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  • Writer's pictureColleen Nelson

Key To Happiness - Gratitude. Giving. Goals.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard people say, “I just want to be happy.” This sentiment has been expressed to me in frustration from a friend struggling in their lives. This has been a response to young people I mentor as we are discussing what they want to do in their future. I have heard this from employees struggling at work. Family members have shared this with me at holiday get togethers.

It is often followed by, “You just don’t understand, because you are happy.” Hearing this used to completely gut me. It took time to realize that many of the people around me had no idea how hard I worked for the happiness in my life – how could they? I seldom shared my struggles or challenges. I typically discuss what I am grateful for, what I was able to give, and my goals.

If you are a person seeking that “I just want to be happy” feeling, this may be of benefit to you. If you are a person who is always seen as “already happy,” this may make you feel seen.

Happiness is a feeling in a moment. And the strongest and greatest feelings come from one of the three works. Gratitude. Giving. Goals.


There is something each day and each moment to be grateful for. Earnest gratitude requires us to humble ourselves. It requires us to stop looking at what we do not have and makes us look at what others have already done for us. It requires us to look at the simple things.

My dear husband is more grateful for clean running water than any other modern invention. He will occasionally be so overwhelmed with how wonderful he feels being able to wash his hands that he must walk around the house with a huge grin telling us how great it is.

Running water can be so easily taken for granted. It is simple. You turn on the faucet and it is just there. However, there are people in other countries who do not have this convenience. Very few of us take time to acknowledge the infrastructure that allows the water to be cleaned and then piped into our homes. We seldom show our admiration for a plumber who fixes issues in the same way we look at a doctor who solved a medical problem.

If you are struggling to find a moment of happiness, find something to be grateful for. It does not have to be running water. Maybe it is because there is food in your pantry. Maybe it is the warm blankets you cuddle up in for comfort. Maybe it is a friend or technology.

Take that thing you are grateful for and go deeper.

  • What does it mean to you?

  • How did it come to you?

  • Who are the people that support it for you?

  • What can you do to show your appreciation for this thing for which you are grateful?

This may seem like a simple exercise, but you will be amazed how far showing appreciation for the things you are grateful for can lead you to a feeling of happiness. Expressing gratitude to those around you leads to happiness.


We all have something to give to our friends, family, and community. Your something may be time, talent, money, or knowledge. Giving of yourself to help another is a solution where everyone benefits. You cannot shine light on another’s world without also shining light into your own.

There was a period in life where I struggle with giving being an act of selfishness. The thought that I was only helping others because it made me happy was hard. I had to realize that helping another for any reason is better than doing nothing. It is okay to start your path to giving for a selfish reason – making you happy. I guarantee along the journey the motives will change.

God has given us our gifts to share with the world. When you hear someone in need and you have something to offer to help them, take the moment to voice how you can be of assistance.

  • What time, talent, money, or knowledge do you have that could help?

  • What would it mean to you to help them?

  • How much of what you have are you willing to share?

  • Would they be willing to let you help them?

Giving is good for both parties when it is clear what can be given. Setting boundaries is just as important as the follow through. It is equally important to express to them why you want to help. Let them know they are giving you the gift of happiness by being able to share your gifts with them.


There is something you want to accomplish. Working toward a goal gives our lives purpose. Goal setting can start with a general direction you want to head. Once you have a direction set a few milestones on how you will know you are headed in the right direction. From those milestones you can set goals that keep you on track.

If you’d like to go deeper into how to break down your vision into accomplishments check out Resolution - Plan Your Success ( Setting a goal and achieving success in that are creates a sense of accomplishment. Achieving success in multiple goals allows you to reach a milestone. This can build confidence within as evidence you can achieve your vision. Achieving multiple milestones builds momentum.

  • What direction do you want to head?

  • What would it mean to you to achieve your goals?

  • How much of your gifts are you willing to invest in yourself?

  • Who has gifts that could help you?

Sharing your goals with others moves them from a thought to being out in the universe. When others know about your goals they may offer to help. They may ask you about them from time to time, creating accountability. Sharing your success on a goal with others leads to a happy feeling.

The key to a long-term happiness is found in a life of Gratitude, Giving, and Goals shared with others.

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