skip to Main Content

5 Ways to Create Happiness Despite Hardship

You can create happiness despite hardships like mental illness, loss, trauma, and stress. Explore who you are. Learn 5 ways to begin to smile despite strife

The idea of creating happiness can sound absurd when you’re facing hardship. Sometimes, life makes people want to stop, turn around, and retreat to bed indefinitely. This can make a whole lot of sense, because life can be incredibly stressful. A burdensome struggle, even. No one is exempt from times of hardship. Further, sometimes people deal with extra challenges such as mental illness, abuse, trauma, loss, and more. How do you—how does anyone—keep from retreating? How do you smile and even find happiness in the face of strife? 

It Starts with a Smile

Smiling is a small action that can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. Smiling can boost mood and lower stress. Smiling with another person can increase your connection and strengthen a relationship. Smiling initiates changes in the brain that ripple through the body.

The jury is still out on whether faking a smile does good, causes harm, or does nothing. So far, different research studies indicate all three. Let’s assume that you don’t want to fake it, that you want to want to smile. You just don’t feel like you can.

This is precisely the time to empower yourself to act. You can make positive change in the face of even gigantic stressors, and it starts with the courage to smile. It’s the courage to look around you, even going places despite severe anxiety, and find reasons to smile.

Finding even just one reason to smile (a squirrel darting across a fence, perhaps, or an enjoyable chapter in a book you’re reading) is a strong start to the journey to find happiness in the face of adversity. This is because you are making the choice to do it. It is your choice, and you are finding things that make you smile.

How to Create Happiness Amidst Mental Illness, Trauma, Abuse, Loss, and Stress

Regaining control over your situation by looking for a reason to smile is one step in improving your mental health and, slowly but surely, step by step, creating happiness. There are many things you can do.  The infographic presents five that involve turning inward to get to know yourself. Sometimes, people get lost among the fray of external situations and other people. Exploring who you are and what you have to offer (and where you want to offer it) guides you on your journey to life satisfaction.


You can create happiness despite hardships like mental illness, loss, trauma, and stress. Explore who you are. Learn 5 ways to begin to smile despite strife

What Lies Behind Silent Smiles?

In the novel Behind Silent SmilesCătălina Grigorescu knows pain and suffering. Her life has been difficult from early childhood in the Romanian countryside to the streets of Bucharest to Sacramento California. She has known:

  • Loss
  • Abuse emotional and physical
  • Violence
  • Fear
  • Neglect

Her beloved Bunicuță, or grandmother, meant well when she taught her,

Smile and act like it didn’t bother you. That’s how you should handle everyone when they do hurtful things.”

Cătălina—Catie when she moves to the United States—experiences depression, anxiety, and physical pain. How does she keep going when sometimes she just wants to stop, turn around, and retreat into bed indefinitely?

The five things to do to create happiness despite hardship are already present in her life. Now she must understand, accept, and act on them. That’s the difficult part, but it truly is possible to uncover what is beneath silent smiles.


You can create happiness despite hardships like mental illness, loss, trauma, and stress. Explore who you are. Learn 5 ways to begin to smile despite strife

Discover the novel, inspired by a true story.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I have indeed, in fact recently, been experiencing a sense of loss with both of my sons. We have always been a very close knit family and I am finding it hard to put some distance between us. I found in the last few days, I have changed. Some of the things that were said in a heated discussion between both of my sons and myself have made me see that I am not being respected in the way in which I deserve to be. Instead of retreating to my safe haven, my bed, and being left alone to lick my wounds, it somehow empowered me and made me feel stronger. I realized that while I may be hurt by both of them, I am a good person, have been an awesome mom all of these years, and am choosing to show myself the respect and love I deserve. I have chosen to love myself in spite of what others may think or say. I know that there are outside influences as to how one son is responding and I feel bad for him, but it is his problem to solve, not mine. My other son, I believe, is really just mad at himself for the position he is in, and it is just easier to blame me for things than to take responsibility for his own actions and decisions. I certainly didn’t reach this place quickly, but something inside me has simply changed and I refuse to have the spotlight on me for the things in their life that are out of control. As the saying goes, they need to sweep off their own porch before trying to clean mine. With that said, I am slowly learning how to be happy in spite of the conflicts.

    1. Hi Ann,
      Being able to separate yourself from others in your life is difficult but very healthy — and freeing. It sounds like you are developing new relationships with your sons as well as with yourself. Keep that empowered feeling you experienced recently by allowing yourself develop interests and passions as well as acting on those things. You just might find that you create a whole lot of happiness and that your struggles with your sons change in positive ways.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top
×Close search