How to Be Happier with a Simple Flip of the Happiness Switch

By Jane Mountain | December 1, 2015

be happier with a simple trick

I used to think that happiness was never going to happen for me. Even though I had all the cards stacked in my favour – a hot husband, a great family, a high-paying job, and a gorgeous house – I woke up every morning feeling miserable.

Usually, I just wanted to pull the covers up over my head and hide from the world.

I thought I just wasn’t built to be happy. I had no idea how to be happier.

(If you don’t have time to cultivate happiness, maybe this will help →)

Then, one winter morning in 2012, I stumbled upon a little trick that completely changed my life.

(I know this sounds like bad ad copy for some bogus remedy, but hear me out.)

I was getting ready for work, thinking about the LA traffic I was about to sit in, the pointless 2-hour meeting I had to attend that day, and the fluorescent-lit cube where I would sit for 8 hours.

I felt like shit.

Being happy is not something you are, it's something you do. Increase your daily happiness with a simple trick that anyone can do.

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Then, I stepped outside.

For some reason, I lifted my gaze from its usual resting place somewhere near my feet. The sun was glinting off the rooftops of my LA neighbourhood and the palm trees were waving overhead. It was gorgeous. Then I realized that since it wasn’t raining, traffic wouldn’t be so bad. I thought about my safe, reliable car and the episode of This American Life I was about to listen to. I had a delicious cup of coffee in my hand and I was headed to a place where my opinion and expertise were respected.

A strange feeling came over me. It felt suspiciously like happiness.

I smiled.

And that’s when it hit me.

Being happy isn’t something you are, it’s something you do.

If you start every morning focusing on all the things you hate about life, you will be miserable. If you focus on the good stuff, hey presto, you will be happy (or at least a whole lot happier!).

Nothing changed in my life in those few seconds that morning, but I felt so much better. And I knew I could replicate that feeling every single morning just by doing the exact same thing.

If you don’t believe me, maybe one of the happiest women in the world can convince you?

Yes, I still have bad days and I don’t walk around with a goofy grin on my face all the time. But when I am feeling low, I do my best to flip the happiness switch and turn a miserable day into a great one.  

Happy adventures, Stephen & Jane

Snoopy image by Shelly under CC-BY


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  2. Comment by Anastasia K

    Anastasia K December 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Hi Jane,
    Thanks for posting this! This is exactly what I needed to get me through this week of essays and final exams. I was right on that cliff of despair and hopelessness but I think starting my days off happy will improve this :)

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

      So glad I could help a little. I was so inspired by the video I just had to share my own experiences.

      Just be grateful you actually have access to education and that should be enough to keep you going!


    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Were we on the subject of righteous Canadians?

      Nice story, though. I love it when people can put aside their differences and just be nice to on another.


  3. Comment by Monica Bruno

    Monica Bruno December 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Jane, This is so true! Happiness is really just a state of mind. By being present and appreciating everything we have, and not on what we want, we can be happy every day!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks, Monica. It seems like such a simple thing, but it took me almost 40 years to learn it – or at least re-learn it!

  4. Comment by Timothy Gagnon

    Timothy Gagnon December 2, 2015 at 4:15 am

    I totally agree! One thing that I also noticed is that you need something to work on, some sense of accomplishment and direction, otherwise it’s easy to fall into a spell of depression. I like to take a few moments to clear the negative thoughts from my mind and create a feeling of clarity, it really helps (especially when it comes to online work). Thanks for sharing your tips and I really like your website, the articles are really easy to read, but your website took awhile to load for some reason, maybe that’s just my connection.

    P.S. I followed you on Twitter :)

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 2, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Hi Timothy – thanks for the insight. Having a project is huge, but a lot of people just don’t know what kind of project they want to do or can’t make time out of their lives.

      Sorry about the slow site! We’ve been battling that lately and are trying to make it faster!


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