Living with cancer blog

What are the ingredients to happiness?

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. September 14, 2013

This week I'd like to talk about happiness. I am talking about the kind of happiness that brings you pure joy and a feeling of contentment.

Feelings of happiness can depend on many things. First, we need to feel safe and secure and have our physical needs met. After this, we can focus on our emotions and feelings. Happiness and joy arrive when we feel a sense of love, purpose and belonging.

As a cancer survivor, stress and anxiety can sneak up on you and put a damper on your level of happiness. You may have good days and bad days as you physically and emotionally deal with treatment, side effects, recovery and anxiety about your future.

Sometimes the anxiety and worry about cancer takes over your thoughts — this is normal. However, instead of hanging on to the negative thoughts, try this. Every day set aside 10-15 minutes, you might call it your worry time, and focus on your main concerns. Write your worries down in a journal or talk about them with someone else. Recognize them as things you can't control and then move on to more positive thoughts. This puts anxiety in its place and still allows you time to get the negative thoughts out of your mind.

The goal is to have more positive, happy days instead of days filled with sadness and negative emotions. Here are a few ideas to help guide you:

  • Focus on the positive. Think about the good things that are happening at the moment.
  • Spend quality time with the ones you love. Go for a walk with your partner, make a phone call and laugh with a friend, go to a movie, or arrange a lunch outing to get your mind back on the things that matter most.
  • Reflect on who you are. What makes you unique and special? This well help with your sense of purpose and belonging.
  • Remain present in each moment. Take time to feel, see, hear and touch the world around you.

Everyone has moments of uncertainty, this makes us human. However, finding your own sense of happiness can make a liberating difference. What is happiness to you?


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Sept. 14, 2013