Can We Still Be Happy in Difficult Circumstances?

by Genevieve Votra | April 19, 2023

We all go through challenges. It is part of the human experience. Much as we prepare and plan our lives, challenges happen, blindsiding us. Our natural reaction is to be anxious, frustrated, sad, depressed, or any other negative emotion. This is to be expected. The question is, Can we still be happy when life throws as a challenge? Finding joy in the midst of trials may seem absurd, but this is often what we need the most.

Doing little acts that bring happiness can shorten the duration of your pain. There are ways that we can take to make ourselves feel better. Here are six ways to feel joy when times are hard.

  1. Be with friends and family.

We shouldn’t carry our hardships on your own. Having a strong social support is crucial during difficult times. Having social support can increase our self-esteem and helps us handle stress better.

Friends and family should, in essence, be able to bring you joy, encourage you when you are down, and help make your life better.

  1. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

When we are faced with hardships, we are reminded of what is truly important in our lives. We realize the things that we already have and become grateful for them. Hardships makes us appreciate the simple things. Some ways to enjoy life’s simple pleasures are taking a nature walk, cooking or baking, journaling, reading, etc. 

  1. Do simple acts of kindness

Doing acts of kindness takes the focus off ourselves and gives us a respite from all our worrying. We all know that doing an act of kindness benefits not only the recipient but also the giver. It creates a loop of happiness that makes us feel better, putting us in a healthier frame of mind to work through our problems. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Pick up the tab of the table next to you at a restaurant
  • Volunteer to shovel snow
  • Plant a tree
  1. Stay present

Tough times makes us anxious about our future, or we would think of our past and start feeling regretful. To experience happiness in the midst of hardships, we have to stay in the present. How? Through mindfulness. Sitting quietly for a few minutes a day is a good way to start your mindfulness practice. Breathe deeply and notice how your body feels. This grounds you in the present moment. And if you stay there long enough, you may be able to take hold of some happiness.

  1. Be realistic.

It is important when dealing with adversity that we keep moving forward, taking action so that we are not dwelling in the problem but looking for solutions. Planning your action steps allows you to take a handle of your situation. You would feel more in control and gets you in the mindset to   handle your problems. But be careful not to set an unattainable action plan as this might cause more setbacks and you will end up more worse off. So remember to set realistic expectations.

  1. Keep playing!

Adversities have a way of keeping us down and out. We feel burdened. You may not feel like it, but this is the best time to play. Play isn’t only for kids. Playing your favorite game or sport is a great diversion. It picks up your mood and opens your mind to the ways in handling your problems.  


Happiness is possible even in difficult circumstances. You just have to search for it. Remember, “people are as happy as they make up their minds to be” (Abraham Lincoln). And this includes difficult circumstances.

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