By Sallyann Keizer -


What do you see when you read those words? HAPPINESSISNOWHERE.

When I first looked at this, it was on a calendar I had been given, written by the lovely Robert Holden, founder of The Happiness Project. HAPPINESS IS NOWHERE I read and thought, wow, that’s a little miserable! I’ve been on a couple of Robert’s courses and I pondered, not like him, there must be a catch. So I looked again – HAPPINESS IS NOWHERE. It is literally all I could see. My friend then walked in, smiled, and said, what a lovely thought – HAPPINESS IS NOW HERE!

Now, I just hadn’t seen that. Despite all my work in the area of Happiness (I am the founder of happynesshub.com, a not for profit resource empowering people to lead happier and healthier lives) it eluded me. Am I naturally pessimistic I thought? What’s up with my perception? I’d done loads of work on ‘positive focus’ so how could this be?

Then I realised it was here to make me think. Not necessarily a reflection of who I am, but to ponder on how I perceive things. I love the work of neuroscientist and author, Professor Elaine Fox, who I have also had the privilege of collaborating with. Her research shows that each of us has a set level of optimism or pessimism hardwired into our brains. This means that you and I may well interpet the same events very differently depending on our make-up; affecting how we feel, behave and approach life’s challenges – and of course impacting on our emotional wellbeing. But – and this is a big BUT – Elaine’s work also suggests that us humans have the ability to change our neural pathways so we are more ‘naturally’ optimistic! How do we do this? Positive focus: something I have been working on for many a year. If we are able to regularly CHOOSE to focus, recall and share the positive (as opposed to the negative) we can literally re-train our brains to be more positive – leading to reduced stress and greater happiness.

So give this ‘positive focus’ thing a go. Try looking at events differently, recalling the good in your day, not the bad, sharing what went well and being grateful for it. And see if you experience any change. You may not see the words HAPPINESS IS NOW HERE, but I have a feeling that with regular practice, you will be feeling those words very soon. Good luck!

To read more about Sallyann click here

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  1. Despite my rather happy and mostly positive constitution, HAPPINESS IS NOWHERE was all I could see the first time too. The second time I looked at these words, nothing changed in the alignment of the letters, unfortunately. The sad message still appeared to my bewildered eyes those couple more tries until I was rescued with the alternative answer.

    I was relieved to know the happiness did not disappear from the face of the earth with this announcement, but like you it revealed to me that there is something to be looked at within that makeup of mine. I either need to fork more on positive focus or have my eyes tested. To be honest, I need both, and there is no harm in trying to become a person three-quarters-glass-full with a new pair of specs on.


  2. I’m a happiness is nowhere person too. Funny, as I always thought I was a happiness is now here person. This is a really interesting article. I see myself as quite a positive person, which others have also said of me too. However, I’ve recently discovered I’m pretty positive of other people’s achievements but not my own. I tend to focus on the things I believe I’ve done “badly” which leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. This insight has been instrumental for me as actually I’m choosing to have a selective reality of my life focusing on the ‘negative’. I’m now trying to embrace all of my life and feeling so much more balanced as a result.

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