the happiness advantage

Happy International Day Of Happiness! On a day like today, I’m grateful for my innate ability to keep positive and feel the joy in nearly every day. How about you? Be honest with yourself. Are you fuelled by joy or are you held back by an internal force of pessimism?

As an optimist, I always try to find the bright side of any situation. I’m fortunate in that I generally don’t have trouble finding a happy place. That, however, is not so easy for some people. Unfortunately, there are some among us whose brains seem to be programmed to look for the negativity in any given situation. ☹️

When I realized that today (March 20th) is the #InternationalDayOfHappiness, I reread this post and decided to recirculate it because I was so moved by the comment of a (late) friend who had been an avid reader of my blog. In her comment, she said how much she appreciated my words of encouragement and positivity. It’s funny how we can be so influenced by personal words that may have been written so many years before. Our words can be powerful. Use them wisely.


I love art that makes me smile. How can you not smile when you think of sunflowers?

enjoying the ripple effect of the happiness advantage

The Happiness Advantage is the name of a book by Shawn Achor, who teaches Positive Psychology at Harvard University. Achor tells us that happiness is a work ethic, and that happiness will increase the odds of our being successful in our life and career. Achor says we actually have to train our brains to be happy.

By sharing some tips I’ve learned from life experience and via happiness experts like Shawn Anchor I hope to help those who have difficulty focusing on the positive things in life. Learning the advantages of being happy can not only change, but lengthen your life. Here are some tips to get you on your way:

1) Dedicate a notebook to be your “Gratitude Journal” and every day, write down three things that you are grateful for. Try to make them different each day, to broaden the way you interpret your life. Having gratitude gives you the attitude to put a smile on your face and the face of others.

A Personal Note: When I was alone, keeping a gratitude journal saved my sanity and increased my ability to feel gratitude. Now that I am in a wonderful relationship, my husband and I take time every night to share our day’s highlights during pillow talks. Upping your ability to express gratitude can really increase your ability to be consumed by positivity and happiness.

2) Double your chances of increased happiness by writing for two minutes each day about something that made you happy over the past 24 hours. Be specific and focus on the positive!

3) Exercise or do something fun and active for 15 minutes each day. Exercise releases serotonin in our bodies and makes us feel happy. But so can engaging in activities that push our happy button such as taking a walk in nature, petting your cat, or even eating a piece of artisan dark chocolate.

4) Add three smiles to your day by smiling at three people over the course of the day and watch the ripple effect take place.


I love this wonderful message of kindness that my dental hygienist had up on her wall. Give the gift of a smile to someone today.

5) Recharge your happiness battery through meaningful social connections. Take a moment to connect with someone who could use a friend or some encouragement. Praise the people who have impacted your life in a positive way. For the most personal impact, visit someone special or pick up the phone to let them know you care. Even sending an e-mail can touch a heart. And even better, send a personalized card for an enduring impact. Some of us still really appreciate the impact of just the right greeting card.

6) Mediate for at least two minutes every morning, focusing on deeply breathing in and out. This is a powerful tool to help you focus on the task at hand or what you need to accomplish that day.

Try these tips and see if you can get the happiness advantage to work for you. And please let me know how you make out and if you’ve read Achor’s book or another great book on the art of happiness. We can never get too much happiness in our lives!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

47 Responses

  1. Pat says:

    Some great ideas on how to find one’s happiness and maintain it. Once you discover what makes you tick makes it easier for everyone else in your bubble to share that feeling and helps cement our different relationships. Choosing to be grateful and staying positive is a daily goal for thriving. Thanks Doreen for reminding us and sharing.

    • Thank you SO much for sharing that reflection, Pat. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Once we know what makes us happy, it’s so much easier to find the right people to help us live our happiness to the highest possible intensity. And when we know what makes someone else tick, it’s much easier to accelerate their happiness as well.

  2. Christine says:

    I smile and say hello to people all the time. Mostly,they give me a genuine smile back. Some look baffled and are probably wondering if they’ve forgotten who I am. On rare occasions, there is no return smile and I feel sad for them. I believe, most people are innately kind and want to be friendly.

    • Hi Christine and thanks so much for your comment. Yes, isn’t it surprising when people don’t return a smile? I know times have changed and many people are apprehensive with strangers, but it’s sad when we are afraid to be friendly with a simple smile.

  3. David says:

    I love these words on Happiness. #4 is a great one ‘smile at three people every day’. If they are men, there’s a 50% chance they will check their fly to if they are exposing their ‘short comings’ as David Niven once said.

  4. Kim says:

    You are right. You can never have enough happiness although I’ve found an abundance of it living with you and I thank you for that and hope I bring as much happiness to you.❤️

    • Thx so much for your comment, Kim. We are so very lucky that we have found such an incredible amount of happiness in our new life together. May that be an encouragement for others our age who are hesitant to open their hearts up to a new love. ❤️

  5. Sherry Perry says:

    The best part of keeping a positive attitude is that it becomes a habit. A habit that helps you find your inner peace. You can recognize people who have achieved this. They’re the ones who you can tell are smiling by their tone of voice and their eyes. Thank God for those people. Have a great day Doreen!

  6. I initially posted this post back in 2014 and just today, reread all the very positive comments and words of encouragement. They brought me joy, and the initial post was so useful to many of my readers that I am choosing to republish it today in honour of International Day of Happiness, March 20. 2023. I hope that those who are new to my site will enjoy the read and the tips on how to increase the happiness factor in your life, or at the very least, help you find ways to cope with the days when you need a lift.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…the allure of Aruban artMy Profile

  7. Beverly says:

    I can’t read enough of your positive posts!

  8. Bindhurani says:

    I am sure to follow the tips. Those are great.
    Bindhurani recently posted…Bells Palsy in Dental Assisting careerMy Profile

  9. Thanks to everyone for your latest comments. We all have our own ways of dealing with adversity, but for me, focusing on the positive is still is preferable to an expression of anger or hostility. Negative emotions rarely produce positive outcomes.
    WizardOfWords recently posted…one major goal for 2014My Profile

  10. Catarina says:

    All the points you make are great, Doreen, and they work.

    It’s essential to accept that the only thing that’s certain in life is uncertainty. We just have to live with it, be kind to ourselves, feel good, be positive and prepared for what to do if worse comes to worse. What’s the point in making ourselves unhappy by worrying about what could go wrong?:-)
    Catarina recently posted…Which economies will grow fastest this year?My Profile

  11. Nice post, This made my day. I can be moody sometimes, but I put a lot of effort to take myself out of this emotional stage.
    Oksana Frewer recently posted…Website Barber – the Occam’s Razor PrincipleMy Profile

  12. I like your post. I love the ripple effect that you mentioned. It makes the world a little nicer.
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…Encore! Encore! Encore!My Profile

  13. I’m not a fan of the happiness movement because it crowds out those other important emotions – sadness and anger. We need to feel, and sometimes express, the range of emotion or we become smiling automatons. Sometimes we’re happy, sometimes we’re not. That’s just human. As Edith Wharton said: “If we stopped trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.”

    • Hi Virginia. I don’t think I responded to your initial comment and reread it today as I was drawn to the post in honour of it being the International Day of Happiness. We all look at coping mechanisms differently. I find that like attracts like, and that when I try and spread joy, it has a beautiful effect on people and in turn, increases my own happiness and joy. I know you’ve been through some rough times in recent years, and I also know you are a strong person. But the main difference is that introverts (like you) tend in internalize things more than extroverts (like me) who have the need to share emotion with just about every breath. ❤️
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Beaches, Butterflies, Beer, and BlissMy Profile

  14. I used to think it was pretty easy to be negative, but the truth is, it’s just as easy to be happy. We just have to decide that that’s what we want.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Do We Remember How To Be Loyal?My Profile

  15. Jason B says:

    I’m all about being positive and optimistic. I will try these tips out.
    Jason B recently posted…What Is A Vision Board?My Profile

  16. Jeri says:

    I’ve admittedly inherited the tendency to focus on the negative from my family. While I do make a conscious effort to focus on expending positive energy, it’s not always as easy said as done. It can seem cliche, but the power of positive thinking really can make a difference.
    Jeri recently posted…Dragon’s Loyalty Award (Random Bio Bits…)My Profile

  17. Wonderful tips! And I hope you don’t mind me adding one…seems that statistics prove that money CAN buy happiness! For those that give it away, that is! I saw a similar talk by TEDX that gave proof that folks who contributed to charitable causes that were meaningful to them,. experienced a greater degree of happiness. It’s the whole “pay if forward” thing. I love that! Great Post!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Where’s The Justice…in NEW!My Profile

    • Indeed, Jacquie. I think we always feel better when we help someone. Whether that be financially, or giving of our time or knowledge. Happiness, and good fortune, are meant for sharing. 🙂 That’s why I always find it disheartening when I come across someone with sizeable financial resources who is not generous. What are they saving it for?
      WizardOfWords recently posted…the happiness advantageMy Profile

  18. Claire says:

    These are such fantastic, inspiring life tips! Saving this post to try them out – I especially love the focus on writing down things that already exist in your life that make you happy, rather than things you are aiming for. Goals and ambitions are great, but day to day contentment with your life as it exists is particularly precious!

  19. I like the list. I am also a positive person and generally happy, but, like Susan, will copy the list for times I find my attitude becoming less positive.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Winter in ManitobaMy Profile

  20. Linda Strange says:

    As Wendy says, not only do you reach out to others, Doreen, you truly seem to learn from your experiences every time, and are more than willing to share what you have learned.
    You are always the one who always has several “work-arounds” to overcome problems people may be experiencing. I can’t say I’ve learned to think outside the box, but I’ve benefited from your abilities!
    I too am blessed with a happy nature, and I’m so grateful.

    • You are indeed blessed with a happy nature, Linda, and I’ve learned much from you about trying to keep a level head when things go awry. In all the years I’ve known you (and that will be 40 years in 2015!) I’ve never seen you lose your temper. You are the Queen of Composure. 🙂
      WizardOfWords recently posted…one major goal for 2014My Profile

  21. Roy Yerex says:

    Great topic. Doreen. I’m looking forward to January 28th – the tv has been running ‘spots’ about 500,000 Canadians suffer with mental illness … in silence – and, the spots add, “let’s talk about it.”

    I’m fprtunate to be a ‘naturally’ happy, positive person – so I look ‘out’ at the world in a very solar way as do you. I’ve dared to comment, occasionally to people in the grips of sadness in similar terms as your article.

    I’m hoping that the “let’s talk about it” government campaign will giver a chance to increase my knowledge base. I hope to find inroads into knowledge as to whether or not “spreading the word” … espousing yours, and my, outlook on being happy is the way to bring a beam of sunshine into the life of … ‘the sad ones.’

    God knows their sadness is for real … and any hand reached out to relieve their sadness is a good one.

    Here’s to January 28th, Doreen – I hope the “let’s talk” campaign is more than TV ‘spots.’

    • Thanks for your comment, Roy. It’s always great to hear from you.

      Yes, I think that positive vibrations and happiness are definitely contagious, and we can help others by reaching out, caring, and setting a positive and real example. Cheers, and all the best for 2014.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…the happiness advantageMy Profile

  22. Wendy Peck says:

    Doreen: I will never waste a minute worrying about whether you can handle anything that comes along in your life. You have a rough weekend, and your impulse, your remedy, is, not to seek comfort or pity, but to give a lift to all those who read your blog. Forget the tips. What you did is the very definition of how to be happy. (Actually, don’t forget the tips — they are great. Just beside the point. 🙂 )

  23. Phoenix says:

    Awesome post, Doreen! Thanks for sharing these wonderful suggestions for all. Happiness is an inside job! 😉 <3
    Phoenix recently posted…Living HealedMy Profile

    • I agree with you, Esther, that some of us are predisposed to be happy. i.e. it’s just in our nature. But others may be need help and guidance, and through that, can adapt the habits and attitude of happy people. It really IS contagious!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…the happiness advantageMy Profile

  24. Harry Hobbs says:

    Good advice as always Doreen. It seems unfortunate that we need pointers on being happy and are too focused on our own problems or on problems that are not ours and cannot solve.

    I appreciate what you do Doreen with such positive and upbeat blogs.


    • Thx, Harry. There’s something special about the blogging platform. It enables us to share interesting ideas that generate fascinating dialogue. I always struggle in finding the time to do so, but am always glad that I did.

  25. I love your list. I am copying it down to make an effort to do the things that were recommended. The best part is, I had made a decision to get back on track this week so this was a very timely post indeed for me. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Mark West Pinot Noir: WineMy Profile

  26. It’s so important to be happy, so I love these tips to bring happiness into your life. As you get older (like me) you come to cherish every day — your friends, family and life. Funny how the things that made you unhappy when you were younger — not finding the right mate, wrong job, a perceived slight — fade away. You being to understand what is really important in your life. Whenever I start to gripe or feel down, I count my blessings for being born where I was born, in a land of plenty, and feel badly for the people who go to be at night around the world without food or shelter. How can I be unhappy?
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  27. A.K.Andrew says:

    These are all fantastic suggestions Doreen. Even doing any of them, never mind all of them couldn’t help but have a positive effect. Being positive really is a choice we make, and it’s tough to keep it up all the time. Even when you are down, I think it’s good to pretend not to be, even to yourself, until eventually it becomes a reality. Thanks so much for the post.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…6 Resources for Writing InspirationMy Profile

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