Health & Wellness Articles

Come On, Get Happy!

Let Go of Negativity and Increase Your Happiness Set Point

This morning I looked out my kitchen window at the pouring rain, and thought, "Oh good, this rain will really help the grass grow." 
My husband entered the room, and with disgust lamented, "What a miserable day!"
Later today, while coaching a client, she complained, "I can't ever get anything done.  My daughter calls me three or four times a day to tell me such unimportant things." 
"Wow," I replied, "How nice that you and your daughter are so close."
How do you approach your world?  Most of the time, I look for and see the positive side of things.  I'm always searching for the silver lining in life's challenging events.
Many of my friends feel that I am an optimistic and happy person by nature. While I am sure that both nature and nurture have something to do with my disposition, the more I learn about the science of happiness, the more I realize that I have intentionally fostered these feelings in many of my actions.
All of us want to be happy, but few realize how much that feeling is within our control.  We think our circumstances dictate our personal level of happiness.  This often sets us up for a frustrating approach to life.  We are constantly striving for the things that we believe will make us happy: a new job, a bigger home, a better body, or a different mate.  If we achieve those things we believe will make us happy, often the feeling is not sustained.  All the positive emotions that come along with accomplishing such goals tend to fade quickly as life returns to routine, or new objects soon become old.
Historically, most psychologists were pessimistic about the notion of permanently increasing happiness.  It was believed to be inherited and extremely stable over the course of people's lives, and that circumstances had the ability to shift happiness in one direction or another, but only temporarily.
So for the individual who considers himself or herself a very happy person, personal tragedy will temporarily cause unhappiness.  But with time, that person learns to adjust to the new reality, and eventually will call themselves very happy again.
We all know someone who seems melancholic all the time, blaming their outlook on a lack of a spouse, or lousy job, for example.  Then they find their dream mate and marry, or land the fantastic new job.  Rather than living happily ever after, within a small time frame, they are melancholic once again.  The reason has changed, but the temperament hasn't.
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen Goldman has bachelor's and master's degrees in health and physical education. An AFAA-certified personal trainer and certified wellness coach, she is also the founder EnerG Coaching, LLC. Through one-on-one and group sessions, Ellen helps individuals make positive lifestyle changes, lose weight, manage stress and attain work-life balance. Visit her at

Member Comments

  • This is such a terrific article. Occasionally I see an article in the media pooh poohing the pursuit of happiness on the grounds that it is selfish. This essay makes it clear of the costs to NOT pursuing it:

    Unchecked negativity leads to a host of emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. Those feelings can lead to stomach disorders, increased blood pressure, tight muscles, tension headaches, and a multitude of physical sensations most would prefer to avoid. Chronic negativity can make us sick!
    - 11/10/2014 7:57:09 AM
    This article's a definite "keeper"! Thank you, Ms. Goodman, for some creative, constructive, and entirely feasible approaches and steps we can take toward feeling a little better all the time. You obviously put a great deal of time, effort, and reflection - not to mention research! - into your thoughts. - 8/4/2014 7:36:45 PM
  • I usually don't give it much thought. Perhaps I should. - 12/23/2013 5:43:08 AM
  • I am naturally a very positive personm however, I fight depression some days and today I think I need to re read this article.

    Sometimes life just gets you down, depressed, defeated, disillusioned and disappointed.

    Today, I will get up and try again. I will have faith, I will believe and I will hope . , ,
    - 12/15/2013 11:20:04 AM
  • This is a philosophy I believe in and one that I have found to be TRUE in PRACTICE. - 12/14/2013 11:22:34 PM
  • I have always struggled with negative thoughts, there have been months at a time I would suffer with these thoughts, and just loose myself in this depression. Most of these thoughts would be over things I could not control, and never would be able too. It had gotten to the point were I took meds to handle this depression.. I took them for a year, and thought they were helping.. some months past and I felt they weren't really doing anything, I had had some brief days that I felt like I was falling back into that vicious circle, but never went fully back into it. I stopped taking the meds, and have been free of them for a good six months now. I let my thoughts heal me, by staying away from those things that trigger the negative thoughts. Some days are better than others, but like this healthy lifestyle, you always have the next day to get back on track. - 12/14/2013 2:21:04 PM
  • This idea was an AHA!! moment for me several years ago, when I realized that I brooded for days about negative feedback, but when someone praised something I'd done, I negated it and thought to myself they were just being nice... they caught me on a good day.... etc. I still tend to brood about imagined slights, but when I realize what I'm doing, I stop and refocus on the good things in my life.

    Thanks for writing about this. I've trained myself to find the good in others and have a positive outlook; my husband's first reaction to almost anything is negative. We now joke about that. His pessimism is inborn, I believe (for one thing, he's an engineer and trained to look for flaws), but he's easily taken out of that mood. - 10/26/2013 11:13:43 AM
  • Good article! I have recently discovered Steve Backlund's books: Possessing Joy; Let's Just Laugh at That; Declarations; and more. He is the most positive author I have ever run across! - 10/26/2013 9:58:17 AM
  • I love this article! So very true! - 10/26/2013 8:33:43 AM
    One of the best articles I have ever read on SP !!
    thank you so much to offer such valuable materials !! - 8/30/2013 11:25:12 AM
  • This is, and has been for a long time, unquestionablly been my philosophy on life; it keeps me happy and healthy. I believe in making the best of every opportunity, never looking back, avoiding nostalgia, sentimentality and living in the past, living without regrets and being content with what you have. - 8/30/2013 2:35:03 AM
  • Thank you for making articles like this available. There is always something amazing to discover on this website, not only for losing weight, but finding happiness in general. Keep up the amazing work!!!!! - 8/29/2013 7:27:15 PM
  • In my circle of friends, there are 1 or 2 who are mostly negative. They seem to take great joy and satisfaction about pointing out other people's failures, bad decisions, etc. So, I try to limit the amount of time I spend with them, or try to see them in a group situation instead of one-on-one time.

    Also in that same group of friends is a woman who was recently widowed after her husband suffered for many years with a debilitating illness, and she has significant health problems. Instead of being a Negative Nellie, she is one of the most upbeat, happy, outgoing people I know - even when facing her husband's suffering and inevitable death. She had her bad moments, but was and still is, very positive. This friend isn't afraid to try a new activity - she recently went kayaking for the first time at age 65 and loved it. When I'm with her, I automatically feel happier - so I try to spend more time with her than the others. - 8/29/2013 1:08:16 PM
  • I loved this article! - 8/29/2013 12:26:29 PM
  • This is such a good article. I am saving this. - 7/23/2013 6:57:50 PM

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