ray-bans and rainbows: seeing life through a happy lens
9 ways to walk in your own shoes

down and out is overrated


This road is anything but simple
Twisted like a riddle
I've seen high and I've seen low
So loud, the voices over my doubts
Telling me to give up
To pack up, leave town

Even so, I had to believe
Impossible means nothing to me
Can you lift me up?
Turn the ashes into flames
'Cause I have overcome
More than words can ever say

I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
A day will come when the fight is won
And I think that day's just begun

Somewhere -- everybody starts there
I'm counting on a small prayer
Lost in a nightmare
But I'm here, and suddenly it's so clear
The struggle through the long years
It's hard for me to outrun my fears
But everything worth having
Comes with trials worth withstanding

Can you lift me up?
Turn the ashes into flames
'Cause I have overcome
More than words can ever say

I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
A day will come when the fight is won
And I think that day's just begun

Down and out is overrated
I need to be elevated
Looking up is not enough
No, I would rather rise above

Kate Voegele's song "Lift Me Up" has become one of my favorites lately. (If you haven't heard it, you should definitely check it out here. It's really beautiful and inspiring!) I particularly enjoy the last few lines: "Down and out is overrated/I need to be elevated/Looking up is not enough/No, I would rather rise above." I'm the type of person that when I set my mind to something I do it. I don't half-ass it. I dive right in and drown myself in it (which can be good or bad, depending on what "it" is...). Lately, I've found myself diving into a more positive life -- and loving it.

We've all heard of the Nike slogan "just do it." Sometimes this isn't so tough. You decide you want to do something and then you do it. But what about our emotions? What about the way we are, not what we do? What about this happiness I am trying to embrace on a regular basis? Certainly we can act emotions out in a variety of ways, but that isn't always the answer. Sometimes it's enough (and necessary) to just be.

But what if what you are isn't what you want? What if you're down and out, but you want to rise above? Yesterday my good friend Coral passed along Og Mandino's list of "How Do I Change?" (Thank you, Coral!) While I can't say I agree with all of them (changing into new clothes if you feel inferior will not make you happy), I found a lot of these mini mantras very  useful in remembering that we have power over the way we feel. We can take action to be happier. Check out the mantras...  


If I feel depressed...I will sing.

If I feel sad...I will laugh.

If I feel fear...I will plunge ahead.

If I feel uncertain...I will raise my voice.

If I feel in competent...I will think of past success.

If I feel insignificant...I will remember my goals.


It's not easy to embrace these things when we're not feeling our very best, but you know what the great thing about this is? We have the option. We can choose to take action against an unpleasant emotion and we can rise above the sadness, the fear, or the uncertainty.

I used to be a mess. I used to be unhappy, miserable even. I was okay with that. I thought that was just me. I stuck it out, riding the waves of emotion with expertise. I knew how to be unhappy. I was an expert. But somehow I came to the conclusion, after much soul-searching, that I no longer wanted to be this way. I didn't have to be unhappy. I might be more predisposed to unhappiness than some people. I might have faced some pretty ugly challenges that caused unhappiness for me. But I didn't have to be unhappy. I chose -- for reasons that I'm still not sure of -- to be happy. I chose to rise above what was and become more than I ever thought I could be.

I used to always look up, craving happiness, wanting it to be mine, wondering why it wasn't. I would do things to try to make me happy. I would buy things to try to make me happy. I would put substances in my body to try to make me happy. I would look to others to make me happy. None of it worked. I had everything I wanted and I was still miserable. Choosing a better emotion is more than just seeking it...it's doing it, taking action and embracing it. That's why I love the mantras above. You can't just sit around saying "I want to be happy." You have to do something.

Sometimes we get so caught up in what we're feeling -- sadness or anger or misery -- that we just settle with it. We think we are supposed to have it, so we stick with it. Something bad's happen so it feels right to allow ourselves to wallow in pity or unhappiness. But then we get comfortable, settling into that sadness. If you take one piece of advice from this post (or this blog!), let it be this: Don't settle. Rise above.

Trust me, if I can do it,if I can rise above all of the pain and the anguish that I faced, anyone can. When you feel like you can't, remember Kate's lyrics: "I had to believe impossible means nothing to me." You can do anything you want with your emotions. It's up to YOU. Do you want to be down and out? Or, like I've come to realize, do you think being down in out is overrated?

Lift yourself up. Rise above. Overcome. Elevate your emotions. You can do it!


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This is such a great post. It's important to make happiness a habit. Happiness is a choice that needs to be made every day, every hour, and every minute in fact. Those individuals who are the most happy are so because they choose to be.

Thanks for sharing...................all good things!

Hi Dani .. thanks for this .. I do look forward to listening to some of the music you recommend, as I am (sadly) not musical .. love it - but know very little .. the poems and songs you use in your blog as examples are really inspiring ..

Thanks for sharing with us these mantras to beat our fears

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

When faced with a massive challenge, most people feel flooded by fear, which triggers the powerful primary negative emotions of anger, anxiety and depression.

"Lift yourself up. Rise above. Overcome. Elevate your emotions. " Couldn't have said it better

I am very thankful to read about someone else admitting to being miserable and unhappy for a great chunk of their life. I look back now and though I don´t think that I choose to be that way, I certainly didn´t try hard to change my perceptions about life. Most of my 20s I thought the world was against me.

I keep doing the same things and wondering why I got the same results.

Today I am extremely proactive about changing things that make me unhappy. I choose to be happy :)

Great post as usual!

You know... I have to say, it's hard to believe that you were an unhappy Eeyore as you say. Your posts are so upbeat and your writing is so positive. Obviously, I don't know you at all, but your blog is so enjoyable to read because it's uplifting. So in my head, I think of you as a cheerful person, and it's hard to imagine you any other way.

Thanks for sharing. I love Kate Voegle's music. I'm a big One Tree Hill fan, so I've discovered here there. You make some great points.

Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing the song. I'm not sure if you've heard of a theory called Appreciative Inquiry. It's a theory based on positive assumptions instead of the traditional problem solving. Every since I was exposed to it, I found that viewing things from a positive mindset is more enjoyable and fulfilling than a negative one.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Choice is a powerful thing.

I think it's easy to fall into habits and not even know which things are choices, which are by design, and which are defaults.

I think it was a real wake up call when Randy of The Last Lecture said to choose whether you're an Eyeore or Tigger. I first though to myself, that's not a choice, but then realized it is. Then I started wondering what other things are choices ... you don't think about them, you just decide and go. I found more and more things are really just decisions first and then you work from there. That's why some people can't get from A to B ... they try to think their way forward and what they don't know is, it's just a decision ... and it's the decision that changes how you see the world ... then the thinking follows.

What sealed the deal for me was Michael Michalko's guest post for me on "Choice." His example was a sharp reminder of the choices we make. It also echoed one of my mentor's key points ... you're the sum of your decisions. It's that simple.

Lo - Good way of putting it. Happiness needs to become a habit, something I am still working on every day. Happiness a choice -- and a good one to make!

Hilary - You can check out a lot of great music by clicking on the "Smile-Worthy Songs" link on the right. I'm sure you could find most of them on YouTube so you don't have purchase them and can just listen for free. :)

Shamelle - Good point. Fear often triggers these other emotions and it's up to us to rise above that fear and choose a happier path. Thanks for the comment!

RML - Thank you! I don't think I necessarily chose unhappiness; I think I just assumed that's who I was and I just went with it. Now I realize that I can choose to be happy -- and I try to do that every day!

Vi - Ha! If only you could talk to my friends and family...They could tell you quite a bit about my Eeyore days! I'm so glad you find me cheerful and uplifting. At one point in my life, I bet I never would have believed someone would be saying that about ME!

Srinivas - I saw Kate on One Tree Hill too! I already had a few of her songs, but I think she played this one on there and I really got hooked. :)

John - I actually haven't heard of that theory, but it sounds really interesting. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for sharing it with me! Hope you have a great weekend too.

It's funny how we so often miss the "action" component of our lives.

We attempt to make most changes in our minds, thinking that it is in our minds where problems are first created. We forget that our minds really are chemically tied to our bodies and that action can help us rewire our neurological pathways!

J.D. - So true. Choice IS powerful and we have the choice NOT to be Eeyores. It's hard for me most of the time, but I think I've made a lot of progress lately and I'm proud of myself.

Hayden - Great point! We really do forget the action part a lot of the time. It's so interesting how our minds and bodies are connected...

Choice is the biggest lesson I tried to teach my children - you have a choice and your have an ability to make change...Strong message...which can change your brain and your thinking.

Great post! especially on a sunny day...I chose to play outside:)

Thank you

Something I've learned along these lines, as my own life has gotten more and more joyful, is that down days will also come. As a matter of fact, sometimes really dark periods settle in where it feels impossible to rise above what I'm feeling. Especially when well-entrenched egos are involved. And that's okay!

As you wrote about in your rainbow post, the bad is as necessary as the good in this life. Rather than resist unhappy moments, I'm learning to just see them for what they are: temporary. I don't fuss too much with them, and actually find that when I ignore them entirely, they fall away of their own volition.

When all is said and done, they've given me context to enjoy the happy moments that much more.

Patricia - That's great that you strive to teach your children about choice. It IS so important. And it's great that you played outside on a sunny day. Wonderful!

Megan - Great comment. You're so right...dark days will come, and we must deal with them. I think it's important to be okay with the bad as well as with the good. It's okay to just sit with the bad feelings sometimes, but I think you make a great point -- don't fuss about them too much and put them in context. Thanks for your insights here!

Just listening to the song now as I leave this comment. That line you quoted for the song to remember is a really great thing to bear in mind. And it's great to know that you've come so far. In many ways, I also made that decision to be happy. I never even realised that it was a choice before recently, but it's helped so much since then.

Penny - So glad you're listening to the song! It's a good one, isn't it? It's definitely been a rough road for me, but I think I'm making a lot of progress and it's so great to get feedback that makes me want to keep going (like comments from you - thanks!!).

wow. that's great.

i love this post.

a few years ago, i chose to be happy just as you describe. my wife didn't understand or believe me that i could just choose to decide to be happy. then, later, she could tell it worked.

i phrase everything in the positive. i dwell on the future. i move forward. i look up and do it.

i found that exercise is a really positive thing in my life. i joined a triathlon club and found they are the most positive people. i found a church that is always moving forward. now, i try to teach my kids the good in life.

thanks for sharing.

Joe - Thank you so much for sharing that with me. It's so great to know that someone else did what I'm working on and succeeded at it. And it's wonderful that you've found positive things that help you keep up your happy attitude. I think it's wonderful that you are trying to teach your kids to live this way. Attitude is everything and even though I wished I really realized that sooner in life, I'm very grateful that I'm learning it now. Thanks again for the comment!

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