meditational CD. Clearing your head regularly of self-defeating thoughts clears the path for inspiration and inner peace.

10.  Seek help – from a professional, trusted friend or family member. Practice asking for help. Too many of us don’t know how to ask and it’s time to change. When we share our vulnerabilities, we connect in a deep way and release the burden to do it all on our own steam.


Life is too short to fret about all that is not going well in our lives. Take control of directing the movie of YOU, before the closing credits roll. May deep happiness and a big, silly grin on your face follow.


Let the rhythm move you

Once upon a time, I woke to my alarm playing a sad song on the radio, kindly reminding me of a certain ex-Rex. The sadness that came over me (at the time) was a precursor of the rest of the day – last minute cancellations, unseasonably cold weather, spilled coffee, and more bad memories of ex-Rex (how nice!). Our sense of sound is a powerful invocation of memory, so why not use it to our advantage?

I save my preferred motivational or uplifting songs for easy access on my iPod so I can begin each day on the right note. When I listen to a song that makes me smile, sing in the shower, or dance in the kitchen, the rest of my day goes a little more serendipitously. An easy flow accompanies a lively stream of music and generates the feel good vibes we love.

Music is very personal, so choose wisely. Lyrics and beats that speak to your inner drummer raise your energy level for any task. My musical choices range from Jazz/Blues for relaxation and cooking; Classical for an inspiring accompaniment to creative pursuits, Rap/Pop for running, and Spa/New Age sounds for meditation. Yes, sometimes the meditation turns into a fabulous nap, and that feels good too!


Suggested ‘Feel Good’ tunes:

  • I Got A Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
  • Beautiful Day by U2
  • Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Tub Thumping by Chumbawumba
  • We Are The Champions by Queen
  • Break My Stride by Matthew Wilder
  • Life’s What You Make It by Talk Talk
  • Hey Beautiful Day by Bedouin Soundclash
  • Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
  • Lust For Life by Iggy Pop
  • Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
  • Celebration by Kool and The Gang
  • All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow
  • Lovely Day by Bill Withers
  • Footloose by Kenny Loggins
  • Song 2 by Blur
  • Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz
  • Get Up Stand Up by Bob Marley
  • What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong


Turn off that sad, angst laden song and plug into pure energy. Discover songs that sing to your soul on YouTube, iTunes, or in any music store. You’ll be sidewalk dancing your way to good vibrations (and maybe some new friends?) in no time. On that note, watch the video below and let the carefree rhythm move you:



Growing up, I never gave much thought to my value system or the value systems of friends I spent time with. Looking back, I think if I had, it may have saved me a lot of grief. However, hindsight is nearly perfect and I’ve learned the importance of connecting with like-minded souls. Think about it – how much better does your life flow when you are laughing, working, and playing with someone who shares your goals and interests? How do you feel after spending time with someone who disagrees with everything you believe in or belittles all of your accomplishments? Not so good; maybe even depressed or angry enough to throw things. Connecting with people who support, nurture, and appreciate your unique gifts and who inspire you to feel the same towards them feels entirely different, yes?

You can’t choose your family growing up, but you are free to choose your friends, potential mate(s), and if you’re fortunate, co-workers. I witness many people miserable and complaining because they are ‘stuck’ with a spouse who does not share in their value system. We see this all around us – individuals who choose a mate who smokes when they do not, who is a couch potato to their marathon lifestyle, who is carnivorous to their veganism. I’m not promoting a less tolerant approach to the world, but taking part in the things you love to do with others who share the same passion certainly brings more happiness, peace of mind, and positive reinforcement to your own achievements.

My fascination with murder mysteries and the psychology of what drives people to make poor choices puts a spotlight on values. Quite often it boils down to surrounding yourself with people that maintain clear value systems – perhaps values like a reverence for life or a clear understanding that stealing from others is not cool! Nothing fascinates me more than watching someone make horrific mistakes, and how they were caught, or proven guilty. Not because I enjoy watching the misfortune of others, but because it becomes clear how many of these people may have avoided a lifetime prison sentence by surrounding themselves with people who had better judgment and values. Yes, everyone has personal responsibility, but sometimes those who are lost simply need a little guidance in the right direction in order to avoid catastrophic life decisions. Over and over again, I’ve watched people being convinced, manipulated, or talked into doing things they never could have imagined by befriending the wrong person or groups.

It becomes clear when you view the actions of those around you and review your past mistakes.  You may see where you adopted similar habits and beliefs that are not true to you. Surrounding yourself with people who inspire, support, or encourage you along your life path may make the difference between failure and success in many areas of your life. Olympic medalists and successful entrepreneurs often did not reach their goals without the love, support, and hard work of those around them. Become aware of your own values and what is most important to you, from optimal health to ethical business success. Choose your friends, co-workers, and life mates wisely. It may help avoid a long term jail sentence!


Love and fear

“Fear Controls. Love Sets You Free.” This quote applies to all areas of life where fear prevents us from achieving our goals, dreams, and facing challenges that take us through to increased self-confidence, moments of blinding happiness, and deep peace of mind. Feed your fears and they will make your world a very small place indeed. Feed your joys and your world will expand with possibilities and great success.

Recognizing our own fears requires self-awareness. For example:

  • Fear of success makes a creative person jump from one activity to another instead of honing in on the one activity they excel at and love.
  • Fear of social situations prevents a shy person from venturing out; stuck in a rut of playing video games instead of establishing what could develop into meaningful new friendships.
  • Fear of growing old keeps many people hopelessly addicted to the next great ‘miracle’ cream or ‘health’ concoction, spending all their money and time on plastic surgery and gym memberships. Instead of accepting the wisdom and gifts of growing old, they fight it every step of the way.
  • Fear of failure prevents some from trying a new sport or career that may bring them into alignment with their true values.
  • Fear of not being accepted causes an individual to bend over backwards in an attempt to please others instead of pleasing themselves, leaving them feeling empty and wanting.

Fear controls, giving ego desires priority over soul needs. Fear feeds ego through material goods, vanity, and self-centeredness. Love feeds our true desires for taking risks, connecting with others, and creating. New adventures and positive action nourish our minds with great wisdom, creating a ‘can do’ attitude.

Love is letting go of fear and embracing faith and trust in yourself and others, giving more smiles and hugs, expressing gratitude, and making connections in your community in whatever way is meaningful to you that effects positive action or change. Love is truth, wisdom, compassion, and faith in action. Love is expansive, in endless supply, energizing, and always feels good.

Fear is jealousy, anger, envy, and hatred in action. It contracts, stops you from growing and moving forward, and doesn’t feel good unless you move through it to positive action. Check in with your feelings often – they are an accurate guide.

Fear believes:

“I can’t afford to do that.”

“That’s too complicated to try.”

“They won’t hire me without a degree.”

“I’m too old to do that.”

“I don’t deserve to be with someone that beautiful.”

“My ideas are lame.”

“I’m not talented enough.”


Love believes:

“I’m open to trying new things.”

“Once I start this, everything will fall into place beautifully.”

“What can I do to help make things better?”

“Yes, I can!”

“I can learn new skills no matter what my age is.”

“I will continue to work through this because I want to accomplish the goal ahead.”


Love believes in possibilities. Time to squash fear like the cockroach it is and choose the love that transforms your caterpillar into a butterfly! Tune into your heart needs through meditation, exercise, creativity, journalling, or reading the wisdom of others who have made their dreams a reality. Whether you believe in love or fear, it will be your experience. Choose wisely; choose what feels good in 2014.

Read more Feel Good articles

About the Author

Tara is a published poet and children's e-book author. Article publishing credits include,, VidaYum online children’s magazine, and Homes & Land Okanagan. She currently spends most of her time discovering new BC restaurants and wineries, hiking with her dog, and writing. Her column is about positive living and coping skills for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Follow her on Twitter @TaraPanrucker.


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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