post written by: Marc Chernoff

29 Signs You’re Doing Just Fine (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It)


29 Signs You’re Doing Just Fine (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It)

Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to keep things in perspective and deal with them.

We all have days, weeks, months and – for some – even years of feeling anxious and uncertain.  It’s a vague feeling you can’t quite put your finger on.  From the outside, people think you have it all together, but they can’t see what’s going on in your head.  Emptiness fills your thoughts and emotions all too often, nagging at you throughout the day.  You set goals but they never satisfy your ego.  You always feel a day late and a buck short.  The search can seem almost endless.

And a question continues to spin in your mind:  “Why can’t I just be happy?”

The good news is you don’t have to live like this.  There is a better way to view the world that will lead to what you seek.  The first step, though, is to stop searching.  You will never find happiness by continually looking for it in another time and place.  When you focus on the lack of something in your life, what you want will always elude you.

Angel and I often tell our Getting Back to Happy course members they’re doing so much better than they give themselves credit for.  Most of us are so busy trying to make something big happen, we forget to pause and appreciate all our little victories.

Rather than dwelling on what’s missing in your life, start looking at what you have.  This isn’t just about material possessions; it’s about all the goodness in your life.  When you focus on the abundance you already have, the negative feelings that come from lacking something else gradually fade from your conscious.  Living isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can be enjoyable when you start to see the good instead of focusing on the bad.

Having trouble seeing the goodness?  Here’s a list of things you have to smile about – some obvious signs you’re doing just fine in life:

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  1. You have the freedom to live your life the way you want to live it. – If you often worry about what you’re going to do with your life – your career, your family, the next step, etc., be grateful.  All details aside, this means you have ambition, passion, drive, and the freedom to make your own decisions.
  2. You are courageously walking your own path. – When people argue with you and challenge your decisions, remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.  You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if some people disagree.
  3. You are making difficult decisions and acting upon them. – How well you play the game of life comes down to the sum of your choices.  You know this.  Whatever you decide, don’t be the chess piece, be the chess player.
  4. You are working hard for people and causes you believe in. – Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something you love is called passion.
  5. You are choosing to be happy in your own way. – When you stop chasing everyone else’s definition of happiness, you begin to see that the decision to be happy has been available all along.  (Read Authentic Happiness.)
  6. You see obstacles in front of you because you are not settling. – If you settle for just anything, there wouldn’t be any obstacles in your way, but then you would never know what you are capable of either.  Because your obstacles are your opportunities.  Obstacles are put in your way to help you determine if what you want is really worth fighting for.
  7. You have made the best of some tough situations. – Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy with everything.  Sometimes it just means you’re strong enough to accept it and make the best of it.
  8. You have come a long way. – Do not judge your failed attempts and mistakes as an indication of your future potential, but as part of your growth process.  Your past has given you the strength and wisdom you have today, so celebrate it and use the knowledge you’ve gained.  Don’t let it haunt you and hold you back.
  9. You haven’t quit and you aren’t planning on it. – People rarely quit over the last thing that happened.  Instead they quit a tiny bit each day.  Trying to fix the last thing misses the point.  Keep this in mind.
  10. You do your best to accept what you can’t change. – Moving on is never an easy thing, but if you start accepting things for what they are it’ll be a lot easier.  Acceptance is always the key to moving forward and making positive changes that are within your control.
  11. You aren’t scared to fail forward. – The biggest difference between wildly successful people and total failures is that successful people fail more often, instead of just once.
  12. You haven’t let fear get in your way. – You have to wonder how many people are afraid to die, in part, because they often realize too late that they were afraid to live.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  13. You still believe in the possibilities that lie ahead. – Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what could be.  Remember, life does not have to be anywhere near perfect to be wonderful.
  14. You dare to dream every day. – Dr. King gave the famous “I have a dream” speech not the “I have a plan” speech.  It’s our dreams that change the course of history, not just our plans.  Keep dreaming.
  15. You have a vision for your future. – “Vision” is the ability to talk about your future with such clarity, it’s as if you are talking about your past.
  16. You haven’t let the judgments of others stop you. – Keep listening to your intuition, and make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.”  Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in.
  17. You are doing what you can with what you have. – The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams, right now, to any degree that you already can.
  18. You are doing your best to provide value. – No one is entitled to success.  To remain successful, you must constantly find new ways to add value.  Keep putting your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts.  This is one of the great secrets of lasting success.
  19. You go out of your way to help people. – Service is not doing what is required of us.  Service is doing more than is required of us.  Remember, successful people are always looking for ways to help others.  Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”
  20. You aren’t scared to express your love, openly. – Love is great when spoken, but greatest when shown.  So if you care about someone’s wellbeing, show it.  Keep doing little things daily to show the people around you that you care.
  21. You continue to make a difference. – Have you ever thought about how much your actions mean to others?  Maybe that smile you gave to a stranger today made their bad day better.  Maybe that hello you gave to a colleague today made them realize people actually notice them and care.  Maybe that money you gave to a homeless man today gave him hope.  Maybe spending time with someone special today made them forget their problems for a while.  Keep it up.
  22. You have enough right now to live comfortably. – You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.  You awoke this morning with a roof over your head.  You had a choice of what clothes to wear.  You have access to clean drinking water and electricity.  You are online right now.  You have plenty to be comfortable.  Being wealthy is a mindset.  Want less and appreciate more.
  23. You haven’t let rampant materialism get the best of you. – Our lives are not defined by the things we possess.  Our lives are defined by the things we pursue.  Make sure what you own, never owns you.
  24. You are reasonably healthy. – In other words, if you got sick today you could recover.  Never underestimate the gift of your health.  It’s the greatest wealth you will ever own.  It’s the foundation for every chance at happiness and success life has to offer.  Your body is the only place you will truly ever live.
  25. Your relationships are less dramatic than they use to be. – Keep forgoing the drama and ignoring the negativity.  Don’t let ignorance stop you from being the best you can be.  Just keep doing what you’re doing – being sincere and kind, and promoting what you love, rather than bashing what you hate.
  26. You have escaped from some very toxic relationships. – Don’t worry too much about people who don’t worry about you.  Know your worth!  When you give yourself to someone who doesn’t respect you, you surrender pieces of your soul that you’ll never get back.  (Read Toxic People.)
  27. You know deep down that you are not alone. – Next time you feel all alone, remember, again, that you are not.
  28. You have great people in your life who are standing beside you. – Know that it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.  And remember, it’s during the toughest times of your life that you’ll get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you.  Don’t take these people for granted.  Look around and appreciate them, right now.
  29. You have a home. – A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.  But a home isn’t always a physical structure, or a specific location on a map.  Home is wherever the people you love are, whenever you’re with them.  It’s not a defined place, but a space in your heart and mind that builds upon itself like little bricks being stacked to create something stable that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.

Recognizing these little victories in your life on a daily basis can take you from a mindset of wishing you had more, to a mindset of joyful appreciation.

Your turn…

What would you add to the list?  What’s something positive about you and your life situation that you often overlook?  Please leave a comment below and let the community know.

Photo by: Lauren Rushing

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53 Comments

  • Wonderful post. It’s always nice to be reminded that mindfulness can really have a dramatic impact on your life and the way you feel. I sometimes forget just how lucky I am to have the ability to think for myself. So today I am going to choose thoughts that empower me. I hope others who read this join me. :)

  • I recently had to start over after a terribly stressful divorce. I moved into a warehouse with an apartment so I could start a carpentry business and have a place to sleep at night. A couple friends donated a pullout couch and eating table for me to use. Slowly, I bought used appliances so I could cook and refrigerate my few groceries. Times were sparse, but I was happy with what I had.

    A little over a year has passed. Now it’s much more comfortable than when I started. I’m grateful! It’s been a long and lonely road, but I’m making it! Sometimes I overlook how much progress I’ve made and how much I’ve grown. Thank you for reminding me.

  • Even though times have been tough for me over this past year, your book and blog’s newsletters have helped me keep things in perspective. Inspired by many of your suggestions, I have created a short list I refer to when I really need to remind myself of what I have (at the very least) to be thankful for:
    -Eyes that see
    -Ears that hear
    -Lips that speak
    -Hands that can reach, clasp, hold
    -Feet that can walk under their own ability
    -The ability to smell a flower, fresh baked bread
    -Laughter and tears

  • Awesome list, Marc.

    Speaking as a recovering perfectionist, I think an important thing to observe is that we don’t have to be cognizant of ALL these things on any given day. My own tendency is to look at each individual item and where I’m falling short with it (e.g., “I really *haven’t* come all that far,” “I’m not sure I’m providing much value,” “But I really do feel alone lately,” etc.).

    But you’ve given us a very comprehensive list here, and I think everyone will be able to pick, say, at least five items that apply to them right now. So we should pretty much always be able to find several items we can legitimately feel grateful for *today.*

    We can just forget any that don’t feel valid right now. There’s still plenty going on in our lives that’s wonderful. So let’s focus there, and see what happens. :)

    Thanks again for this great list!

  • I love this: “The first step, though, is to stop searching.” Because, if I’m honest, there is always a little part of me that is searching. And, maybe that’s part of the human dilemma: this subtle disconnect and huger. Even though everything is actually just fine.

    It’s so helpful to be reminded that we’re actually doing just fine.

  • Thank you. Times have been tough since I lost my job in 2009 - I mean tough in my mind. But I have taken stock and during this time I earned a master’s degree and the opportunity to teach college students. I often questioned God’s intentions but I am still here so I must believe there is a purpose for my life. In this spirit I hope to take my passion in another direction and start my own business. I will continue to teach-it’s my life. But I am also going work on my ability to learn about me, who I am and how wonderful life truly is.

  • I love this post :)
    I have a therapist and I report to him weekly of my progress. Of how proud I am of myself for thinking more positive things and shutting out the negative and judgmental voice inside. I feel like I’m a long way to my goal, but for now, I feel good and proud of myself.

  • Perfect timing. I am struggling with not being happy, even though I have everything anybody could ever want. Thanks for this post, so many valuable points. Also, could you possibly elaborate more on #9?

  • Hi! First of all, I just want to say that this website has really inspired me in a lot of ways, and I have been checking it often over the last month or two since I found it. Thank you Marc and Angel for everything you write here! It has really helped me in many ways. I happened to find you by chance through a search engine when looking up ways to live a happier life!

    One thing that really keeps me positive and up and going is having a sense of humor. There are a lot of things I find really funny, and I believe that seeing the humor in things can dramatically change your life. When I see people around me laughing and smiling, and when I see joy and love around me, I am reminded of everything I love about life.

    Another thing I keep in mind is as long as you try, as long as you show up, you have accomplished more than you know. There is so much you can’t learn without actually being there and experiencing something… I think that if you are trying, and genuinely trying to make your life better, then you are doing better than you think, and sometimes just being there and making an effort is all you need to do.

  • Wow, #22 struck my inner being. This is a personal reflection I needed. Thank you very much

  • Thank you. I am sure many of us have heard similar sentiments before, but this post seemed to arrive at a perfect time for me. Thank you for sharing wisdom and confirmation and motivation. You are appreciated.

  • #5 is all I am about these days and it is amazing to be able to define what happiness means to me.

    Sometimes it’s just about sitting quietly with myself and just watching space.

    Sometimes it’s about just putting my thoughts on paper or reading poetry I wrote a long time ago.

    Thank you for this.

  • Very powerful article. What struck me as the most interesting in this article was that you had listed 29 things. I find when working with others that at first we are conditioned to look at only a few markers or targets to achieve happiness. As we develop individuals they begin to have the capacity to understand the simplicity of all the little nuances that life has. The article also speaks very well to the constant change within our lives and the fact that we are never static. We are constantly changing and evolving as individuals and if we just embrace this we can rapidly effect positive change in our lives.

  • Aiyana Henderson
    June 9th, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I’ve done a lot of the tasks on your list. Sometimes I forget I’m not alone. Even though I’m single, I still remember I have loving friends and a family.

  • Thanks. Though a lingering malaise still fogs quite a number of places where I engage with the world, I’m fundamentally well, strong, hopeful, and safe. That’s so much!

  • Marc,

    Great post again. So much of what you and Angel share is not only inspirational but so true. I have had some hard times after losing my husband to Cancer at a young age. And I have learned over time who my true friends are and always will be no matter where I may go. I am thankful and happy to have my friends (and rid myself of those who are toxic). I only wish to surround myself with those who make me smile and laugh and challenge me in a positive way. Thanks for sharing your insights on life with us. Your blog is a great and wonderful thing for those who are seeking their true self.

    Mary

  • You two are fairly young in age but your wisdom is ageless. I have bought your book, which is wonderful. I am sure you have helped thousands of people perhaps even saving some lives.

    Sometimes hearing just the right words at the right time will do that.
    God Bless you both.

  • Thanks so much for this post. Exactly what I needed to hear this morning!

  • Louise Goodman
    June 9th, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Great advice. I am in the realm of people with disabling disease (MS). Any pertinent advice will receive my attention. That’s for sure. Even though life is tough, I’m smiling.

  • Well said. Every point was pot on in my 65-year-old book of wisdom. :)

  • It’s so important to take a step back and refocus on your life. Sometimes we overlook things… and have to rethink and get back on track. It’s so easy to fall into a “trap” of sorts with your life, to never explore more, to never love more, to never do more and to settle and never venture out of that “box.”

    Your emails remind me every day to be truly thankful for what I have.

    I’m learning to recognize when a door closes that it’s not always a bad thing, and realizing that if it was meant to be then it would remain open.

    New doors are opening for me, doors that open my eyes and really want to embrace whatever life holds. I’ve been through such traumatic times in my life and I have surprised everyone (including myself) with how I can push through it and move on. I know it has made me a stronger person… and that’s a nice feeling… which makes me believe that I really am a strong person.

    I’m ready to enjoy life to it’s fullest… and stop being hindered by what other people are saying about me (this is very tough for me).

    I always worry about what people are saying (and I know this keeps me in that “trap”). I have a deep urge to be loved and accepted by everyone, and always let even one negative comment bring me down. This all stems from a mentally and verbally abusive mother. It’s so hard to build back the confidence after being beat into the ground so many times. I will never forget… but I can push through this… and work on trying to forgive.

    I’m thankful that I can laugh even in the toughest of times. I laugh every day no matter what gets dished my way. I am moving on!

    Thank you for the amazing, truthful insights of life and making me take a step back, rethink, process it and move on because I am a better person with a new outlook on life.

    I look forward to receiving the next email! :)

  • Hi, great post today. After I left a lucrative job a few years ago to pursue my cooking/writing gift, people were judgmental - those folks are no longer in my life. One thing I would add to the list is to just get it in your head that, as you take the path least traveled, just realize that some people will never understand, no matter what explanation you may provide them. Have a great day!

  • Love the list, love your wisdom, love reading the responses! Thank you! Now I’m ready to enjoy a beautiful day!

  • Great post, guys!!! Very true and I’m really happy to say that I’ve managed to step away from the negativity and drama, move away, and I am now living peacefully and going after my dreams. Means so much that I can breath freely and just be me, discover who I am without being a sister or a daughter to an alcoholic. It took me such long time to realize some obvious things, but now I truly now that I deserve better, I feel better now and I know I did the right thing.

    And I feel blessed just living a normal life! :) and through all the rough times and now my good times - small things and people who support you and believe in you really mean sooo much! Lessons were great, I am taking them with me, but living for today and my brighter future.

    Loving life! Never give up, you can do it, if I could made the decision and start putting myself first, you can too!! Marc&Angel, thanks for all your posts, which also kept me up when times were filled with drama and negativity.. Stay true and keep inspiring and motivating people, keep up the good work - you sure helped me, thanks so much!

  • Thank you. When I started reading this post, I was in between. I was stuck waiting for something to happen and scared to move forward toward something else.

    This post helped me, as a TBI survivor, I try to remember how good I have things. Thanks for the reminder of our blessings.

  • I love “I respectfully do not care.”

    Beautiful.

  • Find a path and keep walking it. Thank you, today was a rough day and I needed a reminder that I am really on the right path.

  • I read your blog regularly and I just wanted to let you know that you have helped me out of some tough spots. Sometimes when I try something and fail, I become discouraged, but you have said things that help me realize that trying and failing is better than never trying at all, and that accepting one’s failures and flaws is the only way to truly be happy. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  • When I first came across your blog over a year ago, I would not have fit into a lot of these signs. I have read your blog every so often over this past year, which has been a year of growth. I am happy to say that I fulfill most of these signs now.

    One of the most important ones for me is that I openly express my love to the people in my life. The best part about that is that they then tend to be more open and loving back.

    It makes me smile to think of the progress that I have made and to realize that yeah according to these signs, I am doing really well.

  • Sometimes I feel I am fine and making progress. It is so comforting to know how others feel the same way. I am a worrier, and do worry about many things. I know I can not control most of the things I worry about. I need someone to talk to and have been seeing a therapist. It helps to talk to someone who does not know me, and he gives a different light to every worry I have. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as the saying goes, but sometimes the small stuff is bigger than the big stuff. I am a work in progress, but enjoying moving forward, slow as it may be. Thank you again for putting these words in my face.

  • Hello
    I absolutely loved this post and it was something I totally needed to hear. As someone who is always on the path to improvement, I think I am too hard on myself sometimes and even though I know there is no such thing as perfect, on a deeper level, there is some part of me that is holding out for that hope. As someone who has made a lot of unconventional choices in my day, and experienced push back from people close to me, I have had a rough go of it sometimes, but reading something like this helps me shift perspective and give myself the credit I deserve!

  • I’m very happy when I checked my email and saw this article. I’ll never want to stop subscribing. Your words help me so much.

  • Amazing list.

    The thing with living on your purpose and intent is that people are often afraid of the unknown. If they just summon the courage to follow their heart… all will be well.

    For trusting your intent, check out: gameligit.com/self-esteem-foundation-joy-peace

  • I always find one quote that hits with uncanny accuracy. This particular post had many. The following struck me especially:

    “Your body is the only home you’ll truly ever have.”
    (I take this to mean that I must take care of it, respect it, and it will take care of me.)

    #26 “When you give yourself to someone who doesn’t respect you, you lose pieces of your soul that you’ll never get back.” (How true this is!)

    It’s not that we haven’t heard similar sentiments before, but it’s how they’re expressed that makes the difference. The only way to effect change, in my opinion, is to express things in such a way that doesn’t sound preachy or condescending.

    Your posts always put personal philosophy so well.
    Thank you, Marc and Angel!

  • This is so inspiring! And helpful, not to mention! Please come up with an app for this website or something! I love reading stuff you guys post!

  • I love this article . To live is to understand the journey of our life. I been trapped for years in mind thinking about how people feel about me, what I wear, or where I want to be. I used to find myself in Great Depression with lack of understanding. About a month a go going through a hard breakup of 7 years I realize I can’t continue to try and hold on to something that I can’t fix. My happiness come from me. No one or relationship can give me what I am searching for which is SELF WORTH. Thank you for this wonderful article. From reading it I shall say I am very proud of myself and everything that had happened in my life was supposed to happen so I can move on the my next life of peace within .

  • Great article…been struggling to accept things don’t always turn out the way you expect…spending to much time worrying over things we can’t control…not alone though. Stay strong everyone!

  • Great list!
    In my view these all come down what is one of the best things about being a conscious human - and that is having a choice. No matter the situation, no matter the event, no matter what, I always have a choice. Having a choice offers me freedom. I can choose this or that, how to be or not to be, to react or not to react. I am trying to model this for my son, so he doesn’t limit his experiences in life.

  • This post is so perfectly timed for me. I have been feeling like i am not on the right path towards happiness and fulfillment but after re-evaluating things based on this list, I realize i am more than OK. Thanks for always keeping things in perspective :)

  • I swear, I was just feeling like this, so I decided to come to your website and here it is a blog post that speaks directly to me. Thank you.

  • @Luisa: When someone gives up on something meaningful in their lives, they do it a little bit at a time. It’s not the last straw that brakes the camel’s back. You haven’t quit yet; keep pushing forward. All those baby steps will eventually get you to where you’re hoping to go.

    @All: Sometimes we all need a friendly reminder that things are rarely as bad as we make them out to be in our minds. In the end, loving life is about trusting your intuition, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning through experience. It’s a long-term journey. You have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting every step of the way. Thank you for taking a moment and sharing your positive thoughts with the community. :)

  • I’d add that I’m able bodied.. All of my limbs are working.. I can hear.. See.. Smell.. I can jump around and dance.. Sing off key.. Really LAUGH OUT LOUD.. I have food in my pantry.. My family is safe.. I have blankets for when I’m cold.. Water when I’m thirsty or feeling like a nice hot shower.. I have a CHOICE of foods to eat.. We have hospitals.. Grocery stores.. A car to get back and forth.. I’m employed and it was a CHOICE to be there.. I always have more than I need.. Always.

  • “A mindset of joyful appreciation.”
    I like that. Very uplifting.

  • I agree. We are doing better than we think. I haven’t given up. I am still going. I am accomplishing much more than I am giving myself credit for and I have so many blessings. Thanks for sharing. Motivating post!

  • I LOVED this post.

    I identify with each and every single one of these. This is a huge reminder of where I have come from and what I strive for everyday, even if I am a huge ball of stress on some days. I have a dream and a goal that I fight for each day and will see to the end. I love openly and have a want to help others. I will continually get up each and go to work, add to my blog, clean my house and good meals because I care about my son, my husband and myself.

    I just want to let you know, I really need this read on a Monday morning. THANK YOU.

  • Thank you for writing this. I definitely needed this reminder and I sent it to my Mom. We’ve been dealing with a lot of health issues in the family (mine especially) and 2014 has been a rough year so far. But we are “fine” - and this article has reminded me of how amazing “fine” can be. My one thing to add? You have a purpose. It may seem small or inconsquential, but the purpose is there.

  • If you are reading this website then you are still above ground….and still have the opportunity to do what you want or what you think you need. It may sound cliche, but every day above ground is a good one!

  • Great list, thank you! Everything is exactly as it needs to be right now.

  • Yes, yes, yes and YES!

    I’m glad you put Freedom as No.1.

    I had times when I felt so trapped, but one day I woke up and realised the trap was of my OWN making. (I had been blaming everything and everybody and the world and not taking full responsibility).

    I am FREE now and every day I strive for more and more freedom.

    Fantastic list to refer back to when progress doesn’t seem to happen quick enough. Thank you :)

  • Every day the sun comes up and you can watch this amazing event if you want to. After warming the earth and helping things grow, there is sunset, another amazing event you can watch.

  • Amazing article, loved it so much. Great perspective especially for people trying to start a business and not experiencing immediate success. Keep your head up!

  • After reading this, I realized I’m totally fine. It’s just that sometimes, my problems and emotions seem to overcome the reasons for me to be happy.

    I’m currently in a relationship which i don’t find healthy as there’s a lot of arguments every now and then. That could be one of the reasons why I feel stressed out and frustrated but thanks to this article, I was reminded I should take things easily. Chill out. Have fun. Because I’m fine. :)

  • Great reminders. This needs to reviewed as often as possible. I have some awesome people in my life …friends, my amazing parents and siblings but I have to work hard on getting rid of toxic people who occupy my mind space. Your website/blog has been very helpful in helping us work on ourselves…heartfelt gratitude :)

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