Is This Really It? 11 Ways To Be Happy (even if you're broke, single and depressed)


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Is this really it? 

This is what you ask yourself when you’ve lost all hope. 

At least that’s what I would ask myself when I hit a low point in my life where I could no longer believe in happiness. 

I worked three jobs as a full time receptionist, part-time waitress and in-between time babysitter to throw together every dollar I could. Depression took over my every thought and my general cynicism about the world led me to think about suicide almost daily. 

I couldn’t afford anything beyond my bills. For food, I’d pray the executives at my job had leftover sandwiches that I could take home. 

I wanted out. I wanted some glimpse that I could turn my life around. I wanted a success story where I could “pull myself up by my bootstraps” like many others who triumphed after failures. 

But every attempt at elevation ended in more…. failure. 

Until I broke. 

If that story sounds familiar, then you know what it feels like to hit your breaking point, to cry daily with no one to talk to, and to fail so often that you accept failure as your destiny.

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These are the 11 things I did that helped me find happiness during the most difficult time of my life. 


Make a list of the things that make you smile .

When you’re struggling with depression, it’s difficult to accept a moment of happiness without thinking it’ll be short lived. However, those moments are exactly what you need to keep going. 

Think about the last seven days and make a list of ten moments that brought you joy. When life gets rough, you can turn to this list and remind yourself which elements of your life bring you happiness.

Spend time with the people who bring you joy.

Are there people who made it onto your top ten list? If not, that’s ok, make a list of three people who you LOVE spending time with. 

During my depression, I scheduled a weekly movie night with my grandmother where we’d watch all of our favorite weekly shows and spend the evening guessing what would happen next in the protagonists lives. Spending time with loved ones easily takes your mind off of your misery (and there’s also the added bonus of not feeling alone).

Make a promise. 

Many people have difficulty keeping promises to themselves when they are in a state of depression, but at the same time they refuse to let down their friends and family. If you’re anything like this, then making a promise to a loved one can help you to reach your goals. 

My little sister came to live with me. She was sixteen, bright-eyed and had that teenage life-is-simple mindset that, for me, had become a vague memory. She needed ALL THE THINGS. 

Serving her needs became my outlet. Between viola lessons, SAT prep coaching and college open houses, I could help someone. I could still do good in this world. 

Create “easy win” situations for yourself. 

No one wants to feel like a loser. Yup, it’s that simple. When every day becomes hard. When you can’t get out of bed without thinking about all the bills coming your way or why you’re so alone you have to give yourself something else to think about. 

That’s where small goals come in. Set a goal to reach something easily attainable. Finish a book. Volunteer at a nonprofit focused on a cause you believe in. Spend some time with your family… away from your phone (gasp!). 

Accomplishing the small things re-energizes you to try your hand again at the big things. 

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Create a vision board.

A vision board can help you identify your passions, values and goals. Through this medium, you can easily create a lifestyle where you spend your time, energy and resources in a way that’s aligned with the person who you want to become. 

During my depression, I’d become a person that believed I couldn’t succeed. No matter what I did, I expected to fail. Then, I created a vision board to simply finish something. Yes, I wanted to be a person who finished the things I started. I knew that with that tiny step, I could believe in myself again. 

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Do what you freakin’ want. 

Do you live your truth? Many people live behind a smile or a version of themselves that they believe others want them to be. You may find yourself agreeing to things that you have no interest in doing. Or putting on a fake work personality that’s not aligned to who you really are. 

When you become someone that others want you to be, you cannot be yourself. Happiness comes when you can show up as yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin. 

Find your biggest pain point.

OK, let’s be honest. If you’re looking for a way to be happy, by default, you’re unhappy. Take an honest look at your life and try to pinpoint why. 

I didn’t have enough money to cover my bills even though I worked around the clock to make more money with every free moment that I could find. Once I could be honest about my pain, I could start to work on solving it. 

Find a way to solve it. 

Solving your pain point might be easier said than done, but you could start to map out a way to get from where you are to where you want to be. 

If you’re lonely, maybe you can brainstorm ways to enjoy your time spent alone. If you’re broke, then maybe you can spend some time figuring out how to advance your career or looking for higher paying jobs.

Respect, don’t accept.

You will find that many people have an opinion on your life. Those opinions can easily seep into your thoughts and make you second-guess the way you feel about yourself. 

Growing up, my family bought the most lavish cars, clothes, and hosted huge parties for family and friends. They had jewelry and all the latest gadgets. Having things was hugely valued and showed a sign of success. 

I believed those things brought happiness. 

However, when I realized that I didn't have enough money to live a lifestyle I enjoyed, I had to step back. I got rid of many of the material items that I had

My family makes fun of my all the time. I have to respect their values, but I don’t have to accept them as my own. 

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Live in the present.

This one is simple - enjoy this moment that you’re in. 

Have you ever spent time with friends, but the entire time you were stuck in your mind? Instead of enjoying their stories and company. You were worried about the bill waiting for you at home, or hoping your ex would call you back, or wondering how they don’t notice you’re depressed. 

Living in the present means you take the time to pay attention to the people around you. Notice that they’ve gotten a haircut. Hear their stories and ask questions. Enjoy the wine you’re drinking. 

Those bills you’re worrying about, they’ll still be there when you get home. :) Making an effort to live in the present gives you a gift of simplicity. 

Get some freakin’ sleep.

A good night’s sleep can help with your emotions, focus and energy. When you’re more focused, you get more done. When you get more done, you build confidence in your abilities. When you can feel confident in yourself, it’s easier to be happy with the person you are each day. 

Sleep has many benefits, but when we’re struggling we often have a hard time getting to sleep. Prioritizing sleep can add immediate benefits to your life without having to make any extra money or make any huge life shifts. 

It’s something small that you can do today to prioritize yourself and start creating your own bit of happiness. 

Time To Take Action

If you’re currently wondering how can I get more out of life and find happiness, here’s what you need to do as soon as possible: 

  1. Write down ten people, places, things and activities that bring you joy. 

  2. Spend 20 minutes today doing one of those things. 

  3. Get a good night’s rest. 

There is more to life. You have to demand it. You have to start somewhere, even if the start is small, very small, it’s important to just start. You can grow into anything you want. Believe it. Take that step.

In the comments, tell us what is the number one thing holding you back from getting more out of life. 

Ready To Accomplish Your Greatest Goals? 

  1. Cut soul-sucking activities from your life to create a purposeful future you LOVE in 10 days with the FREE Prioritize Me, Guilt-Free journal prompts.  

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive

  3. your dream life with purpose and intention with Self, YES!, our signature vision board course.

Ready To Create Your Five Year Vision?


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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.