3 Ways to Be Happier, Even When Life Is Hard

I know that the holidays are typically associated with happiness and love, but the truth is, that’s not always the case.  Whether you’re facing financial issues, conflicts with family or friends (especially after an election year), a death in the family, or any other hardship, you might just not be feeling all that jolly this year.

And heck, while we’re talking about hard things, maybe it’s all the crappy stuff about cops in the news that’s getting you down.

Whatever it is, I get it.  It’s sucky to be in a season where you want so badly to be happy and you’re just… not.

So if this sounds like you in any way, I want to help you out.

How To Be Happy, Even When Life Is Hard

Recognize what you have to be grateful for.

And here’s an important little secret about being happier: the secret ingredient behind happiness is really gratitude.

You might not think there’s much to be grateful for when you’re going through hard times, but there’s probably more than you realize.

For instance, you can be grateful for:

  • That ginormous pile of laundry you have to get done, because it means you have clothes to wear.
  • The dirty dishes in the sink, because it means you’ve had food to eat.
  • The house to clean, because it means there’s a roof over your head.
  • Waking up to a spouse who has stolen your sheets, because it means you aren’t sleeping alone.
  • Having to sleep alone during night shifts, because it means you get the bed to yourself (wahoo!)
  • The fact that you’re reading this right now, because it means you were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn to read (and you have your sight!)
  • The strong-willed child who’s fighting you on every. single. thing. Because that stubbornness may just come in handy one day (and may even change the world.)

I will admit, however, that there are times when gratitude just seems like far too big a task to manage.  Those are the hours (or days) when I’d prefer to grumble and complain and moan about how unfair life is.

Those days, I just have to take it a step at a time… and sometimes have to just move on to the next steps, then come back to this and try to feel more grateful.


Take care of yourself.

When I feel lousy, my first response is usually to eat junk food, hang out in my pajamas more, and generally get into unhealthy habits… and every time, without fail, this makes me feel worse.

When you’re going through tough times, it’s important to take care of yourself.

This includes:

  • Eating right (or as well as you can)
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting a little light exercise in (even a 10 minute walk can do wonders!)
  • Doing the little things that make you happy

Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with occasionally stress eating, or spending all day on the couch once in a while.  Just do so in moderation, and don’t make it a habit.

Also, allow yourself to slow down a little.  Sometimes the world we live in places a lot of pressure on us to go-go-go, but once in a while, it’s good for you to take it slow.

Maybe for you, that looks like taking the time to look at the stars or watch the sunset.  Maybe it’s taking a bath or a shower.  Maybe it’s coloring with your kids, or playing with play-dough.

You can even do mindfulness exercises, like meditation.  Or maybe you could have a social media fast, and avoid Facebook for a week.

Whatever it is, find a way to recenter yourself and be happier.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with caring for yourself and taking it slow.


Be the light for someone else.

One of the best things you can do to be happier in the face of trials is to do something nice for someone else.

Not only does this put your own situation in perspective (especially if you’re a catastrophizer like myself), but it also helps you to remember that this season of your life will eventually pass.  Because when you see others in hard situations, it may remind you of something you’ve dealt with in the past, which will help you remember you made it through that alive – and are probably better for it!

It also helps you feel better when you serve others because it just makes you feel like a more likeable person.  Everyone wants to feel liked 🙂

Remember that helping others doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice.  Even just calling a friend to chat for a few minutes or baking cookies for a coworker can make a huge difference in their day.

If you’re having trouble seeing the good in the world, the best way to change that is to be the good in the world.


The reason I write this is because, in a few days, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday all about gratitude and giving thanks for the things you have.  I hope that, if you’re struggling right now, these tips will help you to feel more in that spirit.

What makes you happy?

I love this <3 it's so timely.  I've been having a hard time since my grandma passed, and this is just a good reminder, especially about taking care of myself <3 that's one thing that definitely gets pushed to the wayside usually.  Thanks for pinning <3

About The Author


I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.