One Small Happiness: The Power to Change the Things You Can

a picture of a seasonally decorated part of my house to support celebrating small joys

One Small Happiness: The Power to Change the Things You Can


It’s the end of Spring Break. I’ve spent the day refreshing my home. And reflecting – mostly reflecting that my Spring Break wasn’t as productive as I had planned. Many of you reading know that I have a job role as an Administrator/School Counselor at a small private school in Katy, Texas. As such, not having to be at the school this past week motivated me to create a long to-do list taking care of life tasks and tasks in my private practice.

But it wasn’t productive; not in that way. As today’s sunshine turned to the dark of night, I realized I felt down. It could be a few things. I am a card carrying member of the “sandwich generation” where I am still involved in shaping my young adults but also concerned with the rapidly changing needs of an aging parent. Certainly, the concerns about my 3 young adults and my Dad (and my sister who carries most of the burden regarding my Dad) are on my mind…

pictures of my kids because the post is about the stress of being sandwiched between the generations of aging parents and raising kids

a picture of my dad, part of my sandwich since I am part of the sandwich generation

It could also be the worry about the financial transition from the job with United Healthcare; the one that had a good salary and benefits for working 10 hours Saturday and 10 hours Sunday; but I While my gut and soul know I made the right decision, I worry that my bank account hasn’t caught up yet.

It could be a (hopefully minor) medical issue I need to call a Dr about tomorrow, using my new insurance for the first time.

There is not a diagnosis code for “generalized blah.” But it is how I found myself feeling, slipping more deeply into something possibly less transitory. In the 12-Step community, there is a tool many members use to “filter” decisions. It’s known as the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Courage to change the things I can.

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Using the filter of the Serenity Prayer, I could not immediately change anything that might be informing my mood. But I could do one small thing to brighten my day. I work with clients all the time to build habits that create positive patterns of neural activity; habits that create a happy brain. I encourage clients to sprinkle their lives with moments of joy, delight, pleasure, fun, and laughter.

Here is a blog post about the healing benefits of laughter, for example.

Some of my readers may know (and my in-person clients may see at my office) that I enjoy making small seasonal changes to my décor. One day this week, I had just enough time to go to a thrift store. I purchased a set of 4 small metal trays – one of each season. They are inexpensive, but they are cute and fun. Today I placed the Spring tray on my coffee bar and it gave me inordinate but welcome joy. Every time I pass the tray (which is often), I smile. Placing my tray (a one small, simple act of happy) became the courage to change the things I can.

a picture of a seasonally decorated part of my house to support celebrating small joys

What is one thing YOU can do today to change your mood? You can’t change your kid, parent, spouse, or boss. But you CAN do something that changes you. How about a gratitude list? Did you know gratitude is also healing? No, really? From a science standpoint? Here is a blog post about it. And another one.  A bubble bath? Read a chapter of a book just for fun? Do you like to sketch? Dance?

What does this post have to do with recovering from being a substance use disorder? Everything, and nothing. Habits that positively affect brain chemistry are necessary after establishing sobriety in order to build a happy, content, and thriving sober life. If you think that is something you may need to learn more about, please visit my site and contact me.




24618 Kingsland Blvd 2nd Floor, Room 8
Katy, TX 77494
On the left hand side of the CLS building
(281) 740-7563

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