Four Keys to Happiness

Dr. Donna Marks
3 min readAug 22, 2022


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Do you know someone who almost always seems happy? Do you wonder if they are simply blessed with a cheery disposition while others aren’t? It’s true that some people naturally have upbeat personalities, but happiness is deeper than genetic predisposition. Genuine happiness is the result of choosing to be that way.

Key #1Happiness is a decision. If you make your happiness conditioned on what’s happening in your life, you won’t find happiness for long. Daily challenges are a part of life; if you allow them to bring you down, you’re bound to be miserable.

We don’t have control over having feelings, but we can control how we manage them. Naturally, unpleasant or painful events will affect your emotions. You can remain positive by maintaining an attitude of gratitude and a sense that all will work out okay. Even more important, you can learn to control your reaction to such events by deciding that you won’t allow life’s daily challenges to pull you into negativity. You’re in charge of your command center, and only you can choose which direction to want to go.

Key #2Letting go of pain. Many people refuse to feel pain and then get stuck carrying it around. It might seem contradictory that you can feel pain and happiness simultaneously. But once you’ve learned how to be happy, you understand that going through a human emotional experience is part of life and doesn’t ruin your happiness. You get it out without harming yourself or others when you feel angry or sad. You cry when sad and vent your frustration with a neutral person or through a physical activity that diffuses the negative energy.

Releasing sorrow and anger is like filtering out the impurities from your system and returning it to a natural state. You are choosing to feel better when you let go of negative emotions. The better you feel, the less tolerance for holding on to toxic emotions. The more you release old pain, the more you are free to be in the moment.

Key #3Choosing love over fear. Most unhappy people live in a state of “anxiety” or “worry,” better known as fear. They anticipate one negative thing after the next and meet every challenge with a sense of dread. All previous disappointments are loaded into every setback, so they react accordingly. Rather than something being a minor issue or even a major one, the unhappy person reacts to a lifetime of misfortunes. The happy person is in the moment.

When you choose love over fear, you approach every moment of the day with love. Even when something terrible happens, you say, “I’m upset now, but I’m going to rid myself of my reactions, get calm, and then focus on a solution from love, not fear. This is a challenge, not a disaster.” Happy people can let go and forgive — especially themselves.

Essential # 4Happiness is a lifestyle. When you treat your body the way it was intended, it will function best. Your brain is directly affected by how you feed and nourish it. You can feel your best by avoiding harmful things (including people who don’t care about you). There is a definite connection between nutrition, exercise, loving relationships, and feeling good. People who get proper sleep and nutrition, avoid toxic substances, and have a fair amount of physical activity, feel better than those who abuse and neglect their bodies.

Happiness is also a by-product of caring about others. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re offering someone support. You don’t have to fix their problem. You need only show that you care. A little time, and a little help, can go a long way.

You might think your happiness depends on financial security, true love, or things going your way. But when these are the conditions for your enjoyment, you are at the mercy of something going wrong and then feeling poorly. If you want to be truly happy, decide to take charge of yourself and don’t settle for anything less. Then, eventually, you will wake up and go to sleep with peace of mind, and happiness is inevitable.

Originally published at on August 22, 2022.



Dr. Donna Marks

Dr. Donna Marks is a licensed psychotherapist and an addictions counselor. She is certified in Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy.