3 Ways To Get Happy Now!

When Nikki was just a little girl, she asked me, “What is happiness?”

“Hmm,” I thought, “she’s a little young to be asking about that, but here goes: ‘It’s the male organ used for reproductive purposes—“

“—no, no, no,” she interrupted me, “I said ‘What is HAP-iness? HAP-piness?

Oh. Well. That’s different.

Happiness is a state of mind. I used to believe happiness was a result of my circumstances. When I was younger, I believed my circumstances would make me happy or sad. —and true, circumstances, events, happenings, outcomes do impact us. But some wise souls have learned to live within their circumstances and yet not be conformed by them.

I remember when Nikki was 5 years old, we were in a long line at the bank. She wandered over to a little boy to say hello.

‘Hi!’ she said. He stared blankly at her, gave no response, no acknowledgment, said nothing. He just turned around and walked away.

We were heartbroken for our little girl, hurt for her rejection and subsequent pain, annoyed the little boys’ parents hadn’t intervened to teach the little nipper some manners, how sad—and prepared to comfort her. Nikki came back, smiled broadly, nodded towards the kid with her head and said, ‘He really Likes Me!’

Circumstances can play havoc on your emotions, yes, and that’s understandable.

But happiness —or contentment—is a mindset. It is a frame of mind, and you can change your frame of mind, you can change your state of mind by choosing how you respond to your circumstances. In other words: you are not a slave to your circumstances, you can rise above them.

Here are three steps to Pursuing Happiness.

1. Change your Physical State. Motion changes emotion, so if you want to change your emotions, Get up! move! Get 5 minutes of deep breath, action—run, walk, bike, get your heart rate up—move!

2. Refine your Focus. The best way to pursue happiness: Chase gratitude. Focus on the good things in your life and be grateful—feel deep gratitude for those things in life that are good, both big and small. Dwell upon the good in your life and be grateful. Each day list (3) things for which you can muster sincere gratitude—think on those things and feel sincerely grateful.

3. Simplify your Happiness Quotient. Enjoy what you’ve got instead of moaning over what you don’t have. One person gripes because an app on their iPhone is glitching, while another bursts with joy over a fresh cup of water. Here’s a good strategy: Enjoy your glass of water! Savor your next meal! Celebrate the rain!

High Expectations are swell when you’re setting goals and planning for tomorrow. But when you’re done planning for tomorrow–Live for Today. And for today, don’t worry–be happy, no matter what. Determine to be happy TODAY with what you have.

So you want to pursue happiness?

Change your physical state—get moving!

Refine your Focus—chase gratitude!

Simplify your happiness quotient—celebrate today!


As usual, let us know what you’re dealing with today! Are you struggling to feel happy? Are you on a happy high? Let us know your thoughts, comments and questions below…. and be sure to use #howtobehappyjanuary to join the conversation!

Dirk Mullenger

Raised in NY, college at University of Iowa, year abroad in Paris. Tight with my wife and 4 children. Business, writer, guitarist, skier, drives a convertible. One person’s hindsight is another person’s foresight.

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32 Discussion to this post

  1. Cate Dimmitt says:

    Love this! Today I’m chasing happy. God is good.

  2. Jessica C says:

    This was interesting read/learn about. Definitely going to think about it the next time I am upset

    • Dirk says:

      Thanks Jessica–it fascinates (and annoys) me how easy it is for me to slip down into douldrums, but i have to be deliberate in thinking upward thoughts, like gratitude….thanks for your comment.

  3. Bethany H says:

    this was a great thing to read before going off to work today. thankyou.

  4. Kaitlyn says:

    I feel like a lot of the time I am kind of a Debby downer, and am always comparing myself to other people and what they have. I never really thought to think about the people who have less than me and when I read this post it just opened my eyes to why it is so important to realize what you have so you can help those who have less. Thanks for the post!!

    • Dirk says:

      Yaa, Kaitlyn, i kinda feel the same way–I have to be deliberate in my thinking, in gratitude and thinking of others–and i think that’s the essence of love. Thanks for your note :}

  5. Alexis G says:

    It used to be that if I had a bad day, I held onto those negative feelings for several more days. Now I might have a bad day or just a bad few hours but I have to actively change my mindset to think positively. But once I do that, I feel better. I was feeling down about my life situation yesterday and today I’m singing and dancing and feeling hopeful for the future. It may feel unnatural to make yourself think positively, but it does work!

    • Dirk says:

      Yep, me too, Alexis–I have to deliberately remind myself to actively change my mindset. Thanks for sharing your experience, encouraging to hear it.

  6. Kimberly says:

    Well said, Dirk!

  7. Jeanette Ward says:

    I love this post!! I’ve been trying pretty hard lately to make my own happiness and be positive!! So much as to when I am being negative or I’m feeling down I catch myself and recognize that I shouldn’t be thinking like that! You really can control your positivity and happiness sometimes!!

  8. Sarah-Beth says:

    Dirk, your writing is simply beautiful. And what incredible tips to reframe your mind in order to find happiness. You’re totally right, and I’m sad to say it never occurred to me that our happiness is simply how we interpret our lives and the things that are happening to us. Thank you for the soft reminder that happiness is our choice!

    Take good care!


  9. Katelyn says:

    Some people believe that being happy is easy, when in reality, it’s hard.
    I have some tips on how to become happy!
    1.) Be true to who you are and to believe in yourself.
    2.) Really take some time to be with yourself and to be with God and to just breathe and think about all of your happy memories that you have made.
    3.) Appreciate the life you have and to know that you are not always going to be happy because that’s the way life was made. Also to know that happiness comes as a blessing and sometimes those blessings may leave for awhile while you try to pull yourself back together.
    I hope you liked my comment because I really like all of your blogs because it puts me Ina good mood!! 😉

  10. Three great points, Katelyn! And agreed–likely why Thomas Jefferson called it the ‘pursuit of happiness’. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  11. Maricel says:

    This was a great read. I feel like lately I’ve been unhappy with trying to figure out what to do with my life – career wise. It’s a lot of “I don’t know’s” and so many things that I want to do and I feel like I’m chasing too much as opposed to letting myself be in the moment and I think that’s what’s keeping me from being happy. Everything is great but I’m feeling anxious about my future and my career. I am starting with a small stepping stone to dip my feet in the water of expanding into a hobby that I love so right now all I can do is hope it works out.

    Thank you for this. This was definitely needed for me. 🙂

    • Dirk says:

      Thank you, Maricel. I hope you’ll allow me the liberty to speak from my heart: I believe God loves us–loves YOU–very, very much; and He also loves those with with whom we come into contact, and one of the best ways we can make God proud of us is by loving his children–our family, friends, neighbors, etc. The love you have for your hobby is likely an indicator of a God-given talent; exercise it in a way that contributes, delights, serves, others to their betterment & well-being–LOVE those people by serving them, with your eye on contributing to their well-being…and whadda ya know, you’ll realize you’re feeling happy! So go for it, and remember: the joy is in the journey. 🙂

  12. Abbi says:

    I definitely needed this. The past few weeks I have found myself so incredibly happy, but the past few days I have started to fall back into a bit of a darker place. As I prepare to move back to school to begin my second semester of college, I am already starting to stress about the workload that is going to hit me this semester. I really need to focus on living for today! I love that! I am just so bad at it sometimes!

    • Dirk says:

      Hey Abbi, thanks for your note and sharing your thoughts. Your comment on focusing on living for today –I’m bad at it too! It’s like something i ‘keep remembering’ instead of steadily doing. :} I do best when it’s a daily, deliberate, first-thing-in-the-morning mental reset. / Have a blast at college!! You’ll be astounded at how soon it will be a memory, so make it a good one! 🙂

  13. Jennifer says:

    I just wanted to subscribe to The Gang Magazine… I couldn’t find any button or section for it.

    • Dirk says:

      Thanks Jennifer–reply to this comment, and just below the turquoise ‘Post Comment’ are two boxes to check to be notified for new posts and follow-up comments. I think that will do it–but I’ll also ask out site manager.

      Thanks for asking!

    • Emily Olson says:

      Hi Jennifer! Do you see a place to Subscribe on the right side of the screen? I just added a widget for you!

  14. Caroline S says:

    I have a friend who’s been kinda depressed lately but won’t show anyone. I’m trying my best to make her feel happy and accepted, but I also don’t want her to feel like she needs my help. Advice?

    • Dirk says:

      Hi Caroline, thanks for your note and thanks for asking, you’re very thoughtful. It’s hard to give specific advice since I don’t know the specifics (and even then i might not know!!), but generally speaking, I’d say this: it’s clear you love & care for your friend; be sure she comprehends your friendship. Two good ways to do so are to ‘be there for her, and listen to her.’ You do not have to have all the answers. Presence is friendship. If someone is in grief, sometimes the best thing you can do is just sit and cry with them.

      If she will speak, listen.

      Also, anything you & she could do that would get her to be ‘contributing to someone else’s well-being’ would likely be helpful. Visit grandparents or seniors in a home, clean up kitchen for parents, help somebody. :}

  15. Michelle Dinorah says:

    I think this is just what I needed. I currently live in Chicago where its super cold and super gloomy this time of year and I’ve just been in this funk , not to mention that current life issues have also put me in this state but this article along with Nikki youtube videos has inspired me to do something about my funk and begin creating my own happiness. Thank you so much for this article and looking forward to more.

    • Dirk says:

      Thanks Michelle so much for your good words, I know how you feel about super cold, we used to live in Madison WI. Cold is mandatory, but gloomy is optional. :} You’re a giver, I can tell, you’ll be giving some light away and breaking down gloom for others, and surprise– happiness will sneak up on ya. :}

      Everyone i know loves Chicago. Love to you!

  16. Erika Andersen says:

    Those are some really good tips, they helped a lot! I’ve been doing better actually.. 🙂 Small steps are big changes in the long run

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