Mental Health & Happiness

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

A Mental Health Moment

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor

We all want to be happy.  I am rather confident that no one has ever communicated to me that they just want to be sad.  Listening to a child’s laughter or watching them at play having a great time often brings a smile to our faces because it takes us back to when we were children.  We remembered how it felt to laugh and play and smile, maybe even secretly wishing we could go back to those times.

In a recent online article titled “What is Happiness, defining happiness and how to be happier,” breaks down happiness for us adults, some of whom have forgotten how to smile, laugh or just have a good time in an adult manner.  We have become consumed with bills to pay, toxic relationships, employment and many other things that fall under adulting that as a child we did not have to consider let alone know about.

I receive many calls to my offices or hear a client say in session “I just want to be happy.”  Happiness is not a place or a thing. To the contrary, some individuals seem to have just been born happy.  Nothing gets them down; they always have positive conversation and it feels good to spend time around them.

An article about happiness which you may find at begins by defining happiness.  Many times, just not knowing the definition of happiness is our first mistake.  We say we want to be happy but we don’t know truly what that entails.

Some will say, when I get married, I will be happy, when I get that new car, I will be happy, when I graduate, I will be happy or even, when I get divorced, I will be happy.  While those situations and things are subject to provide us a level happiness, regretfully that happy feeling does not last forever.  There will always be things, people, experiences, and more that we will always want to fill that happiness void.

Happiness is simply our outlook on life and how we roll with what we have.  I always thought I would be happy if I had a mother but then I saw others who had a mother and they did not seem to be happy as I thought, they complained, they distanced themselves some even put their own mothers down.

As the article proceeds, it defines the two categories of happiness, types of happiness and how to cultivate happiness. Some of the things to cultivate happiness in your life such as reframe negative thoughts for example if you are always thinking that you won’t get the job for which you hope, reframe that to I will get the job that I want or one comparable or better.  Also, enjoy the moment, we don’t always get to see friends and family except during holidays, weddings or funerals.  This is a holiday month, even better it is a summer holiday, 4th of July when most gather with great food, some travel long distances just to visit, while the moment won’t last forever, enjoy the time we have because the next event may be a funeral and those are not happy moments.

The article ends with the importance of happiness and that is where mental health meets this feeling.  Over my 20 plus years of a career in counseling, most confuse unhappiness or sadness with depression.  Depression is a diagnosable mental health disorder while sadness and unhappiness are not.  They may play a role in the symptoms of criteria for depression if one concludes they have been unhappy their whole lives and have tried everything to improve their happiness but a misdiagnosis can cause grave damage.

Take a mental health moment and reflect upon the current state of your overall happiness in your life.  If you have the opportunity to read the article you will gain much insight, it will help to answer many questions you may have about happiness and provide you ways to increase the happiness already in your life.  Of course, if you feel you have read and done everything you can and still do not see any happiness on the horizon, please do not hesitate to make a visit to a mental health provider.

Happiness is not a 24/7 space we spend our life.  It comes and goes and we do have more control over our happiness  than we think. One technique is to think about your own childhood when you had no responsibilities like a mortgage, or car payments, insurance. Going back to happy memories will always bring some feelings of happiness.  Life can be harsh, whenever you can enjoy just five minutes of real happiness don’t pass it up.  Happy 4th of July to all my readers and especially to my fellow veterans.

Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929  Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place.  Accepting new clients ages 13 and older.