The Happiness Connection  

Never too late to be happy

What a week!

Once again, the world was filled with senseless acts of violence that have affected many of us, even if we weren’t there.

The Vegas shooting entered my life intensely, even though I was safe in Kelowna. A couple of friends were speaking at a conference in Vegas on the weekend, and as a result many other friends attended it.

I had considered going, but the timing wasn’t very good, so I didn’t.

I woke up to news of the shooting, and immediately thought about my friends who were there. Fortunately, they were all safe.

My heart goes out to everyone who was personally touched by the tragedies. How can they be happy when their lives have been forever changed?

Rather than talking about being happy, I am going to talk about happy people. There is a distinction, although it may not seem obvious.

Happiness is an emotion; being a happy person is a choice of attitude, a philosophy of life.

Happy people:

  • Are not always happy
  • Deal with challenging and negative experiences
  • Are touched by tragedy, and sometimes permanently scarred by it

How do happy people cope when they are caught up in horrific situations?


  • Look for learning opportunities in the darkest situations
  • See good in even the worst experiences
  • Know that they will find a way to navigate challenging circumstances, even though they aren’t sure how and may be forever changed by it

One of the overwhelming messages my friends who were in Vegas came away with is the importance of telling family and friends you love them, and appreciating all the goodness life offers.

That doesn’t mean they won’t have any residual negative effects from their experiences.

One friend wrote about her reaction to the bird canons that are used in the vineyards near her house.

Before the weekend, she barely noticed them, now they make her jump and her heart pound. She is still a happy person. Her emotions have been lowered, but she continues to have an optimistic outlook.

It doesn’t take a headlining disaster to knock you down so hard that you aren’t sure you will ever be able to get up. You may be dealing with your own personal crisis, or family emergency.

How do you deal with these situations without being consumed by the darkness?

Express your feelings, emotions, and experiences

Bottling things up isn’t healthy. You may bury your emotions so deeply that you forget they even exist, but at some point, they will surface. Deal with them sooner rather than later.

It is OK to feel angry at someone for dying, or to resent suddenly becoming a full-time carer. Don’t feel ashamed of how you feel. Emotions are natural and serve many purposes.

If you don’t want to talk to family, friends, or a professional, journal your experiences. Find an outlet to release your anger, frustration, and sadness.

Look for positives among the negatives

Regardless of how bleak your life may feel, there is always good among the bad. How has the experience made you stronger, or taught you something new about yourself?

I hear people talk about near death experiences and serious illness teaching them to appreciate and enjoy life more.

Trust that you will find a way to navigate the situation, even if you aren’t sure how

Believing that you will come out of the forbidden forest at some point makes it easier to get up every morning and continue your journey. There is nothing more debilitating than a feeling of hopelessness. Talk to someone if you are struggling to find hope.

Be kind to yourself

You may believe you need to stay strong for others, which places personal high expectations on your behaviours and reactions. Lower those expectations and take time for yourself. Turn to family and friends to help you.

Surround yourself with happy, positive people

My mom often says that some of her happiest memories with me are when my dad was in the hospital with a brain abscess. I flew back from England because they weren’t sure he would survive.

We spent hours at the hospital, but when we left in the evening, we would go home, get into the hot tub with a glass of Grand Marnier and find things to laugh about.

We focused on looking for small positives and tried not to cross bridges until we got to them. That was about 15 years ago, and I am happy to say my dad will be 90 on his next birthday.

Perhaps you prefer to call happy people optimistic or positive. The term doesn’t matter, it is the attitude they display that is the same and it is never to late to choose to be happy.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories