Besides going through the gazillion pictures I took on my cruise and then on my recent trip to Nashville, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. What is happiness really? Why are some people seemingly happy all the time and some people never happy? How do you know if you’re really happy? What do you do if you’re not?

In general, I’m a pretty happy person most of the time. But this wasn’t always the case; I’ve had periods of depression where I really just wanted to give up. And while I haven’t slipped into depression, stress has been creeping into my life like a fog I can’t keep out. Not going to share details here, but times are tough right now and the situation is not going to improve anytime soon.

When you’re going through a hard time, you have to work at being happy. So in an effort to do that, this morning after my breakfast I kissed my man goodbye (while feeling grateful to have such a wonderful partner in life), and headed to the park for a run. It’s been a while since I’ve gone for a run – somehow I just got out of the habit without realizing how long it had been – and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.

Well, it went awesome. It felt so good to be running outside in the fresh air, through the trees, hearing the birds and just being out in nature. I think gratitude is a major component in happiness and running in the park I felt grateful for the ability to run outside, something not everyone can do. I finished feeling strong and grateful that I hadn’t gotten as out of shape as I thought. And grateful that I had found a training program that was challenging but doable.


My happy place

Running through the park actually covered four things on this list of ways to jumpstart your happiness. I got exercise while savoring life’s joys, giving thanks for the ability to run outside, and definitely hit that state of “flow.”

Call me crazy but I think the universe sends signs to help us along, if we’re paying attention. In the same day that happiness was on my mind I came across the picture at the beginning of this post and felt compelled to share it, found a doable running training program, found the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin (can’t wait to read it!) and this post by Karen at One Salty Kiss, which reminded me of the importance of gratitude. It’s like happiness was just jumping up and down, waving its arms yelling “Hey, don’t forget about me! I’m right here!” Well okay, universe, I’m paying attention.

Remembering to be thankful for even the smallest blessings can make even the biggest problems easier to get through. We all have something to be grateful for. What are you thankful for? What is your strategy for getting through stressful times?