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Feb 21, 2022 Diet & Nutrition Movement & Exercise Recipes Wellness Tips Susie Elelman 4,610 views

This article centres on what makes me happy, how I stay happy and what I do to smile.

As happiness is such a subjective emotion, I thought I’d give you the dictionary definition of happy as a base line.




  1. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

“Melissa came in looking happy and excited” ·


contented · content · cheerful · cheery · merry · joyful · jovial · jolly ·

  • (happy about)

having a sense of trust and confidence in (a person, arrangement, or situation).

“he was not happy about the proposals” ·

  • (happy with)

satisfied with the quality or standard of.

“I’m happy with his performance”

  1. fortunate and convenient.

“he had the happy knack of making people like him”


fortunate · lucky · favourable · advantageous · opportune · timely ·

  1. informal

inclined to use a specified thing excessively or at random.

“they tended to be grenade-happy”

I entered ‘songs that have Happy in the title’ into my search engine and got 31,800,000 results.

Deep down we all long to feel happy all of the time but in reality, we know that happiness can’t be sustained every minute of every day.

The rollercoaster ride of life can bring out all of our emotions and in my case, I’ve experienced every one of those emotions in the one day. It’s not that I don’t get angry or sad or fearful or upset because I definitely do. All of those emotions make me very unhappy so it’s important to me how long I remain in those moods.

Throughout my life I have suffered from bouts of severe depression and anxiety attacks and I know a vital part of my recovery is to find out what’s causing these negative emotions so I can try to minimise or if possible, eliminate them.

  • Glass Half Full, Not Half Empty Attitude

I can easily find lots and lots of things to do to distract me that make me happy while I’m doing them. I can happily become engrossed in a good movie or while binge-watching a brilliant TV series. I adore chatting with good friends either on the phone or catching up with them over a bite to eat. I get great enjoyment putting together jigsaw puzzles and framing them and I’m happy and calm each time I pick up a paint brush and attempt to paint something on canvas.

However, we can’t just rely on what we are keen on doing or what amuses us to keep us happy because when that distraction is over, we tend to revert back to how we feel while our minds are idle.

To me a significant measure of happiness is how I feel when I wake up in the morning and what attitude and perspective I apply to the events and issues that cross my path each day.

As a rule, I wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed and excited to face the day ahead and keen to achieve as much as I can on my ‘to-do’ list.

I’m currently working on a charity project with a good mate of mine and was chuffed while we were brainstorming ideas last week when he mentioned that I have always had a ‘glass half-full, not half-empty’ attitude.

I recently spent a couple of days in Junee (440kms south-west of Sydney and 41km north-east of Wagga Wagga) as their Australia Day Ambassador and delivered the Australia Day Address in their magnificent, newly refurbished, heritage listed Athenium Theatre.

I had a fantastic time! There are so many wonderful things to do in Junee from enjoying a tour and lunch at the historic Licorice and Chocolate Factory to meeting the passionate volunteers who take all the tours around the extraordinary Roundhouse Railway Museum. The best bit was meeting everyone in Junee, who all showed the same ‘glass half-full’ attitude; they were welcoming and proud of their town and couldn’t wait to showcase what Junee has to offer.

There is no doubt that many of them are doing it tough for any number of reasons, not the least being the pandemic, the on-going drought, floods and mice plagues but they still readily put smiles on their faces when speaking so positively about their gorgeous town.

The Australia Day Council’s theme this year was The Story of Australia, to recognise that we are all part of the story of this extraordinary nation. On Australia Day, all Australia Day Ambassadors were encouraged, when delivering our Address, to reflect on our history, its highs and its lows, to respect the stories of others and to celebrate our nation, its achievements and most of all, its people.

During my Australia Day Address I shared my family’s story and told how my parents and eldest brother came to Australia as refugees after World War II and described some of the atrocities my dad endured as a Holocaust survivor.

While it would be easy to remain in the past and focus on these tragic parts of my family’s lives and become sad and bitter, I choose instead to emphasise the positive and share how Mum and Dad turned their lives around in Australia and showcase the amazing contributions they both made to their community and the successes they went on to achieve.

I’ll never forget what they went through and the struggles my whole family, myself included, withstood while I was growing up, but I don’t let it negatively define my outlook today.

I no longer let circumstances become the marker of my happiness.

Quite the contrary, it fills me with delight that my family had the chance to make a new start and thrilled that it was in Australia. Mum and Dad reinforced to me from an early age the importance of valuing, appreciating and being grateful for what is available to us here and what can be achieved in Australia.

My parents also showed me with their actions how essential and rewarding it is to give back to the community and how happy it makes you feel when you make others happy. It certainly puts my troubles into perspective and while my mind is on helping others it isn’t worrying about my own woes.

  • Mix with Positive People

It’s healthier and easier to be happy within yourself when you’re surrounded by positive people.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has at least one person in their life, who seems to only see the negative side of everything and how mentally draining it is whenever you connect.

A good mate of mine describes them as being comfortably ensconced in their own ‘misery pit’ surrounded by all their creature comforts and the more you become invested in their miseries, the easier it is for you to get too close and fall in into their misery pit too.

I always want to offer help and support but the old proverb, ‘Misery Loves Company’ rings true. Since I recently made a conscious decision not to let their negativity impact on me and to spend less time with them, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m much happier as a result.

  • Happiness and Exercise

There is no doubt that I’m in a happier mood when I’m exercising regularly. I’ve had on-going lower back issues that have left me barely able to walk and unable to do any exercise and I’m only just getting back into going on my walks again.

Even though my fitness level is low, and I’m not walking for as long as I did when I was fitter, I can still notice during my walks when the ‘feel-good’ endorphins start to kick in.

  • Singing out loud

Another way I lift my spirits and turn gloomy thoughts into happy ones is to sing out loud. Sometimes I put on a radio station with songs I can sing-a-long to and bop around the house and other times I head out for a walk around some of the deserted back streets near me to sing out loud.

  • What makes me smile?

It doesn’t take much to make me smile as I’m a sucker for cat videos on YouTube or a funny or bizarre TikTok video.

However, my biggest smiles come readily every time I see the joy on my nephew Matthew’s face.

Matthew has every reason to be unhappy. I’ve mentioned in previous AMC Newsletter articles that Mattie is severely disabled with cerebral palsy. He’s also legally blind and has no control over most of his body but he has a sharp mind and a wicked sense of humour.

As you can see in the photos below, Matthew has a smile that lights up a room and that smile becomes infectious to everyone around him.

Matthew shows me every day that despite the relentless struggles he faces, he can still rise above them and he easily manages to smile and be happy. He puts my issues into perspective, which pale by comparison to what he goes through every minute of the day.

I hope there are lots of things in your life that constantly make you happy too. Keep smiling cheers susie

Susie Elelman AM

Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster


About The Author - Susie Elelman

Susie Elelman is an Australian television presenter, radio broadcaster, and author, most famous for her appearances on daytime television in Australia. She has been an ambassador of the Australian Menopause Centre since 2016 and it is a pleasure to have such an influential figure support our work.

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