We are not going to go through qualifiers here. If you feel like life is currently a mess, then it is. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have it as bad as someone else. It doesn’t matter if you have been blessed in so many ways. You get to define your mess and nobody else gets to qualify it for you.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s learn how to be happy and grateful in the middle of our mess.

Here are my top 5 tips for being happy in life right where you are.

1. Honor and do not disqualify your mess.

“It could always be worse.” Well, yes- it could be worse. Most likely if you are reading this on a smart device with access to the internet, it could be a lot worse. But that is not honoring your current situation.

Listen, we all have stuff to deal with. We all have things that are better and  worse off than others. It does you no good to pretend that just because your mess is not as extreme as someone else’s, it is not real and valid.

2. Feel your feelings.

Feel your feelings, just don’t let them be the boss of you. You are allowed to be sad, mad, frustrated and even not like your current situation. Nope, it does not matter if it could be worse. Your feelings do not need a qualifier. Just don’t get caught up in them.

Spend some time with your feelings, talk about them or journal, work them out while doing an art project or while you take a walk. Then let them know that they are allowed to be felt, but they can not drive your behavior.

I like the analogy of thinking of your feelings as a toddler in your car. They are allowed to sit in the back, safely buckled in your “car of life”. Sometimes, they can be supersweet and sometimes they lose a grip, but one thing is always constant. You are not going to let them drive, no matter how much you love them.

3. Start a daily gratitude list.

I know that gratitude is a popular topic these days, but it is for a good reason! Gratitude is an important part of our mental and emotional well being. It truly helps you love what you spend time being grateful for. Practice long enough and all of a sudden, you honestly love your life.

Whatever we focus on is what we will notice. When we know that we will have to list three things that we are grateful for each day, we start to look for things to be grateful for instead of the things that annoyed us that day.

The smaller the better. Yup! You heard that right. Keep your eye on the small things.

  • Finding a parking spot next to the cart corral.

  • A genuine smile from your teen.

  • A snuggle session with your cat.

  • Your hubby running to the store for you.

  • Sunshine for your afternoon walk.

  • Simply that fact that you woke up this morning.

I have found that when you are starting this practice, either make your list in the evening or keep a note on your phone when you think of something. Often these things slip our mind and we can be tricked into thinking we don’t have anything to be grateful for.

Want a gratitude journal of your own? Remember that there is a space for gratitude in the daily journals and most of our planners!

4. Remind yourself that your situation does not determine your value.

Whether you are in a situation because you screwed something up or through no fault of your own, this mess does not define your worth. You are worthy of love, happiness, joy and financial success no matter what mess you are in right now.

Read those two sentences again. They are important. Please, if you struggle with feelings of worth, read them over and over. Sometimes it is that simple.

You are worthy. This situation does not define you or your worth.

5. Decide how you can be happy if your situation never changes.

I always say that we can make another choice, that we can change direction, that “this” is temporary. But what if it’s not or what if “temporary” actually means years?

Maybe you are in a terrible job situation, your health is subpar, you are in deep debt. How will you still find joy in your life?

If your heath is robbing you of your favorite sport, maybe you will take up painting. If you are in a terrible job, maybe you will start finding one positive thing to say about a co-worker per day. If you are in deep debt, maybe you will find small ways to start paying it off and look at free entertainment choices like watching birds in your backyard.

Just because one part of your life is a mess does not mean you can’t find joy in another part.

During the last thirteen years of dealing with a chronic illness, these five top tips have kept my spirits up. Of course I have hard days. We all have hard days. But when I find myself steering from center, I pull out my trusty five tips and re-center.

Sometimes, these tips are all I focus on. Sometimes I haven’t had to use them for so long that I almost forget what they are. The most important thing for you to remember is that you will need them again.

 Our feelings, life situation and circumstances are always changing. But as long as we have a good set of tools to navigate the crazy waters, we will always make it back to center.