5 Encouraging Happy Life Quotes And Sayings To Support You Through The Tough Times

Happy man standing in an autumn meadow.

Where do you turn when life throws you a curveball, dashes your dreams, and leaves you empty-handed and brokenhearted? Are there any encouraging, happy life quotes and sayings that have more substance than a greeting card?

Tough times almost beg the indulgence of self-pity and a dismal life forecast. Leave the falls and immediate rebounds to the professional athletes making millions of dollars. They’re trained to be good sports and get back into the game.

You, on the other hand, have real-life issues to deal with, and they don’t pay well.

You know, as everyone does, that life is what you make of it. It comes with predictable and unpredictable ups and downs, but it always offers you freedom to choose your response.

Being happy isn’t a destination. It’s also not only about what you “do.”

Happiness depends on not doing certain things as much as it depends on doing others.

And, more than anything else, it depends on the attitude you choose.

So let’s look at 5 “happy life” quotes and sayings you’ll probably never read in the card aisle.

  1. We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Life is full of disappointments. No secret there. They come in micro, macro, and mega forms. And there is no “catching up” on them so you can check them off your list and be done with them.

    The big disappointments – betrayals, loss of relationships, unexpected defeat – can cut deeply and leave you believing you will never recover.

    But who better than Martin Luther King, Jr. to remind us of the chasm of difference between finite disappointment and infinite hope?

    Every disappointment is finite in its endurance and its power to hold you down.

    But hope? Hope is infinite in its endurance and its power to lift you up.

    The bridge over that chasm is built by choice. Will you choose resignation or will you choose hope?
  2. Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  – Thich Nhat Hanh

    In keeping with the spirit of MLK’s call to hope, this example of happy life quotes and sayings is a reminder of hope’s power in the moment.

    The inherent gift of this life perspective isn’t limited to “Sigh…I wish…I hope…if only…What if?” Its magic lies in its transformation of the moment at hand.

    When you are experiencing the pain of loss or disappointment, you can, of course, choose to accept it as your destiny. “I will always feel this way.” “My life is a failure.” “I can’t bear the heartache.”

    And so goes the dirge of despair.

    But hope, though not a crystal ball or prognosticator with detailed assurances, allows you to rise above the negative frequency of despair. It delivers your mind’s attention over to a higher frequency of thinking, feeling, and choosing present and future action.

    This isn’t just philosophizing from a goodwill pulpit. It’s scientific.

    A feeling of hopefulness elicits physiological effects.It causes your brain to release feel-good endorphins and enkephalins, thereby accelerating healing and recovery.

    The expectation of good possibilities (probabilities?), however far in the future, can be life-saving in the wake of heartbreak, fear, loss, and disappointment.
  3. Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want. – Jim Rohn

    Learning how to be happy with what you have can sound like a mantra for those with no ambition.

    But there is a fine line between donning a laissez faire attitude toward life and choosing to be happy and grateful in the moment.

    One posture is a slouching “Whatever. Que sera, sera.” And the other is an upright, shoulders-back, eyes-forward greeting of life, both in the present moment and in pursuit of the next.

    Why is this relevant to being happy and feeling supported during tough times?

    Because your dreams will almost always be bigger than your reality. That’s what dreams are for.

    They keep you moving forward – exploring, discovering, learning, contributing, connecting, believing, striving.

    But dreaming should never be a disregard of the blessings of the moment.

    Just as feelings of hopefulness bring about chemical changes in the brain, newly divorced singles, especially women, are often shocked by the change in finances and lifestyle.

    If you have gone through a similar experience, you know what an adjustment it can be.

    But you always have the option of focusing on what you do have – perhaps things that had lost your attention in the past. Your health, your sanity, your children, your own space and schedule, the opportunity to rediscover yourself and pursue your own interests….

    There really is so much for which to be grateful and happy right here, right now. And happy people make positive choices with enlightened awareness.

    If you can bask in gratitude for having all you need today, you will find yourself invigorated to strive for the possibilities of tomorrow.
  4. The happiest people don’t bother about whether life is unfair. They just concentrate on wha they have. – Andrew Matthews, Happiness in Hard Times

    Disappointment is rooted in expectation and a sense of what should and shouldn’t be. “I have all the credentials and should have gotten that promotion.” “How could he walk out on me when I have been faithful and devoted?”

    Sometimes it’s rooted more in what we want and don’t want than in what we honestly believe should and shouldn’t be.

    Regardless of its reason, disappointment can get confused with justice. “It’s not fair! I did all the work and she got all the money!” “Why do I always get the short end of the stick?”

    Focusing on the (perceived) unfairness of life, let alone on the futility of trying to correct it, will suck all the joy out of an otherwise happy life. Quotes and sayings could be taped on every mirror in your home; but if your focus is on how unfair life is, you will never be happy.
  5. You’re never fully dressed without a smile. Annie (the musical)

    Your clothes may be Beau Brummelly
    They stand out a mile –
    But Brother,
    You’re never fully dressed
    Without a smile!
    Who cares what they’re wearing
    On Main Street,
    Or Saville Row,
    It’s what you wear from ear to ear
    And not from head to toe
    (That matters)…

Life is, in large part, an organic, unscripted process of gracefully co-existing with hardship and disappointment. It’s a balancing act that, in its finest expression, speaks to your commitment to equilibrium, regardless of what seeks to shake it.

Hope, gratitude, and being present to the gifts of the moment are all miracle workers when it comes to getting through tough times.

And, of course, you really are never fully dressed without a smile.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life and divorce coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can create a happy and healthy life for yourself.

Looking for more information about how to live a happy and healthy life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life.

How Hard Is Life After Divorce? What You Must Know Before Calling It Quits

Man sitting at a table outside wondering how hard life would be after divorce.

Hindsight, we all know, is 20/20. Sometimes it comes with regret – “If only I could do it over.” And sometimes there’s the realization that you had no other healthy choice. Sometimes you have the time and resources to prepare. And other times you have to take a leap of faith. Divorce, like other major life changes, is no different. Knowledge is power, and acquiring it means asking the right questions. How hard is life after divorce? What do I need to know before calling it quits? This is just a starting point for choosing your path at that unanticipated fork in the road.

In the long run, how easy/difficult, hopeful/defeating, encouraging/frightening, relieving/stressful a situation is depends more on you than it does on the situation.

But that doesn’t mean the situation can’t or won’t stack the deck against you. And, if and when it does, it will force you to choose – not only your next move, but your attitude toward its outcome, as well.

Getting used to life after divorce, no matter how easy or difficult, is a journey. The divorce process itself may be a loaded list of time-sensitive must-do’s. But, once your divorce is final, all those calendarized imperatives will take a back seat to changes that have their own timelines. (Or no timelines at all.)

How hard is life after divorce? Well, let’s take a look at some of the unavoidable changes that will inevitably challenge your sense of normalcy and test your perseverance.

  • Life as you know it no longer exists.

    You are no longer a husband or wife. You no longer share a home, life, or dream-for-the-future with a spouse.

    You no longer sleep next to another heartbeat or have a sexual partner.

    If you have children, holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations will now be more complicated and potentially divided and lonely.

    You will no longer be making joint decisions, except when it comes to your children (assuming you will be co-parenting).

    If you are a woman, you may have that awkward decision of whether or not to change your last name. And do you now have to check the “Ms.” box on forms? (Men really do have it much easier in the name department.)
  • You are going to lose more connections than just your spouse.

    It’s just the way life goes when there is major change. Some friends stay true, some choose sides, and some move on.

    Even some relationships with family members can become awkward.

    You will be struck by the different reasons that people come (and stay) together. Some friends connect only as couples. Others form their alliances by gender or common interests or experiences. Some connect with other adults only because their children are friends or schoolmates.

    And some friends may transfer lingering emotions from their own divorces (or current marriages) onto you.
  • Your finances and lifestyle will likely take a hit.

    When you ask How hard is life after divorce?, chances are you have money at the forefront of your mind. How much money am I going to get in this divorce? How long will I be able to survive on it? Will I have to work until I die just to survive?

    The reality is that both you and your spouse will face financial and material losses. You will be splitting your assets, paying for two domiciles, and, if you have children, providing “two lives” for them.

    You will also have the cost of divorce to consider. And, if your divorce is going to be complicated or contested, it could get quite costly. (And that means less for you in your settlement.)

    Finally, if you are a woman, you may have a harsh reality to face. Women, in general, suffer up to twice the financial hardship that men do after divorce.

    If you have sacrificed your career to have and raise children, you will have lost years in the workforce.

    You may not have the skills necessary to start a career with the earning potential you need to maintain even a fairly recognizable lifestyle. And you may never be able to earn at the rate your husband now does.
  • Grief is going to be along for the ride. It just is.

    You may have an attitude of “good riddance” toward your future ex. But you are still going to be flooded with emotions surrounding the loss of your marriage.

    Even if you know in your heart that your marriage was unsalvageable, you will still grieve the loss of what you once believed would last forever.

    And that can be a shock when you are trying your best to be strong and move forward with your life.
  • Your kids are going to go through a major adjustment and may demonstrate behavioral changes.

    It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to realize that children whose parents are divorcing are going to suffer. Even if the divorce will put an end to a toxic home environment, children will experience it as an implosion of all they have known.

    Your relationship with your children is going to change, too. Depending on your final custody arrangement, you may see them only half-time after the divorce.

    As resilient as kids are, they also thrive on consistency, dependability, and safety. They will now have to navigate two homes and potentially other changes like new schools and new rules.

    It stands to reason that your own journey through grief will be accompanied by theirs.

When your focus is (understandably) How hard is life after divorce?, you can easily overlook all the potential good in your new life.

You may not believe you have control over the outcomes of divorce. But you have more control – at least more influence – than you would imagine.

Life as you know it may no longer exist. But divorces don’t happen unless “life as you know it” isn’t serving you. 

You may have to say good-bye to many things you loved. But you will now have the opportunity to create life on your terms.

People may exit your life – suddenly or over time. But that choice is about them. It’s about where they are in their lives, just as your divorce is about where you are in yours.

When you learn to thank people for their roles in your life and then bless them on their way – even if only in your heart – your life opens to receiving. You will be amazed by the friends who come into your life – at just the right time, in just the right way.

Your finances and lifestyle may seem like hardships in your post-divorce life. But you always have the option to embrace a perspective of both appreciation and opportunity.

What feels like a step backward may actually be an opportunity to “step back” – to focus on what matters most in your life. It may also be an opportunity to take chances toward your personal dreams that you may have otherwise deferred to your marriage.

Grief, as unwelcome a companion as it may seem, actually has your highest good at heart. It is, for all its complexity and predictable unpredictability, an agent of cleansing, clarity, and resurrection. 

It gives you a safe place to engage the struggle of loss and come out the other side, miraculously resilient and resolute.

And your children, for all they add to your decision-making and worry, will prove to be your greatest gift. They will be your mirror, your compass, your motivation, and your inspiration for new and enduring rituals.

Life after divorce may be hard. But its promise is always waiting to be embraced.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a divorce and life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can begin living your happy life.

Looking for more information about rebuilding your life after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life after Divorce.

Can An Unhappy Marriage Be Saved? This Is How You Can Tell

Gray cement trashcan with a red heart painted on it.

When the color in your marriage fades to shades of gray, is your marriage lost forever? When you and your spouse can’t even agree to disagree, can you ever find your way back to the same vision? Can an unhappy marriage be saved when the memory of happiness seems to have evaporated?

If all you want is a yes-or-no answer to the question of an unhappy marriage’s salvageability, you can stop reading here. The answer, of course, is yes.

But that assumes a black-and-white definition of “saving a marriage.”

If your goal is to keep your marriage certificate in one piece and your assets under one roof, you can “save” your marriage on sheer determination alone.

But marriage, like life expectancy, has evolved over the years. 

There was a time when roles were clear-cut and families were built around survival functionality. And most people didn’t live long enough to reap the benefits of a 401(k) or dream about a four-decade retirement.

Today, however, the expectations for marriage have evolved, deepened, and become more complex. People in love with love want the whole enchilada.

Lifestyle, children, security – those are just the basics. People want intimacy. Not just the obvious physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy, too.

They not only want, but expect, marriage to be a source of happiness. If nothing else, it shouldn’t threaten or diminish their happiness.

So asking the question Can an unhappy marriage be saved? has to take into consideration the very concept – and expectation – of happiness.

It also has to take into consideration the concept of unhappiness, both personal and relational. After all, being in a committed relationship can cause a lot of blurring of lines. What belongs to you? What belongs to your spouse? What belongs to the marriage? 

Unblurring the lines is an important part of evaluating the salvageability of your marriage. Otherwise, healthy boundaries bleed into blame and an inability to effect change. 

Accepting “yes” as a short-read answer to a question like Can an unhappy marriage be saved? will leave you none the wiser. So many factors play into the final verdict, including two very important questions: 

  • Should an unhappy marriage be saved?
  • Should this unhappy marriage be saved?

There are, for example, signs that a marriage can’t be saved. Things like physical/emotional/sexual/financial abuse, untreated addiction, constant criticism, financial irresponsibility, infidelity, and lack of intimacy top the list.

However, we all know of people who have stayed in marriages riddled with one or some of these examples. So it’s probably better to call them “signs that a marriage shouldn’t be saved.”

After all, sometimes people “don’t know any differently.” Either they have never been happy, and they perpetuated their norm by marrying someone equally unhappy…or the emergence into discontent was so slow they never recognized it.

Of course, if you embrace the broader meaning of marriage, then saving that marriage under these circumstances will most likely prove impossible.

The relationship between marriage and happiness is more far-reaching and determinative than simply being married and either happy or unhappy. Marital happiness has a direct relationship with the physical and mental health of those in the marriage.

This is one pragmatic reason that some people may believe an unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce. Is it worth the progressive deterioration in quality of life to stay in an unhappy marriage?

But what if you’re not so sure? What if you’re asking about the potential to save your marriage because you haven’t yet done the work to try and save it? 

What if, perhaps, what registers as unhappiness is the result of both of you getting lazy in your marriage? What if you feel the absence of joy in your life, but don’t know what an unhappy marriage looks like?

Knowing that something isn’t right but not knowing how to fix it isn’t in and of itself a failure. And it’s not an indication that you should throw in the towel.

When it comes to marriage, however, you’re dealing with three deciding entities: you, your spouse, and your marriage. And the third entity needs both the others to show up in order to survive.

Feeling unhappy is a difficult state in which to put forth your best effort, especially when your spouse may not be so motivated.

But, if your marriage hasn’t fallen into the death trap of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling, there’s hope.

Perhaps your sex life has faded into memory. Perhaps your communication is awkward, agitated, or barely existent. Perhaps the two of you are working through an infidelity, or one of you fantasizes about a life without the other.

These are all typical players in an unhappy marriage.

But they don’t have to drop the final curtain on your marriage.

As difficult as it is when you’re “just not feeling it,” this is the moment for a fearless, honest reality check.

Do you believe there’s still love between the two of you? Do you both still want what’s best for one another, even if you don’t know how to make it happen?

Are you willing to look at yourself and your own contributions to the unhappiness in your marriage? Is your spouse willing to take the same risk?

Do you honestly believe that being alone or with someone else would change your state of unhappiness?

Are you willing and able to identify the negativity (even by omission) that you both bring to your marriage? It shows up not simply in what you say, but how you say it. It’s felt by what should be said but isn’t, what should be done but isn’t.

The acknowledgment of and accountability for negativity is critical for saving a marriage in its broadest, most fulfilling sense. 

Why? Because negativity has a way of devouring positivity. It’s not a 1:1 ratio of effect. In fact, it’s more like 5:1. 

What John Gottman calls the Magic Relationship Ratio is a 5:1 need for positive interactions and feelings for every negative interaction and feeling.

If communication is at the heart of your unhappiness, you may not even be aware of the amount of negativity flooding your relationship.

Likewise, you may not be aware of how “little” the positive additions need to be. 

Expressing curiosity, being interested, showing appreciation, looking for opportunities to agree, expressing affection. Sound familiar?

These are the infusions into a relationship that make it grow in the first place. And they were most likely natural and easy when you were dating.

They are also the infusions that make a relationship last.

This, then, is the time to become students of love again. This is the time to put love above ego, seek wise counsel from professionals, and learn the keys for fixing an unhappy marriage.

Can an unhappy marriage be saved? 

If the agony of knowing the work that lies ahead is exceeded by the knowledge of what must and can be done…

…well, you know the rest.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a life and divorce coach. I help people, just like you, who are struggling with an unhappy or even miserable marriage. For immediate help, you can download your FREE copy of “Contemplating Divorce? Here’s What You Need To Know.” And if you’re curious about working with me personally, you can book an introductory 30-minute private coaching session with me.

Looking for more ideas for what to do about your unhappy marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.

7 Advantages Of Being Self-Aware In The Workplace

People having fun and laughing while working together.

Does raw, “IQ” intelligence override the need for being self-aware? In the workplace, especially, self-awareness may seem like a bonus quality best sequestered to one’s lunch hour or after-work self-development reading.

On the surface, intelligence appears recognizable and measurable by degrees and “quotients.” A diploma from a well-reputed university, coupled with a high IQ, reads impressively on a resumé or CV at first glance. 

But education, reasoning, and processing speed don’t tell the whole story. Nor do they suffice for success. 

Intelligence is incomplete without emotional intelligence. And self-awareness is at the heart of this soft skill that is present at a high level in 90% of top performers.

But what is it about being self-aware in the workplace that’s so advantageous to its people…and its bottom line?

Your IQ (intelligence quotient) is a measure of what psychologists call fluid and crystallized intelligence. In a nutshell, it measures your reasoning and problem-solving skills by analyzing your visual, mathematical, and language abilities. It also analyzes your memory and information-processing speed.

Imagine a Mensa conference full of Sheldon Coopers tossing around complex theories and manipulating quantum data at lightning speed. (Scary visual, but someone has to organize all those 0’s and 1’s to run the next generation of your iPhone.)

What makes that hypothetical so uncomfortable for most of us is the unrelatability of it – and of the geniuses in it. 

What about the emotional side of things? Is the universe really that “binary” and formulaic?

This is where emotional intelligence (EQ) comes in with its own Big Bang Theory and big-bang impact on the workplace and on life.

Yes, understanding quantum physics by the age of four may be a good predictor of future contributions to civilization. But it’s not sufficient to predict success in relationships, nor the kind of flexibility at the heart of adaptability and change.

It also doesn’t guarantee an ability to read and navigate emotions, nor to respond appropriately to others.

Depending on the specific test, a high IQ may be more indicative of a regurgitative memory and good test-taking skills.

While IQ and EQ aren’t mutually exclusive, they’re not necessarily mutually aligned, either. 

Being self-aware – in the workplace, in personal relationships, even in solitude – is the “fourth dimension” to raw intelligence. It’s the “exponential” quality that fills everything out, gives it meaning and relevance, and adds the context of emotion.

In our rapidly evolving technological world, self-awareness is the essential difference between robots and humans. (And even that distinction is being tampered with.)

So why is it that great leadership in any area of life requires self-awareness? What is it about self-awareness in the workplace that can be the difference between profit and loss? Retention and a revolving door? Breaking new ground and getting buried by the competition?

Here are 7 advantages to being self-aware in the workplace:

  1. By knowing and understanding yourself, you have the ability to know and understand others.

    Have you ever had a boss who was quick to judge, quick to anger, and quick to make assumptions? You probably tread lightly because “bedside manner” wasn’t their strong suit. 

    And yet, this was the person sitting in the office-with-a-view, rubbing elbows with power and big dollars, and controlling your life.

    Chances are they weren’t very self-aware.

    Great leaders don’t operate that way. 

    By first allowing yourself to feel your emotions and then risking the discomfort of understanding them, you can better control and communicate them.

    And, when you operate from that vantage point, you are better able to recognize emotional patterns and expressions in others.

    Only then can you express empathy, support, patience, guidance, and other leadership qualities at the appropriate and warranted times.

    This is the foundation to how being self-aware improves communication and relationships, both in and out of the workplace.

  2. Knowing yourelf gives you clarity (and honesty) about your strengths and weaknesses.

    Humility is a virtue, and virtue is about strength, not weakness. It allows you to make an honest appraisal of yourself – specifically your strengths and weaknesses. 

    Knowing what you are good at – and acknowledging it – is your first superpower.

    Knowing what you’re not good at – and acknowledging it – is your second.

    When you can apply objectivity to your performance and abilities, you build a clear and genuine confidence. “I do ‘this’ really well, and I know I can take risks in this area to create new products/solutions that will benefit the whole company.”

    Likewise, an objective assessment of your weaknesses is actually a benefit to you and your workplace. 

    For one thing, it keeps you honest. Instead of pretending you can do everything with expertise, you can now apply your strengths with expertise. And you can open yourself to learning from experts in your areas of weakness.

    Honesty about strengths and weaknesses also allows better team-building in the workplace. 

    Did you know that employees actually perform better and are more engaged in their work when they are assigned strength-focused tasks?

  3. Knowing how to stategize your own strengths and weaknesses gives others permission to do the same.

    It just makes sense. When you are humble enough to acknowledge that you can’t do everything well (Who can?), you deliver an empowering message: I am so confident in what I do well that I don’t have a problem letting go of what I don’t do well. I am also confident – and humble – enough to learn from others.

    Having self-awareness in the workplace makes for more genuine interactions and efficiency. When employees can work on developing their strengths, they’re happier, feel a greater sense of contribution, and are more confident.

    And that kind of energy is contagious…and profitable.

  4. You more readily admit (and correct) your mistakes, making it easier for others to do the same.

    Self-aware people own up to their mistakes. They trust themselves – and they trust their strengths – to learn from and correct their mistakes.

    If you’ve already earned the reputation of being a self-aware, trustworthy, inspiring influencer, those around you are looking up to you. And they’re inclined to model their own behavior after yours. 

    It takes humility and vulnerability to admit your mistakes. And it takes courage and discipline to correct them. 

    These attributes don’t belong to the unaware. They belong solely to the self-aware.

  5. Being self-aware in the workplace allows you to build a more complete and competent team.

    Why should you beat your head against a wall trying to prove yourself at a skill that isn’t your strong suit? And why should your colleagues do the same?

    Part of feeling gratified with your work is believing you have the opportunity to become your best self.

    And part of feeling satisfied and motivated in the workplace is having the assurance that you and your co-workers are bringing all your unique skills to the same vision.

    Imagine what your workplace could look like if everyone were recognized for his/her unique skill sets, interests, and personality types, and were given tasks accordingly?

    Everyone just might come out with a Super Bowl ring!

  6. You are better able to read body language and facial expressions.

    A big part of becoming self-aware is making connections between your emotions, thoughts, and sensory experiences and the way you express them.

    When you begin to recognize patterns in your behavior as extensions of your interior reality, you inevitably learn to read others, as well.

    Having self-awareness in the workplace makes you a valuable asset because your own honesty helps you recognize honesty (or dishonesty) in others.

    You will also be quick to recognize other emotions like frustration, confusion, anger, embarrassment, boredom, and disappointment. 

    Someone capable of tapping into another’s emotions – often to that person’s surprise – has the ability to “disarm” situations. 

    The natural ability to resolve conflict and mediate tension among co-workers to a positive resolution is a remarkable and valuable leadership skill.

  7. Everyone feels less stressed and has more fun.

    Having a hefty title doesn’t guarantee leadership skills. And it’s not necessarily a sign of being self-aware in the workplace.

    Most of us have worked for a company or individual that hands out stress and insensitivity as a Christmas bonus. If it weren’t for the mouths you have to feed, the mortgage you have to pay, the retirement you can’t afford to lose, you probably wouldn’t stay.

    Even a little dose of self-awareness can go a long way toward building and inspiring a happy work environment. 

    When hard work is softened by kindness, empathy, creativity, humility, honesty, openness, humor, confidence, talent-sharing, and camaraderie, great things can be accomplished. (And people want to stick around.)

There may be no better example of the power of being self-aware in the workplace than the story of a poor immigrant from Scotland.

He came to the US with his family in 1848, at the impressionable age of 13, and took a factory job for $1.20/wk. 

Half a century later, Andrew Carnegie was the wealthiest man in America.

He had no knowledge of steel. But he developed an entire industry around it by surrounding himself with people who did.

Carnegie collaborated with a journalist named Napoleon Hill to document and share with the world the keys to his success. You may recognize this influential work as Think and Grow Rich.

In this now iconic book, Carnegie credits all his wealth, all his success, to one principle: the Master Mind.

As you read Hill’s definition of the Master Mind, listen to it in the context of all you have just read about self-awareness. 

“Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

The Master Mind is the quintessential model for a whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

And this beautiful synchronicity, this explosion of aptitude in the interest of a common goal, germinates in self-awareness.

No one gets to the moon alone. And only a few ever set foot on it. 

We onlookers see a rocket, astronauts, and awe-inspiring photos as we take a vicarious journey.

But thousands of visionaries set that journey into motion because they first took a journey within.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in increasing your self-awareness so you can become more you in every facet of your life.

Looking for more information about how you better know and accept yourself? You’ll find what you’re looking for in How To Be More Self-Aware.

Pretending To Be Happy? Here’s How You Can BE Happy Instead

A yellow arrow painted on a paved walk pointing toward happiness.

Chin up! Get back in the saddle. Fake it ‘til you make it if you have to. Turn that frown upside down and get back into the game. So much advice that only keeps you pretending to be happy instead of helping you to be genuinely happy. People mean well, but they don’t always advise well.

In their defense, those well-intended happiness pushers aren’t completely wrong. There are times and reasons for donning a smile instead of wearing your emotions on your sleeve. 

And research shows that smiling can actually lift your mood. It triggers your brain to release neuropeptides and “happiness hormones” like dopamine (pain reliever) and serotonin (antidepressant).

Translate that to pragmatics like productivity in the workplace, and you can see how one person’s mood, good or bad, can affect the whole team.

And, whether you are on the giving or receiving end, smiles, like yawns, are contagious.

But what if every smile is disingenuous? What if the one you fake looks fake and people don’t buy it?

What if, despite your best shot at pretending to be happy, you aren’t convincing anyone, including yourself?

It’s one thing to have a situational source of unhappiness. A loved one dies. You receive some troubling news. You get a flat tire on the way to work. 

Everyone has and understands “those days.”

By the same token, we have all known, met, or read about someone who was almost miraculously happy. Their circumstances may not hold a glimmer of positivity within them, and yet, these people radiate hope, gratitude, and genuine happiness.

All you have to do is read a smidgeon of Anne Frank’s work to realize that you are in the presence of someone who knows genuine happiness. The Nazis were looking for her family, and she was in hiding in an attic. Yet, she was inherently happy.

How can someone living in such fear know such happiness?

In March 1944, she wrote, “…I can at least write down what I think and feel. Otherwise I would suffocate completely.”

And that honesty — that courage to reveal in writing what the mind could otherwise choose to sequester — is where we’ll start this discussion.

Topping the list of reasons for pretending to be happy is an unwillingness to confront uncomfortable feelings.

And that’s understandable. So understandable that our brains actually have strategies to keep us from hurting too much. 

But even our brains can’t hide the truth. And they can feign happiness only so long.

Why, then, is this “writing your thoughts and feelings” so important as a way to counter pretending to be happy?

Well, it turns out that the answer may be rooted in something known for two-and-a-half millennia. 

What do Buddhist monks and neuroscience have in common? Mindfulness. 

The practice of mindful meditation is the practice of being present to the present. And, in terms of thoughts and feelings, it’s an acknowledgment of what is there — without judgment. 

And therein lies the key. Judgment.

A fascinating study by UCLA psychologists shows why naming your emotions makes their impact less intense.

Of all the things that genuinely happy people know about happiness, acceptance of one’s feelings tops the list.

Your feelings “are.” They just “are.” They reveal, inform, and bear witness to life. 

It’s always when you choose to deny them that your happiness is diminished — or, at best, a performance of pretense.

Perhaps you choose a career path because “it’s what your family has always done.” But, in your heart-of-hearts, you dread the day you leave school and face a life of living someone else’s dream.

Perhaps you have all the trappings of someone who’s been wildly successful and “has it made.” And yet, you’re miserable inside. In the words of Queen, “Nothing really matters, nothing really matters….

If you don’t validate your own feelings by at least naming them (writing them down is incredibly powerful), you will live in your own dishonesty. And dishonesty puts you at risk of “being found out.”

How can that existence possibly be happy?

Another reason the monks have always had it right is that happiness is not a goal. It simply is. It is found in the here-and-now.

And, in that regard, it is a choice. No, not to continue pretending to be happy, but to “choose” happiness as a birthright state-of-being. 

People who master this principle don’t feign happiness with giddiness and pretension. They simply have an undercurrent of happiness in their lives. And it influences their choices and perspectives.

Valuing your own unique gifts is an essential part of being happy. We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. You want to be just like the person you admire — the person whose life is “all together” and whose talents are sought after.

You may even blind yourself to your own gifts and how they are being called upon as an essential role-player in your life. After all, it’s common and easy to perceive others as being “in the know,” “more this,” “more that.”

Being truly happy is about being truly yourself.

And a certain amount of achieving that comes down to giving yourself permission to be yourself, especially if that includes being happy.

It also requires the release of anything that doesn’t serve you and your highest good. 

Eliminating physical clutter from your life is just the beginning. It’s also a metaphor for eliminating clutter from your inner life.

That means having the good sense and courage to forgive others. Releasing them from the captivity of your anger, hatred, and/or disapproval simultaneously releases you from the weight of all that negativity.

Cleaning the clutter out of your life — literally and figuratively — makes room for the good things you seek.

You see, happiness, like all positivity, is light. Its weightlessness comes from being unburdened by the limiting responsibility of carrying, honoring, and remembering all that negativity.

When you’re ready to stop pretending to be happy and are ready to be happy instead, remember Michelangelo. One of the most notable things he ever said was in reference to his David masterpiece: “I saw the angel in the stone, and I carved to set him free.”

No matter what has happened in your life, there is always an angel inside, waiting to take flight.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can create a happy and healthy life for yourself.

Looking for more information about how to live a happy and healthy life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life.

10 Actionable Tips For Rebuilding A Life After Divorce For Yourself

Better days ahead” printed inside a green arrow on pavement.

Oh rebuilding a life after divorce. You know it has to be done. And you know you’re the one who has to do it. But seriously? Your life hasn’t even finished demo-day, and it’s already expecting you to put it back together…and better than ever? Please.

It really does sound unfair, doesn’t it? Like, just how difficult can things get before something goes your way? How miserable do you have to feel before you can feel any ray of hope?

As difficult as it is to believe when all you see from your rear-view mirror and windshield is “divorce,” life does get better. 

It really does.

But the process takes time. And it takes you. 

Yep, just when you want to shake your fists at God, the Universe, your Higher Self, whatever, you have to trust that She has a plan for you.

And, just when you want to fold into a ball and cry yourself to sleep, you have to awaken the strength you never knew you had.

Let me validate a few things for you. After all, I’ve been where you are. And I remember how it felt to take advice from people who had no idea what I was going through.

Losing your marriage unravels you. Your dreams, your self-esteem, your confidence, your security, your lifestyle – it all just poofs at warp speed. In an instant, it seems, your life is forever changed.

Regardless of who initiates the divorce or why, everyone in your family is swept up in the current of divorce.

And then there is the process itself – the legal, financial, custodial, and emotional aspects. Timelines, division (and loss) of assets, packing, moving, telling family and friends…. 

Oh, and the crying. The crying! The lack of appetite. The non-stop appetite. The lack of sleep. The aches and pains. The embarrassment. The anger. The confusion. The worry.

I get it. And I get how the idea of rebuilding a life after divorce for yourself can seem all but impossible.

But stay with me here – because we’re going to take this step by step. You don’t have to guess how to go about building a life you don’t even recognize. And you certainly don’t have to do it alone.

Below are 10 actionable tips for rebuilding a life after divorce. 

They will all have a place in your journey (if you allow them to). 

They will all challenge the status-quo of your feelings and energy. 

But they will all promise more than they ask of you.

So…place your hands over your heart. Gently press and feel the warmth. You are now your own best friend. And you can do this. 

Let’s get started….

  1. Get out of victim-thinking and into can-do thinking.

    We all fall into the trap of victim-thinking. Why me? I can’t believe s/he did this. What am I going to do? I’ve lost everything. I used to have/do/be…. 

    Be compassionate with yourself when you hear these thoughts come up. Even as you work to evolve out of them, they come bearing helpful information. They can reveal your fears and the areas in which you need to grow. 

    The “no victims, only volunteers” reminder isn’t meant to be cold or blaming. It is a reminder that, on a spiritual level, we lend our lives to the experiences and lessons that will inch us toward self-fulfillment. 

    You are not responsible for your ex’s vices or actions. But you are responsible for your response to them. 

    What will you take from this experience? How will you use the lessons, joys, and regrets of your marriage (and now divorce) to propel your life forward?  You have the opportunity to become more than a cautionary tale. Your resilience can become the very inspiration that pulls another life out of victimhood into victory.

  2. Journal for a year.

    Trust me on this. Give it a year. Every day – before bed, when you wake up, whenever you have a feeling/insight/grumbling. Just write.

    Don’t read (yet), don’t edit, don’t judge. Just. write.  If you need guidance and inspiration for the process, try Julia Cameron’s (The Artist’s Way) Morning Pages. You’ll be amazed by the clarity and direction that rise to the surface simply by developing this one habit. 

    You won’t want to stop after a year. But that one year will be instrumental to rebuilding a life after divorce.

  3. Focus on your children’s lives and adaptation to your divorce. 

    You may feel consumed by emptiness. Not having a partner in your life, sleeping alone, doubting your own dateability and lovability – it can all become self-imploding. 

    And rebuilding a life after divorce – contrary to what can feel instinctual – doesn’t start with filling the spouse-void. 

    It starts with grieving, healing, introspection, forgiveness, and adaptation. 

    And, if you have children, it starts with helping them to adapt to this life change that they didn’t choose. 

    They don’t need their parents clinging to them. And they certainly don’t need their parents using them as allies. 

    But they do need to have good role models. 

    If you’re co-parenting, they need to see that their parents, even in divorce, can be mature. 

    Now, more than ever, your kids will be watching you for signs of assurance. They want to know they are physically, emotionally, and financially safe. 

    And they are always watching for the modeling that will guide them in their own relationships one day. 

    Instead of rushing into a dating life, focus on your kids. Make sure they’re doing well in school and have access to all the support and healthy activities they need. 

    Give them time to adjust to a new routine without worrying that their parents are rushing to “replace” one another. 

    And find enjoyment in the building of new rituals and traditions. 

    That singular expression of creativity can be one of the most unifying things you and your children do.

  4. Give yourself permission and time to grieve.


    You will read this over and over as a guideline for rebuilding a life after divorce. And there’s a reason for that. 

    Grief is a natural, inevitable process that can’t be disregarded or avoided. Shove it down, and it will come seeping out through your pores. 

    Learn the stages of grief and welcome them as expected visitors. Allow each stage to tell its story, and become a good listener. 

    Gift yourself with the support and friendship of a coach, counselor and/or support group to guide you through this unique emotional journey. 

    Being realistic about grief will prevent you from rushing into relationships and choices for which your life isn’t ready. 

    Grief, when embraced as an expression of love – for your lost marriage and dreams…and for yourself – is actually a gift. Trust that it is helping to prepare you for the promise of what lies ahead. 

    But first it needs to clear some space.

  5. Think in terms of “change,” not “loss.”

    One of the biggest consequences of divorce is a financial shock. Women typically suffer more financially after divorce, and they don’t always recover.

    You definitely need to be prudent when going through divorce. Choosing your legal and financial team of experts wisely can have a lifelong impact. 

    Assuming you have had good counsel and have achieved the most equitable settlement possible, it’s time to move forward. 

    Your lifestyle may never be as lavish as it once was. You may have to live in a smaller home, forego certain luxuries, and become friends with a budget. 

    But here’s where you have a life-defining choice. 

    You can continually look back and compare “what is” to “what was,” seeing only through a filter of loss.  Or you can stand up tall and say to everyone – including yourself, “It’s only change. And change will be as good as I allow it to be. I’m ready. I can handle this. What’s next?”  

    No, you don’t (and shouldn’t) simply accept impoverishment or a lifetime of financial struggle as your new status-quo. You should educate yourself on investing and other financial matters that will affect your life going forward. 

    But many people stay in miserable marriages precisely because they are afraid to live without the lifestyle and financial security they have accrued together. How sad is that? 

    If all you see right now is change in the form of “no more misery,” you will be living in positivity…and possibility.

  6. Build your sacred circle of support. 

    Divorce separates more than just spouses. It often forces friends and family to choose sides going forward. 

    Yes, this can be painful and can make you wonder what else is going to disappear from your life. 

    But please, please remember that you can’t reach out to receive a gift if your arms are weighed down with baggage.  Trust that your Higher Self knows what your life needs…and what it no longer needs. 

    Removing things (and people) from your life opens space for new things that will nourish your life going forward. 

    Building your sacred circle isn’t only about “making friends.” It’s also about learning how to ask for help.

    You may not realize how important this is until you realize you don’t know how to do something essential. Or that you can’t navigate all the emotions without a coach, counselor or support group. Or that, no matter what a great parent you are, it really does take a village to raise a child. 

    You will feel vulnerable, humble, even uneasy when you start asking for help. But, with practice, you will also begin to feel empowered and supported when you do. 

    Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of healthy self-awareness and humility.  It also opens the door for people whose character and abilities you esteem to enter your life. 

    How can you start practicing this assertiveness? 

    Shift your thinking from “needing help” to “getting educated.” When you meet someone with expertise in a certain area, show genuine curiosity. Asking, “Would you mind educating me about what you do? It sounds fascinating!” will deliver an unexpected compliment to the other person and garner a new ally for you. 

    Also, if you move to a new home, make it a point to meet all your neighbors. 

    Drop off a new-neighbor “introduction pack” with a little bit of information about yourself. Offer to be of neighborly service to them, and watch how quickly your new neighbors rally around you. 

    Remain open to the inflow of new friends and support. You have friends who have always been (and always will be) with you. And you have friends waiting to join your journey. 

    Life is benevolent if you set your heart to see it that way. 

    And nowhere is that more evident than in the village of love, support, and expertise it prepares for you.

  7. Get outside your own story to help build someone else’s.

    There is nothing like helping someone else’s life to help you with rebuilding a life after divorce for yourself. 

    When you find yourself spiraling or staying stuck in your own woes and worries, it’s time to focus on someone else. 

    It could be an effort close to home, like chairing a committee at your kids’ school. 

    Or it could be a brand-new experience with people you’ve never met and skills you have yet to develop. 

    The benefits of volunteering go beyond the obvious. While your heart is opening to someone else’s needs and your mind is on creative overflow, you’re reaping benefits, too. 

    You get to become part of a new “family” that is connected by a common passion. And you get to learn and practice new skills without worrying about an annual review. 

    Your community will get a big boost, and so will your resumé and confidence.

  8. Join a group. 

    Yes, you might consider joining a group…or two…or a few. 

    Join at least one group online – maybe something on your favorite social media platform that will give you constant access and connection. 

    Avoid political or controversial groups. Instead, opt for one or two that focus on a favorite interest – pets, crafts, your college alma mater. 

    You may even want to join an online support group for people going through divorce or dealing with grief. 

    You may also want you to join a group in real life (IRL). Joining a group like this can motivate you to get out into the world again for the sole purpose of connecting with other people. 

    Again, find something that interests you or simply intrigues you. 

    Don’t know where to start? Check out Meetup. You’ll have a tough time limiting your choices because there’s a group for every conceivable interest. 

    If you feel a little nervous and vulnerable going to your first group, yea! Consider that a sign that life is flowing back in!

  9. Exercise.

    If all you do is walk every morning or do yoga in front of your TV, you’re doing great! 

    Grief, worry, exhaustion, and all the other negatives of post-divorce life can excuse a brief slip into sedentariness. Now, more than ever, you need all those invigorating endorphins that come only from exercise. Nothing else will give you the two-for-one deal of caring for your body and mind at the same time. 

    For a little inspiration, consider this book by Barry Strauss. Rowing Against the Current chronicles the author’s late entry into rowing in response to a midlife crisis.

  10. Believe.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. And yes, there is life after divorce. 

    Not ready to raise your right hand on that belief? It’s OK to pretend until you are. 

    Just keep telling yourself that life is going to get better. 

    Sometimes faith happens one little belief at a time. Believe you can get that job. Believe you can go to a movie and laugh. Believe you can make it into that Destroyer of the Universe pose you’ve been challenged by for years. 

    Believe you’re going to make it through this year (you can worry about the year-after later). 

    And believe that you are right where you need to be to learn what you need to learn, with all the resources you need at your disposal.

Rebuilding a life after divorce doesn’t come with universal blueprints. There is no singular formula, no a+b=c. 

There are, however, intention, hope, trust, and choice in what your life is going to look like. It won’t happen overnight. But you are still the one in charge.

Even the architectural Wonders of the World, some built millennia before technology and modern engineering, were constructed one brick, one chisel at a time.

And yet, all were guided by a vision for what could be. And backing that vision was the belief that one step, one stone, one creative solution at a time would one day manifest to please the gods.

Believe.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a divorce and life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can begin living your happy life.

Looking for more information about rebuilding a life after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life after Divorce.

An Unhappy Marriage Is Best Resolved With A Divorce: True or False?

Woman holding her husband’s wedding ring pinned against a wooden ledge.

A debater becomes esteemed, even feared, not because of a predictable, uncompromising platform, but because of the ability to persuasively argue opposing platforms. Both (or several) sides. Calmly, convincingly, well-informed. An unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce. An unhappy marriage is best resolved with commitment and work. Aristotle could have you stumped with winning arguments on both sides.

You might not think the question of deciding a course of action for an unhappy marriage would be open to debate. Is it really anyone else’s business what a couple decides to do for their own happiness and well-being?

Touché. Point taken.

However, even that perspective – like most, if not all perspectives – has a counter-view.

What if the “debate” over how to resolve an unhappy marriage were argued within your own marriage…or even only within your own mind?

Do we keep going? Do we just stop the misery and try to heal? Have we tried everything we can to save this marriage?

What about the kids? Will they be better off growing up with unhappily married parents or with happily divorced parents?

We have divorced friends who insist that an unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce.

And we have divorced friends who wish they had stuck it out.

Perhaps the assumption of divorce as the best resolution for an unhappy marriage isn’t as simple as “true or false.”

Perhaps.

Let’s find out….

First, let’s look at the components of the argument that an unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce. After all, you can’t come to a true-or-false decision about something that’s not clearly defined.

What does an unhealthy marriage look like? Is it black-or-white? Would you easily recognize it in any couple claiming to be unhappy?

Would you recognize the difference between an unhappy, unhealthy, and completely toxic marriage?

Here’s where the argument gets messy. 

A pebble-in-the-shoe for one person may be a landmine for another. Symptoms of an unhappy marriage – like the disappearance of sex and the increase in fighting and criticism – are weathered differently by different couples.

It only makes sense when you think about it. 

You came to your marriage with two unique histories. You learned about love, commitment, struggle, and perseverance from different sets of parents and influences.

You also learned happiness/unhappiness by how you lived and what you assimilated from the influences in which you were steeped.

People who grew up and married in the early decades of the 20th century had to survive wars, famine, unemployment, and pandemics. They knew struggle at a different level than most of us do today.

They also inherently understood commitment, perseverance, sacrifice – and even the virtues of faith and hope – differently than most of us do today.

Did they never feel unhappy, even within their marriages? Did they never think that maybe – just maybe – an unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce?

Life circumstances don’t ordain (or preclude) specific emotions. But they can certainly influence perspective and choice. 

Consider, for example, how Hurricane Harvey impacted the relationships of married couples. An experience that no one would wish on anyone actually served as a boost to happiness in the couples studied.

But let’s argue for terminating an unhappy marriage. What justifications would a skilled debater assert for cutting your losses in the quest for happiness?

For one, children are like pets. No, not literally. But, in the sense that they almost telepathically pick up on emotional and relationship cues, they certainly are.

They may not know how to consciously process or verbalize the information they pick up on, but they definitely feel its effects. And they respond, even unconsciously, to it.

While divorce shouldn’t be viewed as a knee-jerk go-to, proponents of not staying together “for the kids” have grounds for separating from an irreconcilable existence.

Constant fighting and animosity between parents is harmful to children, especially during their formative years. They create stress, insecurity, and even health issues for those who have no authority over their own lives. Children are actually quite resilient. And, if parents are conscientious in how they divorce and move forward, their children can adapt quite well and thrive. They will end up happier in a well-managed divorce than in a miserable intact marriage between their parents.

Divorcing when your marriage is chronically unhappy can leave you more hopeful – for happiness, love, productivity, and a more authentic existence.

It can also improve your physical and (certainly) mental health. Stress, as we all know, is foundational to almost all disease and chronic illness. Remove yourself from the source of constant misery, and you will open yourself to restored health.

For all the reasons that leaving an unhappy marriage may seem like a quick conduit to contentment, there are an equal number to the contrary.

Leaving an unhappy marriage may not make you happier. And it certainly doesn’t guarantee your happiness!

Did you know that, in a study of new parents who were unhappy, those who stuck it out ended up happy in their marriages five years later?

Children of divorce suffer consequences that can last a lifetime. 

They are prone to greater health problems – physical, mental, and psychological. Overall, kids fare better with both biological parents in the same home.

Children of divorce are also at greater risk of relational problems in adulthood, including divorces of their own.

If you’re thinking that an unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce, have you and your spouse really worked on your marriage? Not on changing one another, but on improving yourself and your marriage?

Have you examined closely and honestly the reasons for your unhappiness? Is the unhappiness mutual? Is it circumstantial? 

Could there be a chance that you’re unhappy with your marriage and depressed?

Have your efforts to improve your marriage been resourced from your personal archives of communication and relationship skills? Or have you sought reliable, professional help for fixing an unhappy marriage?

Finally, consider that sometimes we all need help knowing how to find reasons to be happy. And, if you don’t have happiness and gratitude as a mindset, they’re not going to just flow in on the day your divorce is final.

So, the argument is this: An unhappy marriage is best resolved with a divorce: True or false? 

And I’m guessing you’re wondering when the verdict is going to appear.

You may not be surprised to hear that there is no (non-negotiable) verdict. 

You alone will have to play Aristotle on this one.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a life and divorce coach. I help people, just like you, who are struggling with an unhappy or even miserable marriage. For immediate help, you can download your FREE copy of “Contemplating Divorce? Here’s What You Need To Know.” Would you like to work with me personally? Click here to learn about booking an introductory 30-minute private coaching session with me.

Looking for more ideas for what to do about your unhappy marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.

7 Tips For Improving Self-Awareness

Woman meditating about improving her self-awareness in a forest with a cat by her side.

If you’ve ever sat on plastic-covered furniture — in shorts, during the summer, in a house with no air-conditioning — you’ll relate. And if you haven’t (you don’t know what you’re missing), run the image past someone a generation or two older than you. Beneath the chuckle and eye-roll, believe it or not, is an analogy for improving self-awareness.

For those too young to relate, think of Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. The only thing more outdated than her opinions and habits is her 70’s decor of harvest colors — including her plastic-covered sofa.

The absurdity and inappropriateness of her intrusiveness, self-righteousness, and shameless lack of boundaries are, of course, sitcom fodder. For Marie, the idea of improving self-awareness, even for the sake of improving her relationships, isn’t in her cosmos.

Tragically funny in sitcom life. Just plain tragic in real life.

And most of us know at least one person who seems devoid of all self-awareness — or at least complicit in their own arrested development. 

Can you believe her? Does she honestly have no idea? 

Does he ever look in the mirror? 

I can’t believe he still says racist things.

Does she not realize how rude her comments are sometimes?

Do they not realize we’re in the 21st century now?

For all the reasons that pique your suspicion of others’ self-awareness, one curiosity matters far more. Are you doing the work of improving self-awareness?

Ironically, your answer to that question is its own expression of self-awareness. Are you busy holding other people to a high standard instead of focusing on the work within yourself?

Is it possible to be too self-aware? Only if your awareness leads you to a hyper-self-vigilance and chronic evaluation with unrealistic expectations. 

Self-awareness isn’t about merciless self-scrutiny, but rather, recognition, learning, and growth. 

Can you be objective about your subjective self? And can you gauge the impression others have of you? 

Just as importantly, can you use that information, in conjunction with social norms and your own values and morals, to make constructive change when warranted?

Most of us could use some ongoing work in this area. And we could always benefit from helpful tips for improving self-awareness.

With that in mind, here are 7 to get you going.

  1. Meditate.

    Self-reflection is at the heart of self-awareness, and you don’t have to go on a meditation retreat to practice it. 

    Meditation is really about mindfulness, which is all about being “present” to where you are — physically, emotionally, spiritually — in the moment. You can just as effectively accomplish that by gardening or spending time in nature as you can “ohming” in the Lotus position. 

    The point is to center yourself in the moment and empty your mind of distractions so you can receive. 

    If you meditate as part of your faith, you may quiet yourself in order to “hear” the voice of Wisdom. 

    If you do it as a way to become grounded for the day, you may quiet your mind in order to receive guidance and clarity. 

    Whatever inspires you to practice a reflective discipline, you will be drawn inward. And that’s exactly where all the answers lie.

  2. Journal.

    You may feel so strapped for time that you can’t even make a grocery list, let alone write in a journal. But that can be your first (telling) journal entry: I always feel rushed and strapped for time. 

    Eight seemingly innocuous words that deliver a heavy dose of information. 

    What matters is that you create a discipline of “dumping” what’s whirling around backstage in your mind. Just write. Put your pen or keyboard on autopilot and corral the chaos of hidden feelings, racing thoughts, and observations. 

    Your subconscious mind is like “the great and mighty Oz.” It knows all. And it will happily tell all if you just ask it. 

    The other benefit of journaling is that it forges a positive habit through the discipline of self-examination and self-care. 

  3. Study The Twelve Steps.

    You don’t have to be an alcoholic, addict, or codependent to benefit from The Twelve Steps. As a matter of fact, the progressive nature of the steps — from awareness to admission to awakening — is all about improving self-awareness. 

    Making a “fearless inventory” of your wrongs, for example, isn’t easy. It takes inordinate courage and humility — two qualities that also show up in great leaders. 

    And the ability to make amends to those you have harmed throughout your life — again, the courage, humility, and fearless honesty! 

    Reaching the twelfth step is about recognizing your spiritual awakening and, from that awakening, helping others while continuing to apply the principles. 

    What could be a better testament to self-awareness as a practice and not a destination?

  4. Make a sincere apology.

    Whether you call it an “amends” or an “apology,” the ability and willingness to acknowledge your wrongs with contrition takes extraordinary self-awareness. 

    There’s a reason this 9th step of The Twelve Steps is so important to the recovery process. 

    Genuine regret requires more than “sorry.” It expects that the penitent recognizes the harm done and empathetically acknowledges its impact on the life of the one harmed. 

    The catch? You don’t know if the person receiving the apology will even care or accept it. 

    You also don’t know if you will be on the receiving end of forgiveness or a cauldron of anger and ill-will. 

    Your commitment has to be to clean your side of the street, no matter what the other person says or does. 

    How does self-awareness play into the moment? 

    Genuine remorse requires self-accountability with specificity. “Sorry for all the times I hurt you” doesn’t cut it. 

    When you hurt someone, you hurt them “with details” — details that get relived and felt, over and over. Your willingness to acknowledge those details and their damage demonstrates self-control and the grueling self-examination you did to get here. 

    Another reason this exercise is good for improving self-awareness is that you will inevitably have a lot of emotional and physical feelings. Recognizing them as they occur is the first step toward accepting and controlling them.

    And connecting those feelings to the context in which they occur will encourage you to change the behaviors that created that context in the first place. (This is the ultimate purpose of self-awareness: to use information gained to make positive change.)

    As you grow in self-awareness, you will notice that you make amends more quickly. And you will start catching yourself before you do something to hurt someone.

    The final step in this “drawing inward” is that you will change your thoughts, which will make apologies less necessary in the future. And that is the quintessential meaning of “cleaning up your act.”

  5. Ask a trusted friend for honest feedback.

    This can be a very positive exercise, even if you don’t like everything you hear. 

    Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, and we don’t always see the good that others see in us. 

    Of course, the same can be said for our faults. A little bit of pride and ego-protection can fuel a lot of denial. 

    We can easily (though unintentionally) lose our objective awareness of how others see us. 

    When seeking honest feedback on both your strengths and weaknesses, reach out to those who know you best and truly love you. 

    You don’t need flattery, you need friendship. And true friends always want you to have your best life…and be your best self.

  6. Do an inventory of your values and priorities.

    This isn’t a one-time exercise. It’s something you should do regularly — perhaps at New Year’s or on your birthday or even more frequently. 

    It’s also a wise thing to do when you have an experience that challenges the values you have always had. Life will do that. It’s constantly challenging us and keeping us in check. Do you really believe that? What about in this situation vs. that situation? What if it involves a stranger instead of someone you know and love? Why and how did you come to this conclusion? 

    Some people are afraid to give themselves permission to change their values or even “update” them. But growth is a form of change. And, as the saying goes, when you know better, you do better. Hopefully.

  7. Revisit your goals…and set new ones.

    In the same way that your values can change, so can your goals. 

    Your moral-compass values may undergo more “refinement” than all-out change. And the same can be said for your goals. 

    So why bother making a new list if it’s going to be “generally the same”? 

    Because setting goals is really an expression of what matters to you. And what matters to you is an expression of your character — who you are at your core. 

    Revisiting your goals and even setting new ones require you to do an honest appraisal of how you want to spend your time. And how you spend your time is a statement of your values and character. 

    It’s realistic to expect that your goals will change as you age, for example. Physical and financial ambitions may gently surrender to less competitive and more altruistic desires. Even where you decide to travel can be a reflection of evolving and improving self-awareness.

There are countless ways to start improving self-awareness. By “being aware that you want to be more aware,” you will aware of the myriad opportunities and inspirations for growth that surround you every day.

And that’s an evolution — and journey — that should continue for your entire life.

(Just be sure to take the plastic off the furniture.)

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in increasing your self-awareness (and maybe get a few more journal prompts for increasing self-awareness) so you can become more you.

5 Finding-Happiness Quotes That Remind You Happiness Is Always Within Reach

Woman sitting and smiling as she reads finding-happiness quotes.

Are you happy? Is your answer an easy, genuine ‘yes,’ or does the question give you pause? It’s a loaded question, simple as it is. And, if you’re going through a rough patch in your life, you may be questioning your happiness. But a healthy dose of finding-happiness quotes can help reconnect you to that jewel of existence. Sometimes we all just need a little reminding….

Being happy is so rooted in our expectations for life that we sometimes have unrealistic expectations of it. Surely it requires a long search, a pile of gold, or mind-bending decoding, right?

Would it surprise you to know that, no matter what is happening in your life, happiness is always within reach? That, unlike so many other things in life, it is always within your control?

Yes, even in the middle of loss, pain, and grief, happiness is still possible. Sounds contrary, doesn’t it? Especially if your world is imploding and positivity is tough to come by.

But happiness isn’t about being giddy, unrealistic, or unfazed by suffering. It’s about holding onto a constancy of contentment, hope, and inner peace.

Here are 5 finding-happiness quotes to remind you that happiness is always within reach.

  1. The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. — Henry Ward Beecher 

    Technology, for all the ways it has advanced our world and lives, has also been an accomplice to our unhappiness. Social media would have you believe you’re the only one who doesn’t have a six-figure income, a happy love life, and unlimited vacation time. 

    Even if you’re not trying to compare, you can’t help but juxtapose your own life against the extravagant lives of “everyone else.” 

    But not only is that a slippery slope into disillusionment and lack of gratitude, it can make you forget the happiness you actually have. 

    Reality, even for those who seem to “have it all,” exists in infinite shades of gray. It’s filled with mundane responsibilities – cleaning, cooking, commuting to work, changing diapers, paying bills. 

    If you wait for the big events, bigger houses, better jobs before being happy, you will end up waiting forever. 

    Happiness is found in the present — in the ordinary, routine, hand-me-down, grateful-for-what-you-have present. 

    It’s the undaunted, even quixotic, belief that the universe and all its benefactors hold you in their favor. 

    It’s the conviction that your child’s framed drawing from kindergarten is more valuable than any gallery masterpiece. 

    It’s feeling peaceful as you wash dishes and fold laundry with your favorite playlist keeping you company. 

    It’s a red cardinal showing up on your birdbath, a brief parting of clouds to reveal the sun, a hug from your child. 

    The point is, happiness is a choice of peaceful constancy, regardless of how common and non-Facebook-worthy the moment may seem.

  2. Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. — Denis Waitley

    I’ll be happy when I find a boyfriend..I’ll be happy when I make more money…I’ll be happy when I have (whatever)…I’ll be happy when I lose weight, get Botox, change my wardrobe…I’ll be happy when…after…if….

    And suddenly you wake up, look at the calendar, and realize your life is whizzing by, and you’re still waiting to be happy. 

    Perhaps you got the newest iPhone last year. But no sooner did you master the new camera than the next generation came out. 

    And your dream house that you spent years designing and building? Suddenly, according to HGTV, it’s all outdated. 

    If you wait to reach all your “dream destinations” before allowing yourself to be happy, you’ll miss the whole meaning and purpose of happiness. 

    Happiness is a gift waiting in every moment. It’s like unconditional love that is blinded to your imperfections. It’s an agreement your spirit makes to remain grounded in love, grace, and gratitude, no matter the circumstances.


  3. Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. — Buddha

    It’s an ageless spiritual truth that the surest way to happiness is to help someone else be happy. 

    Forgetting your gratitude? Give to someone who has nothing or has lost everything. Struggling to be successful? Help someone else find success. 

    The message? Start lighting other candles and watch your world get brighter. You will see your own joy reflected back to you in the light you have shared…and it will have cost you nothing.   

  4. Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. — Anonymous

    It’s easy to slack into the belief that happiness is something that befalls you, that it is conditioned upon forces outside you. 

    Likewise, it’s easy to believe that unhappiness befalls you, as well, and for the same reasons. You are either the lucky winner or the victim. 

    We all know people who look for the negative with knee-jerk speed. Say something completely innocuous, and they will jump in with judgment, criticism, or a solicitation to argue. Ick. It’s enough to make you want to shower off all the negativity…or just avoid them altogether (not a bad idea). 

    And then there are those people who have an amazing knack for instantly seeing the good in everything and everyone. They’re not phony or gratuitous. They have simply disciplined themselves — mentally, spiritually — to look for the good in life. 

    They automatically see possibility, hope, lessons, opportunity, enlightenment. 

    They’re the ones who lower the temperature in tense situations, help others consider a different viewpoint, and mediate reconciliations. 

    They’re the ones you want to be around because your spirit wants a big dose of what they have. 

    They think differently about the same things the rest of the world experiences. And it’s not by accident. They know their thoughts determine their happiness, and they work constantly to elevate them.

  5. When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. — Helen Keller 

    When it comes to finding-meaning and finding-happiness quotes, few people have given us more to think about than Helen Keller. 

    We all experience loss and disappointment, sometimes painfully or devastatingly so. And it can easily feel as if happiness gets buried with the loss. 

    But, if you devote your thoughts, beyond a healthy grieving process when warranted, to the door that was closed, you’ll miss the door that is opening. 

    And there is always a new door opening.

What’s your takeaway from this handful of finding-happiness quotes?

Hopefully it’s that happiness is not an elusive or temporary feeling, but a choice and commitment to positivity as the steady undercurrent of your life.

Still need inspiration and tips for a happy life? Click here.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can create a happy and healthy life for yourself.

Looking for more information about how to live a happy and healthy life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life.

5 Hopeful Moving-On-With-Life-After-Divorce Quotes

Woman sitting on the floor reading moving on with life after divorce quotes.

Sometimes being a champion in your own life needs more inspiration than what you can muster up on your own. After a traumatic experience like divorce, when your life needs a hero more than ever, self-motivation can be tough to generate. But take heart. The sages of life’s messy, confusing, spirit-stunting events have come up with a wellspring of moving-on-with-life-after-divorce quotes to re-energize your journey.

Divorce, even when necessary for the hope of happiness, leaves a lot of discontent in its wake. If you are going through or have gone through a divorce, you know how unpredictable, weighty, and defeating the aftermath can be.

But chances are you also know that people do get through it. And many end up happier than they have ever been.

So let’s recharge your positivity with these 5 moving-on-with-life-after-divorce quotes:

  1. “The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

    I’m starting with this reflection by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross for a couple reasons.

    First, Kübler-Ross encapsulates in one sentence the essence of the journey of divorce. There is the struggle. There is the loss – of dreams, of promises, of friendship, of marriage, of family.

    I’m starting with this reflection by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross for a couple reasons.

    First, Kübler-Ross encapsulates in one sentence the essence of the journey of divorce. There is the struggle. There is the loss – of dreams, of promises, of friendship, of marriage, of family. 

    And there is the resurrection, if you will. The turning skyward from the depths of pain and unknowing and ascending with focus, not only away from the darkness, but toward the light. 

    The other reason I am starting with this quotation is that Kübler-Ross is responsible for defining what we have all come to know as the five stages of grief

    Coaching someone through the functional and emotional stages of divorce would be incomplete without the incorporation of grief. It’s a journey that weaves its way through the entire experience of divorce. 

    And divorce grief is unlike bereavement or any other kind of grief

    The model of grief defined by Kübler-Ross runs parallel to the journey of divorce. There is the initial denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and, eventually, acceptance. 

    The stages don’t necessarily flow linearly, but they do flow toward eventual acceptance. 

    What a beautiful expression of accepting your own struggles and losses and finding a way to transform them into something wonderful.
  1. “Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” – Roy T. Bennett 

    Divorce is the epitome of struggling through an undoing in an effort to rebuild your life…with wings. It is, in many ways, the consummate test of your determination against the weight of negativity, destruction, and loss. 

    If you’ve ever picked up an injured bird, you’ve probably marveled at how lightweight it was. Those wings that dance on air are finessed in their unique gift. 

    But they can’t be weighed down and still fly. 

    And so it is with your spirit and your life. 

    Whether or not you wanted your divorce, your determination to soar on clouds of happiness and success depends on unburdened wings. 

    Think of it as jettisoning heavy cargo from a plane in an emergency. Whatever doesn’t serve your highest good has to go.
  1. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    There really is no moving on with life after any kind of loss without forgiveness.

    Interestingly, the heaviest weight that will keep you from flying is lack of forgiveness. 

    All the moving-on-with-life-after-divorce quotes in the world will sit in a holding pattern until you decide to forgive. Your ex. Yourself. Anyone who may have hurt or disappointed you. 

    Forgiveness in the context of divorce can be extremely difficult. No matter who has done what, both parties have contributed to what is now seen as a loss, failure, and devastation.

    The negative energy of divorce can weaken the spirit. But forgiveness infuses positivity, freedom, and hope. It makes room for what can be instead of tripping over the archives of what was.

    It takes incredible strength to stand up to harms of the past – especially those self-inflicted – and say, “You’re not the boss of me!”
  1. “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” – Toni Morrison

    So the process is over. The ugly battle over assets and custody, the blame, the packing, the standing on a precipice staring into a wall of fog. It’s all over. Legally, anyway.  

    Anyone who is awake through something so difficult knows the real work is just beginning. You may not have a spouse to answer to now, but you do have someone who has been waiting patiently for you. And, yes, it’s you. 

    Even if you have children to care for, you also have yourself to care for in a new, liberated way. What is your vision for this new self? How will you own your new self and the destiny you are now in charge of creating? 

    At the moment you decide to take ownership of yourself – divorced, forgiving, forgiven – the moving on will begin.
  1. “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.” – Brené Brown 

    What a perfect place to close. 

    You are standing in a position of choice. What you deny or give away in the form of blame will remain out of your power and prerogative to change. And, ironically, it will continue to cling to you, like a barnacle that serves no purpose. 

    Your story, in a sense, will always own you

    But own your story with acceptance and responsibility? 

    Now it belongs to you. It’s yours to use as you will. 

    You can learn from it. Grow from it. Inspire and teach others because of it. And you can change the narrative for the sequel…and write the ending you have always dreamed of.

Coming full circle with these moving-on-with-life-after-divorce quotes, there is a sixth stage of grief that melds perfectly with the challenge of moving forward.

Finding meaning, as the culmination to the journey through grief, gives movement and momentum to acceptance.

Meaning isn’t always obvious. Most of the time it has to be created from a merging of experience and positive intention.

The magic of finding (or creating) meaning from your loss is that it extends an invitation. And it gives you something worthwhile to live into.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’re tired of struggling with life after divorce and would like some support, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me and together we can begin putting together a plan for the next best steps you can take to start feeling better.

Looking for more information about how to start over after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.