The Secret To Happiness

By Kate Pennell

How to find five things to be thankful for today.

How we start and end our day can have a powerful impact on our well-being and productivity. Protein breakfasts, exercise, cold showers—all recommended things we can do. However, my suggested steps towards better well-being are mental rather than physical, and they don’t require any changes in your schedule.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us would like to feel more content in our lives, less stressed and anxious; we would like our lives to have more energy and meaning. With the pressure of all that we have going on—finances, family, health, 24-hour international news—and a job in there somewhere—it can feel as though it all drains the life out of us. That’s what negativity does. It’s like a leech. So, by upping our positivity, we can start to build ourselves up from the inside out.


“Counting your blessings” is an old practice, but the oldies may still be goodies. Now it is called “positive psychology.” “What positive psychology endeavors to do is to make us flourish in our life,” says Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D., writing at

Finding Gratitude

Here are five ways to look for things to be thankful for. I call them the 5Ps:


Although it may feel as though people = problems, we can find someone to be thankful for. Maybe just someone who smiled at you today.

My daughter is 14 going on feisty and her and my husband clash. Daily. Even though it upsets me, and I have to grit my teeth when I think, “Why did he say that? Now she’ll go nuclear!” I have to remember that he cares. He is desperate to be a good dad; if he says the wrong thing sometimes it’s better than being indifferent. Even though they cause me stress, I can be thankful for his heart and good intentions.


Where have you been today? Did you really see it? Never underestimate the power of beauty to lift us. Personally, I know that nature is one of my soul foods. I need it. Even in a crowded city I can see beauty: the sky, the flowering weeds, someone’s window box. Beautiful architecture can inspire us, even great graffiti, or a pleasant coffee shop or a comfortable car.

The key is to look and intentionally see and experience what is around us.


Yes, you read that right. You can be thankful for problems or, rather, the challenges and opportunities that can come about because of them. Problems have solutions. Challenges expand us and make us stronger. Sometimes a problem can remind us how far we’ve come. As Bing Crosby sang:

When my bankroll is getting small,

I think of when I had none at all.

Count your blessings instead of sheep.


Yesterday was such a frustrating day for me, I felt like I spent most of my time waiting for other people to arrive or get back to me. At the end of the day, I had no satisfaction. I felt I had accomplished nada.

We all have days like that from time to time. Yet even when we are chasing our tails—or someone else—we can still be one step closer to our goals and our desires. Progress comes through process. I so often just want to skip straight to the progress part, but there is always value in our process and something we can be thankful for.

Be Present

The present is all we’ve got: the past is gone and the future is yet to arrive.

It doesn’t benefit us at all to live like the Roman god Janus, constantly looking into the past and the future, we’ll miss the present because we are not being present. Letting go of the past and the need to try and control the future is very freeing. We can then live in expectancy.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.”—Matthew 6:34

Start Well, Finish Well

Finishing our day by being thankful sets our mind on a positive setting while we sleep. As your day draws to a close today, take a moment to think of things you are thankful for.

Joeel Rivera, publisher of Transformation Coaching Magazine, psychologist, life coach and trainer, goes one step further. The first thing he sees when he wakes up in the morning is a note that says, “What will I be thankful for today?” It sets his mind to be looking for the positive things in his day. That sounds so much more wholesome, more soul-nourishing than a lengthy to-do list and international (bad) news.

This is not about being Tinkerbell: just think happy thoughts and we’ll fly.


It’s about retraining our minds, little by little, to not focus on the negative but to see the positive in our lives. Doing that will provide the energy and impetus for us to move forward, and it will nourish our souls. It takes away negativity’s loud hailer.

Kate Pennell, English and slightly geekish, is a coach and dream catalyst who lives in Spain with three kids, various furry creatures and a patient husband. She loves nature, creativity and seeing people discover what truly makes them come alive. Kate provides the people she works with permission to launch and helps them begin to fly as they were made to. She teaches, encourages and connects with fellow travelers across our global village. Find out more at

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