Today’s 31 Day Blog Challenge asks “What Makes You Happy?” I thought about this long and hard, and the obvious answers are: my son, my boyfriend, and my family. Then I remembered something someone wise once told me (honestly, I can’t remember who told me, it could have been in a movie for all I know, but I remembered the advice!): you shouldn’t depend on others for your happiness because it puts a lot of pressure on the other person. I don’t want anyone, especially my son, to ever feel like he has to act a certain way to keep me happy. Happiness needs to come from within. Once you’re happy overall, it’s easy to find happiness in all the great little things in the world.

I wasn’t a happy teenager. I had major issues with depression that lasted well into my early adulthood. Just when I thought I had that under control, I began my struggle with infertility and that caused all sorts of depression on a whole new level. I admit that I’ve also never been terribly happy with myself. I have horrible self-esteem and get down on myself quite a bit. I berate my own writing talent, my appearance, even my intelligence (and I’m pretty sure I’m a relatively smart person). I also compare my site to others and think “wow, I suck compared to them!” Basically, I’m not very nice to myself.

While I was working on Bullying Awareness Month articles for Our Family World (a wonderful family site that I am honored to work with), I had the pleasure of helping out with an interview with pop-star Spencer Kane. In that article, Kane, who is well-known for his stance against bullying, tells readers to stop bullying themselves, because it’s just as bad as bullying or being bullied by someone else. This young man is wiser at 16 than I am at 30-something!

Finally, after well over 30 years (but not quite 40 yet!) of existence, I am realizing that true happiness has to come from within. It can’t depend on other people. It can’t depend on money, even when you’re so broke you have to choose which bills to pay. It can’t depend on material objects, even my beloved collection of books or Alice in Wonderland memorabilia. True happiness is a state of being. It’s knowing that you’re completely broke, yet still being happy because you’re alive to spend another day trying to get ahead. It’s knowing that you could lose everyone you loved at any time, but feeling happy because you have time with them now.

I’ve found that being happy relies a lot on living in the present. I have anxiety disorder too, and I spend a lot of time either analyzing something from the past and wondering how I could have done it differently, or worrying about the future. I find that I’m happiest when I just take time to live in the here and now. Today, right this minute, as I write this, I am happy with myself. I may not be happy with my appearance, I may still feel like my writing skills could always use improvement, but I’m happy to be sitting with a roof over my head, a cup of hot coffee on my desk, and my 11-year-old dog sitting next to me as I write. This moment is good. Who knows what the next moment will bring, but just for now, I’m going to be happy in this one.

Your turn! Tell me what makes you happiest, or how you deal with those moments when you’re just not feeling very positive about life.