April 16, 2014

15 Ways to Boost Happiness When You’re Down

happywall Photo Credit: Stephen Boisvert via Flickr CC 

Chatting with a wonderful woman on the weekend about my blog post last week. She said;

“I read your article but I couldn’t read it again because you were saying the opposite of how I felt. You said we need to accept and go into our grief but I just can’t…not at the moment, it’s just too much. You also said happiness is not just about positive thinking, so what do I do?”

Great question. What do we do when we can’t go into our grief at the present moment, but we are struggling with unhappiness?

It seems the topic of grief is touching a nerve and creating our biggest barrier to happiness, most likely because grief can leave us feeling hollow and deeply sad. Experiencing joy and happiness can be tricky, as the activities which used to bring happiness don’t seem to any more.

Accepting and processing our loss can also be more than we can manage. If this is where we are at, we need to be gentle and caring towards ourselves. Trusting that when the time is right we will move out of this phase, and into a space where we feel we can begin to process our loss and sadness.

We can help ourselves make this process easier and smoother.

Living well alongside our grief and moving towards happiness requires two things: being productive and finding meaning in our lives.

Being Productive

Feeling that we can’t change what has happened in our life underpins grief. By being productive and seeing what we can make, produce and achieve, we remind ourselves of our ability to shape the way we experience life. Enjoying a day of productivity allows us to shift our focus off the areas we can't change, to those we can.

Finding Meaning

Adding value to other people’s lives, adds meaning to ours.

Dealing with my sadness after my Dad died, I took up knitting. I knitted a blanket for one of the women who received surgery at Dr Catherine Hamlin’s Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. As I knitted the blanket I was able to focus on someone other than myself and my own sadness. Allowing me to find more purpose and peace, I was then able to build into happiness.

Being stuck in grief and feeling like our life is out of our control is not pleasant and is disempowering. Finding ways to harness our own power and to remind ourselves of our ability and resilience, is the way forward. So how do we do this?


By engaging in activities that are challenging, allow us to see results, and provide us with the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, we will begin to rediscover joy and happiness.  

Start Today

15 Ways to Boost Your Happiness 

Try some of these ideas this week or come up with your own:


1. Assist a family member or friend in a practical way

2. Try something arty- painting, crocheting, drawing, writing poems

3. Bake or cook a new recipe

4. Make a gift or a card for someone

5. Join a new social club/group

6. Say yes to an activity you would normally say no to

7. Knit for a charity

8. Set a goal and achieve it e.g.) Jog 1km a day, meditate for 10 mins a day

9. Watch an inspiring documentary

10. Sign up to a night time class or weekend workshop

11. Sign up to volunteer for a charity e.g.) Daffodil Day

12. Help a stranger in your travels

13. Expand you mind and read a book on a topic you know nothing about

14. Clean out your wardrobes and donate unwanted items to a charity

15. Re-vamp a section of your garden and plant something new


Have fun as you work through some of these ideas and let me know how you go.

Did you find this post helpful? Leave a comment below, send this link to a friend, or sign up to be part of the hope inspired community.

xxx Jess xxx


  1. I love this. It can be so difficult when you're in that stage where you can't find happiness in things you previously enjoyed, but are not ready to process the grief you are experiencing. I've also always found that doing things for other people in times of hardship can be really rewarding and like you said, shift the focus from yourself for that time. I guess it really is about self awareness and self care. Thanks for this post =o)

  2. Thanks Samantha. I think we all go through this stage at one time or another, and knowing it is normal and that we will come through the other side is half the battle. I totally agree with you that doing things for others is a crucial part of this stage. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Have a great week.