Written By: Kristen Brown, MSW, LCSW

I just had a dear friend say to me, “Well, it seems like If you’re not happy, you just change everything.”  Followed by, “this isn’t always that easy for people.”   So, first of all – it is true.  If I am not happy I change things.  I value the pursuit of joy.  It doesn’t negate that life can be full of incredible challenges, sadness, and pain at times.  It just means I choose not to let those dominate within each day.  Or to be more accurate within the week, because I’ve learned that to get lost in the hard stuff for a day, frankly can be easy, but to make sure you are not lost in it for a lengthy period of time takes determination, practice, and commitment to your own happiness.

I suspect that the illusion that even my friend has fallen into is that somehow this is easy for me – to just change things if I’m not feeling happy.  But that would be false. I’ll give an example, I recently moved my family out of state.  I made this major life change because the climate was no longer the best fit for me. I truly wanted to love the snow, but despite that desire, the reality was that I just couldn’t get warm. I was uncomfortable for the majority of each winter.  I realize that to those who heard the news in the few weeks before I left that it might seem all the pieces magically fell into place (and thankfully some of them did such as my house selling quickly) but the truth is a long period of thought, prayer, research, travel, family conversation, and deliberation had taken place before I made the decision to move.  When I say a long period, I mean years. And aside from all this deliberation a list of easily two hundred or more action steps had to be accomplished to make the move possible.

It is in those action steps that change is created.  When you realize that something isn’t working for you or may be contributing to robbing you of joy that is when there is true power in change.  And it certainly doesn’t have to come in the form of a move across the country.  Change can come in the smallest of steps.  It can be in making time to take a walk each day instead of sitting in the same place, drinking water instead of soda, writing a card to a friend to distract you from your own troubles, writing down things you appreciate about your partner or kids when they are frustrating you, updating a resume, learning something new, re-visiting an old hobby you used to love, or even realizing that it’s time to reach out for professional assistance to partner with you on your journey.   And if you’re able to imagine what you want life to look like and keep that vision in the forefront of your mind it is amazing how those small steps guide you to that place you imagined.  The place where your happiness also gets to be a priority.