22 Reasons I’m Happy (this is my happiness story)

My family

A quick note about this post: It’s my birthday today and was going to post another installment of “Things you don’t know about me” when I decided on a whim to share my personal happiness story with you instead.

Since it needs some context, it requires that I share some parts of my background I have never shared with any single person before—not out of shame or pride, but because, frankly, I haven’t thought much about it in decades. At least not until I started writing this post.


I feel blessed to be a happy guy. In fact, not only do I love life, I love my life. Things are certainly not perfect, but the beauty of it is that they really don’t need to be, now do they!

Things just don’t bug me much and it’s very seldom that I take offense. I don’t hold grudges and am not very often disappointed with people or life. That doesn’t mean I’ve had no challenges to overcome.

The fact is that I haven’t always been so confident and happy. Just the opposite, really.

My Story

Let’s go back to my teen years. I was insecure, lacked confidence and needed constant reassurances from the few friends I had. I never dated—didn’t have the self-confidence to believe anyone would say yes (was actually quite confident they would say no, or simply snicker at the idea of going out with me, for that matter). I was, all in all, a mess.

But one instance stands out above the rest that will help paint for you the clearest portrait of my insecure teen-aged life.

The Context

My next-door neighbor had been my best friend since about the age of 5—everywhere but school, that is. He was a year older and I suppose it wasn’t cool to hang with a younger kid. And since I was too insecure to go looking for a better friend, I would wander the school at lunch hoping to appear to be going somewhere. I didn’t want people to see me sitting by myself, looking like a loner. That, I’d been told by countless sitcoms, was the social kiss of death.

So I reasoned within my teenaged brain, that if I wandered the school at lunch or break, always in the act of walking, it would look to others as though I was always heading somewhere, on my way to some specific place, where, as far as others would have been able to tell, I had a group of friends waiting for me.

They weren’t, of course—but that’s not the worst of it.

I was so insecure that I didn’t know how to walk—or at least wanted to walk differently than I perceived mine to be. So what did I do? Well, I patterned my walk after a cartoon character (that I haven’t been able to find online to show you) who was a teenaged hippy with a slouch, of course!

Word of caution to other insecure teens: Never use cartoon characters to pattern much of anything after. Trust me on this one!

Got the Picture?

So there I was, a tall, lanky, insecure teen with no real friends (not until my senior year, anyway), acne, crooked teeth (that braces were in the process of fixing), never having dated in high school, lacking confidence and wandering the halls of his school hoping his peers would never discover the ruse, but always fearing they would.

And then this:

I was in the midst of one of my maybe-he-has-friends-because-he’s-walking-somewhere trick when I walked by my next-door neighbor who was talking to a girl and overheard the girl say something to this effect: “Hey, isn’t that you’re weird friend who just wanders around the school? Why does he walk like that? He’s so strange!”

My neighbor laughed. I shrank.

Ouch! My plan hadn’t worked. My walk wasn’t as cool as I thought the cartoon character made it seem. I was found out! Exposed! Revealed! Shamed!

I felt lonely. Stupid. Pathetic. A loser.

The fact that I was pretty severely bullied in my final year of elementary school by a group of boys, most of whom later became gang members, didn’t help with my inferiority complex either.

Unhappy to happy in 3 years:

But with such an insecure, unhappy start, why am I so happy today? What changed from those days of being a lanky, self-conscious, insecure, unsure, self-esteem-challenged teen to a rather self-assured and happy guy today?

What I want to share with you in this post is not so much the process of becoming happy, as much as what I experience as a happy man today. In other words, what qualities did I develop that lent themselves to my current state of happiness? What are the differences between then and now?

22 Reasons I’m Happy

Reminder: I have not always been able to claim the following characteristics. Most of them were scarce or non-existent for much of my earlier years. Still, because of change I underwent or beliefs I adopted or attitudes I worked on acquiring, I have come to the point in my life where I can honestly claim the following are, in fact, where my heart and mind and character (and therefore, my happiness) is today.

Reason #1: I’m a self-confident guy

And the truth is, I’m not entirely sure where the confidence comes from because I haven’t always been so confident (as related above).

Some of it comes from changes I made in my senior year and into my 20s. My teeth were fixed and my acne cleared up and it seemed like girls were starting to notice me here and there.

Lots of it came from the religion I adopted just before turning nineteen. It began to change how I looked at myself. I came to believe there was inherent value in the person called Ken. I also accepted church responsibilities that challenged me and led to a growing sense of competence and added meaning and purpose to the way I lived my life.

Finally, part of it came from the work I did on improving myself. It was during my senior year that I began working to improve my character and confidence by reading philosophy, religion, psychology, self-help and the like.

Reason #2: I like who I am

I feel good in my own skin. I’m certainly not perfect, but I don’t have to be and I’m OK with that. I work hard to improve on the original product, but am also content with where I am right now. I enjoy the journey, so don’t condemn myself for still not being at the end of it.

Reason #3: I’m at peace

I don’t have unmet needs or unresolved issues to take care of. My heart isn’t stuck in history and isn’t so focused on the future as to detract from the moment. I learn from mistakes and move on. I believe the balance of my life is more good than otherwise, and I feel good about that. If I were to pass away today, I’m pretty confident I would be leaving the world a bit better than when I happened upon it. My conscience is clear and I don’t harbor ill will toward anyone.

Reason #4: I do a pretty decent job living my values

We are all inconsistent being (which is not the same as being a hypocrite, mind you). But because I take my values very seriously, I do a pretty decent job at living up to them, even though I still stumble on most days to some degree or another.

Reason #5: I am an inveterate optimist

I believe things will work out, that life is in God’s hands, that my life will end up something close to where I will want it to be because right now it’s pretty amazing as is. Optimism is another way of saying I have faith that when the dust settles, it will largely settle into the grooves of just-about-right.

Reason #6: Negative circumstances don’t bring me down very far for very long

In other words, I bounce back quickly. I have no problem changing plans or changing schedules or recovering from disappointments or moments of frustration. I just don’t hang onto such things. Why would I? I haven’t yet discovered anything wonderful from holding onto some unpleasantness longer than it takes to solve the problem and move on from it. So I don’t. If it rains, we take our parade elsewhere and have just as much fun.

Reason #7: I’m a patient guy

While I can do better being patient with things, I’m quite patient with people. I’m happier because I’m less often angry at other peoples’ thoughtlessness. And there is a lot of it out there. When I do react poorly, it’s short-lived because I simply choose not to dwell on it. There are, after all, way too many other things to think about than waste any time obsessing over rude people and rude behavior.

Reason #8: I laugh easily

Perhaps too easily. I see humor in most things—even in things others take very seriously (and yes, that does get me in trouble from time to time). There just isn’t much happiness without much laughter, so I engage in it as often as I find it—which, as it turns out, is quite often.

Reason #9: I don’t hold on to hurts or hold grudges

I forgive quickly and easily. It’s sort of my default setting. I know I need other people’s forgiveness too often to worry too much about how others have offended me. Truth is, it takes quite a lot to offend me. I just don’t really remember the last time I felt offended. I don’t hold a “how-dare-you” attitude, so don’t feel that way when someone says something intended to offend. And if it wasn’t intended, why would I want to get all bent out of shape over it?

Reason #10: I have no hatred in my heart

Even where my political views urge a steely sort of justice (for child molesters, for instance), it’s not from a place of hatred, but a sense of justice and data on recidivism rates (I simply want children protected and if you have hurt them, you don’t belong in society. Period.). In other words, it’s a thoughtful reaction to a heinous crime, not a hateful reaction to a screwed up person.

Reason #11: I believe my life has value

I live a life chock-full of what I love, what lends my life purpose and meaning and significance. I work hard at it and try to create value in my life and in the lives of others. Meant to be Happy is a significant part of that.

Reason #12: I tend to look on the bright side

I’m a pretty positive person, seeing the best in life, myself and others. I love sunshine. But I also love rain. And wind. And, well, most things. I see good in people and opportunity in challenge. I tend to focus more on silver linings than clouds and on roses than thorns. Life is simply an amazing ride I’m lucky to have been given a ticket to.

Reason #13: I’m not judgmental

While I have a very strong set of values, I don’t condemn anyone for not sharing them or living up to them. They are my values, after all. It’s the old adage of hating the sin, but loving the sinner. I believe things strongly and am a pretty opinionated guy (here, I’m opining on living a happy life, right?). But I am perfectly comfortable living in a world that doesn’t always share my point of view (even though they should!).

Reason #14: I’m okay with imperfection

But not only with my own. I’m also okay with other people’s imperfections. And while I tend to be a perfectionist to some degree, I’m what I like to call a modified perfectionist in that I seek it, but don’t beat myself up for my inevitable mistakes and pratfalls. They are, after all, inevitable and, like I said earlier, I’m OK with that.

Reason #15: I don’t take myself or life or others too seriously

I’m able to laugh at my own idiosyncrasies and daily trips and stumbles without getting all worked up about it. This, perhaps, is one reason I don’t easily get offended and am quick to forgive others. Those who take themselves too seriously tend to require lots of egg-shell-walking around them.

Reason #16: I don’t need everyone to love me so am okay when they don’t

Since I’m not hungry to be accepted, I don’t really think much about whether or not any particular person thinks much about me. I’m not callous, just don’t consider whether someone likes me or not something worth dwelling on.

I guess my default setting is to assume they kinda do. And if not, that’s okay! To each, his own. When I find someone doesn’t like me, I don’t fall to pieces wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” Such considerations just don’t enter my mind.

Reason #17: I believe in a God who metes out ultimate justice

I believe in a God who loves me and who will make all ledgers balance in the end. This adds a sense of confidence and peace and faith in the sometimes excruciating details of an unredeemed world where horrible things happen to innocent people.

Reason #18: I work out regularly and eat healthy

Since health affects mood, mine is usually pretty upbeat.

Reason #19: As a teacher, I interact with lots of people every day

Relationships are developed. Friendships are formed. Happiness is thereby deepened.

Reason #20: I’m part of a church community

We visit each other. We serve each other. Support each other. Love each other. Pray for each other.

Reason #21: When I mess up, I don’t dwell on the mistake or define the entirety of who I am by it

In other words, I separate myself from my mistakes. When I fail, I simply fail. I don’t become a failure.

Reason #22: I do what I love

I love teaching. I love guitar and piano. I love reading. I love learning. I love writing. I love playing with my son, holding my granddaughter, dating my wife and hanging out with my family. And so I do all these things as often as I can. My life is filled with things and people I’m passionate about. So passion defines most of my life.

Are you happy?

Let us know why (or why not).

What makes you the happiest?

See you in the comments!

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 Gratitude is to happiness