I generally describe myself as a happy person, but there have been days in the past where I certainly didn’t feel that way. I’m someone who prides myself on being empathetic and even sensitive. It has its rewards, but when I’ve felt down—my funky mood has lasted for weeks, sometimes.

There came a day where I was so tired of feeling that way. Instead of staying in my funk, I decided to embrace my funkiness without apology and with open acceptance. My funk was this weird bundle of guilt at being too sensitive and feeling bad about being stuck in certain patterns. I felt like I was going nowhere. That was the day that I decided happiness had to be my everything.

Was I Sad, Depressed or Something Else?

How do you know whether you’re sad or depressed? Every emotion has a spectrum, and you are capable of feeling more than one emotion at a time. You are, after all, human.

Depression is not a casual term, but it is often used interchangeably with sadness. Depression refers to a mental and behavioral illness but shouldn’t be stigmatized. It’s known as the common cold of mental illness. The contributing causes vary, depending on stress, challenging life situations, hormone levels and family history. One in five women and one in ten men will become depressed in the course of their lives.

Depression can overtake other emotions in day to day life. So, it’s vital to have a strong support network of friends and family and a professional to help guide you through the ins and outs of what you’re experiencing. I think more people see psychologists than they care to admit. When you need support, you need it, and it’s okay to ask for help.

In daily life, sadness is a part of the spectrum of human emotion. When sadness lingers, a spark of happiness can shine a light into a dark day.

Igniting the Fire of my Happiness

Something in me was determined to find a spark to ignite the fire of my happiness. Sometimes, you need guidance to get that spark going, though.

There’s no one way to your bliss. It’s yours and you can always make more. Here are a few lessons I taught myself that day:

  • Hope the Best for Others on Your Bad Days

Interactions go more than one way, and everyone contributes to bad experiences. Hoping the best for others, genuinely, doesn’t erase anything negative that was said or actions taken that adversely affect you. What it does do is refocus positivity on the situation, and get you in the mood to make things right—if only to save your day.

  • There is Strength in Numbers: Turn to Your Allies

Turn your attention to your allies. Who are they? Name five now. It sounds silly, but that’s what I did. Here’s my hokey list:

  1. Dirty chai latte
  2. Charlie, the teddy bear I’ve had forever
  3. My best friends
  4. My journal
  5. Walks

I still use this list to check in with myself, and other items sometimes take the place of walks or my journal. This list reminds me of mindful moments and steps I took to make sure I was okay, that I was happy. People talk about self-care all the time, but you also have to do spontaneous acts of self-care for yourself, too. Prove to yourself that you are worthy of happiness by first loving yourself.

  • Thank Yourself, as Often as You Thank Others

Sometimes, the simplest act of showing yourself the way to happiness is by saying thank you. Expressing gratitude to others is a wonderful way find small rays of joy in your daily life, but it’s important to thank yourself, too.

Thank yourself for getting up, for your courage to make sacrifices and to defend your beliefs. Thank yourself for genuine acts of self-care: making yourself a big breakfast or preparing yourself a hot bath. Sometimes, you have to give yourself space to laugh or cry, or enjoy a warm cup of coffee. Gratitude can even be a serious and silly as thanking yourself for looking amazing today.

Do Something Ridiculously Silly, Right Now

If you feel crazy, act a little crazy. Don’t get kicked out of the grocery store, but if a song you love comes on, dance a little in public. Why not? Give yourself and others a good laugh to break up the monotony. Enjoy the spontaneity of the moment.

Break the pattern, if negative brain chatter is taking up too much space in your head. You can challenge what’s in your mind by speaking up, but acting a little silly is a physical way of making your body and mind focus on other things.

Be ridiculous. You don’t have anything to lose, but you do have many smiles to gain.

I learned many important lessons the day I decided that happiness was everything to me. Those lessons reminded me of how to use my sense of humor and empathy to get my joyful spark back in the moment. A little spark can start a big fire, and today I’m radiant!