20 In Depression/ Mental Health

Finding Happiness Where You Least Expect It

Once upon a time happiness was all this little redhead ever wanted. It just always seemed so…well…unobtainable.

Have you ever found yourself saying this;

I just want to be happy.


Why can’t I be happy?

I did many times.


Because I was far from being happy. I was the complete opposite actually. Sad, depressed, lonely, and really, really lost.

What saddened me more was that I couldn’t seem to find or keep hold of happiness. I mean, it would tantalise me every now and then with a brief glimpse or a taste, but it never stuck around.

Certain things helped. Food. Booze. Sex. But they were always a temporary fix followed by periods of self-loathing or week-long hangovers.

My quest for happiness was making me sick and miserable. And even though it was the only thing I wanted – my main focus in life – deep down I believed that I would never find it. I would never find true happiness. I would never be happy. And I guess I also believed that I didn’t deserve to be happy anyway.


Happiness was like the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The problem with that pot of gold was that one could spend a lifetime chasing after the end of many rainbows only to never find that blasted pot of gold.

And then one day I stopped chasing happiness

I can’t recall what exactly made me do it, but one day I just stopped chasing it. Happiness that is. I also stopped talking about it. I stopped focussing on it. I even removed it from my ‘goals’ list.

That day, a few years ago now, when I stopped chasing happiness, that was the day everything changed. It was the day I simply allowed myself to BE happy.

Okay, so it wasn’t as easy as flicking a switch

It involved some life coaching, and me making a conscious decision to change my state of mind and my focus in life. It involved a new way of thinking. A new outlook on life. It involved retraining my brain to look at life in a different way, and to also act a different way.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. – Mark Twain

I was becoming increasingly irritable over the most menial of things. I was always angry or frustrated and had a short tether. What sucked was that I carried that home with me and started taking it out on my partner. The tiniest things would get to me, and I was becoming snappy and generally not a pleasant person to live with.  By releasing my pent up anger and going back decades to get rid of the crappy baggage I’d been carrying around, I started to offload a huge weight from my shoulders.

But how? How the hell do you cultivate happiness?

Well, you do happy things!

I personally make it my daily mission to laugh at almost everything, and boy do I laugh (I laugh loudly - I can't help myself!). Laughter is the best medicine, especially guttural, whole-of-body laughs (and whole of face).

I highly recommend laughter.

I personally make it my daily mission to laugh at almost everything, and boy do I laugh (I laugh loudly – I can’t help myself!). Laughter is the best medicine, especially guttural, whole-of-body laughs (and whole of face).

I also recommend smiling

I start smiling from the minute I wake up (still laying in bed), through to the morning commute to work whilst listening to my favourite morning radio line up, to ordering a coffee at my local cafe, and onwards onto the office. That’s even on the days I don’t want to go. Those are the days you especially have to smile!

Of course, I also work from home part time, so I do smile to myself a lot as I sit at my computer…(that’s nowhere as sinister as it sounds!). Regardless, when people see me they either think I’m strange OR they can’t help themselves and smile too.

Happiness is a habit. Cultivate it.

And finally, I recommend moments of idiocy.

There is way too much seriousness in the world. Stuff what everyone else thinks. Screw conservativeness. Embrace your inner idiot, nerd, or a fool. Enjoy cartoons, play, skip, jump in puddles, dance, sing loudly and encourage others to do the same. Impromptu tickle fights with close friends, kids or your partner are pretty awesome too, unless said person also happens to be a kicker or elbow flicker. Then you might be risking a broken nose…

In all seriousness, though, when I stopped caring so much about what everyone else thought, when I relaxed and stopped chasing happiness when I started to be myself and to live, that’s when I started to be happy. And do you want to know something, it’s stuck around ever since, even during the shitty periods where I could have just thrown my hands in the air and given up. It was during those times that I cracked a joke, smiled, laughed, and lived in the moment – because there is no other moment than this moment, right now…

Happiness is a habit. Cultivate it.


Want to read more about how I found happiness? Read these:

My Year of Living Vulnerably

I was stuck at a crossroads – What I learned after my 3rd car accident


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  • Emily
    April 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Great post! I love how open and honest you are about your past to inspire others. Now let’s go BE happy! 🙂

    xo Emily

    • Janine Ripper
      April 30, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks so much Emily. That means a lot 🙂

  • Marie
    April 29, 2015 at 2:40 am

    When I commented on your last post, I didn’t realize the correlation to this post. Again, when you accept your imperfections it frees you up to be happy. Go Janine!

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    April 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    I love letting my inner idiot dance, she is fun

    • Janine Ripper
      April 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Our inner idiots will dance together one day 🙂

  • Amy Kelsch @ItsAMindfulLife
    May 1, 2015 at 1:15 am

    I love everything about this wonderful post! Thank you!

  • Joanne T Ferguson
    May 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    What an uplifting post today! Congrats on also getting featured via DebbieinShape #blogging #shoutoutsaturday

    • Janine Ripper
      May 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Hey Joanne, Thanks for swinging by 🙂 And thanks for the congrats! I’m honoured to be featured. Enjoy your weekend.

  • Penelope James
    May 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Bravo, Janine. Happiness is a big subject to take on. Everything you have written here is true, but the truth about happiness is it’s a Quijote dream. It exists as man’s eternal goal, but it’s fleeting and elusive. Contentment is more like it, but this word is too flat, unexciting, so we use happiness instead. On the other hand, you can be happy or in a happy state or a happy person. What seems to be happiness often occurs after a person has gone through a lot. You come out of the dark into the light, so to speak, and feel such relief that you’re not in pain anymore, that it’s easy to feel you have found happiness. And you have, for a time.. When you fall in love or have a baby, you experience happiness for a time. In your case, you’re on the verge of marrying the man you love, and your career as a writer is on the rise. You are experiencing happiness, but don’t think you have stopped chasing happiness. Truth is, we never stop; it goes against human nature. We never stop seeking it, in one way or another, and if we have it, we guard it, hold onto it, fear losing it, and keep it close as long as we can. Happiness doesn’t last, it turns into something else, or it matures into a lasting feeling of belonging, of arrival, of attainment.
    That said, I wish you all the happiness in the world!!!

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  • Stephen
    January 3, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Thanks for sharing your happiness story Janine. You mention “it involved some life coaching”, that would be interesting an interesting story to expand.!

    • Janine Ripper
      January 3, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Hey Stephen, Thanks for reading and commenting! And thanks for the hint – I will expand on it some more in a new post over the coming weeks. Wishing you all the best for 2016! I’ll be seeing your daughter at my wedding in 2 weeks 🙂

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  • Lynn
    August 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I came across your site randomly at 2am while scrolling through Pinterest, and I just happened to read this post about chasing happiness. I’m going through a breakup recently along with some career-related downfalls plus some MAJOR changes in my life, and my mental health has certainly taken a turn for the worst. This post spoke to me more than anything I’ve heard in the past few months. I’ve gone from being a totally positive, optimistic person to a self-loathing, angry, negative individual. I was in tears after reading the very beginning where you said you felt “sad, depressed, lonely, and really, really lost.” I haven’t been able to put into words how I’ve been feeling lately, but I honestly didn’t think it was that simple. The fact of the matter is – it IS that simple. I just need to accept that this is where I am emotionally right now. I’m sad. Depressed. SO lonely…and completely, quite utterly lost.

    Thank you for your post. I haven’t been allowing myself to feel any of those things because I wasn’t sure I deserved to feel that way. I didn’t know how I felt. Now I know, I can accept it, and maybe I’ll be able to just be with my emotions for now. Although they don’t feel good, it is good for me to just feel them and be with myself. You helped me today. Thank you.

    • Janine Ripper
      August 28, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Hey Lynn, Firstly thank you for your amazing comment and my thoughts are definitely with you and what you are going through. I’m so glad my words could help you in some way. That is why I write. In the hope that I can help someone somewhere at sometime when they are in need. I hope you find a new sense of direction – and if not, just try everything! Wishing you strength as you work through your emotions. It’s not easy so remember to practice a whole lot of self-care, allow yourself your down times, to cry, to scream, or even to let your hair down on the dance floor. Whatever works for you. Sending you a big bear hug. xxx

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