by Candy Potter

Happiness is a Skill
I have a friend with a home based business. It started out as a little extra cash on the side but because the business has grown so much it got some attention, and the authorities called her out for some of her ‘under-the-table’ practices.

It looked like the end-of-the-line for this little side hustle. Yet, that isn’t how my friend saw it. “This is just the push I needed to take things in a new direction and expand my business and go bigger!”

Some people just seem to see the bright side, to be the proverbial ‘glass half-full’ kind of people. It seems innate to their personality, and while it’s true that some of us are more inclined to optimism and some of us are more inclined to pessimism, it’s not true that that’s inevitable and immutable.

Happiness is a skill, and like learning to drive a car, learning a second language, or learning to play an instrument, it can feel unnatural at first, but by studying the methods of positive people and practicing their procedures, a person can increase their proficiency at happiness.

When I was in high school and I would get a C on my essays, I thought I was just a bad writer. Then in my final year, two different teachers took the time to go over my essays with me and teach me the techniques of good writing and then I got A’s. It was a revelation to me that there were just tricks that could be learnt. I’ve realized that lesson over and over again: skills that I thought I just wasn’t good at, I found I just hadn’t acquired yet.

Most people think of attitude as a fixed trait which means that you can’t do anything about it, but it’s similar to writing an essay, you can acquire the ability.

Here are a few things that optimistic people know how to do: happy people notice evidence of good things, for example they notice what went right instead of what went wrong. Positive people tend to see negative experiences as isolated incidents rather than as part of a larger trend. Buoyant individuals see many explanations when things go wrong, rather than taking it personally. When people don’t really know what an outcome will be, hopeful people tend to assume things will work out eventually.

Each of these ways of thinking can be developed. How we experience life is based on how we interpret our experiences. Happy people have a way of interpreting their experiences which supports their positive perceptions, and you can learn to do this too.

Candy Potter is a psychotherapist and a college professor, she provides effective treatment for anxiety and depression. To reach Candy call 705-309-1463 or go to

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