The Source of True Happiness

Culture/Society | 41 Comments

The true source of happinessStop for a moment and think of the happiest people you know. Picture their faces in your mind’s eye.

They’re probably smiling, laughing, or cheerfully greeting you.

They’re those people who always seem to be happy—no matter what!

What’s their secret?

Were they born that way? Is something wrong with them? Do they just have a screw loose?

It’s actually none of those things.

The secret comes from deep inside of them. It is something that is borne through years of practice and patience. It is something that every single one of us can learn to develop.

It is a grateful heart.

More often than not, the happiest people you know are happy because they choose a perspective of gratitude. They make a conscious effort to be grateful for things that society has conditioned us to see as problems.

Think about that for a second—why do most people do the things they do in the first place? Usually, they simply do things a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always seen those things done! That IS conditioning.

And that’s why it does not feel natural to choose this grateful perspective. To choose to smile on the way to work. To choose to say, “Hello!” to a passerby. To choose to be thankful for the multitude of problems life throws our way.

Now, I know Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but can you and I both agree that it might be a wise decision to practice “the gratitude thing” a little earlier this year?

It can’t hurt…

Here’s my challenge to us (I’m doing this, too): Between today—right this minute—and Thanksgiving, let’s make a list of 100 things for which we are grateful.

But wait! There’s a twist…

Half of the list must be comprised of problems for which we can identify a grateful perspective. They can be big problems or little problems. Regardless, PERSPECTIVE will show us that there is something for which we can be grateful—even in our problems, challenges, and difficulties. First, write down the problem, then list the benefits that problem provides.  Here’s a few I came up with to get me (and you) started.

I am grateful for…

Everything that is wrong with my house. The lawn that needs mowing, the windows and gutters that need cleaning, that lock I haven’t gotten around to fixing. Why? Because all of these problems means my family has a roof over our heads. We have a house! Not everyone does…

Parking at the end of the lot, because it means I can walk. I don’t always make time to exercise…

Our electric bill has been higher the past few months because of the unusual heat.  We ran the air conditioning constantly. There are people who live in the heat without air conditioning…

Aching muscles at the end of the day. I am able to move and lift and carry when I need to do so. There are folks who are physically unable to work…

That loud alarm clock that goes off before daylight most mornings.. If I can hear it, it means I’m still alive.

The mess Polly, the boys, and I have to clean up after a party. That mess means we are surrounded by loving friends.

The clothes I wear that sometimes fit a little too tightly—a reminder that I have enough to eat.

That’s a start. Now, tell me—what are the problems for which YOU are grateful?


To help you brainstorm, here’s a free guide that makes pinpointing these things a lot easier.

The pdf comes with a transcript of “the Joyful Decision,” the fifth of my Seven Decisions that tells you how to choose to be happy each and every day.

You can download it for free by clicking here or the image below:

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  • Very well said.

  • John Talbot

    I am right now waiting for the results of a biopsy. That means that we have excellent medical care in the United States and that I may not have been able to have a biopsy in another country.

    • Praying for you and your family, John. And I am confident.

  • John

    In 2008, the stock market had its largest setback since the Great Depression. This was my fifth year as a financial advisor/planner. Good companies and investments I had advised my clients (all of whom I consider as friends) to own were worth far less than when many of them bought. I answered and made call after call and met with client after client and they all asked the same question, “will it EVER get better?” My challenges were small by comparison to the global crisis of unemployment, declining asset values, homelessness, depression, and sorrow that the Great Recession caused. However it was in this adversity that I found out how to advise, counsel, and be the optimist my clients needed. They are all better off today for trusting my advice of staying the course, buying more good companies when no one else wants to, and believing that “this too shall pass”.
    Thanks Andy for all your wisdom it has enriched my life and the life of many others!

    • Great story and example, John! Thanks for sharing!

  • Mary-Beth Goetzke

    I am grateful that I hate my current job. I love what I do, but the current company I work for is not a good fit. A major learning opportunity both in character development, while here, and expanded adventures in looking for another place I can serve better. I fully accept this “challenge” of building a list of 100 grateful things. Great way to move into November and Thanksgiving. 🙂

    • Awesome shift in perspective for your situation, Mary-Beth. I think you’re up for the challenge!

  • I needed this today. Thank you Andy. I’m thankful for the homework I’m working on and the tests I’m studying for because it means I have the opportunity to get an education.

    • Awesome, Tony. Although the child inside me did cringe a little when I read the sentence “I’m thankful for the homework.” Ha!

  • Eniola

    Getting my colleagues enrolled in benefits. That means I have a job.

  • chuckb

    hearing the birds sing in the morning – this means I can afford to buy hearing aids. Putting my partial in my mouth every morning, this means I live in a country with superb dental care and I have a job and insurance to cover the costs.

  • Ken Franz

    I’m not happy about my hour commute each way to and from work, but thankful I have a job, a car that works, and your podcasts to listen to. Thanks Andy!

    • Thanks for taking me along on your commute, Ken!

  • Robert white

    I want to say Thank You Andy for give that little jump start. I’m going in for back surgery tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it. But I’m looking at it and others things with a grateful heart. And the family and friends with their prayer and an employer to let me get this done. Again Thank You Andy!!

  • Kevin

    I am grateful for the last 22 months. In that time, I have lost over 200 lbs. I’m only 33, and have been obese literally since I was a toddler (70 lbs. at age three — over 300 by age 14). I wouldn’t wish my first 33 years on anyone, but as I get closer to my goal weight I am starting to see that this process is not just transforming my body, but my soul as well.

    With a height of 6’5, I am shooting for 250, and I am about 40 lbs. away right now. I’m so grateful that God didn’t just leave it and say, “Well, he got messed up so young…might as well forget ever getting anything out of him.” It’s been so hard, but as my mind is being transformed, I now see my experience in a new way. I almost feel like I have this “secret wisdom” that is only bestowed upon people who decide to let God change them…no matter the pain and process.

    Thanks for the challenge Andy!

    • That is AWESOME, Kevin! Congratulations on how far you’ve come, physically and mentally. Just curious…how were you able to begin making such a drastic (and daunting) change in your life? Taking that first step to start such a huge challenge is often the most difficult part for people, regardless of the type of challenge.

      • Kevin

        It was a myriad of small things, but the overarching theme was this:
        1. Stop seeing yourself as the victim — Sure I may have been factually correct in that my parents never saw it as an issue. They had their own issues in their lives, and that made for a bad mix. Victimhood, even if warranted, has never made anyone better.
        2. As a Christian, take God’s word seriously — I became a Christian about two months into college. I was out from under my parents’ lives and was searching. Yet for over a decade, I just treated my salvation as a “Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free” card, rather than really letting it change me. Romans 12:1-2 was the main catalyst in changing that thinking. I wanted transformation, and Paul says there that the key to transformation is “by the renewing of your mind”.

        So many other catalysts, but those were the main two. Once you throw out the victim card, you get to play the forgiveness card — one that was (and still is) not easy to do everyday.

        • Thanks so much for sharing this, Kevin. Your comments will be a huge added value to anyone who happens upon this blog post for years to come.

        • Shelley Hess

          Indeed, thank you SOOO MUCH, Kevin. So glad to see that your ‘answer’ is straight from God’s Word. Amen, Brother, for that excellent example to all of us of truly tracking with God!!! His will, His way, ALL THE WAY!! We’ll be joining you in prayer…. and rejoicing!

        • Anne Carr

          Kevin your faith in God and seeking His wisdom and Romans 12:1-2 is the greatest gift! I lived in victim with food and alcohol. Salvation and the willingness to do 12 step work has transformed my life! And now I receive JOY watching my family grow and change. It’s not been easy…. I broke a couple of bones and my marriage nearly ended. GOD is the great restorer. I have a grateful heart in all things! Painful or not. God bless all of you on this blog.

    • Shelley Hess

      Awesome, AWESOME, AWESOME, KEVIN!!!!! PLEASE, do share with us all your answer to Andy’s question. You have SOOO MUCH TO SHARE!!! You do indeed have, as you called it, “this secret wisdom” and millions would LOVE you to share it. You’re doing GREAT THINGS, KEVIN, by God’s grace and for His glory! Please share, Brother!

  • Debbie Bills

    I was reading all the comments Andy and I can’t say that I am grateful for any problems. I like making lemonada to much. Yes, this weekend hubby and I have to pick up many many many leaves. You know the fall cleaning of the yard, but I look forward to this. It is good to get outside, play in the leaves. And this year the grand kids are looking forward to coming over for this event. To me problems are lemons that just need a little sugar added to them and they will be fine. Love the post and can’t wait until my book gets here.
    Thanks Andy,
    p.s. I do have a website (blog) i am working on but that is not a problem because I am having to much fun and meeting a lot of great people. If you want to check it out it would be, ‘How not to raise a serial killer.’

  • Shelley Hess

    WOW, ANDY!!! What a thrill it is when we ‘meet’ others who speak exactly the same language with exactly the same ‘inflection’!!!!! I already talk too much, and you want ME to tell you the problems for which I am grateful? Are you kidding?? That’s a WHOLE BOOK!

    How ’bout I start with how immensely grateful I am that I was born to a mom that in spite of doing her very best, did not have it in her to take care of me, deserting me for ‘the good life’ 4-8 hours daily, from a week old, such that she lost custody of me when she left my father a couple years later.

    I’m sooo grateful for that, because I knew/was acutely aware of God from birth, knew He alone kept me alive, knew He alone was all I needed, though I had no words or language to yet form that truth. When I finally came to know Jesus Christ at age 42 I’d had all those years of growing in incredible understanding, that “secret wisdom” Kevin is speaking about, that ONLY comes about through such trials! The “process” has been awesome!

    What a stage God set for me, and sets for every single one of us, through our trials!!!!! Would not change one single detail of “God’s perfect plan” for me, which has been unfolding, ESPECIALLY THE TRIALS!!!

    You know Romans 8:28 is on top, always foremost in my mind, so I’m looking for His working “all things together for good” all the time, in all things! And the second I start looking, I start seeing. It’s AWESOME!!! THE MOST INCREDIBLE WAY TO LIVE!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and PRICELESS PERSPECTIVE!!!!!

    BTW, listening to your audio of The Noticer Returns was like a breath of heaven for David and I. Our box of the book just arrived and we can’t wait to give those out to all the precious folks God is allowing us to minister to and through! Thanks a million for being a part of that, you and Robert!!!

  • Meggie Joy Megan Burdzy

    the DRY EYES I have due to illness – I have eyes that can see well enough to read, write, watch tv, drive. -Perfect vision in heaven will be so much more of an awe-inspiring blessing!

  • I am grateful for the 2 1/2 years of fertility treatments that nearly led my wife and I to our breaking point. In that struggle, God made himself known as the ONLY source of life.

    We have since been blessed with 3 beautiful boys that constantly remind me of his faithfulness rather than our perceived struggles!

    Thanks Andy!

  • Donn Beals

    Andy, I’m thankful for the AVM I had at the age of 45, you see; it could have happened when I was10,or 17 If it had, I’d never acquired the skills to become a good enough baseball player to receive a college scholarship to play baseball. That’s where I meant my wife of 38 years, she gave me 3 sons who played college sports. One an All-American Football player, they all have Master’s Degree’s from college, married, own their own homes and understand life isn’t fair sometimes, but it’s worth it. I too know the important things we give – is time, it can’t be bought at Wall-Mart, and are never will go out of style. Andy, God Bless you and many others such as Steve Gulliland,Zig Ziglar, John Wooden for positive books and DVD’s. My son’s always get a book or two at Christmas, my mother told me if I didn’t read I was no better off than someone who couldn’t. Many Blessings to you our wife Polly, and those monkeys you love so much.

  • Elise

    Right now, I am grateful for the skill to help deal with so much hate on
    facebook. Send love to these people’s fragmented heart and/or pray for
    more peace to come to them. As painful as it is to see that hate and
    as tempting as it is to engage in debate, I know it’s worse to feel it
    deep down for people you don’t even know. It generally means you feel
    it about yourself. It’s just really sad. And if that’s too difficult, it’s super easy to feel
    grateful for the “hide” button.

  • Dr. p

    I’m greatful for this reminder! Also the amazing gift God has given me to be to think

  • Scott Baker

    I am grateful for the past 2 years during which I battled brain cancer twice. These were my third and fourth cancers in the past 14 years. It may seem strange to be grateful for brain cancer, however, through this experience I found an entirely different perspective on life, made lifelong friends who were fighting with me, found more parience than I ever thought possible, and was inspired to seek the wisdom required to become the greatest husband and father that I can possibly be. We have two sons, 8 and 7. I am extremely grateful to my absolute favorite author and speaker Andy Andrews for sharing the wisdom he has acquired through his own struggles.

  • Megan

    After reading this blog entry and hearing all of the recommendations to read Andy Traub’s Early to Rise, I decided to join the two! Today was my first day of the early to rise challenge and I started with daily devotions, prayer, and listing what I’m grateful for. However, my son of 15 months decided he wanted to rise early as well. So although part of my morning reading was The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, I am beyond grateful that I got to spend some of my first waking hour quietly cuddling and reading with healthy, happy boy.

  • LeeAnn1227

    this really spoke to me today! Thank you Andy. I believe I am up for this challenge.

  • Star

    My in-laws. For showing me that I need to be more tolerant and patient person. To show me I have to stand-up for myself in a way I never had before. And all this under God’s wisdom. Always knowing He is by my side and I can, and should, surrender all to Him through my Faith.

  • Richard Gomez

    Funny you should challenge us with this. I had a blessed morning I’d like to share. Here’s the link:
    I am also thankful for the pain I have had the last 2 years. It has given me the ability to truly empathize with those who have unexplained pain. You begin to think of yourself as crazy – Some of my friends nod knowingly. While experiencing the sensation of a hot knife being jabbed into the bottom of my foot, I asked the Orthopedic Dr, who was looking over my MRI, why I felt it. “It is a minor nerve irritation,” was his reply. I was dismissed from the appointment with the following statement, “there is nothing wrong with you. Take some pain medicine and call me in a couple months if you still have pain.” I chose not to go back. My MINOR NERVE IRRITATION might have reacted in an inappropriate manner. I have had many opportunities to encourage others who are enduring pain. It’s amazing how many, some disguise it well, there are. I’m thankful that I have not been able to “provide” for my family. I would not know the depth of love we have from those God has placed in a position to help us. I know, with out a doubt who provides for my family!
    I accept this challenge. I’m grateful for the way you share encouragement with us- with me. Thanks also for audio books!

  • Mary

    I think of my older sister who as a child was hurt deeply and was very ill while living in the dusty 40’s in West Texas. Throughout life, she seemed to be the one that bad things happened to. Love wasn’t kind either and then she had breast cancer. All the complications and the day she took her last Tomoxafin, her blood test showed her cancer had returned. But the reason she comes to mind is…the joy that comes from her smile; the hugs she gives people, the ‘raspberry’ that she gives grumpy jerks, the way she can make people laugh and the way she believes that no matter what, God has her back. I am so grateful for her example. The joy and the faith and the desire to be with her family.

  • Michael Griffey

    Dear andy my name is Michael I live in Michigan and recently hace been listening to an on line comedy chanel that played one of your stories about Cortez which one was refreshing from all the cursing by most of the comedians on the chanel, and two left me in deep thought for the past two days. You see at this moment 3 am and I can’t sleep from worry I have from lies ahead of me and all that I have lost. I am 43 living at times in my truck and on my mothers couch and less then two years ago I had a home with 4 beautiful children and a wife that I adore more then life itself. But because of bad decisions and lack of leading a life of not trusting in God for my guidance and direction I ve lost all of that and the only thing I have left in my life is a fractured relationahip with my wife that is barely held together by hope and prayer. But I am at a cross road in my life and I hope not just in the coming days or weeks but even in the coming hours I figure out a way to do what is right and your words have given me some things to think about so thank you for that. If its not asking to much maybe you could include me in one of your prayers thanks again your a good man with a good heart .

  • Theresa

    5 months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am so thankful for this journey, because it forced me to give up the control on my life to the creator who made me, knowing that there is nothing that happens to me without His knowing it, and even before I have a problem, knowing God already has the answer. What a great God I serve and love with all my heart, soul and body! And He is bigger than cancer!

  • Vivian

    I am so grateful for my office manager, for she showed me God still does BIG miracles. This time last year, we weren’t sure if she’d see another Christmas. You see, she had a brain aneurism…on her birthday. Even with several complications during her recovery, she was back to work, fully recovered, within six months! At her last doctor’s appointment before coming back to work, her doctor, with tears in his eyes, said thank you. Why? Because he never had the opportunity before, to send someone back to work with NO RESTRICTIONS! I am so grateful that she is back…really back. And I thank God every single day for His miracles!

  • Sheri MElnick

    I am so very grateful to have been blessed with a Dream Career that allowed me to meet Andy Andrews at the Dave Ramsey SMART conference in LA in November. I was able to give Andy a Saskatchewan Roughrider travel coffee mug. Did you show Mr. Bakken your mug Andy and tell him you met a Rider fan in LA? Sheri Melnick Regina Saskatchewan Canada

  • Linda de lanzo

    Well here goes i have been a hairstylist for 47 year and I am grateful for an operation on my right hand in June ( my dominate hand.since I have had that operation I have had to ask people for help, that is very humbling even to the point of asking someone to do my hair.
    God has showed me how to use the other side if my brain which allows me to think differently,which in turn slowed me to get involved in a new business and do something I have never done before! Also meet and here inspiring people like Andy Andrews and several others in my business.

    In all of this the lord showed me he would take care of me I am grateful for the freedom of speech in the USA especially at this time of the year , when people are afraid of stepping on toes for there own beliefs.grateful
    to be able to praise my God
    Linda de lanzo

  • Christian

    Knowing the Source of all happiness is my source of happiness. The fact that He has forgiven me and helps me through the storms of life… praise the lord Jesus Christ!

  • After never spending one night in a hospital in 60 years, cancer decided to change that. After three hospital stays in six months, four surgeries and lots of prayers, I’m cancer free.

    I’m grateful for the doctors and nurses that devote their lives to helping others. After answering the question, “How are you doing” a few hundred times, I began to see the inspiration, encouragement, joy and hope that accompany the words, “I’m getting better.”

    I changed the name of my leadership program and new book that I completed during my recovery to “The Power Of Better.” I grateful because not every cancer patient can say “I’m getting better.”

    I’m grateful because when I didn’t have my health, I had;

    My Faith

    Sandy, my wife and best friend of 38 years. She has always been by my side.

    My family and friends that I love and care for and that love, care and have prayed for me.

    The benefit of great leaders and mentors in my life that have given me the ability to educate and share with others.

    The drive to see leaders succeed in leadership and life.

    So you see, even when I don’t have my health, I had plenty. If you are going through any health challenges, take a few minutes to jot down what you DO HAVE.

    It’s pretty easy to be happy if you try.