How to Be Happy: Part 2, Kill Doubt

I've been writing about how to choose happiness over misery. I started with Don't Worry; Be Happy: 5 Rules.

Then someone asked in an email how to choose happiness when life was so full of chaos with too much to do and little time for anything but responsibilities.

In response, I wrote How to Be Happy: Part 1. I added the Part 1 because achieving happiness is a process resulting from achieving certain attitudes which come from developing certain habits.

In Part 1, I talked about conquering that constant feeling of "overwhelm." I'm the poster girl for being overwhelmed because it seems I've had a lot on my plate for many years. I gave some sensible tips to help one begin the conquest, i.e., getting your environment in order so it nurtures you rather than drains you.

Why I Offer Advice

I'm not a certified counselor or a degreed professional in anything. I'm just a writer who came from a highly dysfunctional family. (Don't we all?) I've just lived long enough to have worked a few things out. So I offer sensible tips because they're things that work for me.

Today, I want to talk more about developing the habit of happiness because that's really what happiness is. There are many aspects of the happiness/unhappiness equation, but Doubt is one of the biggest elements.


Doubt erodes happiness and kills dreams. Even when you seem to be succeeding at something, Doubt is that little voice inside you that says: "This is a fluke."

Doubt makes you question every success. Doubt makes you miserable and steals the joy you might have because you never really believe that you're good at what you attempt.

Doubt keeps you from taking leaps of faith and perhaps achieving greater success.

If, like me, you come from a dysfunctional background where belief in your own capabilities was never nurtured, you can change that. You can nurture yourself, your ambition, your dreams, and cheer yourself on to success.

How To Eradicate Doubt

1. Own your emotions, and keep a journal to help understand them.

I think keeping a journal can work wonders in self-discovery and inner growth. Own the doubt. Face it once and for all and bring it into your conscious mind so you can analyze and study it. Write down experiences or thoughts about why doubt has such a stranglehold on you.

Now, for every experience you wrote down--probably crap from your childhood--look at that with the eyes of an adult. Write down what you think about it as if it were something that happened to a friend who confided the experience to you. What would you advise that friend? What would you tell her to come to grips with it and put it to rest once and for all. Write all that down. Look at it as an adult and lay it to rest.

Accept that you may have had a crappy childhood, but that you can have a happy adulthood. 

2. Realize that self-confidence is grown, and that you can grow it.

No one is born confident. You build confidence through experience, accomplishment, and effort. Effort is required to tackle something you've never done before. Effort is required to tackle something that scares you. The experience of trying and failing and finally succeeding builds confidence. If you succeed one time, you have that experience and can draw on it to try again and possibly succeed again.

In your journal, write the positive things that happen and underline them. Write how you faced failure and what you learned from it. Most people focus on the negatives in themselves and their world. Start changing that and re-read the positives you journalize, realizing that there is much good in you and your world.

3. Realize that there is no shame in failing.

If you fail at something, the consolation prize is always the pride in yourself for trying. Trying, making the attempt, is just as important as winning. People like to quote Yoda: "Do, or do not. There is no try." Maybe that works for someone who was nurtured from the cradle and has confidence oozing from every pore, but that doesn't work for me. There is pride in trying, whether one wins or not.

If you fail at something, go to the journal. Dump any negative feelings on those pages rather than let them take root and blossom in your mind. For every negative you write, counter it and write a positive statement. Then write how you plan to proceed when you try again. Trying again when one has failed takes courage, but that courage can be nurtured by ambition.

4. Dream big.

Ambition fuels courage, and courage fuels ambition. Be ambitious. Dream big. Get serious and set goals that are achievable . Write down a description of YOU as you will be when you no longer allow doubt to rule your world. How will you feel? How will you look? What will you attempt? How will you pass this lesson on to your children or to friends?

Read your doubt-free description often--like every day. Especially read it if you plan to attempt something you haven't tried before. 

5. Design and use positive supporting thoughts.

In your journal, design a set of positive supporting thoughts, or affirmations, that aid you in killing the doubt and accepting a life of possibilities. Make the affirmation a positive statement with no negatives, and make it specific.

Here are a few you might use. Edit to reflect what you wish to nurture in yourself.

I am well able to face any challenge today. I am full of confidence as I go through my day. Or, very specific: I am full of confidence as I write 5 pages today.

I am a skilled and gifted writer. I am confident of my writing skill as I begin this new book. Today, I have all the time I need to do all the things I want. Today, I embrace happiness and shun doubt.

Design your own affirmations. Read them every day. Pick 1 each day and write it 10 times every morning and every evening.

The brain is the most amazing part of the human body. What the brain believes becomes reality. All of the above is merely "brainwashing" in that it coaxes the brain into creating the reality you want.  I like to think of it as washing away all the negative thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs from the brain so you can repopulate it with the positives that bring happiness and inner peace.

Takeaway Truth

This "brainwashing" is not a latter-day concept. John Milton in Paradise Lost wrote: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”


  1. I love this! You can bet I'm copying portions of this and sticking them on my fridge. I do believe in watching your thoughts, but as with most people, hearing it reiterated helps. The first step in Brainwashing :) Thanks for sharing, Lo