How to be Happy… Even when you’re not.

July 25, 2017

A common compliment I’m given is how optimistic and happy I am.  I love reading your messages because they’re like little love notes of encouragement that have helped keep me moving forward some days.  While I love that you guys see me as a source of happiness, and I’m so grateful to have spread joy, I also feel very guilty because happiness is something that can easily elude me.

I’m your classic optimist for sure and it takes quite a bit to get me down.  But when life becomes overwhelming or when there’s just too much chaos, I become the biggest grump you’ve ever seen.  I yell at my kids, I pick fights with Brian, and e.v.e.r.y little thing just stresses me out.  When I get to that place of worry and anxiety it’s really hard for me to snap back and I feel like this big rain cloud is hanging over me.  And I wouldn’t say it’s depression, just the ups and downs of a normal life.  Depression is a monster and I don’t want anyone to think that a few self-help books could ever clear it up.  Over the years though, I’ve found several things that have helped me to remain in that state of happiness and optimism and things I need to do daily to keep me there.  I wanted to share those with you, mostly as a reminder for myself because this summer has been over the top stressful!  Anyone else?!

5 ways to be happy, even when you’re not:

1. Learn to navigate social media.  One of the biggest happiness sucks for me is when I start comparing my life to others.  “I don’t have enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m not enough.”  Comparison is truly the joy thief and it affects all of us in ways it didn’t before because of social media.  Social media can be used for so much good, we just need to learn how to navigate it in a way that makes it a positive experience.  I like to avoid feeds that leave me feeling like I need to be doing more.  Because the truth is, I’m doing enough.  And so are you.  Start paying attention to who agitates you on social media, who makes you feel like you’re not enough or that you need more of this or that.  Just unfollow them and start following people who inspire you.  Who fulfill you!  Who make you feel good and happy and who bring that joy into your life!  

2.  Show and share gratitude.  To everyone!!  To the mail man for bringing you your new insta-pot!  To the lady at the gym who let you through even though you couldn’t find your card!  To the car who didn’t honk at you when the light turned green and you didn’t go because you were busy breaking up a fight in the back seat.  Start noticing all those blessings and tender mercies the Lord is showing you and note them in your mind.  You’ll be surprised to find that you’re not alone in the least.  And as you start showing gratitude for the little mercies in your life, it’ll be so much easier to share it!!  When I’m in a funk, Savy and I will bake muffins or cookies and we’ll spend the morning delivering baked goods to neighbors and friends.  Sometimes a little bit of service and gratitude is all you need to pull yourself up and remember that you’re blessed beyond measure.

3. Education!  This is something I have really been working on.  Over the years I’ve just felt like my kids have sucked all the smart words and thoughts and knowledge from my brain.  Anyone else?!  Reading right now just doesn’t do it for me, I fall asleep too easily and audio books are too hard for me to pay attention to.  I recently started listening to Podcasts and they’ve changed my life!  I feel so inspired after listening to certain channels and it’s something I can do while lifting weights at the gym or folding laundry, or doing the dishes, or making dinner… I mean the list goes on and on!  Some are quick 10-20 minute episodes and others are a little bit longer but there are a million different podcasts to follow.  There are ones about motherhood, about faith, ones about eating healthy and exercise, or politics!  2 of my favorites right now are Pursuit with Purpose and Bold New Mom.  If you’re interested, I’ll compile a list of favorites just let me know!

4. Simplify and stay organized.  This is a huge one for me because it’s been so easy to live in this never ending state of chaos since the twins.  I’ve been really working on simplifying our lives, just de-junking and de-cluttering and getting rid of things we really don’t need.  As our home becomes more organized I literally feel this weight lift off my chest!  My husband doesn’t understand why I need the hooks changed in the mudroom.  Right now they are pretty much flat and nothing hangs on them.  So all day long I’m yelling at the kids to hang up their jackets or their backpacks and they’re just falling off the hooks and I’m tripping over a mess of a mudroom all day.  And it AGITATES ME!!!!!!  And all I need to do is change the hooks!!  Figure out your hooks and FIX THEM!!!!  Ahh, I can breathe.  I’m so happy we talked about this. 

5. Consciously choose to be happy.  And I know it sounds silly because who would choose to be unhappy?  But if I don’t make a conscious effort to choose happiness it doesn’t happen.  And it’s so much easier to yell at the kids for making messes, or to get annoyed that it’s taken 25 minutes to put on their shoes than it is to have patience and show love and just be happy throughout the process.  I go to bed each night and have a little conversation with the good Lord upstairs and plead to have that light and optimism during my day.  Even people that are naturally happy, need to choose happiness.

Life is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.  It’s not like all of a sudden we just obtain happiness.  Or that all of a sudden our kids are obedient, our homes are clean and organized or we’re educated enough.  It’s a constant battle to keep progressing and to be improving and while I didn’t mean for this post to become spiritual, I do believe that the Lord gives us trials and puts obstacles in our path to test our patience and to help us realize we don’t know it all.  And as I’ve tried really hard to keep those five things in check, I just find I’m able to live a happier life.  My happiness is intentional and I work hard to have it.  With that said, I want to make it very clear that I’m not always happy.  And even when I’m trying to be intentional, I’m often still annoyed with my kids, unhappy I’m cleaning up messes all day and it’s more than okay to not have dinner on the table when your husband gets home.  

It’s OKAY to not be okay.  But.  When you’re ready to make you’re move, start purging those things and people from your life you don’t need, that bring you down and make you feel like you’re not enough.  And start learning and spending time and energy on people who inspire you, who love you and who make you feel valuable.  Because you are. 

Are there things you do in your life that help you stay optimistic?  Have you noticed anything in particular that sucks you dry?  I’d love to hear some of your stories, advise or thoughts!

Shirt: Called To Surf | LipSense: Fusica

  • Amanda

    I have been loving podcasts as well lately! I also love the book “Only Love Today” by Rachel Stafford. It has very short inspirational messages to read about living in the moment and choosing love in your relationships. Great post, I love following your social media and it’s inspirational for me. And another thing, you actually gave us 6 ways to be happy in this post, not 5. 😉

  • Tess

    I love that you did two #4’s it’s like you gave a secret 6th without even knowing 🙂 Also, thank you for the podcast recommendation, I think that’s exactly what I need right now! Something positive to listen to. Would love to hear other suggestions on that. Thanks!

    • Abby Smith

      hahahah, I didn’t even see that!!!

      • Tess

        Ha! I figured 🙂

      • Cleveland Jones

        Hi Abby I’ve been trying to get in contact with you. I can get you verified on both Facebook & Instagram

  • Allie Bradshaw

    I have really loved bold new mom podcasts. I found her and started at the beginning of her podcasts. Just like your said it’s a choice. It really really is. All of our thoughts are a choice and that where are feeling and emotions come from and Ultimately our actions. I also love that she talks about space or time. Sometimes we need that space or time to be grumpy. (Especially for kids) Or to not be happy but we call it what it is and tell yourself I’m choosing to be unhappy right now and that’s okay. Then work on your thoughts. And she talks all about how as well. It’s been super life changing for me and also how talk and teach my kids. Instead of asking them to stop crying or telling them they should feel a different way or tell them to change their attitude or telling them to just be happy… I allow them the opportunity to feel what they are feeling and let them know it’s okay but when they are ready to be happy let’s work on it. Then there are boundaries of tantrums and such but… It’s seriously soon good. Seems like common sense as I’m writing this but I have a few seriously hard kids and this has really helped me.

  • Elizabeth Evola

    Your post is right on! I make myself choose happiness most days. When it really comes down to it, all our kids want is a happy loving mom and all we want is happy healthy kids! You are truely the only blogger I enjoy bc you just keep life real. Thanks for the great content!

  • Hilary White

    I made the goal in January to sort through allllllllllll my photos since getting married and having kids.(only 5 years except I have a million pictures) I just started yesterday and I have been laughing and laughing. They have lifted my spirits. In the midst of our chaos it has been such a blessing to see the happiness and joy in our lives that I didn’t see because I was tired or overwhelmed or waddling with a huge baby belly. I am super excited to put my pictures into books so I can easily go back and look when I need a pick me up. A reminder that life is crazy and really we are doing pretty good.

  • Court

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this post. SERIOUSLY what I needed today. Loved your comment about how sadness is just part of the up and downs of life. I think sometimes I try to blame myself for feeling sad or label my feelings with a mental illness, but it’s just part of my heavenly father’s plan for me. So many times I look back and realize how many opportunities I would have missed if I hadn’t begun with hardship. Trials lead to triumph. Also the social media comment is a great idea. I am in high school and there are so many girls that I just wish I could be like in certain ways. While some of them are good examples and leave me feeling motivated to be the best version of me, I often find myself double tapping posts out of envy and feeling like I’m not good enough. I think unfollowing people is a great idea. Thanks for this post, you always continue to put a smile on my face!

  • Leah Cherise

    This totally speaks to me right now. My husband and I have walked through some challenges and major disappointments over the past couple of years, and I realized recently that more often than not, I was in a very low, somber mood, quite atypical of my usual cheerful self. I saw how this often made me sour toward my husband and also feel his sourness in return. We are both extremely amiable, so this was very unusual. I love all of your suggestions for getting out of that funk, especially the one about the attitude of gratitude. When I choose to recount all the blessings from God that I’m thankful for, the heaviness really melts away, and the way I respond to people changes.
    Also, this is slightly off topic, but I also discovered recently that when I found myself bumping with my husband over unnecessary things, things changed the instant I sat down with him one night and apologized for some wrongs I had done to him or just some ways I had disrespected him. Literally right then something broke in the atmosphere between us, and we were immediately more patient and kind with each other from then on. Since relational discord can be stressful and a real downer, I thought I would throw that personal example out there.

  • Kayla Royer

    Ahhh this post was so fun and something i try so hard to do! I have a sister in law who is so grumpy 24/7 and she literally drains the happiness from me when im around her. I have to work extra hard to not let her bring me down! Do you have some people in your life that are like that, and you cant avoid them forever, because family. Ya know! Haha please post a podcast list! I need knew ones to try!

  • Katie

    Thank you for this blog. I needed it. Especially lately. I needed to hear that no matter what happens, I have to choose to be happy in all situations. Regardless of how I feel. Look to Jesus and give Him all that I have im order to make room for all that He is. That means every burden, every guilt, every emotion, every hurt, and every day. ♡

  • Lauren Thomen

    In the past few years I found out my husband had an affair, I became homeless, I lost my daughter, I was taken hostage, and had to start my life over with absolutely nothing in a completely new place. Navigating social media can be so trying on my heart. People take the little things for granted so often. I’m still dealing with PTSD and taking it one day at a time, but when I feel depressed I try to stop and breathe. Then I think about the little blessings in my life, like my bed and my phone. Cleaning and praying also helps. Thank you for always keeping it real, Abby ❤

  • Lisa Fonseca

    I love this! All of it! I’ve always tried to choose happiness in life. It’s not easy especially when things are hard. My dad was killed in an accident 10 months ago, and it’s been the hardest 10 months. But everyday I can either choose to be happy or choose to be miserable and sad. Don’t get me wrong I am devistated and oh so sad. I cry. A LOT 🙂 and that’s ok. I love that you said it’s ok to not be ok. But ultimately I have to remember that life is so short. Why waste it being unhappy…even when you’re sad. Choose happiness. Throw out the negative. Don’t stress about things you can’t change this very second. Our Heavenly Father loves us. He has a plan. And it’s a good one!!

  • Katlyn Huff

    Abby this is so great! Thank you so much for sharing. I will agree it’s so easy to fall into the pit of unhappiness when one thing after another keeps happebing. I would consider myself a naturally joyful person (well it’s the Lord working in me) but with I do get overwhelmed. As an Army wife and first time mama (hoping for round 2 soon!), I am so thankful for small moments when I lose the joy where the Holy Spirit steps in to calmly remind me to find the joy. I try to listen more for those moments as I get older. I also dont check social media of any type on Sundays because it keeps me in check. I’ve seen such an improvement in my overall happiness and content state that doing this. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Jordan

    💙Comparison is a burglar! Haha, but REALLY! I need a daily reminder that I do what makes me happy, even if it’s not what others choose.

  • Gretchen

    ❤️ thank you for the podcast recommendations! We’ve had alot going on lately; our house burned down and all of our things went along with it. Scariest thing I’ve ever experienced, BUT the outpouring of love and kindness and generosity from our friends and family gave us so much to be grateful for. Plus, looking at the smiling face on our almost 4 month old makes it difficult to be sad. So choosing happiness has been my choice too. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you for being such an inspiring light for this mama!

    • Abby

      YOUR HOUSE BURNT DOWN??? Oh my goodness gracious, that is awful!!! I’m so so sorry!!! It definitely puts things into perspective. Praying for you and your sweet family, I can’t imagine the grief you’re going through losing all your precious things and memories you’ve worked so hard for.

  • Abby, you are such a light!! You are one of those people you mentioned that I love following because you bring such joy! And yes to a podcast list! 🙂

    • Abby

      Aw, thank you so much. That means a lot

  • Shirley Jacob Washenko

    ❤️❤️❤️ Love and miss you. And I love this message! Thank you!

  • Alison

    I LOVE that you posted this ❤❤ I have 4 young kids also, and this summer has been really though! Like really exactly what you said is 100% true for me too….like scary true. I run a business from home that takes A LOT of time….i mean there’s no way around the time is takes to see all the things 😂…and it just compounds with all the other SAHM mom stresses. I know I take on more than I can handle, but I for some reason i find it hard to keep it balanced! I have a hard time telling people NO. I should probably get better at that. I haven’t really worked out in 3 weeks because I’ve been such a crazy person.
    PRIORITIES….really I guess I just need to re-evaulate my priorities. So in short, you aren’t alone 😘

  • Cathy Jeppsen

    Thanks for this! Your words are just what I needed to hear today!

  • Calynn Kelly

    Thanks for the podcast recommendations. I follow a couple and they help my mood but I am desperate for more. Keep up the good work. I love following your instastories because they look a lot like mine and it reminds me that I am not alone in this mom thing!

  • Noel Seegrist

    I love this and I feel like you are so in tune with what God is needing his girls to hear. I have been praying a lot and the same message has been given to me from friends, bloggers, LDS talks and conferences. There are a few things I am reminding myself of lately…#1 happy people aren’t happy because they don’t have trials, it is because they choose to be happy despite them. #2 My worth is not determined by my looks or what I have–I have so much more to offer #3 I need to mind my own business. What that means for me is to unplug with online perceptions and tune into reality and the people in my life. I don’t need to know what is going on in everyone’s lives all the time. Anyways! Loved this post, love you. 😘

    • Noel Seegrist

      Also thanks for the podcast recommendation…great advice!