How to know if you’re happy…or not!

How to know if you’re happy…or not!

I frequently get asked, by people listening to me speak and/or by journalists and clients…”How do I know if I’m happy or not?” By default, many are actually asking, “How do I know if I’m depressed or not?”

For a while, I used to think this question a bit strange; but then I realised that most people, unlike myself, have never studied psychology and so are ignorant (in the purest sense of the word) about the real definitions of happiness, unhappiness, depression, stress and other emotional descriptors (formal or informal).

So, with this in mind, I thought I’d provide a brief overview that should help you work out where you are on the psychological scale of emotions…

…but first, let me reiterate a point I’ve made many times in my writings and keynotes – real happiness is more than an absence of unhappiness. So what we need to recognise is that real and meaningful happiness (albeit realistic happiness) is a combination of positive emotions AND minimal (but not a complete absence of) negative emotions.

With this in mind, here’s how you can determine whether or not you’re suffering from one of the more common forms of psychopathology:

  • Check out the tip sheets on depression and anxiety – HERE
  • Find more information on mental health problems – HERE

If you are experiencing any of these forms of distress, and they are very common, then please get help; because help is at hand; and there are very effective treatments that will work for most people. For example you can easily…

  • talk to your GP
  • talk to one of the expert team at
  • find a local psychologist or health professional
  • or at the very least, talk to your family and friends and maybe then can help you get through this difficult period

But as noted, happiness is not just an absence of depression or unhappiness; in addition, it’s the feeling of thriving and flourishing; it’s the frequent experience of positive emotions such as joy and pride and satisfaction and contentment and…and, well, so much more!

If you’re really happy you’ll also know because…

  • you’ll have a clear sense of who you are, what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it
  • you’ll have energy and zest, enthusiasm and hope for life
  • the future will look bright and you’ll be grateful for the present
  • you’ll spend more of your time focusing on and utilising what you’re best at (rather than dwelling on what you’re not so good at)
  • you’ll enjoy spending time with others as they enjoy spending time with you

So that’s about it. I hope that helps and I’d love to know your thoughts…is there anything else that you’ve found helps you clarify whether or not you’re happy? Whether or not you’re down? If so, add your comments to our Facebook page (see a link below).

Thanks for reading…Dr. Happy